Carpe Jugulum

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Carpe Jugulum
Written by: Terry Pratchett
Central Theme:
Genre(s): Fantasy
Series: Discworld
Preceded by: The Last Continent
Followed by: The Fifth Elephant
First published: 1998
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The 23rd Discworld novel and the fifth or sixth in the Witches Theme, depending on whether Equal Rites is counted.

King Verence and Queen Magrat of Lancre have had their first child, a daughter, and have invited all the nearby rulers to her naming ceremony. Unfortunately, this includes the de Magpyr family of vampires from neighboring Überwald, and now that they've been invited to Lancre, they have no intention of leaving. It's up to the witches, along with a drippy Omnian priest called Mightily Oats, to defeat them and save the kingdom from its new vampire overlords.

Tropes used in Carpe Jugulum include:
  • Above Good and Evil: The vampires. Just ask them.
  • Acquired Garlic Immunity: The de Magpyrs have built up a tolerance to, among other things, garlic, holy water, sunlight, and OCD.
  • Acrofatic: Whenever Perdita takes over Agnes' body. Agnes has a quite a lot of muscle she never knows how to use.
  • Affably Evil: Count de Magpyr insists that he is Affably Evil and talks like a self help guru - but in actuality his attempts at being friendly and affable lead to him being a far greater horror than his genuinely Affably Evil uncle.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Magpyrs are strong believers in eugenics.
  • And I Must Scream: Used as a threat by Granny. While (presumably) there's no way to permanently kill off a vampire, it's entirely possible to, say, trap said vampire in gaseous form in a bottle and then drop the bottle from the edge of the Disc.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Inverted, the vampire teenagers all have "Goth" birth names like Lacrimosa, so they think calling themselves "Wendy" or "Susan" is edgy and rebellious.
  • Badass Preacher: Oats, eventually. See the Take a Level In Badass example below.
    • A key moment comes when he's alone with Granny in a wet, cold forest at night, afraid she's going to freeze to death, and the only dry material he has that could start a fire to warm her up is the paper his Bible... Er, Book of Om is printed on. He recalls a passage that says, "Where there is darkness we will make a great light..." He takes out the Book again ... and makes a great light.
    • Importantly, the whole book Oats had tried to gain faith by reading random passages from the Book of Om. When he meets Granny she stresses that he has the ability to make his own faith..and in the end he does
  • Batman Gambit: Granny getting the vampires to bite her so that she could control the blood inside them.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Many. Granny resists being turned into a vampire, Oats and questioning his faith, Agnes fights the allure of Vlad and becoming a beautiful, powerful, eternally-young vampire.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Scraps.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The title. It's a play on the Latin phrase "Carpe Diem" (seize the day). "Carpe Jugulum" means "seize the throat".
  • Blood Bath: One of the Magpyr ancestors in is a parody of Elizabeth Bathory (although her name's Carmilla). The modern Magpyrs believe the story of her bathing in the blood of two hundred virgins is highly exaggerated. The bath would overflow if you used more than eighty. They've checked.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Even when they're being chased by homicidal vampires, Magrat knows that Nanny Ogg would never say that now isn't the time to be telling a lewd joke. The vampires don't (nor do they know the joke that Magrat asked "Nanny" to tell).
  • Brick Joke: Granny Weatherwax still aten't dead.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Count von Magpyr pointedly doesn't look like this. The Old Count does.
  • Continuity Nod: Granny's darker nature mentions that her sister Lilith (of Witches Abroad) gave into it.
    • Oates is something of an update to Small Gods. He laments that his faith's new direction of spending their time arguing points of dogma and comparative religion studies lack the passion they had in earlier times. This proves Brutha's reforms worked well, as when they had that fire they were a terrible force that focused more on the monolithic church than on Om, while his worship was limited to their borders. Now the church is less militant it has spread across the continent.
      • Alternately, the old church's method of proselytism were not condoned outside the immediate reach of their swords and secret police. People are less hostile to the new church's pamphlet evangelism (though Vimes still runs when he can). While more have heard of Om, it's debatable how many more followers he has. At least they worship him because they want to instead of out of fear.
      • If it's more than one worshiper the reforms worked.
