Ankh-Morpork

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Ankh-Morpork
Discworld-ankh-morpork-amoswolfe.svg
Ankh-Morpork City Arms
Discworld location
Created byTerry Pratchett
GenreComic fantasy
TypeCity-state
Notable locationsUnseen University
The Patrician's Palace
Notable charactersHavelock Vetinari
Wizards
Ankh-Morpork City Watch
Sam Vimes
Moist von Lipwig

Ankh-Morpork is a fictional city-state which features prominently in Terry Pratchett's Discworld fantasy novels.

Overview[edit]

Pratchett describes this biggest city of Discworld as the corrupt mercantile capital of the Discworld.

Tallinn, one of the real-life prototypes of Ankh-Morpork

In The Art of Discworld Pratchett explains that the city is similar to Tallinn and central Prague, but adds that it has elements of 18th-century London, 19th-century Seattle and modern New York City. He also states that since the creation of The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, he has tried to ensure that the descriptions of character movements and locations in the books match the Ankh-Morpork map; this has allowed him, and fans of the series, to visualise the story more clearly.

Geography[edit]

Ankh-Morpork lies on the River Ankh, the most polluted waterway on the Discworld. Lying approximately equidistant from the cold Hub and tropical Rim, Ankh-Morpork is in the Discworld's equivalent of the temperate zone.

The name "Ankh-Morpork" refers to both the city itself, a walled city about five miles (8 km) across, and the surrounding suburbs and farms of its fiefdom.

The central city divides more or less into the more affluent Ankh and the poorer Morpork which includes the slum-like "Shades", which are separated by the River Ankh.

Ankh-Morpork is built on black loam, broadly, but is mostly built on itself; pragmatic citizens simply built on top of the existing buildings when the sediment grew too high as the river flooded, rather than excavate them out. There are many unknown basements, including an entire "cave network" below Ankh-Morpork made up of old streets and abandoned sewers.

Politics[edit]

Leadership[edit]

The succession of the Patrician occurs normally by either assassination or revolution. Patricians have been known to resign, but this is very much the exception.

Power is, to some degree, shared with the many Guilds (see above) and the surviving nobility. They form a sort of advisory city council, but the Patrician has the only vote at meetings.

Institutions[edit]

The primary engines of Ankh-Morpork's economy are the guilds. There are hundreds of guilds, for every conceivable profession, from clowns to butchers, and each has its own strictly maintained laws and trading practices. Many guilds have assumed roles which in real-world cities would be assumed by government agencies.

City Watch[edit]

The City Watch is one of the greatest success stories. In the beginning, it consisted of the Day Watch, popinjays headed by Captain "Mayonnaise" Quirke (rich, thick, oily, and smelling slightly of eggs) and the Night Watch, three unemployable men; then-Captain Vimes, who was a drunk, Sergeant Colon, whose idea of major crime would be the theft of a bridge and Corporal Nobbs, who has a certificate to prove that he's human. The addition of Lance-Constable Carrot was the catalyst for their reformation over the course of the novel Guards! Guards! Over the course of time, the Watch has grown under the leadership of Commander Samuel Vimes to the most modern police force on the Disc.

Currency[edit]

The AM$ (Ankh-Morpork dollar) is equal to 100 pennies (pence). Under Ankh-Morporkian tradition, ten pence can be referred to as a shilling, twenty-five pence as half a ton, and fifty pence as a nob/a ton/half a bar/a knocker.

The AM$ is reputedly the hardest currency outside of the Agatean Empire. A dollar coin is Sequin (coin) sized, and although theoretically made of gold the metal has been adulterated so many times that, according to The Discworld Companion:

"There is more gold in an equivalent weight of seawater. In a sense, then, Ankh-Morpork is on the gold standard in all respects except the one of actually having any gold to speak of."[1]

Real-world connections[edit]

Ankh-Morpork was twinned with the town of Wincanton in Somerset, in the south-west United Kingdom on the spherical planet Earth (known in the Discworld books as Roundworld) on 7 December 2002.[2] The town is home to a shop called "The Discworld Emporium".[3] However, due to legal reasons, the twinning was not officially displayed on the road sign. Fans, however, added stick-on notices to some of the signs.[4] This has now been changed and a new town sign prominently declaring the twinning with Ankh-Morpork and other Roundworld places has been erected. This sign was designed by the Cunning Artificer himself, Bernard Pearson (of the Discworld Emporium). Several streets in a new housing development in Wincanton have been named after Ankh-Morpork Streets, including Peach Pie Street and Treacle Mine Road.[5]

The town sign of Wincanton.

The word "Morpork" is from a type of New Zealand owl called the morepork, which is depicted holding the ankh on the coat of arms.

"Discworld: Ankh-Morpork" was published as a board game in 2011.

Fiction connections[edit]

Many details of Ankh-Morpork appear to have been inspired by Fritz Leiber's fictional city Lankhmar (although Pratchett has said "I didn't – at least consciously, I suppose I must say – create Ankh-Morpork as a takeoff of Lankhmar"[6]); John D. Rateliff notes that Leiber's characters "the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd guest-star in the very first Discworld story, The Colour of Magic, under the pseudonyms of The Weasel and Bravd".[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pratchett, Terry (1997). The Discworld Companion. Great Britain: Vista. pp. 105–6. ISBN 0-575-60030-6.
  2. ^ "Pratchett city twins with real town", BBC News, 6 December 2002.
  3. ^ [1] Discworld Emporium
  4. ^ "Row over fictional twin town", BBC News, 19 June 2003.
  5. ^ "Roads named after Discworld books", BBC News, 5 April 2009.
  6. ^ "The Colour of Magic", The Annotated Pratchett Website.
  7. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20050301081552/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books%2Fmain%2Fclassicsoffantasy

References[edit]

External links[edit]