To Beard, or Not To Beard?
A Consideration of His Lordship's Appearance
This page grew out of a discussion I had with one of my fellow Vetinari fans, in which I said that his Lordship is not described as having a beard until The Fifth Elephant. She disagreed. So, we both set out to prove each other wrong. Here are the fruits of my labour - a complete set of notes about his Lordship's appearance as described in each book. Well, each book he appears in, anyway.
To summarise, Lord Vetinari is tall, thin, pale, wears all black, and has icy blue eyes. In The Fifth Elephant, it is mentioned that he has a beard, although not until then ('course, the Clarecraft figure and all of Kidby's sketches show him with one). His face is somewhat equine, and he has long, thin, blue-veined hands. In short, he looks like a classic villain.
NB: The page numbers refer to the paperback versions published by Corgi in the UK, with he exception of The Truth, for which I shelled out the money for a hardbound edition, it being the 25th book and all.
The current Patrician, head of the extremely rich and powerful Vetinari family, was thin, tall and apparently as cold-blooded as a dead penguin. Just by looking at him you could tell he was the sort of man you'd expect to keep a white cat, and caress it idly while sentencing people to death in a piranha tank; and you'd hazard for good measure that he probably collected rare thin porcelain, turning it over and over in his blue-white fingers while distant screams echoed from the depths of the dungeons. You wouldn't put it past him to use the word 'exquisite' and have thin lips. He looked the kind of person who, when they blink, you mark it off on the calendar.
Practically none of this was in fact the case... (p. 76)
This is the first time Lord Vetinari appears in any of the Discworld books, and he's hardly in the story at all. Indeed, a case could be made that this description is not exactly set in stone, since characters in the books do develop.
However, this is his Lordship as he first sprang from Pratchett's mind, so I think some weight should be given to it.
Note the lack of any mention of any facial hair whatsoever.
'Who's that up there?'
'That's Victor Maraschino and Delores De Syn! Do you know nothing?'
'I mean the tall guy in black.' (p. 279)
So he's tall, and wears black. We knew that. But this is the ONLY mention of what he looks like in the entire book, so I've included it.
A figure had apparently stepped out of the wall. It was human, but only by default. Thin, pale, and clad all in dusty black, the Patrician always put Ridcully in mind of a predatory flamingo, if you could find a flamingo that was black and had the patience of a rock.
The Patrician waved a thin hand at him. (p. 82)
The flamingo bit is quite possibly my favorite description of the Patrician in all the books.
Note as usual, that no beard is mentioned.
Men At Arms
From the back, Vetinari looked like a carnivorous flamingo. (p.183)
His long fingers picked up the gilt-embossed invitation from the desk. (p. 186)
Carrot looked back at the tall thin man, standing in the big bare room beside the golden throne filled iwth decay. (p. 375)
The flamingo simile again! Marvellous. Long fingers, tall and thin. No beard.
'Yes, yes, and so on,' said the Patrician, waving a thin hand.
And that, my friends, is all.
Feet of Clay
He jerked himself upright, swung his legs off the bed, and folded up. It was a slow, terrible collapse. Lord Vetinari was a tall man, so there was a long way to fall. And he did it by folding up a joint at a time. (p. 85) The first time I read this section, my heart stopped. Nevermind that it's the only mention of what Vetinari looks like in the entire bloody book, but the description of him folding up... *shudder*
The Patrician suffled his papers into order, running a thin finger along each edge of the pile, and then looked up.(p. 34)
...he appeared to play a game of hop-scotch, robes flying around him and calves twinkling as he skipped from stone to stone. (p. 93)
Lord Vetinari was not a heavily built man and, these days, he walked with the aid of an ebony cane. (p. 209)
Sometimes when he woke up he saw the Patrician hunched over Leonard's drawings, a gaunt silhouette in the light of the candle... (p. 231)
Thin, pale, the usual. Still no beard.
Note the ebony cane reference - the cane has become something of a fixture since this book, which shows good continuity (after all, in MAA, he was shot in the leg). However, the fact that he can jump about with enough energy to send his robes flapping and expose his calves suggests that the cane may be something of a pretense, or possibly only necessary in certain kinds of weather.
The Fifth Elephant
The Patrician stroked his beard and smiled at something. (p. 100)
Ah-HA! A mention of the beard! At last! In the 24th book of the Discworld series, his Lordship's beard is mentioned for the first time. It's the only mention in the book of what his Lordship looks like, but it's something new and interesting, so that's forgiveable.
William tried to whisper a few instructions into Gunilla's ear as he hustled him over to the tall figure of the Patrician. )(p. 40)
Lord Vetinari lay on a narrow bed. His face looked pale but he seemed to be sleeping peacefully.(p. 136)
*sigh* Back to the not-describing-the-Patrician thing again, alas.