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Carpe Jugulum is a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett, the twenty third in the Discworld series. It was first published in 1998.

In Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett imitates the traditions of gothic vampire literature, playing with the mythic archetypes and featuring a tongue-in-cheek reversal of 'vampyre' subculture with young vampires who wear bright clothes, drink wine, and stay up until noon. The title is a play on the Latin phrase carpe diem ('seize [literally, "pluck"] the day') and 'Jugular vein' - in other words 'Go for the throat'.

Plot summary[]

Count Magpyr and family are invited to the naming of Magrat and King Verence's daughter, to be conducted by the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats. The Magpyrs are not keen on going home to Überwald and plan on making Lancre their new home with its obvious benefit of a whole new population to snack on - hence the scarves worn by the victims to cover their neck wounds. Once again, the witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Agnes Nitt (with her alter ego Perdita) have to save the mountain realm of Lancre.

The Magpyr family have made themselves much more formidable enemies than old fashioned vampires by building up tolerance to the normal methods used to defeat vampires. They munch on garlic, aren't bothered by bright light, cross moving water and are impervious to religious symbols. They exert a hypnotic charm over normal people which prevents them from realizing that the vampires are taking over Lancre. Only the youngest witch, Agnes, and the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats, seem able to resist this charm, due to their dual personalities. The Magpyr son, Vlad, (a common vampire name coming from the original Dracula - the Transylvanian Prince Vlad the Impaler) is attracted to Agnes because she is able to resist him.

The Magpyr family's servant is Igor who is a traditionalist who spends his spare time breeding and distributing spiders for the dark corners of the castle. He longs for the days of the old Count and the old vampire ways when there was always a billowing curtain, a room with an open window, caskets, creaking doors and all the other castle trappings made popular in vampire lore. The Magpyrs are very rude to him, and eventually he rebels, helping Magrat and Nanny escape their clutches with baby Esme. The vampires identify Granny Weatherwax as one of their more significant foes, and decide to deal with this problem by converting her to become one of their own kind. She escapes and, aided by Mightily Oats, heads to the seat of the Magpyr family's power in Uberwald. In Uberwald (German for Over the forest) the vampires have tamed the people to accept being bled once a month. Agnes is taken to the town of Escrow by Vlad and his family to witness this monthly ceremony (very reminscent of the short story the Lottery by Shirley Jackson.) Escrow is a legal term for a formal contract or agreement between parties where the document is held by a third party until its conditions are met. The Magpyrs and their vampire cohorts are foiled and retreat to their castle for their final stand while Nanny Ogg's son Shawn organizes the attack on the remaining vampires in Lancre.

Popular References and Annotations:[]

As is common in Discworld novels, in this novel Pratchett references and parodies popular culture frequently, especially the films of the horror genre which the British film company Hammer Film Productions produced as well as works by Gothic authors such as Ann Rice.

As the vampires travel to the naming ceremony, Pratchett comments: "Do they really think that spelling their name backwards fools anyone?" This reference pokes fun at the many vampire movies where this ruse succeeds. In Son of Dracula (1943), there is a Count 'Alucard', in Dracula's Last Rites (1979), a vampire called Dr A. Lucard, in Dracula: the Series (1990) he is Alexander Lucard, and in Dracula: the Dirty Old Man (1969) he is Alucard.

The Magpyr family name is a play on the words magpie (the crow like bird) and Magyar (a tribe from the Romania/Hungary area and which is now a common name for Hungarian). Magpies, like crows are thought to be an evil omen in western cultures and a symbol of magic, witchcraft and prophesy. This theme recurs throughout the book. When Nanny and Agnes are investigating Granny's disappearance Agnes says "Good morning, Mister Magpie," - being polite to the bird is a way of avoiding its bad luck. The two witches compare counting rhymes involving magpies, Nanny's version similar to the Scots version given in Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable:

Igor, the Magpyr family servant is a parody of the typical servant found in horror movies like Frankenstein. In Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy take off on the whole horror genre Young Frankenstein Marty Feldman "Eye-gor" is sent to steal the brain of a famous scientist from a medical lab. After dropping the brain, he explains, he was forced to replace it with one from someone named 'Abby Normal'... In Carpe Jugulum, Igor's uncle works for a mad scientist and is good a brain juggling. Later on Igor explains how he has done surgery on himself with all the parts he has inherited or been given by deceased friends and family members. He also tells Magrat and Nanny that he installed a plate in his head to act as a lightning rod - being tired of all the lightning strikes - a reference to the typical Frankenstein versions where the monster comes to life after being jolted by lightning. Igor also gives himself an extra thumb because, if one is useful, two must be more so. Near the end when he hears the advancing mob, he comments that he has good ears - a pun given that he has got them from someone else.