      • Ultimately Oates ends up striking a balance between pre-Brutha Omnianism and post-Brutha Omnianism that eliminates the worst aspects of both. It seems to be working pretty well.
    • There are also a lot of continuity nods to Lords and Ladies, in particular the reappearance of many minor characters.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness
  • Convenient Weakness Placement: Deliberate on the part of the Old Count, who kept a flowing moat, easily-opened curtains, and objects that could be bent into religious symbols lying around to give his victims a fighting chance.
  • Covert Pervert: Magrat. This shocks even Nanny. Magrat reminds her that she is a mother and a married woman now.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "I'm fed up with you smarming at me smarmily as if you were Mister Smarm!"
  • Dirty Business: Granny doesn't like having to make all decisions that she's had to make.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Nac Mac Feegle are pretty similar to their later portrayal in the Tiffany Aching books, but their accent is quite stronger. This could, of course, be chalked up to differences between the Uberwald Feegles and the Chalk Feegles. Also, Terry stated that childrens' books are "...written with the knob turned down a level, so it will be more accessible to the younger market." This was probably deliberate "de-obfuscation" so that young readers wouldn't be going "Mommy, what's he saying there?" every other line.
  • Eat Me: Granny letting the vampires suck her blood.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Once Count von Magpyr takes baby Esmerelda hostage, Igor decides that enough's enough and revives the old Count. (Killing his dog probably factored into it, too.)
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Princess Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre.
    • Also mentioned: James What The Hell Is That Cow Doing In Here? Poorchick and King My God He's Heavy the First.
  • Genre Savvy: The Magpyr vampires. They train themselves to overcome vampire weaknesses, and mock the old count for his Hammer Horror style Genre Blindness - easily ripped curtains,objects easily broken into holy symbols and stakes, copious holy water etc. Turns out the old count is far more Genre Savvy than his offspring; He deliberately allows humans to exploit his weaknesses so that, being an easily dispatched villain and giving the village boys something to feel good about, he is never Killed Off for Real.
  • Good Old Ways: Everyone agrees that the old fashioned vampires were better.
  • Heel Realization: The Count outright asks the villagers of Escrow to look at him, and then at the newly-resurrected previous Count, believing that the comparison will convince them that he's the better of the two. But Villainous Breakdown ensues when he realizes that being Dangerously Genre Savvy is considered far, far worse than the old Count's intentional use of the Villain Ball. Vlad gets this, too, presumably, since he genuinely believes that the alternative for Escrow that his father offers is better than what it used to be.
  • Heroic BSOD: Granny Weatherwax, when she thinks she's becoming unnecessary.
  • Heroic Willpower / Fighting From the Inside: King Verence is noticeably attempting to resist the vampires mind control.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The vampires' Acquired Poison Immunity to religious symbols backfires when that immunity wears off. They'd learned to recognize so many religious symbols by sight that everything looks like a religious symbol.
  • The Igor: This book introduces Überwald's clan of classically trained Igors.
  • I Never Told You My Name: When Agnes meets Vlad he says her name without being told. When she considers that he might have asked someone Perdita asks her why anyone would ask for her name.
  • Ironic Echo: "Everywhere I look I see something holy!"
  • Living Shadow: Played straight, when King Verence's (second) shadow has to be removed and "killed" by the Nac Mac Feegle (with a well-aimed crossbow bolt) because its presence allows the vampires to control Verence.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Vlad's grandfather in the Magpyr portrait gallery (which is something of a lesson on How Vampires Have Been Different through the ages.
  • Mercy Kill: Granny sometimes did something similar; she didn't actually kill people, but she helped them to die. "There was no need for desperate stuff with a pillow, or deliberate mistakes with the medicine. You didn't push them out of the world, you just stopped the world pulling them back. You just reached in, and... showed them the way."
  • The Missionary: Reverend Oats decides to act as a missionary to Uberwald. As seen in Unseen Academicals, it works.
    • Unsurprising considering he, by this point, wields a battle axe named Forgiveness, which is presumably what people pray for when Oates comes into view.
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: "Scraps", the Frankenstein's Monster of a Big Friendly Dog created by Igor.

Nanny Ogg: He's as happy as a dog with two ... oh, he does have two tails.

