Romance - or lack thereof

Discussion in 'THE WATCH BOOKS' started by superbanana, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. superbanana New Member

    Iv just re-read men at arms and feet of clay and nearly all relationships seem pretty loveless. For example, Angua and Carrot got together only because Angua was planning on leaving straight after. Vimes even said at the start of men at arms 'forget about love thats a tricky word for the over-fifties', it just seems to me that TP makes every relationship seem like one of the partners is always trying to run away from it. Anyone agree or disagree with me?
  2. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Interesting. I think he has made a concerted effort not to be so shy about romance in his later books - not always, in my opinion, to the good! For example, with Moist and Spike in GP and MM, I think he has deliberately set out to create a relatively stable, loving couple. But I don't think he finds it particularly easy to write one!

    So, yes, in the middle books of the series, I think what you suggest is very much the case.
  3. TamyraMcG Active Member

    I may be just a little jaded but I think he gets it just about right, romance is not all sweetness in this world or in Anhk- Morpork. You end up having to work to stay together, it is usually well worth the effort but running away from a relationship is all too common an occurence. I just re-read Night Watch and that book is one of the most romantic things I have ever read, the power of Sam's love for Sybil, just amazed me even when he remembered her third. Angua and Carrot are *not* perfect for each other, there is every reason for them not to be together, but like some of us they love each other anyway, and the remarkable thing is Terry lets them accept each other as they are.
  4. Tephlon Active Member

    Well, happy couples don't make for very good stories. Conflict (internal or external) does.

    I actually like Moist an Spike's relationship because Moist has trouble believing it.
  5. superbanana New Member

    I understand that troubled couples make better stories but it's just that they rarely ever act like couples. Sybil and Vimes are barely like a couple and he seems to have married her because she was there. Angua is with Carrot because she's trapped by some kind of werewolf instinct and Spike and Moist - although more open about their relationship are only together because she didnt give in to him. There never seems to be any real romance going on
  6. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    I think Sam and Sybil's relationship is very subtly drawn, but I find them therefore one of the profoundest, although I can see why they might seem 'barely a couple'. Tamyra, it's true that romance is not all sweetness - but nor is every romance the same, and Pterry does have a bit of an issue (IMO) with only ever writing things along the same pattern (see my opinions on his strong women), so it's good to see some variation once in a while.
  7. TamyraMcG Active Member

    I don't think Sam married Sybil just because she was there, I think he was bowled head over heels by her and everyone else, including Vetinari, approved and facilitated the relationship. And Sybil loves him so very very much, she lets him do what he has to do to stay him, most of the time anyway. He had to become a Duke so he could be her husband, just as she has to cook his breakfast to be his wife. Sam Vimes has become more then he dreamed he could be, because Carrot and Sybil, and even Vetinari love him. Before Carrot showed up he was almost lost to the bottle. I am moved by PTerry's notion that belief in someone can be a force for good.
  8. superbanana New Member

    Hmm that might be the case but even with that idea of universal love (which I sort of agree on except for Vetinari - I dont think he loves anyone except Ankhmorpork) every relationship seems strained and close to breaking (I kow I sound like a broken record but I really think TP could let the characters be a little bit closer than they are, generally)
  9. mowgli New Member

    Whoah... Angua has said repeatedly that she loves Carrot, and even explained why - "because he's kind without trying to prove anything - that's just how he is! - but he can also be nasty when the occasion demands it" (quote combined from bits of Jingo and the Fifth Elephant). Both she and Carrot have been willing to make ridiculous sacrifices for each other. Both she and Carrot had doubts about each other (Angua about 10 times more frequently), that they eventually overcame. I'd say they're way past the "on the brink of running away" thing :tongue:

    Ditto Sam and Sybil. Their marriage started out more or less as a joke, and then gradually solidified. It's something Pterry keeps reminding you of, by dropping little hints here and there... like the fact that Sybil keeps knitting socks, even though she can't turn a heel worth anything, and Sam keeps wearing the aforementioned socks without complaint... even though the soles are thick enough to serve as a plot device at one point in "Thud!"