While, talking about Granny Weatherwax, the vampire Count and Countess mentions that the Weatherwax women start to hear the clang of the oven door and have to watch on which side their gingerbread is gilded. Both are obvious references to Grimm's fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.

The line; "an' it's bein' used up on der Copperhead road tonight.' is a Pratchett tribute to American singer/songwriter Steve Earle's song 'Copperhead Road'. A copperhead is a venomous viper native to eastern and southern USA.

The troll living under the bridge and acting as border guard is a reference to the Norwegian fairy tale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Pratchett often uses trolls as sentries on bridges.

The fact that Granny Weatherwax doesn't receive an invitation to the baby's naming ceremony (the magpies have stolen it) is a parallel to the story of Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault and retold by the Brothers Grimm where the evil fairy, annoyed at having been left out, curses the baby and puts a spell on her. In Carpe Jugulum, it is left ambiguous until the end of the novel what Nanny's intentions are toward Esme and whether she has put her under a spell by taking over her body.

Pratchett pokes fun at organized religion with his character Mightily Oats, more correctly called The Quite Reverend Mightily-Praiseworthy-Are-Ye-Who-Exalteth-Om Oats. While he has many of the traits of the modern stereotypical Anglican priest, such as trying to appease all sides, he also has connections to the more fundamental Christian sects. The Omnians have burned witches as did real world Puritans and the word Om has many of the associations that the word Pure has. The Omnians also proselytize door to door (Granny says, "You Omnians knock on doors" when they arrive at the Magpyr castle) and hand out pamphlets like the Jehovah Witnesses do. Mightily Oats' name is also a play on the Christian sect the Quakers - Quaker Oats being a breakfast cereal whose symbol is a Quaker wearing the traditional black hat as Mightily Oats does. His name also may be a reference to Titus Oates, a 17th century British clergyman and fraud. Throughout the novel Mightily Oats is questioning his religion. He notes that every religion claims to have its true believers rescued by a man in a boat - a reference to Noah and the Flood in the bible but also to the wide spread flood theme found in mythology. Granny and he have a long conversation on the nature of belief while they are making their way to the Vampires' castle. The fact that they are riding on a donkey has parallels to Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem for Jesus' birth. Ultimately Oats burns his Bible, the Book of Om, to start a fire to save Granny Weatherwax, symbolic of him leaving the constraints of the pedantic and theological world behind for a more pragmatic and worldly approach to belief.

Nanny Ogg talks about the "new changin' world order thing" and getting "money for hedges". This is a play on the modern economic jargon of new world order and hedge funds, lines that are repeated throughout the book.

The Countess says, "If you prick us do we not bleed?" a reference to Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice but also a reference to vampires drinking blood.

Lacrimosa is the daughter of the Count and Countess. The name comes from the Latin meaning weeping and was usually used in reference to the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of Sorrows). Lacrimosa forms part of the Dies Irae sequence in the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass and is a requiem in many pieces of classical music from Mozart's Requiem in D Minor to Verdi's Messa da Requiem.

Granny Weatherwax keeps a glass fishing float to use as a crystal ball. Japanese fishermen use glass floats to hold up their nets and the floats often wash up on shore in foreign countries (notably off the west coast of North America) where they are prized by collectors.

Vlad says, "Le sang nouveau est arrive." which means "the new blood has arrived" a reference to the new breed of vampire that his family represents who aren't bothered by the traditional anti-vampire tactics. It is also a reference to the French wine, Beaujolais which is marketed with the slogan 'Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrive.'

