Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 119

SOFIA UNIVERSITY ST.

KLIMENT OHRIDSKI
Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology
Department of English and American Studies
MA Thesis
Translation of Wordplay and Humour in Terry Pratchetts Witches Series

Daniela Petkova
Faculty 860-

Supervisor:
/ Associate Professor Dr. Maria Pipeva/
Sofia, 2016

Contents:
PART ONE............................................................................................................................................2
1. Introduction..................................................................................................................................2
2. Theoretical framework.................................................................................................................4
2.1. On Pratchett and the context in which he wrote.......................................................................4
2.2 On Humour. Is it really possible to define it?...........................................................................7
2.3 Applying translation theory into practice..................................................................................9
2.4 On humour and wordplay. Puns with idioms..........................................................................10
2.5 Pseudolanguages: another type of wordplay?.........................................................................12
2.6 Approaches in pun translation. Stages of translating wordplay...............................................13
PART TWO.........................................................................................................................................14
3. Analysis........................................................................................................................................14
3.1. Homonymy and polysemy.....................................................................................................15
3.2 Homophony and paronymy....................................................................................................23
3.3 Structural transformations of idioms.......................................................................................29
3.4 Dog English/Nannyoggisms...................................................................................................33
4. Conclusion...................................................................................................................................36
WORKS CITED.................................................................................................................................38
Corpus of wordplay examples...........................................................................................................39
PART THREE.....................................................................................................................................61
Translations.....................................................................................................................................61
..................................................................................................................................62
......................................................................................................................80
Tom Holt My Hero....................................................................................................................91
Laurent Kloetzer - Le royaume bless........................................................................................107

Translation of Wordplay and Humour in Terry Pratchetts Witches Series


I think I have probably done great harm to the world of fantasy. Fortuitously,
although Im not very cerebral about what I write, lots and lots of people are doing theses
and doctorates on me. So, apparently, Im a postmodern fantasy writer. [] It has been
tremendous fun. Its made me a lot of money. I wish I was a real author. I truly do. I havent
thought a great deal about what Ive done. Ive gone ahead and done it. It comes as a huge
shock to read these theses, that sneak in at a rate of one every month or two, and find out
about my wonderful use of language and the cleverness with which I do these things. I think
Nah! I just do it because thats what its like That bit goes there because its impossible
to imagine it going in any other place. And then they go and make me a Guest of Honor.
There are far, far better authors out there, folks. But I thank you very much for reading this
one.
Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard

PART ONE
1. Introduction
Translating humour is probably one of the most difficult tasks that a translator would
face in his or her career. Technical and specialized texts may be more complex and vexing
when it comes to vocabulary and terminology, but there is something disturbingly
insubstantial about humour. How do you define it? Is there a formula you can follow which
would result in a pantswettingly hilarious book? While you may be able to locate an obscure
legal term and find a way to render it in your own language, how do you do the same with a
joke? There isnt a mass data base you can tap into, you either have a sense of humour or you
dont. And even if you have it, that still doesnt mean you will be successful. So it doesnt
come as a surprise that theres comparatively little theory on humour and wordplay
translation.
It is well known that humour is culture-specific, and it is often very difficult for an
outsider to get in on the joke. Why is a chicken that crosses the road funny? Is there some
mysterious secret behind that that is passed from mother to child, but never to a foreigner?
British humour is incredibly popular all over the world. During the last couple of centuries
Britain has produced some of the best and most beloved comedy geniuses. P. G. Wodehouse,
Jerome K. Jerome, Douglass Adams, Gerald Durrell, the list goes on forever and they all use
2

diverse types of humour. Pratchett, however, falls into the category of those British writers
(similar to Lewis Carroll) whose humour is deeply ingrained in the British reality. His use of a
dauntingly broad frame of reference for the rather sophisticated intertextual play, as well as
the extensive punning which exploits the structural features of the English language, make
Pratchetts works not amenable to straightforward translation procedures.
One of the most important rules in translation is Know your audience. Who will read
the book? Do they know the same jokes you do? Are they as prepared to go down the rabbit
whole as you were? Probably not, and thats part of the beauty of it. A lot of the humourist
writers make so many references in their books, that the potential translator has to be very
conscientious and familiar with the cultural and sociological context in which the author
works. If this is indeed the case they end up sharing some secret joke with the author, now
they just have to make sure everyone else gets it. And thats the tricky bit. How do you kill a
joke? Explain it. There is nothing as frustrating as a funny book with half a page of footnotes
explaining why this is indeed funny1. But rendering a joke or a play on words in your target
language can be as difficult as translating a Scottish dialect without ending up with a kiltwearing Eastern-European-villager-sounding character2. Some theorists claim it impossible;
thankfully no one told the translators that. Focusing on the function of the text is the only way
to proceed. It is supposed to be funny, so funny it should be, even if the translator has to
sacrifice some of the content in the process or insert their own inventions in the text. In a way
a translator of comedy has as much creative freedom as a translator of poetry, almost, but not
quite, co-authoring the text.

When we, the future translators, are taught translating word play, the theoretical focus
almost always falls on Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Jabberwocky. Pratchetts
Discworld, however, is a much larger resource of wordplay and humour that remains
untapped. It is possible that the works are being ignored because of the genre; fantasy is still
regarded a lowly kind of literature, barely a chewing gum for the mind, and the books are
relatively new the patina of time that makes everything look classy after half a century
hasnt set on the Discworld and there would probably be a couple of decades more before

1 Except when Pratchett himself does it. A lot can be said on his intentional use of footnotes as a
humorous stylistic approach.
2 It has happened; see some of the translations of the Tiffany Aching series.
3

serous scholars, who were children when the Discworld came out, would start dissecting
Pratchetts wonderful use of language.
It is precisely for this reason that I have chosen the Discworld as a focus of my thesis,
and more specifically the six books that cover the adventures of the three Lancre witches.
They can be read both separately and as a series and demonstrate very clearly the evolution of
both the authors style and the level of intertextuality in the translated texts.
I will begin with an overview of the author and the context in which he wrote, the
tradition he built upon, and indeed, made fun of. I will outline a theoretical framework
applicable to Pratchetts books and based on the definitions and observations on humour and
wordplay made by Delia Chiaro, Dirk Delabastita and Walter Nash, and then use it to analyse
some examples taken out of the books and their translations in Bulgarian.
In Pratchetts works the humour serves as a vehicle for very serious philosophical
messages and their aesthetic impact depends largely on the adequate perception of the
humour. The humour itself is mainly linguistic and intertextual, so in translation, killing the
joke, would quite often mean killing the message. Technically all of Pratchetts works were
translated in Bulgarian soon after their publication, but how much of him actually reached the
Bulgarian reader and were the most prominent characteristics of his works preserved? It can
be argued that as he gained popularity, later translators, editors and publishers might have paid
much more attention to the quality of the text than the pioneers. I will try to answer these
questions by analysing a large corpus of material, focusing predominantly on puns. The
conclusions made can help us determine how much of the original text was preserved and
whether or not the functional approach to the text was adequate in rendering the stylistic
characteristics in the series. The broader scope of these conclusions will give some ideas and
possible solutions for translators who face similar problems during the course of their work.
The last part of the thesis will be a translation of an excerpt of Tom Holts book My
Hero, which has a similar humorous style and presents similar problems for the translator, and
an excerpt from Le royaume bless by Laurent Kloetzer, a more classical and epic fantasy
work.

2. Theoretical framework

2.1. On Pratchett and the context in which he wrote


Sir Terry Pratchett (April 28, 1948 - March 12, 2015) probably began the Discworld
series as a way to poke fun of the most obvious clichs in the fantasy genre. He himself has
said multiple times that he never took his works seriously and when he became internationally
popular he always expected to be exposed as a fraud of a writer. After all, who could take
seriously such a preposterous mess, composed of bits and pieces of other authors works that
is the Discworld? When that never happened, a more serious streak began gradually sneaking
up in his books. The flat world carried on the back of a giant space turtle became the scene
where he could expose problems such as sexism, racial prejudices, free will, war, equal rights
and the nature of true evil3, all the while keeping his light-hearted style and making his
readers laugh. Even when he was poking fun at genre classics like The Lord of the Rings and
all-time classics like Shakespeares works, he did it good-naturedly and as a bow to those who
came before him. After all, Pratchett steps on a pile of great books, and he never tried to hide
it. Quite the contrary, in fact.
There are, broadly speaking, two eras in fantasy pre-Tolkien and everything after
him. The publication of The Lord of the Rings in 1954 changed the genre forever. The books
were beloved by entire generations and every author after that had to write in the shadow of
Tolkien. That phenomenon led to a boom in the fantasy genre in the 1970s and 1980s, when a
lot of authors built their worlds in the best and worse traditions of Middle-earth. This
endeavour proved to be fruitful for the bank accounts of many a wannabe-next-Tolkien and
flooded the book market with tons of easy-to-read-easy-to-forget low grade fantasy.
So in a way, Pratchetts appearance was not a surprise, since every fashion in art leads
to an equally popular anti-fashion movement, denouncing the clichs and morally outdated
notions of its predecessors. Fantasy clichs are in fact extremely important in Pratchetts
writing, where in a very subtle way he exposes their ridiculousness.
In 1987 Equal Rites came out, having Granny Weatherwax as a secondary character
and a guide to the first female wizard the young Eskarina Smith. The following five books
of the Witches series developed the character through her adventures with the other two
Magrat Garlick and Nanny Ogg. The popular trio is in fact a humorous rendition of the
ancient mythological archetype The Maiden, the Mother and The Crone 4. As is typical in the
Discworld, however, the archetypes are not what they used to be. Magrat is well-meaning, but
3 "And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That's what sin is. People as
things, that's where it starts.""Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes-"
"But they start with thinking about people as things" (Carpe Jugulum)

rather soppy, with a deeply hidden practical nature. Nanny Ogg is indeed THE mother, in fact
she reigns over an entire clan of her children, have been married (officially that is) three times
and is known to have had a rather adventurous youth. As for The Crone, she is truly the most
powerful and the wisest of them all, but is also extremely conservative, prideful, overly
independent and cant admit defeat even to save her life.
The six books cover a large variety of topics and some very serious social problems.
Equal Rites focuses mainly on the nature of male vs. female magic and what happens
when a girl tries to do something that is considered a mans job. Wyrd Sisters parodies
Shakespeares works and tells us what happens when a king doesnt love his country and
wants only the power that comes with it, and what is the fate of a young man who prefers to
remain an actor, rather than inherit the throne. Another major theme is the power of words and
theatrical plays and how they can change peoples minds and history itself. Witches Abroad
follows the adventures of the trio in a foreign land where they are supposed to be the good
fairy godmothers and prevent an unwilling princess from marrying a frog prince. Lords and
Ladies is another Shakespearian parody where the beautiful and wondrous elves are an evil
invading force and Magrat has to earn her right to become the new queen. Maskerade is again
set outside of Lancre, following the adventures of Granny and Nanny in the big city where
they help another young witch and face the Opera Ghost, parodying Gaston Lerouxs
Phantom of the Opera and the musical and film adaptations of the book. In the last book of
the sequence, Carpe Jugulum, Granny almost meets her match when a family of vampires
reformed through self-help books invade the kingdom, not fearing the traditional anti-vampire
methods.
Outside of the obvious clichs and pop-culture references, the books tackle problems
such as gender equality, free will and the price you pay for being the best there ever was. Evil
often wears the friendly smiling mask of Virtue and Good is a witchs midnight black and
giving people what they need, not what they think they ought to want. The subtlety of the
messages is assisted by large amounts of dirty jokes, random humorous events and the
occasional appearance of Death himself, who is not as frightful as one might expect, but helps
put things into perspective.
So it is not a surprise that such texts, seemingly a light-hearted fantasy, might suffer
greatly during translation, if the translator fails to recognise the depth of the hidden messages
and react accordingly. The first Pratchetts translations might have suffered greatly because
4 Or as the witches tactfully call her - The Other One.
6

they pre-date his popularity and were probably regarded as a run-of-the-mill fantasy. Speed is
another factor of importance. A translator almost always works under pressure and finding the
best solution for a pun or a hidden joke is sacrificed for the sake of efficiency. It is obvious
from the translations that the people working on them have done their best to preserve the
major function of the text which is to make the readers laugh. However, it is arguable how
much of the original style was preserved during that process. In the analytical part of the
thesis I will discuss some of their solutions and, wherever possible, offer alternatives. This
will be done not so much as a criticism, but as an observation made after having both the
perspective of time and familiarity with the greater context of Pratchetts works.
2.2 On Humour. Is it really possible to define it?
What makes us laugh? By definition, having a sense of humour means being able to
recognise when something is funny and reacting accordingly. However, not everyone has the
same ideas on what is humorous. For some, artificial body parts and other novelty jokes are
the cats meow in comedy. Others use high quality sarcasm as a way of making fun of people
and then accusing them of not having a sense of humour when they get offended. Similarly, in
literature there is a vast array of jokes, some purely situational, others relying on the absurd
and the grotesque, on some previous knowledge the reader has, or on puns. So it is not
surprising that theorists find it difficult to give a strict definition on what humour is.
An extensive discussion on the nature, roots and functions of humour is, obviously
beyond the scope of this thesis. However, since it is concerned with humour and the problems
of rendering it into a different culture, the theories on humour and laughter have to be taken
into consideration. According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy5 there are three
major theories on the cause of laughter. The Superiority theory states that laughter comes
from the feeling of superiority; the Relief Theory says that it is the release of nervous energy.
The last one - the Incongruity Theory, argues that the reason for laughter is the perception of
something that violates our mental patterns and expectations. This idea was accepted by
philosophers such as Kant and Schopenhauer and its now the dominant theory on humour in
philosophy and psychology.
The Incongruity Theory can be applied to most of modern day humour and jokes. We
have a set-up and the punchline must come as a surprise. A large part of making people laugh
is preparing them, using and playing on their standard mental patterns and their previous
5 http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/humor/
7

knowledge. This theory can be applied to wordplay as well. More often than not, the
incongruity or conflict is caused by a structural ambiguity at some linguistic level. In The
Language of Humour Alison Ross suggests the following levels of structural ambiguity:
phonology, graphology, morphology, lexis and syntax (1998: 8). According to the definition
she uses, idioms are groups of words that should be regarded as a single unit, as their
meaning cannot be worked out from the constituent parts [] There is ambiguity, if the group
of words can be interpreted both as an idiom and as individual words. (1998: 18).
Another relevant type of humour relates to the functioning of language as discourse
and results from contextual and cultural factors. The translator must have in mind the
intertextuality of the work, to be able to recognize the allusions and whether or not the work is
a parody. As Ross puts it,
parody is a parasitical form, which cannot exist without its host, but this
need not mean that it cannot be original or creative. This consciousness of
form is sometimes termed self-reflexivethe text encourages the reader or
listener to focus on the style itself and be aware of a conflict or dialogue
between the old style and the parodic version. (Ross, 1998: 48)
As I have already mentioned, one such example is Pratchetts book Maskrade it can
exist independently, but it also functions in the context of the entire corpus of Phantom of the
Opera spin-offs and merchandize, and this should be reflected in the translation. Taking the
jokes out of context would mean losing levels of meaning, the situation and the context would
have to be explained, which would defeat the purpose. Therefore,
We are on safer ground if we assume that the properties of humorous expression
are defined extrinsically, i.e. that words and phrases seem funny because of their
contextual linkages and semantic relationships. Some of the defining features are
syntagmatic, appearing in the repetitions, parallels, inversions, etc. marked out in
the linear progression of the text. (Nash 1987: 127)
Books and their internal jokes function in a separate fictional universe. In it every
joke, every sketch and pun are situational. Context cannot be ignored; even if the joke appears
to be disembodied, it is rarely created just for the sake of making a joke. According to
Delabastita context can be verbal and situational. In the verbal context the words are used in
certain positions, and although it serves the coherence of the text itself, sometimes rules can
be bended or broken to serve the humour. Situational humour however is crucial if the joke
doesnt fit into the narrative, if it seems out of place, the coherence is lost and the humorous
attempt seems artificial and half-hearted; it can even affect the way the reader perceives the
8

joker. It the joke seems odd, out of place or dull, that can affect the characteristics intended by
the author for their hero.
Incongruity seems to be universal, but its concrete manifestations are language- and
culture specific, and its successful transfer across cultures is highly problematic. To quote
Chiaro, when sociocultural restraints are combined with linguistic restraints, translation can
become an arduous task. (1992:84). What is more, these restraints are not absolute and static,
but vary over time, according to the nature and intensity of linguistic contact and intercultural
transfer between any two cultures. Today, British humour is not as alien to Bulgarians as it
might seem. Nowadays we are exposed more and more to the British culture from films, to
books, television and even newspapers. Another important factor is that in the era of
globalisation, a large number of readers are already fluent in English, or at least have been
exposed to it in school. So jokes about the weather, about the drunken Irish, or how disgusting
the haggis is, wouldnt need as much explanation, as they would, say, 100 years ago. Another
useful tool proves to be, for some reason, Americas fascination by the British, so through
popular satiric cartoons like The Simpsons, we are exposed from an early age to a wide variety
of cultural stereotypes. Despite the fact that a lot of them are untrue and even harmful, they
give us a sneak peek at a nations psyche and how they view themselves and the world.
Another major aspect of both humour and puns are clichs. They function as a form of
meta-language a secret code that needs to be deciphered and acknowledged. Delia Chiaro
claims that jokes are examples of the creative use of language which breaks pre-established
patterns of clearly referential prose, in Jakobsonian terms, any joke by definition is poetic
whether linguistically or sociocultuarlly inclined. (1992:34). A problem that arises from this,
however, is that the translator should be able to recognise even the subtlest of jokes.
Thankfully, as Walter Nash, agreeing with Chiaro, notes that [t]here are clichs of comic
expression, just as there are clichs of poetic expression. (1987: 127). Despite the fact that
every creative writing class there ever was, teaches us that clichs are the ultimate evil and
should be avoided at all cost, they are, in fact, very useful in such genres, and in the context of
Pratchett, even more so, since he exploits them freely and completely intentionally.
2.3 Applying translation theory into practice
Translating humor based on wordplay and intertextuality raises the question of such
primary concerns of translation theory as the very essence and purpose of translation. On the
one hand we have those who claim that translation by definition is impossible since no two
languages can present themselves in a perfect equality. Such opinions have produced, for
9

example, the first translations of the Bible, where the text may indeed preserve the word of
God in its purity, but is also almost impossible to decipher in meaning. These claims can
easily be ignored for the purposes of this work, since it focuses on the more functional
translation approach.
Nida differentiates between formal and dynamic equivalence. Formal equivalence
focuses on the formal features - the lexical make-up and the grammatical structure, whereas
the dynamic or functional equivalence focuses on the closest natural equivalent to the
source-language message (Nida, qtd. in Munday 2001: 42). This, of course, can lead to the
text being too naturalized, in the sense that the typically British tropes could be lost from fear
of misunderstanding, but in moderation this can be applied to the translation of humor.
Finding a dynamic equivalence works both linguistically meaning often the joke should be
rearranged to function in the target language, and semantically if the used image is either
too foreign or doesnt create the same type of culturally specific reference for the native
reader, it can be changed to maintain the function of the text that is to make the reader
laugh. Similarly, Newmark suggests the idea of a communicative translation it has to have
the same effect on the readers as the one intended by the author (Munday 2001: 44).
Vermeers Skopos theory supports the claim that the purpose of the text the major concern of
the translator (Munday 2001: 79-80).
It would seem that for any practicing translator one of those, or all of them would be
useful. In the case of Pratchetts books the focus of the translation primary falls on the
purpose of the text. The translated texts have the intended effect on the reader; in many cases
the translators have managed to achieve dynamic equivalence in Bulgarian, in order to
maintain the joke. Acknowledging the fact that for a translation it would be extremely difficult
to achieve the same humorous levels as the original text, I believe there are ways to improve
on the existing translations. Since wordplay is one of the commonest stylistic tools of the
author, I will focus more on achieving humour by improving on the puns used. Several
theoreticians comment on the nature of puns and suggest possible strategies for their
translation.
2.4 On humour and wordplay. Puns with idioms
In the context of Pratchetts works puns serve a major role. A large portion of the
books are taken up by dialogues, where the characters unintentionally, or so it seems at first
sight, use puns from the most crude and obvious jokes, to subtler ones that can easily be
missed by the unobservant reader. Often they appear to be Freudian slips, or following the
10

rule of a clever word misheard and misused by a character who appears to be a complete
simpleton those are made in such a way that the reader ends up wondering if the character
is indeed stupid or just secretly sarcastic. When properly used, puns demonstrate a quick and
witty mind and good language competence. More often than not, especially in the case of
Pratchetts works, puns are a gateway to the characters mind-set and they shouldnt be
disregarded or taken lightly. However, due to their specifics puns are a challenge for the
translator and are the part of the text that suffers most when rendering them into another
language.
So what of wordplay itself? In his Introduction to the special issue of The Translator
on wordplay and translation, Delabastita gives the following definition:
Wordplay is the general name for the various textual phenomena in which
structural features of the language(s) used are exploited in order to bring
about a communicatively significant confrontation of two (or more)
linguistic structures with more or less similar forms and more or less
different meanings. (1996: 128)
But is it possible once weve identified it, to preserve the original type of text? In
Verbally Expressed Humour and Translation Chiaro notes that:
Puns, a common feature in jokes, are notoriously untranslatable. When
dealing with an example of wordplay which pivots around a pun, an
interlingual translation is bound to involve some kind of compromise due to
the fact that the chances of being able to pun on the same word in two
different languages is extremely remote. And even in the prospect of such a
possibility, the chances of finding the same type of pun (i.e. a homophone, a
homograph, a homonym etc.) are even slimmer. Thus, as with poetry,
generally speaking, as far as the translation of VEH 6 is concerned, formal
equivalence is sacrificed for the sake of dynamic equivalence. In other
words, as long as the TT7 serves the same function as the ST8, it is of little
importance if the TT has to depart somewhat in formal terms from the

6 Verbally expressed humour


7 Target text
8 Source Text
11

original. Some feature of the ST is lost in exchange for a gain in the TL 9.


(2005)
Apparently even if the puns were previously separated from the text, or noted in any
other way, often the translator is forced to sacrifice them in order to preserve the humour.
Although at first sight it may appear to be convenient to detach it [wordplay] from the nonverbal stimuli, this soon proves to be an impossible task due to the fact that wordplay is
inextricably linked to circumstances which belong to the world which exists beyond words.
(Chiaro 1992: 5) again we return to the context of the work itself.
In humour the entertaining purpose of the text remains the most important factor and
sacrifices are sometimes a necessity. This of course doesnt mean avoiding wordplay at all
costs because of the difficulties it presents, rather - accommodating the pun to both fit the
context of the text and the larger linguistic and cultural context of the target language.
Coherence also plays a great role occasionally the most obvious choice would sound odd to
the reader, out of place or forced; the translator ought to be allowed enough flexibility to
move around:
In other words the only way to be faithful to the original text (i.e. to its verbal
playfulness) is paradoxically to be unfaithful to it (i.e. to its vocabulary and
grammar) [] Time pressure may be an important factor here; time usually being
at premium for translators, they will often go for the fist more or less acceptable
solution that crosses their mind.(Delabastita 1996: 135).
This does not of course mean that classifying the types of wordplay is redundant.
Delabastita classifies the types of wordplay as based on homonymy, homophony, homography
and paronymy. Walter Nash expands on this classification there are homophones, but also
homophonic phrases; mimes (phonetic similitudes); mimetic phrases; homonyms and
homonymic phrases; contacts and blends; portmanteaux (coinage that packs two meanings
into one word); etymological puns; bilingual puns; and pun metaphors.
In The Contextual Use of Idioms, Wordplay and Translation Andrejs Veisbergs
discusses idiom-based puns as a separate category. This is another type of joke favoured by
Pratchett. Wordplay based on idioms deals with larger chunks of text than other types of
puns which play on a single word and therefore tend to be more compact (1997:157) that is
to say we have a change on the traditional reading of the idiom that achieves a humorous
effect. There are two basic types of idiom transformation structural and semantic. Structural
9 Target language
12

transformations are made with addition, insertion, allusion, ellipsis or substitution. In the
semantic transformation the idioms structure does not change, what changes is the context in
which it is used.
In the analysis I will use a mix of these classifications, since all of them can be applied
to the corpus of examples. The exerts Ive selected as the most interesting ones, can broadly
be classified as puns based on homonymy/polysemy, homophony/ paronymy, Veisbergs
category of idiom transformation and another category that has proven to a necessity, since it
doesnt strictly fall into the other ones:
2.5 Pseudolanguages: another type of wordplay?
In Witches Abroad (and in several other cases) the translator is faced with a rather
strange problem. When the witches leave the comfort zone of their own native tongue, Nanny
Ogg attempts to converse with the natives in foreign parts in what can only be described as a
very creative gibberish. However, it is easily observed that the words and phrases she uses are
phonetically similar to other languages in our own world French, Spanish, Italian. What
appear to be nonsensical sentences actually have some meaning behind them.
A similar translators problem is the so called Dog Latin 10 or Canis Latinicus creating words
in English with Latin sounding suffixes (or in this case mispronouncing Latin -Tempers
fuggit, Witches abroad 29). Due to the origin of Bulgarian it would be rather hard to
incorporate Latin into the Slavic group of languages and the subtlety of the joke would be lost
to most readers. In fact, almost all examples of Dog Latin in the Discworld series are not
present in the translations.
This is not the case with Nannys version of Esperanto. The translator has chosen to
substitute key words and phrases with other popular foreign expressions and then
mispronounce them in the funniest way possible. It is arguable if this is de facto a case of
pun, since the words are made up. This is also probably the largest example of translators
creativity in all six books. (see Corpus, page 43).
The same way in Jabberwocky Carroll counts on nonsense words that almost but not
quite sound like real ones, Pratchett creates a set of words that resemble an actual language,
10 In fact "Latatian" is the proto- language of the largest city in the Discworld - Ankh-Morpork,
whose ancient history resembles that of the early Roman Republic. The same way "Morporkian" is
English, Latatian is Dog Latin. Pratchett uses it mostly for mottoes, like the motto of the City Watch
which was originally "Fabricati Diem, Puncti Agunt Celeriter" which means Make the day, the
moments pass quickly". Due to erosion, it later could be read as "Fabricati Diem, Punc" or "Make My
Day, Punk".
13

enough so that the reader would recognise it, but he plays on the similarity of English words
to foreign ones for humorous effect. Some of the wordplay seems forced, other cases are
pretty obvious the French word crepe does, Im afraid, sound a lot like crap.
2.6 Approaches in pun translation. Stages of translating wordplay
Delabastita (1996: 134) offers some possible solutions to the translation of puns. They are
well known and are often quoted in similar works but that is simply because their high level
of applicability:
PUN PUN
A pun in the ST translated by a TL pun, which may be different in formal and sematic
structure of textual function.
PUN NON PUN
The meaning remains but the wordplay is lost. This is the most likely approach when the
translator finds the meaning more important than the lay on words.
PUN RELATED RETHORICAL DEVICE
For example rhyme, alliteration, irony etc. it also useful in humorous texts, in order to
preserve the function.
NON PUN PUN
Compensation is often present where the language allows it, to make up for other jokes that
were omitted.
ZERO PUN
New textual material is added, again compensation is the only excuse. Such examples should
be very subtle, since co-authorship is frowned upon.
EDITORAIL TECHNIQUES
Footnotes and endnotes explaining the joke. In the case of the Discworld series it happens,
although rarely when the joke is impossible to translate that there would be a footnote
explaining it.
Having these approaches in mind, there are several stages in translating wordplay. As
Ive said the translator should be able to recognize the pun from an unusual language choice
of the author or a metaphor. Then they should assess the puns position in the text, its purpose,
the goal and effect and judge whether or not the wordplay is vital in this place. They should
also be able to judge how relevant this pun is to the reader, if something is cultural specific
14

and would not be understood. Genre specifics should also be taken into consideration
knowing the intended reader would make the following choices easier. Having in mind the
purpose (a joke for jokes sake or some broader contextual meaning) and how understandable
would be the pun for the reader the translator can choose from the above mentioned strategies
seeking an equivalent pun, a functional change i.e. a joke instead of a pun, omission in the
cases where wordplay is impossible, or if all else fails explaining the pun with a footnote. Of
course lingering too much on one joke would not be practical, but a translator of such a text
should possess some natural talent, resourcefulness, creativity and, of course a bit of luck.

PART TWO
3. Analysis
In this part I will analyse some of the more notable wordplay examples in the six
books and their translations using several classifications complied to fit my purposes, and
Delabastitas suggested translation strategies. I will make my classification based on the puns
made in the original texts, rather than classifying the translators strategy as is often the
practice, since more often than not the pun is not present in the translated text. That way I
remain closer to the actual translation process from the challenges the translator faces, to the
decisions they have to make and the selection of an adequate strategy. Classifying the strategy
on the other hand focuses on the end product and not on the process itself. If it is possible, I
will try to offer an alternative translation or a way to improve upon the current translation,
marking it in a different type of bullet for clarity.
Since it is hard to differentiate between homonymy and polysemy, I will merge those
into one category. Another category would be homophony and partial homophony. Wordplay
based on homophony/paronymy lends itself even harder to interlingual transfer. In many of
the examples Ive selected the translator has chosen to explain the joke in a footnote, rather
than missing it entirely. I have also distinguished another category of puns puns based on
transformation of idioms. They are usually combined with homophony/paronymy but the fact
that the pun is based on a set phrase, rather than a single word transformation, means that a
separate translators approach must be used in those cases. Lastly I will consider some
examples of Dog Latin/English as discussed in the theoretical part those are made up
phrases that on occasion appear in the series. These types of puns are probably the trickiest of
all, because they need a more creative approach, so it is understandable why a lot of them
15

were simply omitted. However, in Witches Abroad, that would mean deleting large portions of
the text, so there we have some interesting translators suggestions. They all seem to follow
the same pattern of formation via phonemic similarities to some popular foreign phrases.
Since it would be difficult to detach the wordplay from the paragraph in which it
occurs, I will include an entire snippet of text and underline the wordplay itself, to draw
attention to it. If it is needed I will also discuss the larger context.
3.1. Homonymy and polysemy
If you might see your way clear to becoming, that is, whether you would accept a Chair.
[] Hmm, said Granny, I dont see why not. Ive always wanted one of those big
wicker ones, you know, with the sort of sunshade bit on the top. If thats not too much
trouble. (Equal Rites 384)
?
[] ? . ,
. ( 269)
The wordplay here is based on the multiple meanings of the words chair a place to
sit on and a professors post. Pratchett often uses such misunderstandings as a stylistic
approach. In this case the fact that the speaker means the post is marked with a capital letter.
In Bulgarian we have a similar polysemy with the word i.e. PUN PUN, but we do
not capitalize the words for posts and professions. Since the translator has chosen to substitute
the joke, it would be appropriate to expand the description of the furniture the same way it is
done with the chair. For example ,
, but it would be also appropriate to keep the original
note since it is noted several times throughout the
books that Granny is literate but very suspicious of writing.
Greebo radiated genuine intelligence. He also radiated a smell that would have knocked over
a wall and caused sinus trouble in a dead fox (Wyrd Sisters 168)
. ,
. (
157)
This example is not an actual pun using a polysemy, per se, more of a stylistic approach,
but both in English and in Bulgarian the text uses a zeugma to connect the two sentences and
make a joke.
16

Very well then, my theatrical witches, he said.


Youve done your show, and now its time for your applause. He nodded to his men.
Clap them in chains, he said. ( Wyrd Sisters 446)
, .
. . .
( 417)
The pun here uses the inferred verb clap time for applause and the verb clap as in
chains. A good way to render the pun would be to make a slight change to the text:

, .
[] - ./ .

The books said that the old-time witches had sometimes danced in their shifts. Magrat had
wondered about how you danced in shifts. Perhaps there wasnt room for them all to dance at
once, shed thought.( Wyrd Sisters 195)
, .
( 183)
The word shift in English can mean both shirt/dress and doing something taking turns.
The wordplay here is another case of misunderstanding in this case about the nature of the
witches dances, where in art the women are either naked or in their undershirts which is
probably almost the same level of indecency. Magrat being somewhat of an innocent soul
misinterprets it as a rather confusing type of coven meeting. The translator couldnt find an
appropriate pun or even a joke to substitute it with, so he chose omission instead. We can use
a similar polysemy in Bulgarian:

, .
, ,
- .
The world has a rather obsolete meaning of an undergarment, but now is used
predominantly for a formal mens garment, which effectively creates the same level of
confusion. Of course, having to find a mans shirt for a coven meeting is a bit of a farfetched
theory, but not as much as dancing by taking turns.

17

Her face was pale. It might also have been drawn; if so, then it was by a very neurotic artist.
She looked as though she meant business. Bad business.( Wyrd Sisters 273)
.
, .
, . . (
256)
In this case the pun is based on the double use of the past participle drawn as an
adjective () and a structural part of the past perfect verb form of draw. In Bulgarian
we have the expression , which would fit rather nicely in this context.

,
etc.
This way we have again a play on words based on an idiom, rather than on a polysemy,
but it doesnt sound as forced as in the original translation.

There was still a heap, but it wasnt rock anymore.


Theres a, wait for it, theres a bit of a squash in here, said Nanny.
Magrat opened her eyes wider.
Still pumpkins?
Bit of a squash. Squash, said Nanny, in case anyone hadnt got it. (Witches Abroad 90)
, .
, , .
- .
?
. , .(
82)
Im a bit uncertain what exactly the translator meant here, it is either an almost literal
translation or Im missing the joke. It seems that this is a case of PUN ZERO, were the
simply the vocabulary is humorous, but that makes the last sentence, seem unnecessary,
especially with in italics. In English squash can mean a type of pumpkin11, but also
being smashed/ squished. The joke is made in poor taste so an equally bad joke can be made
using the already existing translation and a paronym the word . Technically the
word itself is a borrowing but the drink is popular enough for it to be understood. I also see a
11 An entire pile of rocks has just been turned into pumpkins by a rogue magic wand, stopping them
form smashing the dwarves underneath.
18

problem with the translation wait for it/ . Wait for it is used predominantly in
jokes where the speaker postpones the punchline. Since we dont have such a rhetorical
device in jokes, omitting it would be completely appropriate, rather than leaving it and
causing confusion:

[] , , -
, .
That way we both have a more obvious joke and the need of a bit of an explanation that
is present in the original text. We also avoid making the character seem a bit dim, which
happens when her jokes are poorly translated.

Thats fairy godmothering, this is, she added, half to herself. Always do it impressively.
Always meddling, always trying to be in control! Hah! Someone got a bit of poison? Send
everyone to sleep for a hundred years! Do it the easy way. All this for one prick12. As if that
was the end of the world. She paused. Nanny Ogg was standing behind her. There was no
possible way she could have detected her expression. Gytha?
Yes, Esme? said Nanny Ogg innocently.
I can feel you grinnin. You can save the tupennyhapenny psycholology for them as
wants it.(Witches Abroad 201)
. !
, !
! ?
! .
. . . .
. ?
, ? .
, .
, . ( 181)
This play on words was greatly exploited by Shakespeare; somewhere in the 16th century
the word became a euphemism. While prick in this context is something perfectly innocent,
for someone prone to innuendos it is a good opportunity for a joke. However the joke must
only be implied to fit the context. The translators solution was PUN ZERO but to me

12 Its a Sleeping Beauty scenario. Granny means a prick of the finger. Nanny Ogg means a prick of a
prince.
19

doesnt have the sexual connotation it is supposed to and the grinning


seems a bit out of place. I would suggest:

[] !
. . .
This fits the pattern of how euphemisms sometimes work in Bulgarian. The is 3rd
person, singular, masculine so both the word for a finger and a slang for male member can
be implied. Thus formulated even the word can be used for sexual activity. Now that
translation deviates from the original pun. Where Granny means that a prick of the finger
shouldnt be lethal, Nanny would say that all is done so the princess can get the prince and the
anatomy that goes with him. However in both the original and my interpretation the sexual act
has supposedly already occurred, which strays from the original fairytale, but not from the
characters mentality.

Nanny glanced at the troll. Another Count? Im sure theres unaccountably more Counts here
than I can count. And what can I get you, officers? she said. (Maskerade 406)
.
, ? , , .
, ?( 344)
The wordplay here is based on the similarity in both the spelling and pronunciation of
the title of nobility and the verb, as well as the morphological relation between the verb and
the adverb. Whereas the verb comes from the Latin computare, the noun is form Latin
comitem (nominative comes); both words have entered into English form French and the
similarity has produced multiple jokes13. The pun is omitted in the translation but I would
suggest one based on homophony:

, ? , , .
The use of the word would be appropriate in the situation, since the two officers are
breaking their cover in a rather spectacular way, and the joke is based on a Freudian slip- type
of remark.

Magrat Garlick hadnt worn black and had probably never in her life said cool except when
commenting on the temperature. (Carpe Jugulum 21)

13 It has even created a character: the Count from Sesame Street a vampire count obsessed with
counting.
20

,
. ( 20)
This is a case of wordplay on the literal and the metaphoric slang meaning of the word
cool. Cool and hot do tend to create problems for a lot of translators, since in Bulgarian we
dont have slang terms based on words denoting temperature. Since in this case the focus of
the sentence falls on the slang use, the translator has chosen the closest translation in
Bulgarian. As with some previous cases I can suggest a way to improve on the translation:

, , ,
.
The word has entered Bulgarian slang, possibly through attempts of translating
of cool in commercials and films, and is now popularly used both for foods and in
fashion/everyday life. The meaning of something fresh and new can be transferred to clothes,
jewelry, music etc.

Youcan resist, cant you, he said. I was watching you when Lacci was playing the piano
and losing. Do you have any vampire blood in you? (Carpe Jugulum 156)
, ? ,
. ? (
129)
The pun is based on the multiple meanings of the verb play. It can be used both as play
someone/against someone in games and sports and play an instrument. However, in the
Bulgarian translation it sounds as if the losing comes from the failed attempt of hypnotism
and not from the poor playing of scales itself. A more effective translation would be
which both sounds like a joke and describes precisely the
angry manner of playing.
And what do they expect of me?
Says Evensong on the poster, said Nanny simply.
Even beer would be better. (Carpe Jugulum 628)
. . ( 506)
The wordplay here is between even in the sense of evening and even, meaning .
Since the Bulgarian word for is very close to the word , this is either a missed

21

opportunity or the translator thought that the pun is obvious and didnt clarify it. I would
suggest:

.
.
Such change is acceptable, because although Nanny is an avid drinker of anything
alcoholic, shes also an avid eater.
Finally we have one case of something that can be called a retrospective pun a very
long ongoing joke that begins in the first book of the series, but is not actually revealed as one
until the last:

What is the name of this place, sir? said the wizard.


The blacksmith shrugged.
Bad Ass, he said.
Bad?
Ass, repeated the blacksmith, his tone defying anyone to make something of it. (Equal
Rites 10)
, ? .
.
.
?...
,
. ( 8)
Lets at least get down to Bad Ass, she said, tugging at Oatss hand.
You what?
Agnes sighed. Its the nearest village.
Bad Ass?
Look, there was a donkey, and it stopped in the middle of the river, and it wouldnt go
backward or forward, said Agnes, as patiently as possible. Lancre people got used to
explaining this. Bad Ass. See? Yes, I know that Disobedient Donkey might have been
moreacceptable, but (Carpe Jugulum 214-5)
.
, ?!
.
- .
22

?!
,
. ( 177)
The first problems here is that the translator of the first book couldnt have possibly
guessed the meaning behind the name. The joke comes from Bad Ass meaning someone
tough and cool, but when naming places Pratchett usually doesnt give the back story.
According to the etymology dictionary the two words ass actually have a different
origin. The donkey one could be from Old English assa or ultimately - from Latin asinus,
which is probably of Middle Eastern origin. The second meaning of the word is backside or
bottom and is a slang word. It first appeared in the 1860s14 in nautical slang, then in popular
use from 1930; chiefly U.S.; from dialectal variant pronunciation of arse (q.v.). The loss of
the r likely occurred due to the words similarity to ass, which is used to denote a stupid
person (most notably Bottom in Midsummer Nights Dream).
The pun is extremely popular but in this case there was no ground for considering the
name an actual pun, the translator couldnt have known that at some point he would get the
explanation. His solution was using one possible meaning of the word which he found
appropriate and which had the most humorous effect. In Carpe Jugulum however this same
translator is faced with the ass once again, but here he cant make up a story that is close to
the original AND keep the name of the village. So he ended up with PUN ZERO, and just
implied some story behind it.
Now, given the fact that I am already familiar with the lower-back story, I would offer
something along the lines of , which allows for a double interpretation as a
meaningful name and is also an approximate portmanteaux formed by clipping
, but wed also have a paronymy with and . This suggestion of
course changes the implied meaning and the possible badassery of the people living in such a
place, but it is both a pun and somewhat humorous, following both the way some places are
named by compounding two words and the folkloric significance of the toponym.
3.2 Homophony and paronymy
Itd been her idea to form a local coven. She felt it was more, well, occult. To her amazement
the other two had agreed or, at least, hadnt disagreed much.

14 http://www.etymonline.com/
23

An oven? Nanny Ogg had said. Whatd we want to join an oven for?(Wyrd Sisters
10)
. ,
-.
.
? . ?
( 11)
The pun here is based on rhyme rather than reason. It would be very hard to
mispronounce coven without the [k], so it would be a case of something (un)intentionally
misheard. It is also possible that the joke is a vague reference to the Hansel and Gretel tale,
where the children put the witch in her own oven. The translator has found an equally funny
rhyme in Bulgarian -, and since the word is used solely as a toponym added
the explanatory .
Local people called it the Bear Mountain. This was because it was a bare mountain, not
because it had a lot of bears on it. This caused a certain amount of profitable confusion,
though; people often strode into the nearest village with heavy duty crossbows, traps and nets
and called haughtily for native guides to lead them to the bears. (Wyrd Sisters 12-13)
. ,
*. .
- ,
. * : bear , bare
, .. ( 11)
This wordplay clearly demonstrates the problem with the translation of puns in context.
It is possible to create some sort of wordplay, like: ,
15 , ,
. However this would mean that the entire paragraph should be changed to fit the hunting
of an entirely different species and its questionable whether or not such freedom is excusable
to accommodate one pun.
Yes, well, so he killed the old king, she conceded.

15 Of course this is an intentional mistake the bold eagle is occasionally translated


instead of .
24

Thats natures way, aint it? Your lot know all about this. Survival of the wossname.
You wouldnt know what an heir was, unless you thought it was a sort of rabbit. (Wyrd
Sisters 157)
, , .
, ? .
, *. * :
hare , heir , . .
. ( 148)
As with bare/bear this is probably one of the few examples of pure homophony. The
only possible strategy is explaining the pun. In this case I believe omitting the explanation and
substituting the pun with a joke would also be perfectly acceptable:

[] ,
.
Since in nature animals often eat their young, this comment could pass as an attempted
dark humour.

This was no. 302, and the Fool knew better than to let a feed line go hungry. Marry, nuncle,
he said wearily, ignoring the spasm of pain that crawled across the dukes face, ifn I had a
Knighthood (Night Hood), why, it would keep my ears Warm in Bedde; ifaith, if many a
Knight is a Fool, why, should a (Wyrd Sisters 263)
302 . .
, ,
, *,
. , ...
* : knighthood , night hood
, . . . (
293)
The example here another perfect case of homophony. Unfortunately the only possible
translation would be PUN ZERO and explaining footnote. Interestingly enough even the
author felt the need to add Night Hood in brackets to clarify the pun. This example also shows
that in some cases explaining the joke when all else fails is needed, since just leaving it
translated would make the Fool sound more foolish than he really is.

25

We had some stuff it was chewy youll never guess it was snails, and not bad and Esme had
three helpins before she found out and then had a Row with the cook and Magrat was sick all
night just at the thought of it and had the dire rear.(Witches Abroad 149-150)
, ,
, ,
.(
134)
This is a good example of folk etymology where the author plays with both the
pronunciation of the word diarrhea and its meaning dire as in dire states and rear as in
bottom. In Bulgarian the pun would be impossible, so the translator opted for a made up word
that looks written by someone who cant spell ; so we have PUN RELATED
RHETORICAL DEVICE in this case a nonce word.
Well, I dont know, said Granny, apparently talking to her cards. She cleaned her ear again.
Tch, tch, tch. What dyou call it when, you know, you want to put more money in, sort of
thing?
Its called raising, said Mister Frank, his knuckles going white.
Ill do one of them raisins, then. Five dollars, I think.(Witches Abroad 190)
, .
. , , . , , , ,
, ?
.
. , . (
171)
This wordplay is based on phonemic similarity in connected speech the verb raise +
ing meaning a noun used in card games, but often in casual pronunciation the nasal in /rez/
could be pronounced as the dried fruit /rezn/. In Bulgarian such reduction of sounds would
be productive as a translation variant so the translator has made a pun on a paronymy . Another variant could be .
Greebo? Come here!
The cat turned and tried to find a place of safety in the suits breastplate. He was
beginning to doubt hed make it through the knight. (Lords and Ladies 306)

26

, !
. ,
.( 343)
The same case as with the night hood above, the author plays on the expression to make it
through the night. The used strategy is PUN ZERO, but there is some attempt at
compensation.
Er. Could be, she said. Theres always a lot going on, I know that. Our Nev said they
sometimes do different operations every night. (Maskerade 219)
. .
, .(
188)
Both in English and in Bulgarian the two words are borrowing, originating from the
same Latin verb. So in this case PUN PUN, where both puns function on the same semantic
and grammatical levels. In the Bulgarian text however the translator has added , as
a clarification of the pun.
Says here that Dame Timpani, who sings the part of Quizella, is a diva, said Nanny. So I
reckon this is like a part-time job, then. Probly quite a good idea, on account of you have to
be able to hold your breath. Good trainin for the singin.(Maskerade 232)
, , ,
. ,
? ( 198)
This is another pun where the joke is based on a false homophony- mispronouncing an
unfamiliar word. In this case Nanny is reading from a program and mistakes the Italian word
diva for the word diver /dav/. This leads to the logical assumption that diving is a nice
hobby for a singer. In Bulgarian weve also borrowed the word form Italian and theres an
accidental homonym with the adjective in 3rd person, sg., feminine. From there the
wordplay is made with a word that has the same root morpheme . This was selected
for its comical effect; there are other possibilities such as implying that if shes wild, she
needs to be tamed, etc.
There was a crash from the direction of the kitchen, although it was really more of a
crashendothe long drawn-out clatter that begins when a pile of plates begins to slip,
continues when someone tries to grab at them, develops a desperate counter-theme when the

27

person realizes they dont have three hands, and ends with the roinroinroin of the one
miraculously intact plate spinning around and around on the floor.( Maskerade 318)
,
, , ,
, ,
.( 269)
The pun here is based on a partial homophony between the English word crash and the
Italian crescendo. The wordplay is purely stylistic the setting is an opera house so the
vocabulary is befitting. In Bulgarian it is omitted, but since even the pun in the original text
seems a bit forced, I think a similar pun can be made:

, -

Its a float our Wayne brought back from the seaside once. Its a buoy for the fishing nets.
I didnt know buoys had glass balls, said Agnes. (Carpe Jugulum 170)
. .
, . (
140)
The pun here is based on the same pronunciation of the words buoy/boy - /b/; the
former meaning a fishing float and the latter a young male. The image of the glass fishing
float is unfamiliar to the Bulgarian reader the floats we use are normally wood or plastic,
but in Britain and other places the fishers use transparent glass balls that are rather pretty and
are also a popular decoration. In Bulgarian the pun is based on the polysemy of the word
balls, but the use of the glass float remains unclear. In this case avoiding the needed
explanation is the best choice, since something lengthier would draw the attention away from
the joke.
Nanny could find an innuendo in Good morning. She could certainly find one in
innuendo.( Carpe Jugulum 170)
. (
141)
It is obvious why the translator here has omitted the pun, the joke is a bit obscure even
in English. It takes a certain type of mind to be able to find the innuendo in innuendo in-

28

your-end-oh. It also takes a specific mindset to be able to do the same joke in Bulgarian my
suggestion would be a play on the word :

.
-.
Since the joke is a bit forced and it may be missed by the more innocent readers, there is
a need of graphic separation and the extra stress to drive in the point.

There was some serious pulling of beards as well.


Gosh. Sects maniacs, said Perdita. (Carpe Jugulum 386)
.
-
! . (
318)
This is another pun where the pronunciation is a bit forced to make a pun /skts/
vs /sks/. The two words are far enough that without the connotation of the word maniac the
joke wouldnt work. The translator has chosen simply to reinforce the fanaticism. However, in
Bulgarian weve borrowed the term sex maniac literally, so calling the congregation of priests
could work.
3.3 Structural transformations of idioms
But magic has a habit of lying low, like a rake in the grass. (Equal Rites 27)

, . ( 19)
In this example the pun is easily missed. I believe the author here plays with the
expression a snake in the grass meaning something hidden and sneaky, but substitutes
snake with rake, thus ending with a double-edged joke. On the one hand we have the pun;
on the other we have a popular trope in cartoons - the rake that hits someone over the face
when they step on it. The translator has simply explained the more obvious joke - that of the
rake - PUN ZERO.
Thesere like saddlebags. Im not wearing these. And this thing?
A ruff, mm. Um. Theyre all the rage in Sto Helit, my brother says.
You mean they make people angry? And whats this? (Lords and Ladies 63)
. ?
29

, .
.
, , . ?
( 72)
This is a very good example of PUN PUN, where both puns are idioms. The
translator has located a similar fashion related expression in Bulgarian and used it to make a
joke that is equivalent to the original one. In both cases we have an expression that uses a
word which separated from the context means something else entirely. The only change is the
semantic shift from anger to terror.
Got to do Mister Pounders job now the poor man is passed away! I am a person of all jobs!
No peas for the wicked! But Mister Greebo just hits them with his paws and theyre off to rat
heaven in a jiff! (Maskerade 364)
,
! ! !
!( 309)
Here the structural transformation of an idiom is combined with near-homophony. The
character is an odd jobs boy, who appears to have some sort of mental delay. He uses No peas
for the wicked!, obviously meaning No peace/rest for the wicked. The translator has simply
used an expression that sounds like some sort of folk saying. I think in this case it is
acceptable to use a similar expression in Bulgarian: , but change it in the
same way as in the original:

!
The only question here is whether or not this would be a politically correct for someone
with a mental delay, but at some point later in the book someone else says that he may be dim,
but mad he is not, so the authors use of the word could be noted as an excuse.

Hah! The leopard does not change his shorts, my girl! (Carpe Jugulum 54)
! , , ! (
42)
The English expression is the leopard doesnt change its spots, and a confusion of
paronyms probably explained by the fact that leopards are unknown to the character, so in
misremembering the proverb she reverts to a more familiar, everyday object (shorts). It could
be a case on an intentional mistake or something misheard. Im uncertain why the translator
30

has chosen to leave the leopard, it could be that he didnt recognise the expression or he
decided that it sounds funnier with a leopard. However in Bulgarian we have similar
expression - , . I believe that in this case it would
be appropriate to use it first of all the setting a place where the character could hardly be
familiar with the nature of leopards, and there are plenty of wolves. Second the use of
common proverbs would fit the character. That way the translation becomes homomorphic
the same type of joke said with different words:

, , !
Ive kept the inversion of the original proverb, and Ive omitted the part with the fur and
changed it with the shorts, so that the reference is clear but the comic effect is also preserved.

Agnes would have pushed him away. That is, Agnes would have dithered and tried to talk her
way out of things, but if push had come to shove then shed have pushed hard. (Carpe
Jugulum 160)
.
, , .

133)
In this case the translation sounds odd. At first glance the translator has attempted to do
some sort of play on two words with the same root morpheme but it sounds like an
unfortunate literal translation. It is possible to use an idiom that in Bulgarian has a similar
meaning and presents an opportunity for a pun:

. ...
, , .
In this way, a punning effect can be achieved based on the literalization of a part of the
Bulgarian idiom, equivalent to the English one meaning things are getting serious and a
physical action that notes an attempted resistance.

It could be arranged, haha. He grinned. It was the sort of grin that Agnes supposed was
called infectious but, then, so was measles.(Carpe Jugulum 156)
-.
. ,
, .( 129)
The pun is a good example of zeugma two different collocations of the adjective
infectious. In English a grin/smile can be contagious. The translation however sounds like an
31

interesting stylistic choice and not like a typical expression, which is the case. This could be
an opportunity to use a similar expression in Bulgarian . In this case it
wouldnt even change the situation, since Vlad is both smiling and laughing. This translation
is not particularly felicitous, since the Bulgarian set phrase is , but the
adjective that collocates with words for diseases, though cognate, is still different: ,
but it could serve the purposes of the pun.
Havent you noticed the looks hes been giving you? said Magrat, as they followed the
lurching figure.
What, him? said Nanny.
Could be carrying a torch for you, said Magrat.
I thought it was just to see where hes going! said
Nanny, a little bit of panic in her voice. I mean, I havent got my best drawers on or
anything!(Carpe Jugulum 479)
? .
?! .
.
, !
. - , !(
391)
To carry a torch for someone means to have a crush on someone, but at the same time
the scene is set in the darkness and the character is carrying a literal torch. The translator has
chosen to make a pun based on the two meanings of the verb - being
distracted/absentminded and having feelings for someone. This could work but it doesnt fit
very well with the character he can hardly be described as distracted. There is another
possible pun:

?
, e !
Again we move from the figurative to the literal meaning of the expression and we keep
the image.
3.4 Dog English/Nannyoggisms

Alma mater, gaudy armors eagle tour and so on (Equal Rites 226)
ZERO ( 161)
32

This sentences is used by a wizard when discussing the university of magic; it is clearly
a phonetic interpretation of the first few lines of the students hymn Gaudeamus igitur/
Iuvenes dum sumus plus the first line of the last stanza which is the most popular - Alma
mater. Im not certain how transparent those lines would be to the average British reader, but I
believe that omitting it is an underestimation of the Bulgarian reader - even if they dont see
the reference, Alma mater is a popular enough phrase to give them a clue to the reference:

, ... .
Ive used common words that can be used to remember the more complicated phrase
like a form of mnemonics, and I also added , as a way to clarify the
fact that the character is referring to a song.

Tempers fuggit, said Nanny Ogg.


What?
Tempers fuggit. Means that was then and this is now, said Nanny. ( Witches Abroad
29)
.
?
. , , .(
25)
This is another popular Latin phrase - Tempus fugit, usually translated as time flies,
which here is rather freely interpreted by the character. The translator has omitted the pun and
substituted it with the most humorous possible literal translation. Again I believe it is
acceptable to leave it in some form and use the original joke in Bulgarian as well:

.
?
- . , , .
Ive played upon the similar pronunciation of the word timbre and tempus and inserted a now
popular borrowing, especially amongst younger people fuck it.

Thats what you need to say, said Magrat. Any inn has got to open up for bona fide
travelers and give them succor. (Witches Abroad 115)
.
. (
104)
33

This is a case of ZERO PUN, where the phrase in the original text is used correctly
but the translator has decided to use the similarity of the word bona to the Italian word buona
(signorina), and the rest is the word with a suffix that resembles the word formation
in Italian.
Gooden day, big-feller mine host! Trois beers por favor avec us, silver plate.
Whats a silver plate got to do with it? demanded Granny.
Its foreign for please, said Nanny. (Witches Aboard 117-118)
, , ! , , .
? .
.( 106)
This entire conversation is a rendering of French and German words with similar ones
in English. The most interesting one is the rendition of sil vous plait as silver plate - a good
example of folk etymology. The translator has substituted the pun with another ()
pronunciation in connected speech and a word that rhymes with the pronunciation of plait
.
She wasnt at all certain about the meaning of the word decadent. Shed dismissed the
possibility that it meant having ten teeth in the same sense that Nanny Ogg, for example,
was unident.( Witches Abroad 165)
.
, .( Witches Abroad 149)
The pun is a good example of pseudomorhs - the misinterpretation of decadent as
composed of the Latin roots for ten (deca) and for tooth (dent). The translator here has chosen
to use the Bulgarian synonym of the word decadent , and misspell it to make the
pun. If he were to leave it with , the pun could work if we introduce a combination
of a dialectal form and a borrowing .
I know, one got it this morning, said Nanny. Got all that fancy nibbling on the edges and
gold and everything. Whos Ruservup?
Magrat had long ago got a handle on Nanny Oggs world-view.
RSVP, she said. It means you ought to say if youre coming.( Lords and Ladies
116)

34

.
, . ?
.
RSVP , .(
133)
This is another example of compensation ZERO PUN. Whereas Nanny asks Who
is Ruservup? there isnt an actual pun here, just the assumption that this is a person. In
Bulgarian the insertion of vowels makes the abbreviation resemble which
perfectly fits Nanny Oggs mentality
Can o pee, anyone? said Nanny, shoving a tray toward a likely looking group.
I beg your pardon? said someone. Oh canaps( Carpe Jugulum 120)
?
- .
? - ( 99)
This is a case of mispronounced French borrowing the word canap (for cocktail
snack) in English can be pronounced as the much less delicious can of pee, which has a more
startling effect on the innocent victims than in the Bulgarian text, unless it was meant to
remind of the expression (which would be rather far-fetched). The
borrowing exists in Bulgarian as well, but we also use it for a type of settee, so we can use
synonymy to form a pun:

? [] ? , .
Despite the fact that the word is not as widely used, the meaning would be clear in the
context of a party/food and would reproduce the general pragmatic effect, implying that
Nanny Ogg is trying hard to sound more sophisticated than she is.

4. Conclusion
It seems that a relatively small part of the wordplay is entirely lost. In most cases, the
translators rather opted for a more humorous vocabulary as a way to substitute the joke, so the
function of the texts is not lost. This appears to be the most commonly used strategy
throughout the series. The category that has lost the most during translation is the one of

35

idiomatic transformations. Of course, this could simply be because using the target language
idioms could be considered inappropriate a too serious case of translation domestication.
Looking at texts more than 10 years after their translation puts things into perspective,
but it can also make us prone to criticizing. It is very easy to look at a work and say it could
have been done better, but when we have to do it ourselves, pressed by time and
circumstances beyond our control, the task that seemed so easy, proves to be much more
difficult than expected. It is clear that the existing translations of Pratchetts books can be
improved upon be that with more research, more time to think, or just a pair of fresh eyes to
look at the text. Even if they need improvement, those texts have done their jobs. They have
created several generations of loyal fans, some of whom were even inspired to improve their
English enough so that they can read the books in original. All of the theoreticians that discuss
the art or translating humour seem to agree on one thing it is impossible to have a perfect
translation. Some stylistic sacrifices have to be made. Because of their specifics puns are the
ones most suffering during the translation process. The translator has to either focus only on
them or to select the quickest and most obvious solution. This functional approach seems to
work on most levels the messages are clear enough, the humour is preserved and the texts
compensate for any omissions.
To me the only serious problem with the existing translations is not the lack of puns,
but how their poor rendition affects the readers perception of the characters. In such cases the
most obvious joke, or indeed the omission, affect the deeper contextual level, and distort the
intended effect. It is arguable how serious the loss is, but it does exist. Characters such as
Nanny Ogg, who have more depth, seem to become one-dimensional just a series of dirty
jokes, and a dirty mind behind the face of an aging apple; she is neither as witty or as cunning
as in the original. Of course, this distortion may seem inconsequential, but the author himself
states several books later that Nanny is secretly cleverer than Granny, and clever enough to
keep this fact a secret. It may be argued that this loss of depth affects the entire text and thus
is lost one of the subtler and more meaningful messages of Pratchetts books things are not
always what they seem.

36

WORKS CITED
Primary sources
Pratchett Terry. Equal Rites. Corgi, 1987.
Pratchett Terry. Wyrd Sisters. Corgi, 1989.
Pratchett Terry. Witches Abroad. Corgi, 1998.
Pratchett Terry. Lords and Ladies. Corgi, 1994.
Pratchett Terry. Maskrade. Corgi, 1995.
Pratchett Terry. Carpe Jugulum. Corgi, 1999.
, . . : . : ,
2001.
, . . : . : ,
2001.
, . . : . : , 2001.
, . . : . : ,
2001.
, . . : . : , 2002.
, . . : . : , 2002.
Secondary sources:
Chiaro, Delia. The Language of Jokes: Analysing Verbal Play. Routledge, 1992.
Chiaro, Delia. Foreword. Verbally Expressed Humor and Translation: An Overview of a
Neglected Field. Humor, vol. 18, issue 2, 2005, (135-145).
Delabastita, Dirk. Introduction. Wordplay and Translation. Traductio: Essays on Punning
and Translation. Ed. Dirk Delabastita Special issue of The Translator, St. Jerome
Publishing, 1997, (1-22).
Munday, Jeremy, Introducing Translation Studies: Theories and Applications. Routledge,
2001.
Nash, Walter, The Language of Humour. Longman Publishing Group, 1985.
Online dictionary of etymology: http://www.etymonline.com.
Ross, Alison. The Language of Humour. Routledge, 1998.
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2013/entries/humor/.
Veisbergs, Andrejs, The Contextual Use of Idioms, Wordplay and Translation. Traductio:
Essays on Punning and Translation. Ed. Dirk Delabastita. Special issue of The
Translator, St. Jerome Publishing, 1997, (155-176).
37

Corpus of wordplay examples


Equal Rites
English
What is the name of this place, sir? said
the wizard.
The blacksmith shrugged.
Bad Ass, he said.
Bad?
Ass, repeated the blacksmith, his tone
defying anyone to make something of it.
(10)
Do you know how wizards like to be
buried?
Yes!
Well, how?
Granny Weatherwax paused at the bottom
of the stairs.
Reluctantly.`(24-25)
But magic has a habit of lying low, like a
rake in the grass. (27)

Bulgarian
, ?
.
.
.
?...
,

. (8)

?
!
, ?

.
.(17)


, . (19)
Smith looked from her to his daughter, who
was sulking.
.
And theyll make a wizard of her? he
,
said.
?
Granny sighed.

I dont know what theyll make of her,
. (84)
she said. (121)
Alma mater, gaudy armors eagle tour and (161)
so on (226)
Which is why most ordinary visitors to the
University use the back door, which is

made of perfectly normal wood and doesnt ,
go around terrorizing people, or even stand
still terrorizing people. (245)
.
(174)
Phrases filtered down to her hiding place.

Basic fabric of the universe was one, and .
she didnt understand what that was, unless ,
he meant denim, or maybe flannelette.

(270)
. (192)
I can see youve been getting ideas below ,
your station, said Granny coldly. (298)
,
. (212)
If you might see your way clear to

becoming, that is, whether you would

accept a Chair.
?
38

[]
[]
Hmm, said Granny, I dont see why not. ? .
Ive always wanted one of those big wicker ,
ones, you know, with the sort of sunshade
. (269)
bit on the top. If thats not too much
trouble. (384)
And maybe we can bring some students

out to your cottage in the summer,

Cutangle went on, for extra-mural
.
studies.
[]. (270)
Whos Extra Muriel?
I mean, theres lots they can learn, Im
sure. (386)
Wyrd Sisters
On nights such as this, witches are abroad.
Well, not actually abroad. They dont like
.
the food and you cant trust the water and
.
the shamans always hog the deckchairs. (8) ,


.(9)
Itd been her idea to form a local coven.

She felt it was more, well, occult. To her
.
amazement the other two had agreed or, at , -.
least, hadnt disagreed much.

An oven? Nanny Ogg had said. Whatd
we want to join an oven for?(10)
.
? .

? (11)
It was a pretty good body, incidentally, now ,
he came to see it from outside for the first
,
time. He had always been quite attached to , .
it although, he had to admit, this did not

now seem to be the case.(12)
,
.(13)
Now, just when a body would have been
,
useful, it had let him down. Or out. (13)
,
. -
.(14)
There is a knocking without, he said.
.
Without what? said the Fool.
? .
Without the door, idiot.
, .
The Fool gave him a worried look. A
.
knocking without a door? he said
?
suspiciously. This isnt some kind of Zen, .
is it? (41)
, ?(39)
39

Who dost knock without? he growled.


The soldier, drenched and terrified though
he was, hesitated.
Without? Without what? he said.
If youre going to bugger about, you can
bloody well stay without all day, said the
porter calmly.
No! I must see the duke upon the instant!
shouted the guard. Witches are abroad!
The porter was about to come back with,
Good time of year for it, or Wish I was,
too, but stopped when he saw the mans
face.(42/43)

Marry, sir said the Fool nervously, and


gave his hated mandolin a quick strum.
The duke sat down on the throne.
I am already extremely married, he said.
(90)
Yes, well, so he killed the old king, she
conceded.
Thats natures way, aint it? Your lot
know all about this. Survival of the
wossname. You wouldnt know what an
heir was, unless you thought it was a sort
of rabbit. (157)

Greebo radiated genuine intelligence. He


also radiated a smell that would have
knocked over a wall and caused sinus
trouble in a dead fox (168)


, .
? ? .

,

.
!
! .
!


,

,
. ,

.(41)
,

.
.
.
(85)
, ,
.
, ?

.
,
. [ :
hare , heir ,

. . .] (148)
.
,

.
(157)
,

. (183)

The books said that the old-time witches


had sometimes danced in their shifts.
Magrat had wondered about how you
danced in shifts. Perhaps there wasnt room
for them all to dance at once, shed
thought.(195)
This was no. 302, and the Fool knew better 302 .
than to let a feed line go hungry. Marry,
.
40

nuncle, he said wearily, ignoring the


spasm of pain that crawled across the
dukes face, ifn I had a Knighthood
(Night Hood), why, it would keep my ears
Warm in Bedde; ifaith, if many a Knight is
a Fool, why, should a (263)

Her face was pale. It might also have been


drawn; if so, then it was by a very neurotic
artist. She looked as though she meant
business. Bad business.(273)

Here, youre not with the theater?


Thas us, said Tomjon. Strolling
players. He corrected himself. Standingstill players now. Haha. Slidin-down
players now.(357)

Very well then, my theatrical witches, he


said.
Youve done your show, and now its time
for your applause. He nodded to his men.
Clap them in chains, he said.(446)
Divers alarums and excursions, she
read, uncertainly.
That means lots of terrible happenings,
said Magrat. You always put that in
plays.
Alarums and what? said Nanny Ogg,
who hadnt been listening.
Excursions, said Magrat patiently.
Oh. Nanny Ogg brightened a bit. The
seaside would be nice, she said.
Do shut up, Gytha, said Granny
Weatherwax.
Theyre not for you. Theyre only for
divers, like it says. Probably so they can

,
,
,
[1],
.

, ...
: knighthood
, night hood!
,
. .
.

.
,
.
,
. .(256)
, ?
.

.
:
. .
,
.(334)
,
.

.
.
.(417)

.
,

.
.
, ?

, .

.
.
.
,
41

recover from all them alarums. (447)

. - ,

.
, !(419)
The storm was back.
.
It had spent ages learning its craft. It had

spent years lurking in distant valleys. It had .
practiced for hours in front of a glacier. It
.
had studied the great storms of the past. It
.
had honed its art to perfection. And now,
.
tonight, with what it could see was clearly
. , ,
an appreciative audience waiting for it, it

was going to take them by, welltempest.
(453)
.(425)
Witches Abroad
Local people called it the Bear Mountain.
.
This was because it was a bare mountain,
,
not because it had a lot of bears on it. This
caused a certain amount of profitable
[4].
confusion, though; people often strode into
the nearest village with heavy duty
.
crossbows, traps and nets and called
haughtily for native guides to lead them to ,
the bears. (12/13)



.

,

,
,

,
,
,
.(11)
[4] : bear
,
bare , ..
Desiderata had been blind for thirty years,
.
but this hadnt been a problem. Shed
,
always been blessed, if that was the word,
.
with second sight. So when the ordinary
, ,
eyes gave out you just trained yourself to
. ,
see into the present, which anyway was
,
42

easier than the future. And since the


eyeball of the occult didnt depend on light,
you saved on candles. There was always a
silver lining, if you knew where to look. In
a manner of speaking. (15/16)

Change countries and your name and, if


you had the right manner, the world was
your mollusc. For example, shed had to go
a mere hundred miles to become a Lady.
Shed go to any lengths now(24/25)
Tempers fuggit, said Nanny Ogg.
What?
Tempers fuggit. Means that was then and
this is now, said Nanny.(29)
In short, Magrat had despaired of learning
anything at all from her senior witches, and
was casting her net further afield. Much
further afield. About as far afield as a field
could be.(49)
The Oggs were what is known as an
extended family
in fact not only extended but elongated,
protracted and persistent.(55)
Andand she liked to cook foreign food
and no one else around here would eat it,
so Id come up to keep her company.
Ah-ha! Curryin favor! snapped Granny.
(58)
Shut up. Anyway, shes non compost
mental, said
Granny. (60)
There was still a heap, but it wasnt rock
anymore.
Theres a, wait for it, theres a bit of a
squash in here, said Nanny.
Magrat opened her eyes wider.
Still pumpkins?
Bit of a squash. Squash, said Nanny, in
case anyone hadnt got it.(90)

Thats what you need to say, said


Magrat. Any inn has got to open up for


, , .

, .
,
. .(13/14)

,
. ,
.
(21)
.
?
. ,
, .(25)
,
-
, . - . ,
.(45)
, ,

, .
. (50)


,
.
-! !
.(53)
.
.(54)
,
.
, ,

.
- .
?
.
,
.(82)

.
43

bona fide travelers and give them succor.


(115)
Openny vous, gunga din, chop-chop,
pretty damn quick, she said.(116)
Gooden day, big-feller mine host! Trois
beers por favor avec us, silver plate.
Whats a silver plate got to do with it?
demanded Granny.
Its foreign for please, said Nanny.
(117/118)
I said, Hey mister, jigajig toot sweet all
same No. 3, said Nanny Ogg.(120)
We had some stuff it was chewy youll
never guess it was snails, and not bad and
Esme had three helpins before she found
out and then had a Row with the cook and
Magrat was sick all night just at the
thought of it and had the dire rear.
(149/150)
At least they cant muck up a decent
pancake, she said. Whatd they call them
here?
Crap suzette, I think, said Nanny.(152)

Garkon? Mucho vino aveck zei, grassy


ass.
The innkeeper, who did not understand one
word and
was a good-natured man who certainly did
not deserve to be called a garkon, smiled at
Nanny.(154)
Oh, Im fed up with the broomsticks,
said Nanny.
More than a couple of hours on a stick
and Ive gone rigid in the dairy air.
She looked expectantly at the other two.
That foreign for bum, she added.
Although, its a funny thing, in some



.(104)
, -, ,
.(104)
, ,
!
, ,
.
? .

.(106)
: , , -,
,
.(108)
,
,
,

,

.(134)

. ?
Crap suzzette[1],

.(138)
[1] Crap suzette
. .. (

crap .
!
..)
? ,
.
,
,

,
.(140)
,
.

.
.

.
44

foreign parts bum means tramp and


tramp means hobo. Funny things,
words. (156/7)
Know what that means?
No.
The Old (Masculine) River, said Nanny.
Yes?
Words have sex in foreign parts, said
Nanny, hopefully.
Granny didnt budge.
Wouldnt be at all surprised, she
murmured. Nanny
sagged.(163/4)
She wasnt at all certain about the meaning
of the word decadent. Shed dismissed
the possibility that it meant having ten
teeth in the same sense that Nanny Ogg,
for example, was unident.(165)
Going to play a game of Old Maid, are
you? said the barman.
There was a chilly flicker across Grannys
eyes again as she said, No. Just Patience.
Id like to try and get the hang of it.(175)

, ,

, .
.(142)
?
.
.
?

.
.
.
(148)

.
,
.(149)

,
? .

, :
. .
.(158)
Lobsang Dibbler says sometimes you
,
have to lose in order to win, said Magrat.
,
Sounds daft to me, said Nanny. Thats
.
Yen Buddhism, is it?
.
No. Theyre the ones who say you have to , ?
have lots of money to win, said Magrat.
. ,
(185/6)
,
.(168)
Well, I dont know, said Granny,
,
apparently talking to her cards. She cleaned .
her ear again. Tch, tch, tch. What dyou
. , , .
call it when, you know, you want to put
, , ,
more money in, sort of thing?
, ,
Its called raising, said Mister Frank, his ?
knuckles going white.

Ill do one of them raisins, then. Five

dollars, I think.(190)
.
.
, .(171)
Thats fairy godmothering, this is, she

added, half to herself. Always do it
.
impressively. Always meddling, always
!
45

trying to be in control! Hah! Someone got a


bit of poison? Send everyone to sleep for a
hundred years! Do it the easy way. All this
for one prick. As if that was the end of the
world. She paused. Nanny Ogg was
standing behind her. There was no possible
way she could have detected her
expression. Gytha?
Yes, Esme? said Nanny Ogg innocently.
I can feel you grinnin. You can save the
tupennyhapenny psycholology for them
as wants it.(201)

,
! !
?
!
.
.
.
. .


. ?
, ? .
, .

, .(181)
The largest and blackest cockerel Nanny
had ever seen had settled on Mrs. Gogols
- ,
shoulder. It turned on her the most
. intelligent stare she had ever seen on a
,
bird.
.
My word, she said, taken aback. Thats ! .
the biggest cock Ive ever seen, and Ive
-, .
seen a few in my time.

Mrs. Gogol raised one disapproving
.
eyebrow.

She never had no proper upbringing, said .
Granny.

What with living next to a chicken farm
.
and all, is what I was going to say next,
, ,
said Nanny.(310)

.(276)
Thats anice name, said Ella, politely.

Of course, you know mine. Mind you, I
. , ,
spend so much time cooking over this
. ,
wretched thing now that Mrs. Pleasant calls
me Embers. Silly, isnt it.
,
Emberella, thought Magrat. Im fairy
. ,
godmothering a girl who sounds like
?
something you put up in the rain.
,
It could use a little work, she conceded.
, ,
I havent the heart to tell her off, she
-!
thinks it sounds jolly, she said. I think it

sounds like something you put up in the

rain.(316)
.
.

46

, . ,

, .
(281)
Who done it? said Nanny Ogg.
? .
Everyone knows it was the Duc, said
[1].
Mrs. Gogol.
.
The witches looked at one another. Royal
intrigues were obviously a bit different in
.
foreign parts.
?
Pecked to death, was he? said Nanny.

A foul deed? said Granny.


.
The Duc is a title, not a bird, said Mrs.
? .
Gogol patiently.(324/5)
,
.(289)
[1] Duck

. ..
Duc pond, Nanny repeated, because
,
people who make that kind of joke never
, ,
let well enough alone, like duck(400)
,
(352)
Can you dance as well? she said wearily. ?
Oh yes. How about a date?
.
How old do you think I am? said Nanny. , .
Casanunda considered. All right, then.
?
How about a prune? (415)
, ?

.
.
.
?(364)
They had been given the run of the palace,
although no one felt like running
.
anywhere. (510)
.(444)
Well, so much for la douche vita, said
,
Nanny philosophically. (516)

.(450)
Lords and Ladies
That was before. Now her blood was
.
sizzling. Let people talk. She had a pretty
.
good idea which people theyd be, too.
.
Which person, anyway. Witch person. Hah.
Let them talk all they liked. (44)
.
.(50)
In fact he quite liked the Librarian, who

never argued with him and always kept
,
47

himself in shape, even if that shape was a


pear shape. It was the right shape for an
orang-utan.(56)
People were always telling him to make
something of his life, and thats what he
wanted to do. He wanted to make a bed of
it. (60)
Thesere like saddlebags. Im not wearing
these. And this thing?
A ruff, mm. Um. Theyre all the rage in
Sto Helit, my brother says.
You mean they make people angry? And
whats this? (63)

Are you saying, said Ridcully, that


getting robbed is included in the price?
Bandits Guild, said the coachman.
Forty dollars per head, see. Its a kind of
flat rate.
What happens if we dont pay it? said
Ridcully.
You end up flat. (77)
One wont need a fanfare, thank you very
much.
But you got to have a fanfare, miss.
One can blow my own trumpet, thank
you. (110)

I know, one got it this morning, said


Nanny. Got all that fancy nibbling on the
edges and gold and everything. Whos
Ruservup?
Magrat had long ago got a handle on
Nanny Oggs world-view.
RSVP, she said. It means you ought to
say if youre coming.(116)
A brief scream indicated that Hodgesaargh
was giving his charges their morning
finger. (168)
Apparently the going rate is fourpence a
year and a butt of sack, said Verence,
peering at the page. Or it may be a sack of
butt. (172/3)


.

.(65)
,
.
.(69)
.
?
, .


.
, ,
. ? (72)


?

.
. .
, ?
.(89)
,
.
,
.
,

, .
(127)
.

, .
?

.
RSVP ,
.(133)
,

. (189)
,

.
.
48

Afternoon, your lordships, it said.


Customs inspection.
I dont think we have any, babbled the
Bursar happily. I mean, we used to have a
tradition of rolling boiled eggs downhill on
Soul Cake Tuesday, but
I means, said the troll, do you have any
beer, spirits, wines, liquors, hallucinogenic
herbage, or books of a lewd or licentious
nature?(217)
This was an unknown and shadowy area,
terror incognita, where the flesh of carpets
and the plaster pillars ran out and the stone
bone of the castle showed through.(298)

(194)
, .
.

.
,

, , ,
, ,

?(244)
,
terror incog-nita .
,
.
(335)
, !
.
,
.(343)

Greebo? Come here!


The cat turned and tried to find a place of
safety in the suits breastplate. He was
beginning to doubt hed make it through
the knight. (306)
Maskerade
Whyve you got broomsticks? shouted
, ?
the driver.
. ?
Are you witches?
.
Yes. Have you got any special low terms
?
for witches?
?! ,
Yeah, how about meddling, interfering

old baggages? (82)


?!(72)
And what do you do, Henry Slugg? said , ,
Granny, carefully.
?
ImIm on the stage.*
.
Yes. We can see, said Nanny Ogg.
,
No, I meant (114)
(100)
*they are in a stage coach
Well, Im always prepared to go that extra ,
meal. You wont want me around and Ill

get bored, said


.
Nanny. (131)

.(114)
The man politely endeavored to position

Lancre on his mental map of great centers

of music. Do you have a conservatory

there?
.
Yes, indeed, said Nanny Ogg stoutly, and ?
then, just to make sure, she added, You

should see the size of my tomatoes.

49

Granny rolled her eyes. Gytha, you


havent got a conservatory. Its just a big
windowsill.(154/5)

And if youll excuse me, said Enrico, I


must catch up on my sleep.
Dont worry, I shouldnt think its had
time to get far away, said Nanny. (161)

He turned back to Salzella. What was I


saying?
You were saying, said Salzella, that you
have both feet on the ground. Unlike the
corps de ballet. And the corpse de Mr.
Pounder.(176)
Movable type was known in AnkhMorpork, but if wizards heard about it they
moved it where no one could find it.(207)

, :

.
.
, .

.(133)

,
.
?

.(139)
?
,
. .

.(152)


-,

.(178)
Oh yes? Can you identify yourself?
?
Certainly. Id know me anywhere. (208)
?
.
(179)
The case was flung open.
.
Oh, no!
, !
Salzella craned round to see.
.
Ah, yes, he said. A broken neck, and the ,
body has been kicked in considerably.

Thatll cost a dollar or two to repair, and no .
mistake.
.
And all the strings are busted! Are double ! -
basses more expensive to rebuild than

violins?
,
I am afraid that all musical instruments
?
are incredibly expensive to repair, with the ,
possible exception of the triangle, said

Salzella. However, it could have been

worse, hmm?
.
What?
-, ?
Well, it could have been Dr. Undershaft in ?
there, yes?(216/7)
,
50

Er. Could be, she said. Theres always a


lot going on, I know that. Our Nev said
they sometimes do different operations
every night. (219)

Says here that Dame Timpani, who sings


the part of
Quizella, is a diva, said Nanny. So I
reckon this is like a part-time job, then.
Probly quite a good idea, on account of
you have to be able to hold your breath.
Good trainin for the singin.(232)
...Poor Dr. Undershaft. He was always so
highly strung.*
Never more so than tonight, said
Salzella.*(265)
*The man was found hanged by the neck
Yup. Come up Quarry Lane and picked
me special forthe trolls brow creased
as it tried to remember the unfamiliar
wordsthe fast track inna fast-movin
worlda publishin.
And what exactly is your job?
Ead itter. (291)

There was a crash from the direction of the


kitchen,
although it was really more of a crashendo
the long drawn-out clatter that begins
when a pile of plates begins to slip,
continues when someone tries to grab at
them, develops a desperate counter-theme
when the person realizes they dont have
three hands, and ends with the roinroinroin
of the one miraculously intact plate
spinning around and around on the floor.
(318)
Got to do Mister Pounders job now the
poor man is passed away! I am a person of
all jobs! No peas for the wicked! But
Mister Greebo just hits them with his paws

, ?(186)

.
.

,
.
(188)
,
, ,

. ,
?
(198)
!


.(225)
.





.
- ?


.(246)

,
,
,
, ,

, .(269)


,
! !
!
51

and theyre off to rat heaven in a jiff!(364)


!(309)
Nanny glanced at the troll. Another
.
Count? Im sure theres unaccountably
, ? ,
more Counts here than I can count. And
, .
what can I get you, officers? she said.
, ?(344)
(406)
Then he recognized the shape of Walter

Plinge as someone who had given him
, .
food. And, standing right next to him, the
-
much more unwelcome shape of Granny
,
Weatherwax, who had once caught him

digging in her garden and had kicked him
in the cucumbers.(438)
.(370)
Nobby sighed. That was the caliber of
.
people you got in the Watch these days.

They had to make a mystery of things. In
.
days gone by, when it had been just the old
gang and an unofficial policy of lazy fair,
.
theyd have said a heartfelt Well done,

lads to the vigilantes and turned in early.

(451)

,
. (381)
Good. Well done. Walter might not know
. .
his right from his left, but he does know his ,
right from his wrong. (461)
.(389)
Carpe Jugulum
The other puzzle is: why are vampires

always so stupid? As if wearing evening
. ,
dress all day wasnt an

undead giveaway, why do they choose to
,
live in old castles which offer so much in
.
the way of ways to defeat a vampire, like

easily torn curtains and wall decorations
,
that can readily be twisted into a religious
,
symbol? (11)
.
(11/12)
I really hate them. Are they a dead end
.
too*? said Daughter.

Not quite dead enough as yet, despite your ?
valiant efforts.(15)

* as stated previously by the Count, he
. (14)
believes some races to be an evolutionary
dead end
Magrat Garlick hadnt worn black and had ,
probably never in her life said cool

52

except when commenting on the


temperature. (21)
Casanunda despised highwaymanning, but
it got you out in the fresh air of the
countryside which was very good for you,
especially when the nearby towns were
lousy with husbands carrying a grudge and
a big stick.(30)

He could stop the coaches all right, but


people tended to say, What? I say, its a
lowwayman. Whats up? A bit short, are
you? Hur, hur, hur, and he would be
forced to shoot them in the knee.(30)

Hah! The leopard does not change his


shorts, my girl! (54)
Lancres standing army was lurking by a
pillar, probably in the hope that no one
would see him in his footmans powdered
wig, which had been made for a much
bigger footman.
The kingdom didnt have much of an
executive arm of government, and most of
its actual hands belonged to Nanny Oggs
youngest son.(54)
Lancre operated on the feudal system,
which was to say, everyone feuded all the
time and handed on the fight to their
descendants. The chips on some shoulders
had been passed down for generations.
Some had antique value.(57)
Have you by any chance heard the Word
of Om?
Which one? Fire? said Nanny Ogg.
Hah!(92)
Im the godmother!
Which, um, god? The young man was
trembling slightly.
Its from Old Lancre, said Agnes

. (20)

,

.
,


,
,
.(25)

.
,
: ?
.
, ? --!

. (25)
! ,
, !
(42)

,

,
.

,
-
.(43)

,


.
.(46)

?
-? .
, ? ! (77)
,
?
!
?
53

hurriedly. Its means something like


goodmother. Its all rightas witches we
believe in religious toleration(94)
Nanny grabbed her cat off the throne.
A cat can look at a king, she said.
Not with that expression, I believe, said
Verence (95)
Ask him his name! Perdita yelled. No,
thatd be forward of me, Agnes thought.
Perdita screamed, You were built forward,
you stupid lump(110)

.

(78)

. (79)

!
. ,
.

, (92)
Carpe Jugulum, read Agnes aloud.
Carpe Jugulum
Thats well, Carpe Diem is Seize the
. Carpe Diem
Day, so this means-
,
Go for the Throat, said Nanny.(112)
(94)
Oh, deary deary me. Vampires and
,
werewolves, werewolves and vampires.
. ,
Well all be murdered in one anothers
.
beds. (113)
(94)
Can o pee, anyone? said Nanny, shoving ?
a tray toward a likely looking group.
I beg your pardon? said someone. Oh .
canaps(120)
? - (99)
He was good at rearing young birds. He
.
could get them eating out of his hand. Later .
on, of course, they just ate his hand.(147)
,
.(122)
There will be taxes, of course, said the
,
Count.
. .
Not onerous. We dont want blood

figuratively speaking! He beamed at the
!(125)
joke.(152)
She glared at Agnes before beginning.
, .
There was some sort of chemistry there,

although it was the sort that results in the
,
entire building being evacuated.(155)

.(128)
Youcan resist, cant you, he said. I
,
was watching you when Lacci was playing ? ,
the piano and losing. Do you have any

vampire blood in you?
.
What? No!

It could be arranged, haha. He grinned. It ?


was the
?! !
sort of grin that Agnes supposed was called -.
infectious but, then, so was measles.(156)
.
54

Vlad gave her another smile, stood up, and


walked toward her. Oh yes. Bloodlessly.
Wellmetaphorically. You really are quite
remarkable, Miss Nitt. The Uberwald girls
are so sheep-like(159)
Agnes would have pushed him away. That
is, Agnes would have dithered and tried to
talk her way out of things, but if push had
come to shove then shed have pushed
hard. (160)
He certainly did. A vampire of the old
school.
Yes. The Countess gave her husband a
smile. The stupid school.(162)
Granny Weatherwax is going to hear
about this, and youll wish youd never
been bornor un-born or re-born or
whatever you are!(162)
Its a float our Wayne brought back from
the seaside once. Its a buoy for the fishing
nets.
I didnt know buoys had glass balls, said
Agnes.
She groaned inwardly, and felt the blush
unfold.(170)
Nanny could find an innuendo in Good
morning. She could certainly find one in
innuendo.(170)
It will be if I get a chance to aim, said
Nanny.
Cant stand those maggoty-pies.(174)
My granny used to say if youre too sharp
youll cut yourself, said Agnes.(190)

Dont you start, Vlad warned. Agnes is


avery interesting girl. I feel there is a lot
in her.
A lot of her, said Lacrimosa. Are you
saving her for later?(199)

,
,
.(129)
, . . ,
.
, .

.(132)
.

,
, .
(133)
.
.

.
.(134)


,
!(135)

. .
,

.

. (140)

.(141)
, ,

.
.(144)
,
,
.
.(156)

.
. ,
.

.
- ?(163)
55

Rabbits sound dull.


They have their ups and downs.(206)


.
.(169)
Im afraid I have a bit of a difficulty with ,
people, he went on. I fear Im just not cut . ,
out for pastoral work.

Dont get involved with this twerp, said
.
Perdita. But Agnes said, You mean sheep !
and so on?(210)
,
:
?
(173)
Lets at least get down to Bad Ass, she

said, tugging at Oatss hand.

You what?
.
Agnes sighed. Its the nearest village.
, ?! .
Bad Ass?
- .
Look, there was a donkey, and it stopped
?!
in the middle of the river, and it wouldnt

go backward or forward, said Agnes, as
patiently as possible. Lancre people got
,
used to explaining this. Bad Ass. See?

Yes, I know that Disobedient Donkey


.
might have been moreacceptable, but
.
(214/5)
(177)
Pastor Melchio said they are sinks of
,
depravity and sexual ex-cess. The young

man took a nervous step backward,



knocking against a small table and causing
a blue clockwork ballerina to begin a jerky .
pirouette to the tune of Three Blind

Mice.
,
Well, weve got a sink all right, said

Nanny. Whats your best offer?(225)

.
,
. ?
(185)
Oh, they say in some villages that you can , ,
even slow them down by throwing

poppyseed at them, said Oats. Then
,
theyll have a terrible urge to count every
.
seed. Vampires are very anal retentive, you
see?
.(190)
I shouldnt like meeting one that was the
opposite,
56

said Nanny.(231)
Can you make holy water?
What, here?
I mean bless it, or dedicate it to Om, or
boil the hell out of it, perhaps, said Agnes.
(242)
Damn hard to scry into a place like that. It
goes all wobbly. Its like tryin to look at
something close up and a long way away at
the same time. It makes your crystal ball
water.(255)
I mean, does it involve, er he colored
up, er removing your garments and
dancing around and summoning lewd and
salacious creatures? Only Im afraid I
couldnt be a party to that. The Book of
Om forbids consorting with false
enchanters and deceitful soothsayers, you
see.
I wouldnt consort with false enchanters
neither, said Nanny. Their beards fall
off.(256)

It waswell, it had been a standing stone,


Agnes thought, but now it was a lying
stone. Lichen grew thickly all over it.(267)
No, said Nanny, simply. This is Lancre
were talkin about. If we was men, wed
be talking about layin down our lives for
the country. As women, we can talk about
laying down.(301)

Theyre gnomes, said Nanny.


The man lowered the thimble. Pictsies!
Pixies, if you insist, said Nanny. They
live up on the high moors over toward
Uberwald (305)

Ive got to change the baby!


For a raincoatd be favorite, muttered


?
, ?!

, ,
. (199)

.
.
, ,
.
.(210)
-

,
?
,
.

.
-

.

, .(210)
.
,

. (219)
,
, ? .
.
.
,
.
,
.(247)
.
.
!
, , ,
.

(250)
!
-
57

Nanny.
Now?(378)
Ith that a baby theeth carrying?
Were very modern, said Nanny. Weve
got hedge money and everything. And now
well have your coach, Igor.(381)
No, itth a pleathure to be commanded in
a clear, firm authoritative voithe,
mithtreth, said Igor, lurching over to the
bridles. None of this Would you mind
rubbith. An Igor liketh to know where he
thtandth.
Slightly lopsidedly? said Magrat.(382)

There was some serious pulling of beards


as well.
Gosh. Sects maniacs, said Perdita.(386)

You think so? Father could send that


coach right into the gorge in a moment if
he wanted to, said the vampire.
But he wont. We much prefer the
personal touch.
The in-your-neck approach, said Agnes.
(398)
All it takes is a little prick
Its not going to be yours, mister!(401)
Let there belightness, he said. Youd
like to be as light as the air, wouldnt you,
Agnes?(413)
Aye, ye could call it a shade, said the
pixie. Its the fluence they put on ye. But
yell be up and aboot in no time.
A boot?
Aboot the place, said the pixie evenly.
(425)
Oatss hand reached the ax handle.
Still not quick enough, said Granny.
Keep hold of it, though. Ax first, pray
later. You look like a priest. Whats your
god?(427)

.(313)

.
.

, . (314)
, .
,

.


.
?

. (315)
.
-
!

. (318)
?
,
. .
.
,
.(328)

,
!(331)
.
, ,
? (339)
, ,

. .

.
?(349)

.

.
. ,
. .
58

?(351)
Just so long as you understand that I
,
didnt ax you to come along and I dont

need your help, said Granny.
.
Ax?
?
Ask, then, said Granny. Slipped into a
, . ,
bit of rural there.
.
Oats stared ahead for a while. Then he
-,
dismounted, lifted Granny down, propped

her up while she protested, disappeared


,
into the night, came back shortly carrying
,
the ax from the forge, used more rope to tie ,
it to his waist, and mounted up again.(447) ,


.(366)
Ive never used a sword, said Verence,

trying to pull himself into a sitting position. , .
II believe violence is the last resort
,
Ach, weel, so long as yeve brung yer

bucket and spade, said Big Aggies man.

(456)
, ,

. (374)
Havent you noticed the looks hes been

giving you? said Magrat, as they followed ? .
the lurching figure.
?! .
What, him? said Nanny.
.
Could be carrying a torch for you, said
, !
Magrat.

I thought it was just to see where hes
.
going! said
- ,
Nanny, a little bit of panic in her voice. I
!(391)
mean, I havent got my best drawers on or
anything!(479)
Oh, I dont know, I really dont, said
. ,
Nanny. I mean, its flattering and
,
everything, but I really dont think I could
, .
be goin out with a man with a limp.
,
Limp what?(479)
?(391)
We-llI suppose every family says things - ,
like hes got his fathers eyes Nanny

began.

No, my thecond couthin Igor got them.
.
Butbutwho does the cutting and
,
sewing? said Magrat.
.
I do. An Igor learnth houthehold thurgery ?
59

on hith
fatherth knee, said Igor. And then
practitheth on hith grandfatherth
kidneyth.(482)

Oh, two hearts. Youve got two hearts?


Yeth. The other one belonged to poor Mr.
Thwinetth down at the thawmill, but hith
wife thed it wath no uthe to him after the
acthident, what with him not having a head
to go with it.
Youre a bit of a self-made man on the
quiet, arent you, said Magrat.(485)
Now well try things my way, she said.
Im not good at thinkin like Granny but
Im bloody good at actin like me. Headologys for them as can handle it. Lets
kick some bat.(491)
How dyou want your thtaketh, boyth? he
shouted excitedly, as he struck. (563)

I dont think I know thisthese


gentlemen, she said.
Oh, this is Igor, said Nanny. A man of
many parts.
So it seems, said Granny (577)
Safe as houses, said Nanny. Huge thick
door and you can bar it from the inside.
How safe are houses from vampires?
said Oats.(580)
And what do they expect of me?
Says Evensong on the poster, said Nanny
simply.
Even beer would be better.(628)

.
.

.

.(394)
.
, . ?
.
,
, ,
? (396)

,
.
,
.
.(401)
,

? ,
.(458)
,
.
, .
.

(468)
-
.
.
?
.(470)

.
-
. (506)

60

PART THREE
Translations

61


, .
62

, . .
, ,
. - .
- ,
, -

. ,

. , ,
, ,
, , ,

.
.
.
, ,
(-
, ),
, , .

(
, ,
. )
, ,
.
.
.
.
.
. ,
.
, . ?

. ?
.
, , , .
.
63

, . .

,
. , ,
.

.
, .
, ,
, .
.
. .
, ? ,
.
, ! , ,
.
. .
.

. .
, . ,
.
. : -
, ?

! ,
.
. .
(,
, , ,
, ) .
.
.
, .
, , (
-,
64

) .
.
.
, . ,
.
,
,
. , .
, , . ,
.
. ,
, .
, ,
. ,
,
, .
? . ,
,
.
, . .
?
.
: , .
.
. , 16
.
( , , ) , ,
. ,
?
. , ,
, ,
16 , ,
1605. ,
.
65

. .
.
. .

. !
, . .
, , ,
. , ,
. , ,
. , ,
.
, .
, ,
. , , ,

, ? .
.
, .

. ,
.
-, -
. ,
.

.
, ,
, , .
( 16 1959 .)
17 18 .
,
17 (1908 2001) .
18 (1938-) .
66

. ?
?
19 ,
, ?
.
.
, ,
, .
,
.
. , ,
. . ,
; - , ,
. ,

, .
, - .
, ?
, . . , .
? ? ?
.
? . .
. .
.
. .
.
, . .
.
. , .
.

19 (1921 1996) .
67

. .
. .
.
?
? . .
?
?
. , !
, ,
, - , . ,
. , . ,
. - - .
, !
, .
.
- - .
, - .
. ,
,
. ,
, .
.

, .
,
, , ,
.
, .
, , ,
?
, ( ;
) .
.
68

.
.
? .
?
?
.
.
, ,
.

, .

.
-!
!
.
!
- , ,
, , .
, -,
,
, .

, ,
. ,
!

. .
, .
, ,
, , ,
.
- , .
, ,
, ,
.
.
. ?
69

-
. ,
, .
, .

, .
, . ,
, .
.
.

, ?
.
. . .
.
.

?
?
, .
.

. .
, , .
, , ?

, .

! - ( ;
, ).
.
: . ,
.

- ,
. , .
70

: .
. ,
. ,
-
.
, , ,

.

, , ,
( , )
, .
, ,
, ,
. ,
. , .
.
.
, , ,
. ,
, ,
. , .
. . .
, . , , ,
? , , ,
,
. , ,
, , 180-182,
241-244. ,
( ) ,
, , , -,
- . ,
- . .
( )

71

. .
.
,
,
. ,
, .
,
. , . -,
?

, .
,
. .
! , .
?
,
. ? . ?
,
, . , ,
.
? . ?
- . ,
. .
.
. ,
, ,
. . .
.
, .
. ,
?
.
, , ,
, - .
72

? , ,
. , ? ,
?

, ,
. , .
.
, , ?
. .

.
.
, . .
.

,
, , , , .
, ,
, ,
. .
.

, ,
, - .
. , .

. :
, , ,
, , ,
, ,
,
. .
, 86
.
, ! .
.
73

.
. .
,
, .
. , ,
- . .

. ,
.
? .
, , ?
, ,
, .
, ?
, ?
!
.
.
. ?
. . .
.
, . ?
.
.
, .

.

.
, ,
,
,
.

. , ,
, , . ,
, .
74

,
,
.
,
, ,
. , , ,
, .
.
. .
20

, - ,
, .
, .
-, . ,
,
, .
, ,
, ,
, , ,
. ,
.
. .
.
.
.

. .
D .
,
. ,
-, .
20 . , ,
.
75

, , ,
.
,
. , , . .
, , ,
.
,

, ,
, . , ,
.
, , , -
. , -. , . ,
,
. ! .
, . !
, , , .
.
.
, .
.
! . ,

.
, .
.
. ! -, !

.
, -
( -1 ). .
. ,
. . . ?
?
76

. .
? ?
?
. .
,
. , ,
.

-, .
. .
.
.
.
.
.

, . .
- .
.
. , , -
.
.
, . ,
.
, -
.
. ,
-,
,
. , ,
, .
, ,
.

. ,
,
.

77

- . , ,
?
- ,
-. .
?
.
,
.
.
21, 22 23 . .
, ?
, . , .
, ,
. , . ?
! . ,

.
.
.
. , .
, , .
-? .
.
, .
, .
? ?
. . ,
.
.
21
22 , Wraeththu
23
.
78

79

80


1

!
! ! !
. ,
,
, . , , ,
, , .
, ,
. .
, , ,
, ,
.
, , . , ,
, .
, . .
. ,
. , .
!


, , .
,
, . , !
, .
, .
, ,
, , ,
. .
, , - .
, . ,
, , ,
. , , ,
81

, . ,
, , ,
, . . ,
.
. ,
,
. ,
.
.
.
, , .
,
. - . , , ,
. ,
, .
.
.
, .
,
.
,
, ,
. ,
. ,
. ,
. ,
, , .
, ,
.
, .
.
, , ,

82

. ,
.
,
. , ,
. .

.
, .
, - ; ,
, , .
.
, , .
-
. , .
,
, , ,
. ,
, ,
, ,
.
, ,
, , .
.
.
, .
, , , .
-.
, .
, .
: .
, , ,
, .
. ,
.
83

, . ,
: ? .
.
, .
, .
.
, , , .
, ,
,
, .
, .
. ,
, .
. ,
, ,
. , ,
. ,
. -
.
.
, , :
, . ,
. .
, .
,
. ,
.
, . ,
, , ,
. , .
, ,
.
, ,
, .
84

, .
, . ,
.
, , .
, . , ,
. ,
. ,
.
.
, .
, ,
. . ,
, , .
, .
. , ,
: , ,
.
, - ,
, .

, .
.
, ,
, .


, ( )
! ! - ! ,
!
! . .
. . . ,
, . , .
85

. , , ,
, . , , .
, . ,
. . , .
, . .
, , .
.
.
,
, , ,
.
-
,
. , ,
, ,
- .
, .
, .
,

, .
, .
. , . ,
. .
,
. . ,
, . .
-. !
,
.
, , ,
, , :
! , ,

86

, , , , , ?
?
,
. , ,
.
. .
, . ,
. , ,
-, - : .
, . ,
. , ,
. ,
. .
, ... , , ?
, ,
. , ,
, .
-.
. , ,
, , , , , , .
, , -, - .
, ,
,
, .
, .
, , , .
, ,
. .
, , ,
. ,
. , .
, ! !

87

.
, ,
. , , .
, , ,
. ! , , .
, , , ,
. ! ! ! ! !
, .
.
. ,
. ,
, ! !
?
.
. ?
, , . .
, .
, , .
, . , . .
,
. , .
.
.
,
.
, , , !
. .
.
. ,
. , ,
.
.

88

, ,
, . .
, - , !
,
. , , ,
. , ,
, , .

. , ,
, . ,
, , .
,

, . .
. .
, ,
. ,
, , .
? ?

, , . ,
,
. , .
, , , ,
, , !
. , ,

.
. ,
. ,
, .
.
. ,
.
. , ,
89

. , . ,
. . ,
, . ,
.
. . . .
.

. ,
.
!
, , ,
! .
, , .
. ,
, . ...
, , , ,
,
. ,
. , ,
. ,
. , ,
. -
. , ,
.
,
. .
.
.
, ,

! ! ! !
!
, !
- , !
90

!
, ,
!

.
, ,
, . ,
. . . ,
. , . ,

.
!
. , , .
,
.

, , !
. .

, ,
, , ,
,
:
!
, ! .
!
!

Tom Holt My Hero


ONE
Against the background of a green sky, the two champions circled warily.
The arena was, incredibly, quiet. One hundred thousand spectators held their breath. In
all of that huge multitude, nobody moved, nobody coughed, nobody was buying popcorn.
More remarkable still, nobody was selling popcorn.
It was the culmination of the longest day of the year, and for the two men out in the
middleRegalian of Perimadeia, the reigning champion, and Gordian of Saressus, the
91

challengerit was the last day of one of their lives. That was, in fact, the only certainty;
certain, because in their last nine bouts these two perfectly matched opponents had hammered
each other to a standstill, until neither man had the strength to stand, and one thing the
Perimadeian State Lottery couldnt permit was ten consecutive no-score draws.
The last round. From his box, the Emperor Maxen saw the first ray of sunset flashing a
premonition of red off two sword blades, and shuddered.
Regalian struck first; a dazzling feint to the left, followed by a curling dropped-elbow
backhand (Reminiscent, muttered the arena correspondent of the Perimadeia Globe under
his breath, of Mazentius in his prime, if lacking the true finesse) which Gordian met with
a scrambled parry, only to find that the blade had somehow eluded him. For a fraction of a
second both men froze, staring at the welling red gash on the top of Gordians forearm
(Desperately, the arena correspondent ransacked his brain for a lightning-flash of imagery, a
drop of verbal amber in which to catch this mayfly moment. Sick, he scribbled, as a
parrot) And then Regalian dropped his shoulder, put his weight behind it and
committed himself to the final, irrevocable lunge.
Click.
The lights went out.

Jane tutted loudly, and swung the mouse up to the appropriate window.
Seventy pages still to go. There was no way she could afford to lose a central character
now. Nothing for it but to erase the whole evenings work and start again.
Cmon, you guys, she sighed. Anybodyd think you wanted to kill each other.

Okay, said a voice in the darkness, who forgot to bring the torch?
Its Dave s turn.
No it bloody isnt, it was my turn yesterday.
You forgot.
Okay, but it was still my turn yesterday. Somebody elses turn today.
Somebody struck a match, and the eerie orange glow illuminated an empty lot, with
five or six figures standing listlessly on the edge of the light. The arena, the circles of seats,
altars and Imperial box had all vanished.
Were definitely going to have to draw up a rota, said Regalian, wearily. This is
getting absolutely ridiculous.
It was Nevilles turn, surely.
92

No it wasnt, it was my turn Thursday, replied the tall young man who was standing
in the centre, the hem of his cloak pressed hard against his forearm to staunch the bleeding.
And besides, the batteries are flat.
Fine, sighed his erstwhile opponent. So we need a batteries rota as well. And whos
going to end up organising it, we ask ourselves? Muggins, thats who.
Pack it in, you two, snapped the Emperor Maxen, then he yelped as the match
burned down on to his fingers, and there was darkness once more. The hell with this, he
said. Last one down the pub gets them in. Mines a Mackeson.

Where they come from, nobody knows. Where they go to, afterwards, who cares?
They are there to do a job. Provided the job gets done, what they get up to in their own time is
nobodys business but their own.
Characters. As Tolstoy is reported to have said: some of my best friends are characters,
but would you let your daughter marry one?

For Gods sake, snapped Regalian, fishing the lemon out of his gin and tonic and
discarding it into the ashtray, put a bit of sticking plaster or something on it, before you bleed
to death. Youre dripping all over my sandwiches.
The young man (Gordian to the countless fans of Jane Armitages Circle In Chaos
trilogy, Neville to his mother, and That Tall Pillock, universally, behind his back) shook his
head vehemently. I cant go on tomorrow with my arms covered in Band Aid, he reasoned.
Besides, they stick to hairs and when you pull them off it hurts like hell.
Ive got some iodine in my bag, Doris suggested, putting down her knitting. If you
like, Ill
At the mention of the word iodine, Neville had turned a pale, blanched colour, and
Doris (who specialised in minor Arthurian enchantresses and Celtic earth mothers with lots of
silver jewellery) shrugged and went back to her matine jacket. Regalian shifted his
sandwiches ostentatiously to another table.
Its your fault, said Neville peevishly to his turned back. If you didnt get quite so
carried away, I wouldnt have got cut in the first place. I knew youd do somebody an injury
with that thing one day.
Terribly sorry, Regalian replied with his mouth full.
I somehow got the impression we were having a sword fight, whereas in fact we were
doing traditional Perimadeian folk dances. How stupid of me, I do apologise.
93

You two, save it for the show. Well have the whole bloody thing to do over again
tomorrow, dont forget.
Names can be terribly confusing. The Emperor Maxens real name was, in fact, Max;
which shouldnt have been a problem, in theory. In practice, however, he generally found
himself having to write down which one he was at any given moment on the inside of his
wrist. As a result, he spent a lot of his time glancing down and thus failing to meet other
peoples frank and fearless gazes, which meant he usually got typecast as the wicked emperor.
And whose fault is that? Neville pressed on relentlessly. If someone who shall
remain nameless hadnt got all over-excited and started lashing about with a whacking great
sword
Regalian looked up. Come off it, Nev, he said irritably, youre for the chop this
time, and you know it.
Do I really?
Regalian nodded. Yes, he said. Not your fault, mind, he added. Its just that the
silly bitch has really written herself into a corner this time.
Typical, commented Doris. Shes about as much good at plots as Guy Fawkes.
Actually Linda (Lady Helionassa; dozy princesses and thick-as-two-short-dryads
elf-maidens) furrowed her brow, that harbinger of the painfully obvious remark. Actually,
Guy Fawkes must have been quite good at plots, or how did he get the gunpowder down in
the cellars in the first place?
Silence. Whenever Linda took part in a conversation, it generally tended to die shortly
afterwards, rather like the three heavies leaning on the bar when Clint Eastwood first walks
into the saloon. Regalian returned to his sandwiches. Neville dabbed at his arm with a bar
towel. Max stared, pointedly but to no avail, at the bottom of his empty glass. Doris cast off
the end of her row and consulted the pattern.
Although, Linda went on, I spose
Gosh, said Regalian, standing up. Is it that time already? Ah well, lines to learn,
moves to block out. See you all tomorrow.
He escaped quickly, to a chorus of Night, Reg, into the relative safety of the beer
garden. The time had been when hed objected to being called Reg, on the grounds that Reg
wasnt his name. Neither, it was pointed out to him, was Regalian; that was just what his
character was called. Maybe; but hed been Regalian so long that he couldnt remember what
hed been called before. These days he tended to answer to anything beginning with R, with
the possible exception of Rover.
94

He was about to start the long trudge home when he stopped dead in his tracks,
frowned and looked up. Nothing to be seen, of course, except the black sky; but there were
times when he wondered
Youre watching me, arent you? he said aloud. No reply, except for the soft
snickering of grasshoppers, the fidgeting whirr of a passing bat. For all her faults, Ms
Armitage wrote a tolerable evening.
If you are watching, he went on, rather more self-consciously, do me a favour and
dont write young Neville out quite yet. He may be two yards of undiluted pillock, but he
needs the work.
Cheep cheep, flutter flutter; and somewhere, over the page and far away, a sheep
bleated softly in the velvet darkness. Regalian shrugged, stuck his tongue out at the vault of
Heaven, and walked home.

Jane slept.
Australia, continent of superlatives, has produced many outstanding athletes over the
years, in pretty well every discipline you can think of. Jane Armitage (born Perth, 16 th June
1959) was to sleep what Don Bradman was to cricket, or Rod Layer to tennis. When she left
the land of her birth for the Old Country, pundits across the world expressed grave
reservations. Would the cold, damp climate suit her natural game? Would she find Pommy
duvets too heavy? Would the change in conditions be the ruin of that fantastic natural talent,
reducing the Ray Lindwall of the eiderdown to a mere nine-hours-a-night cat-napper? Their
fears were groundless. After eight years in England, Jane still slept like a log marinated in
laudanum.
It was rare, however, for her to dream; and when she did indulge herself, it was usually
light and trivial, the dreamers equivalent of something glossy off the station bookstall. Five
years of studying Jane would have sent Freud back into general practice.
Not so this time. She dreamed that she was lying on her back looking up at a glass roof, or
perhaps a two-way mirror. There was a man standing over her looking down. He wasnt really
the sort of man youd welcome in a dream; youd hope he had simply come to deliver
something or read the meter, and then leave. Bald, fat and heavily built, he seemed to loom at
Jane through the glass. His eyebrows would have made fairly exacting jumps in a high-class
steeplechase.
Hey, he said. You.
Who, me?
95

Yes, you, said the man. I know you can hear me. Look, youve got to get me out of
here.
Wheres here? Who are you? And where are the fluffy rabbits? Usually by this stage I
get fluffy rabbits.
Have you got any idea, the man went on, how long Ive been here? Thirty-six
years. Thirty-six years in this ghastly hole. You cant begin to imagine what its been like.
Gosh.
And, the man continued, glancing nervously over his shoulder, this time I really
believe theyre on to me. Theyve put a price on my head, you know, the bastards.
Please dont swear in my dream. Youll frighten the rabbits.
You know what itll mean if they find me, the man hissed. Especially that little sod
LaForce. Why I didnt kill him off while I had the chance, God only knows.
Gosh.
Anyway, said the man conspiratorially to the glass, Ive got it all worked out. Even
you shouldnt have any difficulty. You can keep the money, Im not worried about that.
What money?
Ready? Right. Chapter One. A merciless sun beat relentlessly down out of a cloudless
blue Arkansas sky Why arent you writing this down?
Sorry?
Youre supposed, said the man unpleasantly, to be writing this down. Come on, for
pitys sake. I havent got all night.
Im sorry, I dont quite
Oh for crying out The man broke off, cast a hurried glance over his shoulder, and
cringed. Oh Christ, its LaForce and the posse. Look, Ill be back tomorrow night. For pitys
sake, have a pen and paper handy. Better still, a dictaphone. Then it can be typed straight from
the tape, andshit, theyre coming!
Jane sat bolt upright, wide awake, sweating. Her mouth was as dry as a sophisticated
cocktail, and her nose tickled.
Its all right, she told herself, it was just a dream.
Like hell it was, she told herself.
She switched on the light. The sight of her familiar environment immediately
reassured her that it had been, after all, merely a collection of random electrical impulses
flolloping round inside her subconscious, and nothing to worry about. It also reminded her,

96

depressingly and with great force, that sooner or later she was going to have to do some
ironing.
She drank a glass of water and went back to sleep.

Human beings are, of course, fools.


They spend hundreds of years of time, hundreds of thousands of man-hours of labour
and research, devising means of near-effortless mechanical transport, and spend their holidays
walking across wind-scoured moorland. They devote an infinity of resources to perfecting the
hologrammatic fax, but dont understand about dreams. Still, what can you expect from a lifeform that wears other animals skins and deliberately burns all its food?
Having sent his fax, Carson Montague (born Albert Skinner; Montague being his nom
de plume) ducked behind a large rock and closed his eyes tight. There was still a chance they
hadnt seen him.
A bullet took a chip out of the rock and sang away into the air. Some chance.
Well? said a voice at his side.
Well what?
Arent you going to shoot back, then?
Skinner growled quietly. Shut up, he said.
In the holster on his hip, the Smith & Wesson .45 Scholfield wriggled and tried to cock
itself. It had, many years ago, belonged to Wild Bill Hickock; and, although it had since fallen
on hard times, it still had its pride.
Chicken, it said.
Look, keep your voice down, will you?
CHICKEN!
Any more out of you and you get unloaded.
Bastard.
One of the less important side-effects of Skinners terrible mistake had been the
Scholfields acquisition of an immortal soul and a voice to go with it. Comparatively
speaking, it was the least of his problems, but it was still a bloody nuisance, particularly as the
wretched thing hadnt left his side for thirty-six years and he had nobody else to talk to.
From here, it muttered, I could get three of them, maybe four, no problem. Thatd
only leave six, and
Quiet!

97

Skinners hissed command echoed alarmingly in the still, warm air of the canyon. One
of the posse outriders lifted his head.
Billd have gone for it, the gun whispered reproachfully. Billd have had me out of
the leather and blazing away before you could say
It wasnt even the fact that the guns sole topic of conversation was human beings in
their capacity as relatively straightforward moving targets that really got on Skinners nerves.
What irked him most was that the damned thing was so unceasingly chatty. Hed tried
everythingcotton wool shoved down the chamber mouths, an old sock, even a silencer
and still it continued; a constant stream of bloodthirsty twittering, even when he was trying to
sleep.
For the last time, he growled, in a voice like a file cutting hard brass. One more
peep out of you and you go in the melt. Capisce?
Best years of my life, and what thanks do I
With exquisite caution, Skinner ventured a quick glimpse round the side of the rock.
The man who had fired at him was standing up in his stirrups, looking round. The others were
spread out in a loose crescent formation, ready to deploy at speed. In the middle of the group,
Jonah LaForce lounged in the saddle, his white Stetson pulled down over his eyes, a long
Sharps rifle cradled in the crook of his left arm.
Shit, thought Skinner. All the running, the hiding, the living like a pig in this
godforsaken wilderness of a potboiler, and it ends here. Shot to death by a goddamn clich.
Slowly, unwillingly, he reached down and closed his fingers around the grips of the
revolver.

All right, Regalian shouted, are we all agreed?


Linda giggled. You do look silly, she said, standing on that chair. I can see your
socks.
Regalian ignored her. The time has come, he said, to stand up and be counted. For
far too long
Does that mean we all have to stand on chairs? Or can we be counted at floor level?
Another days work done, another night in the pub. Thats fiction for you.
For far too long, Regalian persevered nevertheless, authors worldwide have been
taking us for granted. Well, its time we put a stop to all that. Characters united can never be
def
98

Time, ladies and gentlemen, please, chirruped the landlord in the background.
Come on, you lot, havent you got plots to go to?
United, Regalian said gamely, we can never be defeated, and until our perfectly
reasonable demands are met I recommend that we work strictly to rule. Our demands are
Put a sock in it, will you? shouted Alf (Jotapian the High Priest; bad guys and Grand
Viziers a speciality, no character too large or too small). I want to be out of here before the
chip shop closes.
One: a say in the decision-making process. Its intolerable that in this day and age a
characters destiny is still completely at the whim of some jumped-up little scribbler. Two
Put a sock in it, chortled Linda, rendered breathless by her own wit. Nobody else
seemed to appreciate the joke, but she was used to that.
Two: no character to be killed or married without his previous consent in writing.
Three
The landlord switched the lights off. Slowly, with a long sigh, Regalian climbed down
off his chair and felt his way to the door. Every night, for as long as he could remember, he
had broached the subject of a characters union, and the furthest he had ever been allowed to
get was Demand Four.
A characters life is by its very nature nomadic, and for the duration of the trilogy
Regalian was living in a bed-sit over a chemists shop on the junction of Tolkien Street and
Moorcock Avenue. It was so small that the sixty-watt bulb provided by the management
produced more than enough light to illuminate the whole of it, but it was cheap (thirty zlotys a
week, all found) and fairly central, and he only went there to sleep. His collection of dogeared book jackets concealed the peeling of the wallpaper, and the fact that the whole building
was so dilapidated that it only stayed upright through force of habit was no concern of his. He
kicked off his shoes, poked his thumb through the foil on a bottle of milk, and sat down on the
bed. Lines to learn for tomorrow, then sleep.
The lines were ready for him, neatly stacked on the chipped formica bedside table. He
picked up the sheaf of papers and began to read.
It had never, in all his long career, occurred to him to wonder how they got there. Did
they simply materialise, or did a trans-dimensional courier deliver them, silent and
unobtrusive as the Milk Tray man, or did the landlady bring them in when she came in to
hoover? He neither knew nor cared.
Fight Scene, he read. Regalian fights with Gordian in the arena. One of them is killed.

99

Marvellous, he thought. What the hell are we supposed to do, toss a bloody coin? He
knew, in his heart of hearts, that it wouldnt be him, however; because he was the Hero, and
nobody kills their Hero with seventy pages still to go. What it really meant was that the dam
fool author had made yet another lash-up in the structure, which meant the big fight was
happening on pages 1803, instead of 2414. In order to cover her tracks, she was going to
have to leave the fight scene at the point where one of them (not specified) was killed, and
then go trailing off into the subplot or do flashbacks or something for twenty pages or so
before owning up and getting on with the story. The technical term is Agonising Suspense,
and a surer indication of the pot boiling dry would be difficult to find. Regalian sighed. It
meant a day or so off, at any rate, while some other poor fools (Linda, probably, and Doris)
would have to work double shifts to cover. Not his problem, he decided. The milk was ever so
slightly off.
The rest of the lines confirmed his suspicions so exactly that he simply skimmed
through them; then he turned back and studied the details of the fight with a mixture of
professional thoroughness and abject contempt. You couldnt do that, for a start, not with a
six-pound, two-handed broadsword. Youd sprain your wrist.
He threw the pages on the floor, stretched out on the bed and felt for the light switch.
What the hell, he said to himself, its only work. More to the point, what was he going to do
on his day off?

Jane sat down in front of her screen, flexed her fingers and put in the disk.
The usual green lines, beeps and facetious user-chummy comments; and then the
screen went blank for a moment. Jane scowled and leaned forward.
Hi! My names Hamlet, you may have heard of me. I was wondering, do you happen to
have a job going?
Jane stared at the writing on the screen for a second or two and then reached out for
the users manual. A computer virus? she wondered. Hackers?
I know its not quite the done thing to approach an author direct like this, but Ive had
it up to here working for Bill Shakespeare. I think you and I could be good for each other, you
know?
Really? Jane said. What makes you think that?
Well, read the screen, Ive been a fan of your stuff for ages now. I think you characters
are, you know, neat. My kind of people.
Thank you.
100

Youre welcome. Your people, when theres someone whose head needs bashing in,
they dont stand around agonising about it in blank verse, they just roll up their sleeves and
get on with it. No wimps need apply. Thats my kind of scene.
I see.
Say it myself as shouldnt, the screen read, I do have a certain following. Just think
how it looks to the boys and girls out there. Like for instance, theres the bit where I come up
unexpectedly on the bad guy in the chapel?
I know the bit you mean.
Well, I ask you. If itd been one of yours, itd be out with the whacking great knife,
chippy-chop and on to the big love scene, no worries. And do you know what that ponce has
me doing? Worrying that if I top the bastard, hell go to Heaven. I mean to say, whatre we
doing here? A proper grown-up thriller, or Listen With Goddamn Mother?

And the women, the screen continued, the words flashing up like a huge flock of rooks
startled off a ploughed field. Dont get me wrong, but theyre just not my type. Not like the
birds in your stuff I mean, you wouldnt dream of pairing your hero off with some droopy bit
with tits like goose pimples who goes around talking to the flowers, now would you?
Thank you, said Jane. Ill let you know.
But
Goodbye. She switched the machine off and pulled out the disk. As she did so, the
printer suddenly screamed into life, shuttled the daisywheel a few times and went back to
sleep. Jane pulled out the paper.
I ALSO DO COMEDY, it read. AND BAR MITZVAHS.
Having binned the page, switched on again and deleted yesterdays effort, Jane sat for
a moment, wondering what the hell she was supposed to do now. A long time ago she had
decided that writing was like the school holidays: a noisy cluster of whining voices, saying
that theyre bored and demanding that she find them something to do. Thats the trouble with
characters. No bloody initiative.

Skinner leaned back against the rock, feeling dazed and extremely foolish, as befits a
man whos just shot his own villain.
Told you, crowed the Scholfield in his hand. Piece of duff, I said. Easy as falling
off a

101

Oh sure, Skinner snapped. Nothing to it really: LaForce shoots, nearly takes my


head off; I stagger back in terror, accidentally jarring my hand against the rock; you go off;
the bullet ricochets off his left stirrup-iron, his belt-buckle, the other guys wooden leg and a
flat stone, and ends up going straight through the back of his head, thus producing the only
known instance of a man being shot from behind by someone standing directly in front of
him. I do that sort of thing for a pastime.
Well, sniffed the Scholfield, on page 86 of Painted Saddles, you have the hero
shoot at the villains reflection in a mirror, through two locked doors and a piano.
Yes, Skinner shouted, but thats fiction!
Sos this.
Skinner sat down heavily and stared mournfully at the corpses littering the canyon
floor. Yes, he muttered soberly, I guess it is, at that.
A revolver cant frown, but someone with an excessively vivid imagination might have
thought he saw the trigger guard pucker slightly. I dont know why youve suddenly come
over all droopy, the gun said. Thought youd be pleased, your worst enemy dead and all.
Should make life a bit easier all round.
A bullet sang off the rock, six inches or so above Skinners head. He jerked sideways,
tripped over his feet and fell behind a small, round boulder.
You reckon? he said.
Who the hells that?
This is pure conjecture on my part, Skinner replied, but maybe its one of the posse
members who rode away when you started shooting.
And now you reckon theyve come back.
Fits all the known facts, dont you think?
Yippee!
An expression of revulsion passed over Skinners face, and he glared at the pistol in
his hand. You bastard, he said. Dont you ever get tired of fighting?
No. Im a gun. Think about it.
Skinner sighed. Well, he said, Im a human, and I do. Any ideas?
The gun was silent for a moment.
You could try shooting back, it said cheerfully.
I thought youd say that.
TWO
The pigeons were restless tonight.
102

They shifted uneasily on their perches as blue fangs of lightning gouged the night sky
over the huddled suburbs of Dewsbury. Occasional flashes of livid incandescence, bright and
sudden as a flashbulb, threw their long shadows against the far wall of Norman
Frankenbothams pigeon loft, making them look for all the world like roosting pterodactyls.
In his shed, Frankenbotham gazed up at the fury of the heavens through the thick
lenses of his Specsavers reading glasses. He didnt smilehe was from Yorkshire, after all
but in some inner chamber of his heart he was satisfied. Very soon now, perhaps even tonight,
and it would all be over.
He turned over the small brown paper parcel in his hands, noticing with dour approval
the Sheffield post mark, and then reached for a Stanley knife and started to cut through the
packaging. It had taken him five years to find a lateral thermic transducerfive long years of
combing the Yellow Pages, studying classified ads and news agents windows, enquiring in
pubs and betting shops the length and breadth of the three Ridings. Oh, he could have had one
from Geneva or Kyoto by return of post, but that wouldnt have done at all. It would have
defeated the whole object of the exercise.
Nothing but genuine parts. Genuine Yorkshire parts. Six years ago, Norman
Frankenbotham had sat in the stands at Headingley, watching the once invincible Yorkshire
cricket team suffering ignominious defeat at the hands of some pack of Surrey mercenaries,
captained by a renegade New Zealander; and he had sworn an oath by all his gods that he,
personally, would do something about it. He would provide his country with the fast bowler
they so desperately required.
Had he been thirty years younger, it would have been easy. Early morning training
runs, hours of relentless practice in the nets behind the Alderman Dewhurst Memorial
Pavilion, early nights and a diet of raw red meat, and hed have done the job himself. But that
was out of the question; and a few cursory inspections of the earring-wearing, gaudily-clad
youths purporting to play cricket in the local parks and recreation grounds had convinced him
that there was no hitherto undiscovered Trueman or Old waiting to be identified and brought
to the attention of the selectors. In short, there was only one thing for it.
Hed have to make one. Out of bits.
Frankenbotham shook his head at the memory, and reached for a small screwdriver.
Outside, the sky groaned like a great oak splitting in a hurricane. Calmly, he unscrewed an
inspection panel and studied a wiring diagram.
Locate connector A on terminal B and tighten
retaining screws C. Be careful not to over-tighten.
103

Insert resistor D using the tool provided.


Once the fateful decision had been taken, it had simply been a matter of applying
himself and getting on with the job. Six years, a broken marriage and his life savings later, he
could see before him the final consummation of his dreams. A little solder, a few minor
modifications, a lick of formaldehyde and a bloody great big bolt of lightning, and hed be
home and dry.
With a dispassionate eye he studied his creation, stretched out on the workbench in
front of him, and came to a decision. He would call it, he decided, Stanley. Stanley Earnshaw.
Neatly, deftly, without hurrying, he soldered the last connector in place and screwed
down the small metal plate to the back of Stanleys head. Five minutes with the formaldehyde
bottle, a few last touches with the neutronic lancetwas he dawdling, he asked himself,
finding things to do so as to postpone the moment of truth?and a last systems check, ticking
off each entry on the back of the dog-eared envelope that bore the master schematic; and he
was ready. Slowly, his heart pounding, he taped the electrodes in place and waited.
A flash of lighting whitened out the world, and he countedtwo, three, four for the
thunder. It was headed this way, getting nearer. Soon, soon. To occupy his mind, he checked
the central neural directory one last time, flicking the feeler gauges in and out with the ease of
long practice. Flash! one, two. The next one, he promised himself. The lightning was coming!
Steady, Norman lad, dont get carried away. With exaggerated care he armed the
secondary relief circuits and engaged the main console. The air hummed and crackled.
First God, and now me, he thought. But God hadnt had to get all his supplies out of
the back pages of the Exchange and Mart.
Now! He could feel the lightning strike through the soles of his boots. With a quick,
frantic movement he threw the central switch, and was nearly thrown off his feet by the
incredible surge of power running through the system. Fat worms of blue fire crawled up and
down the wires connecting Stanleys wrists to the transformer. There was a sickening smell of
burning.
Live! he screamed. Stanley, live! Stanley, tha daft bugger, get on wi it!

And God created Man in His own image.


Gods image had been skilfully crafted for Him by Kraftig & Stein, public relations
consultants to the really important (established -1). It had been a tricky assignment.
Sure, the original Mr Stein had said, we want omniscient. Sure, we want
omnipresent and omnipotent. Thats good. Thats you. But is that going to be enough?
104

ENOUGH?
Yeah. Mr Stein put his fingertips together and leaned back in his chair. Think about
it. What I ask myself is, what does omnipotent say to me? What sort of aura has it got?
AURA?
Exactly, interrupted Mr Kraftig, nodding. Just what we were thinking. Which is
why we think you should be more
The two image consultants exchanged the most fleeting of glances. They were, they
knew, taking a risk here, but if you want to be known as daring and innovative, it goes with
the territory.
More, kind of, caring, cooed Mr Stein.
Compassionate. Accessible.
Lovable.
Cuddly.
The burning bush arched two incandescent branches.
I SEE.
Mr Kraftig took a deep breath. Omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent and stuff
as well, of course. No question about that. We think you should be very big in all the omnis.
But, at the same time
Cuddly.
The bush crackled thoughtfully. This was, of course, probably the most significant
pause in history.
I LIKE IT.
Thats great, said Mr Stein, as the cosmos breathed a sigh of relief. Now, as a first step.
All that was, of course, a long time ago; to be precise, the breakfast meeting at 7 a.m. on the
first day. The problems associated with creation have not, however, changed all that much
since. In a sense, each subsequent act of creation has been a sort of rerun of the very first; a
random dip into the Scrabble bag of potentiality, a wild guess in Destinys endless game of
Twenty Questions. The problem is, of course, that creation is irrevocable. Once a thing has
been created, its there, somewhere, for ever. No matter what you try and do about it
subsequently, therell always be some interfering bastard with an ark and a dove to make sure
it survives.

105

Jane switched on and emptied her mind. Here, with nothing between her and her
characters but a thin plate of glass and a few glowing green letters, she was once more alone
and with nobody to turn to.
Well now, she thought. What the hell can I find for these idiots to do next?
She could feel the screen staring at her, like an over efficient secretary waiting to take
dictation from an unshaven, hung-over boss. She frowned.
What sort of book do you want this to be?
Where the question came from, and what it was doing in her head in the first place, she
had no idea. It ran around inside her brain like an escaped dog, yapping and trailing its lead.
Profitable, she replied. I want this book to outsell David Eddings and Storm
Constantine and Dragonlance put together. And thats all there is to it. Now, can we stop this
nonsense and get on with some work, please?
Yes, but think. When you were a little girl, you wanted to be a writer. You wanted to
create a magical world that people could go to, full of wonder and magic and deep, powerful
resonances. You wanted to make a world fit for heroes to live in. And have you?
Shut up, she replied. Instead of all that bullshit, tell me how Im going to get Gordian
out of there alive and get Maldezar to Perimadeia before Dunthor notices the Weirdstones
gone missing.
Silence.
That, Jane mused, is just typical of mystic voices in ones brain. No practical help
whatsoever. Understand that fact, and you wont go far wrong. If Joan of Arc had stopped for
a moment and asked, Drive the English out of Aquitaine, yes, fine. How, exactly? shed
probably have lived to be ninety.
Something clicked in the back of her mind. Thats a thought, she considered, I could
have a vision. Regalian is standing over Gordians recumbent form, sword raised for the coup
de grace, and a vision could suddenly appear and tell him not to.
Yes? And?
Jane shook her head. One step at a time. She lit a cigarette, swigged a mouthful of
cold, clammy tea and started to type. Meanwhile, Central Casting started auditioning for the
part of A Vision.

106

107

Laurent Kloetzer - Le royaume bless


1
Les terres keltes
coutez !
coutez ! Ma parole est vrit ! Voici lhistoire dEylir ApCallaghan !
Je rvais de lui longtemps avant que nos chemins ne se croisent. Un guerrier rsolu,
avec ses grandes bottes et lpe Misre sa ceinture, avanant dans les marais en menant son
cheval par la bride Eylir, foutu Kelte ! Droit, fort, obstin, colrique et gnreux, qui rit
dans la bataille et soulve les femmes par la taille ! Eylir, tomb dans la boue et mont si haut,
jusqu poser sur sa tte la couronne du Roi des Rois. Un hros, capable de changer le monde
de ses propres mains.
Il est ma part de rve, mes lambeaux dautre monde, ma certitude quil existe des ciels
si bleus quils blessent les yeux et des amours qui valent de mourir pour eux.
Je lai aim, jalous, dtest. Jai trahi les siens, caus leur perte, jai guid ses
meurtriers pendant des annes, je les ai amens jusqu lui. Je lai vu tomber, frapp mort,
abattu comme un chien. Et pourtant
Jai encore besoin de lui. Mme maintenant, alors que toute cette histoire est termine.
Cest lui qui ma forg. Alors coutez lhistoire dEylir ApCallaghan !

Sur la route
Je venais de loin, dun pays gris et triste o je ne voulais plus rester. Aprs avoir
march longtemps, sans autre richesse que des vtements grossiers et de mauvaises
chaussures, je me suis retrouv sur la route de Koronia. Koronia, ma premire grande ville !
Eylir y avait vcu plusieurs annes, mais je navais encore jamais entendu parler de lui.
Jouvrais des grands yeux ronds comme le dadais naf des pices de thtre. Depuis le
chemin, je voyais la mer, le ciel gris du Nord, et cette autre mer, celle des toits de bardeaux et
dardoise, et les centaines de clochers, les milliers de fumes de la grande cit tenaillant
lestuaire du fleuve. Une troupe de fantassins ma doubl dun pas martial, leur pique sur
lpaule. Leurs uniformes aux armes blanc et or de lEmpire me paraissaient alors les plus
beaux vtements du monde. Je me suis retrouv pris dans la foule qui saccumule la porte
sud. Jai t pouss, bouscul, un bateleur a tent de me voler le peu qui me restait. Les bruits
de marchandages, les odeurs de crottin et de poissons, le dialecte rugueux des campagnes, le
parler prcipit de la ville, tout me rendait ivre. On ma donn un coup dpaule, jai fait trois
pas en avant, jai pass le portail fortifi, je me suis retrouv dans une ruelle, jtais perdu, la
108

ville mavait aval. Il bruinait. Je ne savais pas encore qu Koronia, a veut dire quil fait
beau.
Je navais aucun endroit o aller et je voulais tout voir. Jai tran dans les ruelles
sales, dans la boue du quartier des les, dans le port militaire, le long des faades pignons
des maisons commerantes. Je suis pass sur la colline des Atlans dans les beaux quartiers,
devant le grand porche de luniversit et les grilles dores du palais Vendares.
Les gens me fascinaient. Les vtements bruns ou gris des bourgeois et leurs belles
charpes de laine paisse. Les prtres de lUnique, avec leurs longues robes blanches et leur
air svre, les riches pied ou dans leurs carrosses, en promenade dans le parc. Jadmirais la
tenue des messieurs avec leurs longues vestes parements, leurs perruques, leurs cannes. Et je
regardais les dames, et surtout les demoiselles. Je sais bien quil ny a rien de plus touffant
pour une femme, mais jaime le port et la dmarche que donnent les robes corset. Jtais
jeune et ces seins qui pigeonnaient au creux des dcollets bords de dentelle me faisaient
tourner la tte.
Mais lmerveillement ne nourrit pas son homme.
Je ne savais rien faire dutile pour la bonne socit. Je me serais bien fait engager
comme valet chez une de ces belles jeunes filles, mais je ne savais pas qui madresser. Alors
je suis entr par ncessit dans une manufacture du quartier du Nolamon, un nouveau quartier,
rempli dimmeubles de brique et dusines. Durant trois mois, je me suis sali les mains sur des
machines de bois et de fer huiles, je me suis corch monter et dmonter les moteurs
vapeur qui donnent leur vie aux grandes fabriques, ces chefs-duvre dingniosit. Jai
dtest ce travail puisant, je pouvais peine tenir debout. La paye tait faible, de quoi faire
quelques conomies en logeant sur un grabat pourri dinsectes. Mais sans cet emploi ingrat, je
naurais pas vraiment rencontr de Keltes. Certes, Koronia ce ne sont pas les mmes Keltes
que dans le Haut-Royaume, pas des Callaghan, aucun de ces hros fous qui chargent nus la
bataille. Ce sont juste des brutes mlancoliques, des rveurs buveurs de bire, qui croient la
parole donne et aiment se raconter des histoires.
Jai fini par me faire chasser de mon poste, trop faible et maladroit pour une telle
tche. Des conomies sur trois mois de salaire douvrier, a ne fait pas grand-chose. chou
la Grange, la grande taverne des tudiants situe dans un ancien entrept foin o la bire est
bon march, jai dcid de me saouler plusieurs jours de suite, jusqu ce quil ne me reste
plus rien.
Au bout de cinq jours dormir sur les bancs de la Grange et me nourrir de Gun
noire, je ne valais plus grand-chose. Jempestais, mes vtements taient en loques et mes
109

cheveux graisseux couvraient mes gueules de bois. Pourtant je ntais pas malheureux. Jtais
sorti dune vie de brumes pour arriver dans la grande ville, au croisement de lEmpire et des
terres keltes, pour rien au monde je naurais voulu retourner en arrire.
Cest alors que jai fait la connaissance de Jude, qui est aussitt devenu mon
compagnon de beuverie.
Jude, un ancien militaire, plus g que moi ; le corps sec, toujours drap de noir, les
joues creuses, la tte penche en avant comme un vautour. Son allure de prtre nglig me
plaisait.
Il venait seul, tous les soirs, ne connaissait personne mais parlait kelte. Il passait la
plus grande partie du temps regarder les gens et parfois il tirait le portrait des filles. Son
coup de crayon ma impressionn, trs vif, juste et brutal. Entre deux portraits, il dessinait des
caricatures obscnes qui le faisaient clater de rire, un rire brusque, une explosion
incomprhensible avant le retour au calme. Je le faisais rire aussi, quand il me poussait boire
et que je me ridiculisais en racontant nimporte quoi Il me payait mes bires, on avait une
heure de conversation cohrente puis on se mettait commenter les filles qui passaient devant
notre table et je recevais des gifles de leur part.
Un soir, un type a voulu me casser la gueule, parce que je vantais un peu trop les seins
de sa fiance, une belle rousse qui faisait le service. Il ma jet par terre et ma coll quelques
coups bien sentis dans lestomac. Jude a interrompu le portrait de la rousse et est venu mon
aide. La bagarre entre le fianc et lui a eu lieu sous la pluie, dans le champ boueux derrire la
grange.
Le fianc tait un soldat, jeune, athltique, bien bti, et trs en colre. En face, Jude me
paraissait nettement plus frle. Ses vtements mouills lui collaient au corps, lui donnant lair
misrable.
Le combat na pas dur, les parieurs en ont t pour leurs frais. Jude a triomph sans
lgance : un coup de genou dans les couilles et un autre au menton pour mettre lautre par
terre. Il a rou le soldat de coups de pied jusqu ce quil ne bouge plus, la mchoire en sang,
recroquevill sur luimme Pour Jude, lefficacit primait sur lhonneur, je lai oubli trop
souvent.
Viens, ma-t-il dit. On ne reste pas l, tous ses copains vont vouloir le venger.
On a march sur les quais, je grelottais de froid. Il a demand dun ton dtach,
comme si le fait navait aucune importance : Tu as envie de rester poivrot toute ta vie ?
Jai rpondu non. Alors il ma donn de largent, de quoi manger, me changer et passer deux
heures dans un tablissement de bains. Et une adresse o me prsenter le lendemain matin.
110

Plus que portraitiste pour filles dauberge, Jude tait cocher. Il avait toujours aim
soccuper des chiens et des chevaux. Il jouait de plus lhomme tout faire pour sa patronne,
lui rservant ses chambres lorsquelle voyageait, portant ses messages et ses lettres. Ce
dernier rle lennuyait, il voulait quelquun pour faire le messager et le porteur de courrier
sa place pendant que lui pourrait passer du temps dans lcurie pour soccuper des btes, ou
bien rester lauberge et dessiner.
Au matin, donc, je me suis prsent devant la femme pour qui il travaillait.
Je me souviens trs mal de cette entrevue. Il faisait gris et froid, je ntais qu moiti
rveill, elle navait pas beaucoup de temps me consacrer. Elle ma reu dans les beaux
salons aux plafonds peints de lhtel de Galcin et nous avons bu un caf. Ctait une toute
petite femme, ge de quarante ans environ, portant la robe couleur de rouille des Soeurs de
Stefana. Elle ma cout avec attention, ma jaug dun regard, a parl brivement et nous
sommes tombs daccord. Elle se nommait sur Serena Fonte de Fosca, son nom ma
beaucoup impressionn. Quelques minutes plus tard, je sortais de lhtel avec pour mission de
retrouver Jude.
Jtais embauch.
Dans les jours qui ont suivi, jai commenc tre quelquun Koronia : je servais
Mme Serena Fonte, je portais ses lettres et ses invitations. Je logeais dans une pension dans la
chambre voisine de celle de Jude. Javais un habit et un ami, ce mme Jude.Je ntais plus
bigleux, Jude mavait achet des lunettes. Et porter des lettres mouvrait les portes des htels
particuliers de la belle ville, que je dcouvrais depuis lentre de service ou leur cour
intrieure. Je me suis aussi rendu au monastre des surs, lhtel de ville, la banque
Impriale et chez diffrents grands financiers. Je ne connaissais pas le rle officiel de Mme
Fonte, qui restait silencieuse ce sujet. Elle voyageait discrtement, logeant dans la mme
pension que nous, ses petits djeuners lhtel de Galcin tant sa seule concession au luxe.
Mais jai su trs vite que javais t embauch par une personne importante. On recevait mes
courriers avec empressement, on rpondait vite, et certains bourgeois taient obsquieux
devant moi comme ils auraient pu ltre devant elle.
Jude ma appris bien me tenir, regarder les grands, saluer les prtres et les
officiers, il tait intraitable ce sujet. Il a galement tent de commencer mon entranement
physique, mais en vain. Nous avons continu boire ensemble et commenter les filles quon
voyait dans la rue. Quant Madame, je lui parlais assez rarement.
Au bout dune semaine, fier de mon nouveau statut, je suis sorti sans Jude. Je voulais
retourner la Grange, javais gard de la tendresse pour cet endroit. Le patron, Bolger, avait
111

t vraiment gentil et patient avec moi durant mes journes de dchance. Jude ne voulait pas
venir, de peur de retomber sur le soldat de lautre fois. Madame lavait sermonn en disant
quelle ne voulait pas dennuis Koronia.
Cest ainsi que toute cette histoire a commenc.
La vieille grange foin tait pleine, un grand feu brlait dans le foyer central. La jolie
rousse qui mavait valu des ennuis virevoltait dans la salle, elle donnait du plaisir rien qu la
regarder. La clientle tait la mme que dhabitude. tudiants, ouvriers du Nolamon, quelques
bourgeois gars, quelques poivrots habituels. Et un nouvel arrivant, le conteur.
Il avait attir mon attention. Un type efflanqu avec un grand manteau mouill de
pluie, des cheveux trs longs et un regard ardent : Kyle lerrant, voyageur un peu louche aux
vtements uss et aux poches perces.
On le disait plus ou moins barde, mais personne ne se souvenait lavoir entendu jouer
de la harpe quil trimballait toujours avec lui. Il sarrtait la Grange de temps en temps, puis
on nentendait plus parler de lui pendant des annes Je suis sr que vous lavez dj crois.
Il tait assis prs du feu et plusieurs personnes semblaient attendre quelque chose de
lui. En vrit, il avait promis de leur parler de la bataille Et voici les mots quil a prononcs,
tels que ma mmoire les a gards.

MAHARKAL
La premire bataille dAllander.
Allander, 1er rcit. (Notes pour Serena Fonte.)
coutez-moi ! Voici lhistoire de Maharkal ! Une bataille qui a donn festoyer aux
charognards ! Un combat qui a bien nourri la terre !
coutez-moi ! Ctait il y a vingt ans ! Du temps de vos pres !
coutez. Je vais parler dAngus. Il na pas dautre nom. Pas de grand clan noble, pas
de nom de village ou de ville dont il veuille se prvaloir. Cest un guerrier, un vtran, dj. Il
se bat depuis quil a douze ans. Escarmouches, coups de main, brigandage Il a tu bon
nombre dhommes, pill des villages, brl des maisons. Il dit quil se bat pour largent, mais
ce nest pas vrai. En fait, il ne sait rien faire dautre. Il excelle lpe, la hache ou mains
nues. cheval ou pied terre. Sans enthousiasme, car il naime pas tuer. Soldat de fortune,
voil son mtier. La guerre le nourrit.
Angus est sur la plaine de Maharkal, loin au sud dici, entre la fort et la rivire Sieg.
Vingt mille Keltes y sont rassembls.

112

La silhouette maigre de Kyle se dcoupait devant les flammes du foyer. Sa voix grave
a obtenu le silence et partout dans la grande salle de la Grange, des bancs aux tables de
buveurs, des vieux prs de lentre aux gamins perchs sur les poutres, lattention sest
tourne vers le conteur. Cest le talent des meilleurs bardes daller chercher chaque spectateur
dans son coin dombre pour lamener dans son histoire Quand il a voqu le nom de
Maharkal, plus personne dans la salle na song ses affaires ou sa conversation. Et moi,
ltranger, le porteur de cartes de visite, je me suis retrouv assis le cul dans lherbe, entour
par les vingt milles guerriers keltes du rcit.
Aujourdhui, Maharkal, la terre est riche des milliers dhommes qui y sont tombs.
Lherbe pousse verte l o stendent les cadavres. Les armes et les armures rouillent entre les
roseaux ou bien sous les racines des arbres et il arrive souvent que les enfants qui vont jouer
l-bas en ramnent un vieux poignard ou quelques lambeaux de cotte de mailles
Maintenant, Maharkal, Atlans et Keltes sont mls, les ennemis senlacent sous la terre.
Pour Angus, Maharkal est une plaine rase sous un matin dautomne. Les Keltes sont au
sud, autour de lui. Vingt mille hommes, venus de tous les clans occidentaux. Des jeunes et des
vtrans, des guerriers dlite et des mercenaires. Tout ce qui reste de la fiert du royaume de
lOuest. Ils attendent, le cul dans lherbe pleine de rose, bouffant leurs dernires rserves,
buvant pour se donner du courage. Leurs enseignes de bronze sont plantes de guingois dans
le sol. Ils parlent, se vantent, chantent. Il y en a mme certains qui prient.
La guerre avait commenc quatre mois plus tt. Ici mme, Koronia ! Vous avez
entendu parler de lusurpateur, de ce prince Anton Callicls de Dvern, qui tait tout aussi
prince que moi. Anton de Dvern
Un homme riche avec beaucoup damis, beaucoup dargent, beaucoup dambitions
Ici, Koronia, voici le discours quil avait tenu aux oligarches, aux gnraux, la population :
Les Keltes sont dangereux ! Ils veulent piller votre cit, violer vos femmes, trancher les mains
de vos enfants LEmpire ne vous aidera pas LEmpire est faible, il prfre cder devant
eux, il nose plus se battre Nous avons la meilleure arme du monde, nous avons nos
canons, nos lgions, pourquoi attendre ? Pourquoi attendre quils nous attaquent ?
Anton le Dvernian ntait peut-tre pas plus prince que vous et moi, mais il tait loin
dtre un imbcile. Il savait que quand une population a peur, elle fait des btises Et il avait
promis aux soldats des lgions de Koronia des terres prises sur les Keltes soumis.
Envahissons le royaume de lOuest, ce furent ses mots. Et nous nous le partagerons. Du
simple soldat au gnral

113

Vingt mille Keltes le cul dans lherbe, je vous dis. Morts de trouille, mais ne le
montrant pas. Ils se demandent ce quils foutent l, rassembls par un gamin de quinze ans,
face au plus puissant, au plus dangereux des adversaires : larme atlane. Les quatre lgions
de Koronia, victorieuses, au complet. Car ils sont l, les Atlans De lautre ct de la plaine.
Ils se mettent en place, les petits groupes de fantassins se dplaant en formation comme
autant de briques mtalliques construisant un mur infranchissable. Une ligne la fois souple,
puissante et mobile. Trente mille hommes. Dont six mille cavaliers Et vingt canons, l-bas,
sur la colline louest Vous vous croyez peut-tre courageux ? Vous aussi vous vous seriez
compisss en voyant sassembler larme atlane, en apercevant lclat des boucliers, des
lances et des pes. Une troupe tellement discipline quelle agit comme un seul corps, le
corps dune bte immense et dure, pleine de dents et de griffes.
La guerre avait commenc quatre mois plus tt. Anton de Dvern avait attendu
loccasion de se jeter sur les cinq clans de lOuest. ApThain, le clan de lours, clan du roi,
ApNatach, le sanglier, ApLleman, le cygne, ApFenris, le loup. Et ApCallaghan, clan de
laigle, le plus puissant, le plus prestigieux de tous. Eylir ApCallaghan le vieux tait un
putain de hros, grand combattant, grand seigneur Il avait uni les clans de lOuest, obtenu
par les armes ladmiration et lobissance de tous ses vassaux, la richesse et de bons traits
avec les Atlans. Ce ntait que par injustice et jalousie que la couronne tait tombe sur la tte
de ce pauvre Arvik ApThain, chef rus et sans charisme. Eylir ApCallaghan, oui, ctait un
bon seigneur, qui aurait d tre roi. Un sacr amateur de filles, aussi Atlanes ou keltes,
grandes dames ou servantes, condition quelles aient la peau douce et les seins ronds. Cest
a qui a caus sa perte. Un soir, sa femme, folle de jalousie, en a eu assez de ses frasques et
lui a plant un poignard dans le cur. Sous les yeux de son amante, de celle qui partageait
alors le lit du seigneur Callaghan. Eylir le vieux est mort dans son lit, un poignard de femme
dans le cur. Mort indigne dun guerrier, mort indigne dun chef ! Tristesse et honte sur les
Callaghan !
Anton avait choisi ce moment pour attaquer. Il avait dirig lui-mme larme
dinvasion Il fallait frapper les Callaghan tant quils taient faibles, puis les autres
tomberaient ensuite. Le roi de lOuest, Arvik ApThain, avait pris alors une bonne dcision. Il
avait rassembl les clans, secou les Callaghan frapps de stupeur ou bien de honte, lev en
masse une arme dans les villes, dans les villages, dans le fin fond des campagnes. Aux
armes! On en veut vos terres, vos enfants, votre vie ! Plus de cent mille hommes
staient rassembls en chantant, venus de tous les clans, chacun autour de son enseigne,
chacun poussant son cri de guerre. Fenris ! Lleman ! Natach ! Thain ! Callaghan !
114

Ils avaient march vers le nord, se portant la rencontre des quatre lgions. Ils taient
presque quatre contre un. Prs de la rivire Belverus, les clans staient jets en hurlant
contre les murs dacier atlans. Ils avaient charg face aux canons, torses nus peints aux
couleurs de la Desse. Chaque clan de son ct, chaque clan son tour, pour avoir le privilge
de la victoire, la folie et la gloire Idiots ! Fous ! Quespraient-ils ?
Prs de la moiti dentre eux moururent ce jourl. Arvik ApThain stait enfui, la
queue entre les jambes. Un roi qui connat la dfaite peut-il encore rgner ? Les clans taient
disperss, les corbeaux festoyaient et Morregan riait dans lautre monde. Fous !
Trois mois avant Maharkal, Angus stait donc battu au Belverus. Il faisait partie des
mercenaires engags par Kulayn ApCallaghan, le rgent, le frre dEylir. Il a vu les charges
folles, la mort et la dfaite. Ce nest pas un idiot, ai-je dit. Cest un bon soldat. Il fait plus
confiance une cotte de mailles en bon acier quaux tatouages bleus de la Desse. Et quand il
faut reculer, il recule. En ordre, en protgeant ses voisins.
Ctait il y a trois mois. Cela fait trois mois que les Atlans avancent au coeur du pays
Callaghan, soumettant les places fortes, menaant la capitale mme, Bessama. Trois mois que
les Keltes attendent la soumission et la dfaite Mais Certes, ils sont peut-tre fous,
barbares, violents Mais ils ne sont pas des lches ! Chez les ApCallaghan, quelque chose a
chang. Le fils dEylir a pris le pouvoir dans le clan.
cet instant, il a fait une pause. On entendait juste craquer le bois dans le feu. Et le
nom quil a prononc a clair le regard des autres autant quune flamme du foyer. Ce nom a
gonfl ma poitrine comme sil mappartenait, comme si lentendre seulement suffisait
memplir de fiert.
Allander.
Allander,
lpoque de la guerre, ctait un gosse de quinze ans peine, ayant grandi cach
dans lombre de son pre, un garon sage et silencieux. Il na pas accept la dfaite. Pour ce
gamin peine mont la tte de son clan, le combat ntait pas fini ! Il a demand tous les
clans de rejoindre laigle des Callaghan, de sunir de nouveau, pour continuer se battre ! Sa
voix parlait de courage, de mmoire, des hros qui jugent les guerriers depuis lautre monde.
Et ce gosse au regard fou qui visitait les clans au grand galop, en hurlant de retourner au
combat, ce gosse a russi en convaincre quelques-uns.
Angus la vu pour la premire fois, deux, semaines aprs le Belverus, alors quil tait
en train de se saouler dans une auberge paume. Allander est arriv, escort juste de quelques
guerriers, avec ses longs cheveux blonds et son manteau noir, cumant de sueur sur un cheval
115

puis. Il est rentr dans lauberge, a secou les soldats, a parl de gloire et dhrosme, de
chants et de mort au combat. Allander ApCallaghan, avec son regard ardent, ses colres
teintes de dmence et cette flamme en lui
Quelques soldats lont cout, quelques-uns lont suivi. Angus en faisait partie.
Allander ne promettait aucune solde. Juste la gloire et la mort.
Kyle lerrant allait et venait devant le feu, escogriffe bizarre, la main pose sur la
garde dune pe imaginaire. Son regard sest pos sur chacun des spectateurs, sur les
tudiants, les bourgeois, les ouvriers venus du Nolamon. Son regard sest pos sur moi
Aurais-je os suivre Allander ? Le suivrais-je, maintenant ?
Ainsi, ils se sont retrouvs Maharkal, ce matin-l, dans la plaine couverte de rose.
Des survivants du Belverus, quelques renforts envoys par les ApFenris ou les ApNatach,
des paysans Callaghan et les derniers guerriers dlite dEylir. Ses Compagnons, comme il les
appelait. Ils ont attendu avant de rencontrer les Atlans, ils ont recul, se sont cachs dans la
fort, sont passs par les collines, ont refus le combat une fois, deux fois, dix fois ! Mais
maintenant ils sont coincs sans possibilit de repli. Sils vitent la bataille une fois de plus,
Anton de Dvern prendra Bessama, la capitale Callaghan, et ltoile atlane flottera sur les
tours du Haut-Koensar Ce serait la fin du clan Callaghan.
Les Keltes vont se battre de nouveau. Ils savent que pour la plupart dentre eux, cette
bataille sera la dernire. Que le Grand Cornu fera ce soir une ample moisson dmes Mais
ils mourront sans honte, versant leur sang pour dfendre leur terre et leur jeune seigneur,
Allander.
Les longues cornes de cuivre battent le rappel.
Les hommes saisissent leurs armes, se lvent. Cest bientt midi, une des dernires
belles journes dautomne. Angus vrifie son armure et ses armes, puis celles de ses
compagnons. Il se bat dans linfanterie, il dirige un petit groupe dhommes, paysans et
artisans mal arms venus des environs de Bessama. Motivs mais inexpriments. Il les
encourage, donne quelques bourrades. Les hommes se mettent en place. Linfanterie est
dirige par Legh ApTenar, ancien mercenaire pass au service des Callaghan, un homme
courageux respect par les vieux soldats. La cavalerie, masse entirement sur le flanc
gauche, est mene par Allander lui-mme. Le flanc droit sappuie contre la fort. a y est. Les
hommes sont en ligne. Les cavaliers trpignent. Les fantassins serrent fermement leurs
longues lances ou leurs pes pour ceux qui en ont une.

116

En face rsonnent les tambours atlans. La bataille commence. Angus sent ses tripes qui
se nouent et il crache par terre. Ce sera son unique prire. Il est midi, le ciel est dun bleu sans
faille.
La cavalerie kelte slance au cri de : Callaghan ! Elle charge en masse sur la cavalerie
atlane, en face, une mle sauvage sengage, le porte-tendard dAllander tombe, les Keltes
ne savent plus o est leur chef ! Les cris et les hurlements parviennent assourdis au milieu des
lignes de linfanterie. Les canons atlans tonnent, la fume slve dans les airs, les hommes
tremblent. Angus sourit. Les canons sont trop loin, les projectiles natteindront pas les
fantassins keltes, pas sils ne se rapprochent pas. Par contre, la cavalerie
Un des voisins dAngus veut courir, maintenant, oui, maintenant, courir contre le mur
dacier de linfanterie atlane, courir contre les fantassins lourds qui avancent, bouclier contre
bouclier. Courir pour ne plus avoir peur, courir pour ne plus attendre Angus connat ce
sentiment. Belverus, lui aussi a eu envie de courir, de se jeter contre les lances atlanes pour
mourir Les Atlans nattendent que a. Peut-tre, oui, que sous leffet du choc leur premire
ligne peut se briser. Mais contrairement aux Keltes, les Atlans avancent sur trois lignes,
chacune profonde dune dizaine dhommes. Et la furie kelte scrasera pour mourir contre la
deuxime ou, au mieux, la troisime. Donc il ne faut pas charger car ceux qui vont charger
vont mourir.
Expliquer toutes ces considrations ses voisins hurlants et furieux est au-del de la
capacit dAngus. Ne trouvant pas dautres arguments, il crase son poing dans la figure du
rcalcitrant. On se serre les coudes, on change des regards farouches. Quelquun commence
une chanson et Angus reprend les paroles de sa voix sourde. Bientt toute la ligne chante,
pour ignorer la peur et les tripes qui se nouent, pour ignorer limplacable infanterie atlane qui
savance
feu ! acier ! chne ! terre et flots !
Les Keltes sont attaqus !
Tiens tte, toi qui es kelte de coeur !
Mieux vaut la colre que la honte de la dfaite !
Combats pour ta libert !
Nous avons chant, nous avons frapp avec nos bocks sur la table, nous avons entendu
le pas des guerriers et les armes heurtant les boucliers !
Les Atlans ne sont plus qu un jet de pierre. On distingue les regards des soldats de
premire ligne par-dessus les boucliers Au loin, sur la gauche, la mle des cavaleries est
confuse, charges et contre-charges se multiplient. Angus note que les canons atlans se sont
117

tus. Une bonne chose. Alors il donne lordre. Le seul ordre quil a reu avant la bataille.
Quand vous verrez le blanc des yeux des Atlans, reculez. Restez en ligne, reculez en ordre, au
rythme des tambours.
Reculez !
Les Keltes ne bougent pas. Ils ont bien entendu les instructions, ce matin, pourtant.
Les jours prcdents, ils se sont entrans reculer ensemble, en ligne Mais ils ne bougent
pas Les Atlans ne sont plus qu quelques dizaines de pas.
Reculez, bordel de merde ! Reculez !
Alors on entend les tambours, disperss parmi les guerriers. Roulement sourd.
Bronn Bronn Bronn Et mue par ce grondement rgulier, la grande masse des soldats
keltes fait un pas en arrire, puis un autre et encore un autre, restant face larme atlane.
Bronn Bronn Bronn trange spectacle que ces guerriers keltes, fous de rage et de
colre, le regard froid, larme serre dans leur poing, qui reculent un pas aprs lautre face
lennemi en beuglant leur chant de combat :
Souffle de colre et tourbillon sur les villes,
Fumes et terres brles pour vous, paysans ! Cest le sang des Keltes qui coule.
Rassemblement devant la grande ville de Bessama !
Casse-leur la tte et le ventre !

118

Оценить