    All in all, I'd say that Pterry's lesson is more along the lines of "the course of true love never ran smooth" or something like that :tongue:. That no relationship is perfect, but then, the imperfections are what offsets the good parts, and makes them shine.

    Just out of curiosity - what would you have changed, Banana :smile: ?
  10. superbanana New Member

    I might have changed the attitudes of the characters a bit. I'll be honest and say that I am a romantic and as one I fly the banner for those who do like a quiet bit of fluff but I understand that the characters wouldnt be the same if they were lovey dovey -this is a personal quest.
    Angua just always seems to me like she's angry, or depressed or on the verge of leaving or all of those things. In Thud she did seem more settled but there was still that issue that she didnt understand Carrot or even why she was still there (I think TP notcied that the romance wasnt too good and Sally was a bit of a plot device to show Anguas feelings but it just helped to show the relationships flaws)
    And as for Vimes and Sybil there romance was always subtle but from the beginning I just always saw Vimes as marrying Sybil because she was a) available, b) desperate enough to deal with the fact that she'd never come first.

    Also I cant remember when Carrot actually had doubts about the relationship - when he got his sword out (the metal one that is *waggles eyebrows*) in men at arms that was just in shock at finding a wolf in his room. I didnt realise he's had doubts - when was that?
  11. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    That suggests that Vimes was looking for someone, and I don't think he was.

    I have often found myself getting bored with the same old thing going round and round in the case of Angua and Carrot. I thought Sally was the clumsiest plot device in mid to late Discworld, who didn't even achieve the things she appeared to be there to do. And, while she may have helped clarify C & A's relationship, I don't think it has moved forward at all for books and books now - and a good story is one where the characters grow. However, I don't think we will see this, because Carrot and Angua are not main characters, and suit Pterry better as part of the setting.
  12. mowgli New Member

    You're right there, Banana - about Carrot drawing his sword. So I'll concede that HE was never really the one in doubt over his and Angua's relationship - he was certain from the beginning, just like he's certain about, well, pretty much everything. (Not always the best character trait, but appears to be working in his case)

    I gotta admit I have a soft spot for both Carrot and Angua, and would rather see them continue their little dance - however repetitive! -, as opposed to break up altogether. Ultimately, of course, I'd rather them get married and have mixed-species kids :tongue:

    And, again, maybe I'm getting old or something, but I get more of an "awwww!" from seeing couples do the subtle-yet-profound thing - like "she wasn't a very good cook, but that was okay because he wasn't a very good eater!", - or something more dramatic, like Angua jumping in front of Carrot to block an incoming arrow, and him pushing her out of the way just in time - as opposed to something more overtly romantic. Especially since every one of these characters is SO damn socially awkward, if they TRIED to go the romantic route, they would totally bungle it up! :wink:
  13. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Me too, that's what I love about Sam and Sybil. It's the 'still waters run deep' thing. But I don't get the same feeling with Carrot and Angua - their relationship, at this point, feels forced and stale because there hasn't been any change. I would love to see some progression - preferably in the 'together and happy' direction, but anything at all would be nice!
  14. randywine Member

    I think it is all in how you would choose to define romance.

    If you define romance as the Hallmark-moment guff of stuff like Valentines day then you are right and there is not any of that in the books. Go poison yourself with anything from the Romance section of Waterstones if you like the taste of saccarine infused claptrap.

    If you, on the other hand,define romance as sticking together no matter what the world (or the Discworld) thows at you, through thick and thin and still coming out in the end loving the person, then I think there are loads of that in the books.

    There are others but I personally think both the end of Guards! Guards!, when PTerry decribes Errol and the Noble Dragon pushing off into space, and the end of The Fith Elephant when Vimes decides that he and Sybil deseve a holiday / honeymoon are very well written and quite touching without being over-cooked.