The image of Hodgesaargh wearing the bird arm puppet while trying to lure the phoenix chick may be modeled on Emu, the arm-length bird puppet used by Rod Hull in his 1970s British TV show. It also bears similarities to Big Bird from Sesame Street. Hetty the Hen is a children's song released in 1975 by Mr. Pickwick. The phoenix is the mythical bird popularized in the Harry Potter series which rises from the ashes of its funeral pyre. Hodgesaargh looks under F in his book of birds but finds it under P.

In the same scene, Agnes says "Take that thing out of your mouth, You sound like Mr Punch." Mr Punch is the lead character in a Punch-and-Judy show, a traditional British children's entertainment using glove puppets which features the activities (always violent) of Mr. Punch. A swozzle or throat-whistle, produces the squeaky voice of Mr. Punch.

Mightily Oats' explanation of the various methods for killing vampires stem from the myriad ways of disposing of vampires in popular and traditional lore. Pratchett's methods, while seemingly ridiculous in the extreme are not much of an exaggeration from those in the "real world". Even using lemons and watermelons were real world beliefs.

Pratchett pokes fun at modern parenting with its belief that one's own child is more advanced than anyone else's and thus the emphasis on giving one's child every advantage by ensuring that one's baby has every opportunity for developing as quickly as possible. Magrat packs every conceivable stimulating device for baby Esme to take with them when she and Esme flee the castle with Agnes and Mightily Oats. She also claims that Esme has said her first word "burp" when she is 14 days.

The line, 'Every day, in every way, we get better and better,' comes from one of the first positive-thinking mantras, coined by Emile Coue (1857-1926), French psychotherapist and pharmacist. Coue's study of hypnotism convinced him that auto-suggestion could cure anything but results showed no improvement. The line has come to represent trite and simplistic solutions to complex problems.

The "gnarly ground" is bigger on the inside than on the outside - Pratchett uses this concept many times in his novels. In The Last Continent, the XXXX university tower is taller than it appears. In The Hogfather, the tooth fairy's castle and Death's home are also larger on the inside.

Pratchett says, "They stared into the abyss, which didn't stare back." which is a variation of the Nietzsche quote from Beyond Good and Evil: "If you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Agnes flips herself onto her feet after standing upside down on her hands; reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also Laura Croft of the Tomb Raider video game series of which Pratchett was a fan.

Traditionally the three witches are the maiden, the mother and the old crone. Nanny tells Agnes (the maiden) to make the tea but Magrat (the mother) to pour. This connects with the common superstition that the person pouring the tea will become pregnant (a mother) so you couldn't have the maiden pouring or you would risk an imbalance in the triad (ie. two mothers and no maidens - a plan that Perdita seems to be keen on anyway)'. Later on it is clear that Magrat has become the mother figure when she cracks the kind of sexual jokes that Nanny would have told in earlier novels and Nanny seems taken aback, much as Granny would have been in earlier novels. When Magrat says that Igor seems to be carrying a torch for her (in this case both a figurative and literal one). Nanny says that she doesn't think she could go for a man with a limp. Margrat replies, "A limp what?" - the sexual innuendo is obvious but takes Nanny by surprise. At the end of Carpe Jugulum, Magrat makes the tea, returning her, albeit briefly, to her old role of the maiden, while Granny takes back her role as the crone.

When Vlad takes Agnes through the hall of family portraits (a staple of old English nobility homes) we get a history of the development of the vampire in literature. 'Ah... Aunt Carmilla...' refers to the book Carmilla, by J. Sheridan LeFanu, which was one of the earliest literary vampire stories, published in 1872, 26 years before Dracula. The reference to bathing in the blood of 400 virgins is told of the Hungarian princess Erzsebet Bathory (1560-1614), who believed that it would keep her young; -her name is often associated with vampire stories. The beaked, hunched figure that Vlad calls 'a distant ancestor' is a reference to the stryx, a type of shape-changing, bloodsucking witch from Roman mythology that stabbed and drank blood through its beak. The stryx, its actions similar to a mosquito, has many parallels in mythology, including the Hamatsa Society of the Kwakwaka'wakw on Canada's west coast which involves large bird-like shape shifting "cannibals". In Carpe Jugulum there is an earlier reference to the stryx when the modern vampire is being discussed . 'Lady Strigoiul said her daughter has taken to calling herself Wendy,' [...] to which Vlad replies 'Maladora Krvoijac does.' In Romanian, 'strigoi' comes from the Roman 'stryx', and is used to mean ghost or vampire. 'Krvo" is Bulgarian for blood while "Krv" is blood in Croatian. The vampires in the portraits progress from the Stryx monster, to the blood bathing princess, to the Byronic hero/villain, to the era of Lugosi and Christopher Lee, to the modern vampires of Ann Rice and Angel of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later - after this book was written but still within the romantic Gothic genre- Stephanie Meyers' "Twilight" series.

