|Publication date||5th November 1998|
|Main characters||Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Agnes Nitt|
|All data relates to the first UK edition.|
Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest. He thought he'd come to the mountain kingdom of Lancre for a simple little religious ceremony. Now he's caught up in a war between vampires and witches, and he's not sure there is a right side.
There're the witches – young Agnes, who is really in two minds about everything, Magrat, who is trying to combine witchcraft and nappies, Nanny Ogg, who is far too knowing... and Granny Weatherwax, who is big trouble.
And the vampires are intelligent – not easily got rid of with a garlic enema or by going to the window, grasping the curtains and saying, "I don't know about you, but isn't it a bit stuffy in here?"
They've got style and fancy waistcoats. They're out of the casket and want a bite of the future.
Mightily Oats knows he has a prayer, but wishes he had an axe.
Count de Magpyr, a vampire from Überwald, and his family travel to Lancre where they are invited by King Verence II to attend the naming of Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre, the newly born daughter of Queen Magrat Garlick. At the party, the vampires announce that they intend to move into Lancre Castle and take over the country, and due to a strange type of hypnotism everyone considers this to be perfectly acceptable. However, young witch Agnes Nitt and the priest, an Omnian traveller called Mightily Oats are able to resist their power due to their split personalities. The Count's son Vlad becomes attracted to Agnes, partly because of her resistance.
To make matters worse, the Vampires have used Self-Help style conditioning to become immune to the conventional menthods of disposing a vampire e.g. garlic, lemons, holy water, poppy seeds, sock theft, daylight and religious symbols. At the same time, they have taken to wearing normal clothes, staying up until noon and drinking wine. Agnes persuades Magrat and Nanny Ogg to find Granny Weatherwax, their only hope. They find Granny Weatherwax living in a cave in seclusion and are unable to convince her to help.
Soon, they confront the vampires but look to be defeated and the Count only laughs at both their mob and Oats' own attempt at defiance. Granny Weatherwax arrives, stumbling and defeated and hardly intimidating, and the vampires succeed in giving her their bite. Granny appears destined to become a vampire, but afterwards she recovers in the care of Oats. Nanny Ogg travels to the vampires existing residence at Don'tgonearthe Castle in Überwald, where she meets Igor, the Count's servant. Igor is resentful to the modernised Vampires who have constantly ridiculed his attempts to keep their castle in the same way as the former Count Bela de Magpyr, a far more traditional vampire. He also appears to have a crush on Nanny.
Vlad and his ill-mannered sister Lacrimosa kidnap Agnes Nitt and takes her to Escrow, a town near Dontgonearthe Castle which the the Count considers to be a place of harmony between humans and the Vampires who follow the Count. In fact, the townspeople are totally subjugated to vampires who call in to take blood freely. In the town square, a change comes over the Vampires: Lacrimosa attacks Agnes in a strangely pathetic manner, several townspeople succeed in killing a vampire, and Vlad falls to temptation and bites Agnes although again, there is no permanent effect. It is discovered that the vampires have become weakened, have lost their ability to fly and instead of craving blood, are now becoming desperate for tea and biscuits. They are becoming susceptible to conventional methods of vampire disposal.
Dontgonearthe Castle becomes the scene of a final confrontation between the Vampires and united citizens of Escrow and Lancre. The Vampires have become terrified of their weakness but the Count remains as strong as ever, due to his complete faith in staying immune, and takes baby Esmerelda as a hostage. Granny Weatherwax arrives (having been carried by Oats) and reveals that instead of her being made into a vampire, the vampires have become 'Weatherwaxed'. By sharing her blood, the vampires have inadvertently allowed themselves to be controlled by Granny (via Borrowing) into not being able to do certain things such as flying or harming young Esme.
The vampires are further horrified when it is revealed that Igor (who considers the loss of his dog to be the last straw) has rebelled against them and brought back the Old Count by pouring blood on his ashes. The traditional thinking of the Old Count quickly proves far more popular with the people from Escrow than modern vampirism. Finally, Oats returns and with a new-found confidence gives the New Count a fatal axe wound, although Granny points out that the vampires may return again after many years, centuries or millennia. The Old Count is left in charge of Escrow by popular demand, and is charged by Granny to teach the two young Magpyrs the "old ways' (ie - stupidity). The three vampires then turn into a flock of magpies and disappear into the darkness of the roof of the castle, while the witches return to Lancre.
- Granny Weatherwax
- Nanny Ogg
- Agnes Nitt
- Mightily Oats
- Magrat Garlick
- Verence II
- Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling of Lancre
- Count de Magpyr
- Bela de Magpyr
- Vlad de Magpyr
- Lacrimosa de Magpyr
Cameos and Mentions
- Big Jim Beef
- Carmilla de Magpyr
- Mrs Patternoster
- John and Florence Ivy
- Bestiality Carter
- Big Aggie
- Bergholt Stuttley Johnson
- Ohulan Cutash (mentioned)
- Ghat (mentioned)
- Kashncari (mentioned)
Things and Concepts
- Nac Mac Feegle
- The Muntab Question
- Ich bin Ein Rattarsedschwein
- Lancrastian Army Knife
The title of the book is a parody of the phase Carpe Diem ("Seize the day") and roughly translates as "Go for the throat".
'Buffaloeth,' said Igor, unlocking another door. 'He broke out in them?' 'A herd fell on him. A freak acthident. We don't talk about it.'
Possible reference to the Canadian attraction https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-Smashed-In_Buffalo_Jump where natives would drive buffalo off a cliff to kill them. A young warrior wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff from below. While we don't know his exact thoughts, the last thing to go through his head was... a herd of buffalo.
'But there's werewolves and vampires and-'
'Yes, but not everywhere. We should be safe on the main road. Anyway, there's not much of a choice.'
Possibly referring to the cult classic film 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981), in which the two main characters are told repeatedly:
'Stay off the moors, lads. Stick to the road'
Adapted by Stephen Briggs into a stage play in 1999.
||Discworld Series||Next book|
||Witches Series||Next book|