    Of course I'm a bloke so what do I know?:D

  15. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    Regardless, I still think there's room for a bit of difference in Discworld, Randy. Not every relationship follows the same patterns.
  16. Hsing Moderator

    I enjoy people bringing up some meta discussions referring to the Discworld once and again, and never thought of the question as such before.

    It would be interesting to be pointed towards an example of what you thought was well written romance in a book you liked, superbanana, because your first statement kind of rang a bell with me, but on closer inspection I went down the "Yes, but..." -road.
    I don't have much time for in depth analysis here, but I think to some degree, what some readers may see as a lack of romance -you can read it that way - is owed to the often ironic tone used to describe human nature throughout the books.
    The whole writing style and point of view just don't make me hear the "Flower Duet" in my head - a beautiful piece, but out of place in that scenario. In many of the novels, especially the Watch novels with a protagonist as dryly sarcastic as Vimes, it would come across as out of character and as a breach of style. It's similar with Carrot and Angua - Angua starts out wary of all of her relationships, after having been chased out of some of them and several cities, and Carrot is incredibly formal and dwarfish in a way - he thinks now that he's told Angua he loves her, he doesn't have to tell her again, after all, it's been settled. Not a romantic.

    And even in real life, not only in (well written) novels, people may experience change as characters, but they don't drop out of their character all of a sudden. They stay themselves even when they fall in love. Their voice and narration stays the same, and many of Pratchett's characters would understate grand feelings - love is not a universal force that makes everyone sound and act alike. If you are together with someone who doesn't talk about his/ her feelings, you may develop a relationship that works with small, everyday proof. Vimes is shown clinging to Sybil's cigar case, to the little things they do for each other and the rituals they develop. Big feelings would have been out of character for both.

    What is universally true for all romantic relationships is that in the books, they are all side stories, and falling in love, if it happens at all, doesn't become a thriving force for the characters or the plot all of a sudden. That is, maybe, why even the heartache or butterflies in the stomach of the more emotional characters isn't being given much room. If it would, the novel would indeed have to become a love story, and Terry Pratchett may just be an author who doesn't write books that are mainly love stories.
  17. trees New Member

    I think the reason Carrot & Anguas relationship seems not to be progressing is because we see so little of them.
    Another piece of romance - the widow & widower reunited by the 1st letter delivered after the restart of the post office.
  18. Tamar New Member

    I think Carrot is the problem with that relationship. The only reason there is one is that Angua is attached to him. Notice that nobody else in the city was even interested? They _like_ him while he's present, but none of the girls he took out for walks stayed interested. I also note that in the famous "glink" scene the description was that the Disc moved... for Carrot. Not for Angua.

    Another "little romance" - the woman Nobby had been seeing (or ducking fish she threw at him, at least) is now engaged.
  19. pilgrim New Member

    I'd forgotten about this and it was a romance.

    I like Angua's thoughts and words about Carrot - clever and loving ... rolling her eyes etc.

    This is enough romance for me. I love the Watch stories for their hilarity and amazing solutions.
  20. OldStoneface New Member

    Hope you don't mind if I jump in here too?

    I'd say there are two different things being discussed here.

    The first is whether PTerry writes romance in his books. And the answer to that is, sparingly and generally subtly. As you all pointed out, there are some examples. It's clear that Carrot and Angua love each other, and Carrot has his odd ideas about romance (Dwarf Bread Museum). Likewise Moist and Spike have their little moments as do Sam and Sybil. But again, it's very sparse, and when it does appear it's typically very understated or unconventional (big surprise).

    But the second thing that seemed to be implied was that the characters themselves were not romantic (as characters). And I think the answer to that is that those in relationships do have their moments, and more than we can appreciate. But I suspect most of that takes place 'off camera'.

    Every writer makes certain assumptions in their writing, leaving things to the readers to fill in or assume, and I think PTerry just isn't one to smack you over the head and shoulders with it.

    Again, it may be unconventional, and Carrot for example could certainly take a few more lessons, but there is romance there, just behind the curtain. Pardon PTerry if he chooses not to satisfy our voyeuristic tendencies by pulling it back for us. :wink:

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