The Feegles are Pictsies which is a pun on 'pixie' and 'Picts' (inhabitants of Scotland in Iron Age times). The Feegles' blue colour suggest Smurffs. The language they speak is a mix of Glaswegian slang, Gaelic and pseudo - Scots such as is portrayed in Braveheart and Rob Roy.

Some of their lines are:

'An' b'side, she'll gi'us uskabarch muckell.' - And besides, she'll give us lots of whisky ('Uskabarch' is 'uisge beatha', 'water of life' --whisky).

'Hakkis lugs awa' or 'Hack his lugs away' -- cut his ears off.

'Will ye no' have a huge dram and a burned bannock while yer waiting?- The wee dram is whisky and burned bannock (Scottish bread) is a reference to the Battle of Bannockburn a victory of the Scots over the English.

The line "Up the airy mountain and down the rushy glen ran the Nac mac Feegle," is a play on the poem The Fairies, by William Allingham: Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting, For fear of little men;

The battle cry of "We're gonna cut yer tonk-- yer tongue off,"' is also used in Interesting Times where psychological warfare means drumming on your shield and shouting "We're gonna cut yer tonkers off." Tonker is British slang for penis, hence the self-censorship here.

The line 'yin, tan, TETRA!' is supposedly from an old Gaelic counting system based on 20 like the unit "score" and which was used throughout the country from early times and is still used today in parts of Northumbria and Scotland for counting sheep and stitches in knitting. One to ten, with regional variations on the words goes: 'Yan, tan, tethera, methera, pip, sethera, lethera, hovera, dovera, dick.' In Discworld the counting system has come from some migrant shepherds from Uberwald who left it behind them when they moved on. Another version of the Rouindworld counting system's origin says that it came with itinerant shepherds from Romania in the19th Century, who were brought in to Yorkshire to be shepherds there. This is likely the version Pratchett is playing with as there are many links between the old Iron Curtain Slavic countries and Uberwald, not the least of which is vampires in both Transylvania and Uberwald.

Death says "Perhaps you were expecting jelly and ice-cream." This chant has been used by Glasgow Celtic against their rivals Rangers and also used on the death of Margaret Thatcher.

King Verance is deposited in a rabbit hole by the Feegles - reminiscent of Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland in the rabbit hole.

The scene when Magrat, Esme, Igor and Nanny arrive at the castle is a parody of many of the horror genre movies from Dracula to Frankenstein. The sign post directing the victim to the castle, the extra creaky door, the vault, the stage coach losing a wheel in the ditch, the rickety bridge, the organ which has all the extra stops for special effects, etc have all been used in Gothic horror movies.

The scene where they find the organ and Pratchett writes, 'HLISTEN TO ZEE CHILDREN OFF DER NIGHT... VOT VONDERFUL MHUSICK DEY MAKE. Mnftrd. by Bergholt Stuttley Johnson, Ankh-Morpork.' 'It's a Johnson,' she (Nanny Ogg) breathed. 'I haven't got my hands on a Johnson for ages...' Since a Johnson is slang for a penis it tells us that Nanny is definitely moving into the role of the third witch - the crone - whether she likes it or not.

The 'children of the night' quote is one of Bela Lugosi's lines from the original 1931 Dracula movie as is the earlier line where Igor says, 'I do not drink... wine.' This line, immortalized by Legosi, with the dramatic pause before the word 'wine', appeared in many subsequent movie versions of Dracula, down to the Francis Ford Coppola 1992 remake Bram Stoker's Dracula. It originally came from the Hamilton Deane stage play Dracula which was popular in New York in the 1920s.

The line 'Do you remember Mr and Mrs Harker?' is a reference to Jonathan and Mina Harker, two of the leading characters in Bram Stokers novel, Dracula.

