Sunday, 28 September 2014

Men at Arms

Men at Arms
Men at Arms
Terry Pratchett 
'Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!'
But what it's got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance constable Detritus (a troll), Lance constable Angua (a woman... most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).
And they need all the help they can get. Because they've only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we're talking about...

   It’s been almost a year since I last read a Discworld book (unless you count the Colour of Magicgraphic novel…which I don’t) and I’ve been aching to dive back into them.

   For Discworld fans, you’ll already know what to expect with this one, the send ups of fantasy fiction clichés, the pop culture references, the superb dialogue and the vibrant characters. All are of course, present once again in Men at Arms.

   Men at Arms sees the Night Watch, the Ankh-Morpork police force dealing with a series of murders around the town.
   Murder is an uncommon crime in Ankh Morpork, most deaths in the city are the result of suicide, because, as Pratchett says, calling a Troll ugly….is suicide.
   All of this takes place as the Night Watch Captain, Samuel Vimes is just a few days away from retirement (we all know how that’s going to go).

   The book pretty much follows on directly from the last book to feature the Night Watch, Guards! Guards!, and sees the return of that set of characters, Captain Vimes, Corporal Nobbs, Sergent Colon and Corporal Carrot, but it also includes some new faces.
   In an attempt to be more inclusive the Night Watch has been forced to take on recruits from ethnic minorities, so we get Detritus, a Troll, Cuddy the Dwarf and perhaps most controversial of all, Angua…a woman.
   All three of these characters are hilarious and I loved the slew of jokes that come from having such a radical change to the traditionally male, traditionally human, Watch.
   The scenes between Cuddy and Detritus are especially good as the two essentially wander away from the main plot to engage in a buddy-cop-move style relationship that I absolutely loved.

   Despite those scenes though, overall, it felt as if Pratchett had tried to scale back the humour in this one. The jokes don’t come in the constant slew that they usually do and, while there’s still a joke on every page, it feels like a much more serious story than you might expect from the Discworld series.
   This is in no way to the books detriment however as the focus on delivering a solid story makes it one of the most enjoyable books in the series that I’ve read so far. The mystery surrounding the murders is genuinely interesting and I was excited to see how the Watch were going to solve it.

   Overall, another great instalment in the series, I didn’t enjoy Guards! Guards! too much but this book has really sold me on the characters of the Night Watch and I look forward to the future titles that feature them, especially if they continue in this style, being driven more by plot than jokes. 

Terry Pratchett
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