Carpe Jugulum is the twenty third Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett and features my favourite characters, the witches. The witches always cheer me up, and this book is no exception. My son, who is reading these to me, prefers the watch, but he has an abiding love of Nanny Ogg which means he’s always quite pleased when the witches turn up in a story.
In this book, Magrat and Verence, now rulers of Lancre, are having their first child christened. The christening is pretty much pinched wholesale from every fairy tale you’ve ever read and in particular, Sleeping Beauty. It has, of course, it’s classic Pratchettian twists and turns that make you look at traditional stories and tropes with fresh eyes, and this is one of the joys of Pratchett.
There are various disasters in this novel. Granny thinks she has been forgotten from the guest list and is sulking in her cottage. Agnes Nitt is still struggling with the whole idea of her witchiness, not helped by her alter ego, Perdita, who haunts her. Nanny is outraged because Verence, as a progressive kind of monarch, has invited a priest of Om to oversee the service. Nanny remembers that Omnians burn witches and hasn’t caught up with the latest twists and turns in the Omnian saga which are laid out in the book, Small Gods. If you’ve read this novel prior to reading Carpe Jugulum, you will enjoy the character of Mightily Oats much more than if this is your first foray into the Discworld.
The worst thing Verence has done however, is to invite vampire aristocracy from Uberwald to the christening, not knowing that you must never invite vampires anywhere, even if it does sound rude. The vampires are coming, and even though they are a new and sophisticated breed of vampires, they’re just as much trouble as the old sort.
This book has lots of great jokes, time to revisit lots of characters and old plot lines to add richness to the general Discworld tapestry and plenty of interweaving plot lines to keep the pages turning. Oscar and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, particularly meeting the character of Verence’s falconer, Hodges Arrgh again. It’s funny, clever and a very rewarding read for people of all ages.