Pratchett plays on the inconsistencies within the various methods of killing vampires. They cannot cross running water but somehow can get across it in a coach, The line 'Do onions hurt us? Are we frightened of shallots? No.' is a reference to the inconsistency that somehow garlic is fatal but shallots and onions are not even though they both belong to the allium family. In the classic 1954 novel I am Legend, the last living human on an earth after everyone else has become a vampire experiments with this possibility. Later on in Carpe Jugulum during the final battle Nanny and Igor run out of lemons with which to attack the vampires. Igor offers Nanny an orange as an alternate citrus fruit. When Nanny asks what possible good this will do, he suggests that if it does nothing else that perhaps the vampires won't catch cold as easily. This is a reference to the popular myth perpetrated by Linus Pauling about the powers of vitamin C and orange juice in preventing colds.

After the vampires are defeated at Escrow there is concern from Perdita about taking the children to kill the vampires at the castle. Agnes thinks that rather than this creating nightmares "It'll take the nightmares away." G. K. Chesterton said: "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." Susan Sto-Helit has the same philosophy when she uses the poker on the monsters under the bed in The Hogfather. This is also a shot at the sanitization of children's fairy tales for political correctness, something JK Rowling also pokes fun at in her send up of Enid Blyton in Tales of Beedle the Bard.

The count says, "Remember -- that which does not kill us can only make us stronger." which is a variation on Nietzsche line "That which does not kill me, makes me stronger" from Twilight of the Idols.

The vampires are concerned about seeing religious symbols everywhere they look and utter the line; "Lines and crosses and circles... oh, my..." which is a paraphrase of 'Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!' from The Wizard of Oz.

Agnes says, "And I'd watch that bloke with the stake. He's altogether too keen on it. I reckon there's some psychology there --" - a man driving a stake into a female vampire is an obvious sexual reference. The comment about psychology suggests the connection to all the other phallic symbols Freud and his ilk have unearthed over the years- tall buildings, cigars, etc - and that have been used in film and literature.

Igor's line: "They've killed Thcrapth! The bathtardth!" is a takeoff on the reoccurring gag in the adult cartoon South Park In every episode, Kenny is killed in some implausible way after which Kyle and Stan exchange the comment, "Oh my god! They've killed Kenny!" "You bastards".

The line by Igor, "Old Red Eyeth ith back!" pokes fun at the Frank Sinatra album called 'Old Blue Eyes is Back'. 'Old Red Eyes is Back' is also the title of a 1992 song by English pop group, The Beautiful South.

A well known "fact" in regard to vampires is that they can only enter a place if they are invited which allows them into Lancre for the naming ceremony in the first place. Granny Weatherwax reverses this on them at the end when they invite her into themselves by drinking her blood which allows her to control their minds.

When the vampires have been vanquished, Pratchett says, "Oats's gaze went out across the haze, and the forest, and the purple mountains." This is a reference to the line from America the Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates: 'For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain!' but it is also likely playing on the name of Jimi Hendrix's song Purple Haze.

When Oats conducts his service, he scraps the standard boring songs and has the congregation sing the ones his grandmother taught him that are "full of fire and thunder and death and justice and tunes you could actually whistle, with titles like 'Om Shall Trample The Ungodly' and 'Lift Me To The Skies' and 'Light The Good Light'." This comment reflects on the fact that many modern churches have sanitized their official hymnbooks, leaving many of their parishioners complaining vigorously about the insipidness of the new hymns. 'Light The Good Light' is probably the Omnian version of 'Fight the Good Fight' (lyrics by John Samuel Bewley Monsell, music by William Boyd. 'Lift me to the Skies" could be 'Higher Ground (Lord Lift Me Up)' music by Johnson Oatman Jr., lyrics by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel, 'Om Shall Trample The Ungodly' is less clear, but the sentiment expressed is from Malachi 4.3 - 'And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet'.


  • Захапи за врата (Bulgarian)
  • Pluk de strot (Dutch) (Seize the throat)
  • Carpe Jugulum (Czech, Estonian, French, Polish, Spanish, Swedish)
  • Carpe Jugulum. Хватай за горло! (Russian)
  • Ruhig Blut! (lit. "calm blood", meaning "stay calm" - German)