May 9th, 2013


Book #22: Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Number of pages: 288

This is the second Discworld novel to revolve around the City Watch (though shortly after this one they seemed to become increasingly popular with Terry Pratchett). The story opens with the wedding of Captain Vimes approaching, along with his planned retirement from the watch; at the same time, a clown and a dwarf are both killed, launching a murder mystery style hunt for the killer.

This book introduces the character of Angua, who is a new City Watch recruit, who also happens to be a werewolf, and sees the return of Gaspode, the talking dog from Moving Pictures.

I remember having been not too sure about this particular book when reading through it, possibly because it felt a bit too similar to the City Watch's debut novel, Guards, Guards, and I did notice when re-reading it that the main plot seemed quite thin, with most of the story revolving around the bickering between the characters. Also, considering that the last Discworld novel before this, Lords and Ladies also involved preparations for a wedding, doing it again felt a bit lazy - and I was concerned when they recycled the previous book's recurring theme of parallel universe jokes. I was surprised that Vimes himself didn't seem to get that much to do, with the other City Watch members featuring a lot more heavily.

However, there was plenty of humour throughout the novel to keep me amused, most of the laughs coming from scenes featuring Cuddy the dwarf and Detritus the troll, who are both City Watch members. Part of the premise is that there is a lot of tension between the trolls and dwarves, and there is an ongoing theme of both trolls and dwarves being treated as oppressed minorities throughout the book. I noticed that the book got somewhat darker and more serious in tone towards the end, possibly not too surprising due to a few shocking moments.

The City Watch novels tend to not be among my favourite in the Discworld series, but I thought this one was okay - the only real issue I had was that there seemed to be quite a lot of padding.

Next book: A Northern Line Minute (William Leith)