Who Is Carrot Ironfoundersson?

Carrot Ironfoundersson is a character in the "Discworld" tales, a wonderful and humorous series of science fiction/fantasy books written by British author Terry Pratchett.

Carrot was orphaned when he was just a toddler.... he was found in the woods by dwarves, the only survivor from a group of carriages that had been attacked by bandits. The dwarves raised Carrot as one of their own.... living and working in their mines high in the Ramtop Mountains. He grew up to be a huge lad, very tall and muscular, with flaming-red hair.

As a young man, he went to the big city of Ankh-Morpork to join the City Watch. His parents and community felt that he needed to be with his own kind.... and in a place where the ceilings were more than five feet high. He was instrumental in turning the Watch from a useless laughingstock into one of the most diverse, well-respected, and effective agencies in the city.

Carrot is earnest, honest, dedicated, and unflappable.... intelligent and wise, in a very simple way.... able to make himself at home in any place, and with anyone.... a natural-born leader, capable of greatly inspiring others, a talent he typically uses to introduce peace and calm into sticky situations.

There are many hints to suggest that he's also the long-lost heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork.... but since the city doesn't want a king, and Carrot doesn't want to be a king, it's tacitly agreed that he can best serve Ankh-Morpork, and is himself happiest, as a captain in the Watch.

Description from "The Discworld Companion", by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs:

A dwarf (by adoption). His adoptive dwarf parents found him in the woods as a toddler, wandering near the bodies of his real parents, who had been victims of a bandit attack. Also in the wreckage of the cart was a sword, and a ring that was very similar to one recorded as having once been a part of the royal jewelry of Ankh.

When first encountered in the chronicles he was 6'6" tall and nearly sixteen years old with a big, honest forehead, mighty neck and impressively pink skin, due to scrubbing. He became known as Carrot not because of his red hair, kept short for reasons of hygiene, but because of his shape -- the kind of tapering shape a boy gets through clean living, healthy eating and good mountain air in huge lungfuls. When Carrot flexes his muscles, other muscles have to move out of the way first. He has a punch even trolls have learned to respect. He walks with a habitual stoop, which comes from being 6 feet tall while living with dwarfs. Like all dwarfs, when he's away he writes home at least once a week.

His adoptive parents, embarrassed at his size and by the fact that he reached puberty at what in dwarf terms is about playgroup age, realized that he needed to be among his own kind. They arranged for him to join the Night Watch in Ankh-Morpork because, they had been told, it would make a man of him.

Being very literal-minded is a dwarfish trait. It is one which Carrot shares. In the whole of his life (prior to his arrival in Ankh-Morpork) no one ever really lied to him or gave him an instruction that he wasn't meant to take literally.

He is direct, honest, good-natured and honourable in all his dealings. Despite a full year in the Watch he still thinks everyone is decent underneath and would get along just fine if only they made the effort. He is genuinely, almost supernaturally likeable. And he is astonishingly simple -- which is not at all the same as "stupid". It is just that he sees the world shorn of all the little lies and prevarications that other people erect in order to sleep at night.

After a few initial setbacks, Carrot has had an exemplary career as a policeman, often helped by the fact that people confuse his simplicity with idiocy.

He has a crown-shaped birthmark at the top of his left arm. Coupled with his sword, his charisma, his natural leadership, and his deep and almost embarrassing love of Ankh-Morpork, this rather suggests that he is the long-lost rightful heir to the throne of the city. It is a subject that he avoids, to the point -- it has been hinted -- of destroying any written evidence to the fact. He seriously believes that to be a policeman is to be the guardian of civilization. He is, in fact, very happy in his job.

This is just as well for Ankh-Morpork. Few civilizations can survive long under an honest, just and strong leader, which is why they generally take care never to elect them.

Description from "The Pratchett Portfolio", by Terry Pratchett and Paul Kidby:

A human by birth, a dwarf by adoption, and a policeman by conviction. All the evidence points to Carrot being the rightful heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork, although the throne itself hardly exists now and "rightful" is also a point for debate. Anyway, he *likes* being a policeman and has been the driving force behind the renaissance of the City Watch. Carrot is honest, decent, truthful, and simple. A number of surprised criminals in Ankh-Morpork have learned that simple doesn't mean stupid and, indeed, people who spend a lot of time in Carrot's company suspect that there is quite a formidable intelligence in there, playing a game of its own.

Carrot has an ancient sword. It is astonishingly unmagical, but amazingly sharp.

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Barbara Petersen, July 1999 barb@velvet.com