  • Nay Theist: Granny. Oates is terrified of the idea of her actually finding a god who met her moral standards, given her sheer passion and persuasive ability.
  • Noble Demon: The Old Count.
  • Noodle Implements: Magrat mentions a joke Nanny told about "the priest, the old woman and the rhinoceros.". Nanny says that even she didn't understand that until she was forty.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Nanny Ogg upset is a pretty bad thing to see, even worse than an angry Nanny. A Nanny Ogg who misses the chance to mock Agnes' Accidental Innuendo? Shit just got real.
  • One for Sorrow, Two For Joy: Magpies. Flocks of them.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Notably, thanks to the Count training them with a little exposure at a time, the Magpyrs are not affected by traditional vampire weaknesses such as garlic, holy symbols, holy water, and sunlight.
    • Also, the vampires of de Magpyr family turn into flocks of magpies instead of bats.
    • The trope is also invoked in the story, since the method for disposing a vampire depends on which village he's from.
  • Goth: Completely turned on its head: Lacrimosa and her vampire friends partake in a subculture that has them wearing bright colours, pretending to drink wine, staying up well past Midday, and adopting names like "Henry" and "Freda".
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "An axe isn't even a holy symbol!" "Oh... let's make it so." * thwack*
  • Reconstruction: Of the Classical Movie Vampire, especially Dracula himself.
  • Reverse Psychology: The Magpyr's castle is named Don'tGoNearThe Castle, and route is regularly marked by signs like "Don't take this quickest route to the Castle". According to Igor, it was always full with guests.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: The new Count uses his wealth to establish his own idea of order in his hometown.
  • Shout-Out: "I do not drink ... wine."
    • He does drink whiskey though.
    • And later on: "I thought we didn't drink ... wine."
    • "They've killed Scrapth! The barthtudth!"
    • "I'm fed up with you smarming at me smarmily as if you were Mister Smarm!" Nanny Ogg's cunning plan
  • Soul Jar: The heart in a hidden jar variation is mentioned to be used by magicians in Howondaland so they can't be killed.
  • Split Personality: Agnes / Perdita X Dream
    • Also Mightily Oats, to a much lesser extent- he just hasn't named it.
      • Perhaps not formally, but he does have a habit of calling his "two selves" Good Oats and Bad Oats. Both his pious and skeptical sides agree with the terms, but have different interpretations of who is who.
  • Spot of Tea: Granny drives the vampires mad by giving them an insatiable thirst for tea.
  • Take a Level In Badass: With a little coaching from Granny, Mightily Oats goes from a wishy-washy priest wracked with doubt and inner turmoil to chopping off the head of the evil Count Magpyr with a single axe blow.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Nac Mac Feegle have one female and hundreds of males. Seeing as they're all six inches tall and blue...
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Mightily Oats must build a fire to save the life of a wounded and freezing Granny Weatherwax - but all he has for dry kindling is the Book of Om, his holy scripture. He makes a great light.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: The vampires suck Granny Weatherwax's blood, and they're the ones who come off worse.

I ain't been vampired. You've been Weatherwaxed.

Granny: I knows what you are, Esmerelda Weatherwax, and I ain't scared of you anymore.

  • White Sheep: The aforementioned goth-equivalents.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: After Granny's blood has its effect on the vampires, she's certain that they won't hurt baby Esmerelda, because she couldn't do that.
  • The Worf Effect: Sort of; in a Continuity Nod, the Count dismisses the previous enemies Granny dispatched as "inbred elves and gormless humans".
    • More traditionally, the first thing the Magpyrs do is beat Granny in psychic battle.
    • Fridge Brilliance kicks in. The Count was wrong about this, the witches never defeated the villains themselves, they just meddled so a secondary protagonist could get the cojones/chance/abilities to do so. He fails to understand this, and he gets taken out by the secondary protagonist.
  • Wine Is Classy: Played with. Where the human subculture of vampires are considered freaks because they file down their teeth, wear bright colors, stay up past noon, and drink... wine.
  • You Fail Biology Forever: Inverted, with Granny saying that phoenixes do not only rise from their ashes, that is an example of this trope - they also have males and females and lay eggs like any other bird.
    • Or is that Cryptozoology?
  • Your Vampires Suck: The Magpyrs practice this toward their fellow in-universe vampires.
    • The entire novel could be considered a Your Vampires Suck directed against non-classical vampires.
    • All the more amusing when you notice the parallels to the Twilight series. Both involve a handsome young vampire falling for someone because he can't read her mind, but he's shown to still be a monster at his core.
      • Just to clarify, Carpe Jugulum was written well before Twilight was. And seeing how much of Twilight's substantial Hatedom (and some of its fans) consider Edward to be a cruel controling bastard, much like Vlad is intentionally, this book becomes even more Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb