Interesting Times (Discworld #17)

By Terry Pratchett; Published In 1994
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Humor
A foot on the neck is nine points of the law.

And therefore education at the University mostly worked by the age-old method of putting a lot of young people in the vicinity of a lot of books and hoping that something would pass from one to the other, while the actual young people put themselves in the vicinity of inns and taverns for exactly the same reason.

And when in doubt, take all your clothes off,' said Caleb. 'What for?' 'Sign of a good berserk, taking all your clothes off. Frightens the hell out of the enemy. If anyone starts laughing, stab 'em one.

Cohen looked at the forest of lances and pennants. Hundreds of thousands of men looked like quite a lot of men when you saw them close to.

"I suppose," he said, slowly, "that none of you has got some amazing plan you've been keeping quiet about?"

"We thought you had one," said Truckle.

Do teachers go anywhere special when they die?’ said Cohen. ‘I don’t think so,’ said Mr Saveloy gloomily. He wondered for a moment whether there really was a great Free Period in the sky. It didn’t sound very likely. Probably there would be some marking to do.

Everyone knows this, don’t they?” Cohen gaped at him in astonishment. “Blood-sucking ghosts, as a matter of fact,” said Rincewind. “After all, everyone knows that’s what you get beyond the Wall, don’t they?” Lord Hong sneered. But the warlords stared at Rincewind with the expressions of people who strongly suspected that the people beyond the Wall were flesh and blood but who also relied on millions of people not believing that this was so. “Ridiculous! You are not invisible blood-sucking ghosts,” said one of them. Cohen opened his mouth so that the diamond teeth glinted. “’S right,” he said. “Fact is … we’re the visible sort.” “Hah! A pathetic attempt!” said Lord Hong. “Ghosts or no ghosts, we will beat you!” “Well, that went better than I expected,” Mr. Saveloy remarked as the warlords strode out. “Was that an attempt at a little bit of psychological warfare there, Mr. Rincewind?” “Is that what it was? I know about that kind of stuff,” said Cohen. “It’s where you bang your shield all night before the fight so’s the enemy can’t get any sleep and you sing, ‘We’re gonna cut yer tonkers off,’ and stuff like that.” “Similar,” said Mr. Saveloy, diplomatically. “But it failed to work, I’m afraid. Lord Hong and his generals are rather too sophisticated. It’s a great shame you couldn’t try it on the common soldiers.” There was a faint squeak of rabbit behind them. They turned, and looked at the somewhat under-age cadre of the Red Army that was being ushered in. Butterfly was with them. She even gave Rincewind a very faint smile. Rincewind had always relied on running away. But sometimes, perhaps, you had to stand and fight, if only because there was nowhere left to run. But

He’d always felt he had a right to exist as a wizard in the same way that you couldn’t do proper maths without the number 0, which wasn’t a number at all but, if it went away, would leave a lot of larger numbers looking bloody stupid.

He wanted to say: how could you be so nice and yet so dumb? The best thing you could do with the peasents was to leave them alone. Let them get on with it. When people who can read and write start fighting for those who can't, you just end up with another kind of stupidity. If you want to help them, build a big library or something somewhere and leave the door open.

I am not frightened,' said Lord Tang. 'I am ashamed.

I feel like a million dollars don't you? ... Good, Lets go get some.

I heard the Empire has a tyrannical and repressive government!"
"What form of government is that?" said Ponder Stibbons.
"A tautology," said the Dean, from above.

In life, as in breakfast cereal, it is always best to read the instructions on the box.

It was impossible for him to get bored. He just didn't have the imagination.

Look, I don’t mind summoning some demon and asking it,” said the Lecturer in Recent Runes. “That’s normal. But building some mechanical contrivance to do your thinking for you, that’s … against Nature.

Many things went on at Unseen University and, regrettably, teaching had to be one of them. The faculty had long ago confronted this fact and had perfected various devices for avoiding it. But this was perfectly all right because, to be fair, so had the students.

Most of the gods throw dice but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been using two queens all along. Fate wins.

No one likes a poor thief.

Oh, no," said the Lecturer in Recent Runes, pushing his chair back. "Not that. That's meddling with things you don't understand."
"Well, we are wizards," said Ridcully. "We're supposed to meddle in things we don't understand. If we hung around waitin' till we understood things we'd never get anything done.

Probably the last sound heard before the Universe folded up like a paper hat would be someone saying, “What happens if I do this?

Ricewind had always relied on running away. But somerimes, perhaps, you had to stand and fight, if only because there was nowhere left to run.

The Empire's got something worse than whips all right. It's got obedience. Whips in the soul. They obey anyone who tells them what to do. Freedom just means being told what to do by someone different.

The Four Horsemen whose Ride presages the end of the world are known to be Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence. But even less significant events have their own Horsemen. For example, the Four Horsemen of the Common Cold are Sniffles, Chesty, Nostril, and Lack of Tissues; the Four Horsemen whose appearance foreshadows any public holiday are Storm, Gales, Sleet, and Contra-flow.

There is a curse.
They say:
May you live in interesting times.

They stole from rich merchants and temples and kings. They didn't steal from poor people; this was not because there was anything virtuous about poor people, it was simply because poor people had no money.

They were probably descended from people who learned that if you look too hard at anyone on horseback you receive a sharp stinging sensation such as might be obtained by a stick around the ear. Not looking up at people on horseback had become hereditary. People who stared at people on horseback in what was considered to be a funny way never survived long enough to breed.

Three Pink Pig and Five White Fang were, loosely speaking, privates, and not just because they were pale, vulnerable, and inclined to curl up and hide when danger threatened.

Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been fate. People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events -- the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there -- that must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous.

with one mighty bound, you could be free. Provided you realized it was one of your options.

with the expression of one who knows that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

You could say to the universe this is not fair. And the universe would say: Oh, isn’t it? Sorry.