I figured there’s just time enough to fit in another Terry Pratchett before the Third Australian Discworld Convention (aka Nullus Anxietas 3 or NA3) starts on Friday. For some lucky people the fun and games start on Thursday as they get together for some stargazing with Sir Pterry but I’m not getting to Sydney until 10am Friday so I’ll have to forego that pleasure. I managed to fit in Men at Arms a couple of days ago and I’m now going to scribble a few words for you.
Here’s the description from the back of the book. It tells you enough but not too much and makes some things totally unclear which is just as it should be.
‘ 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…
What this doesn’t mention is Captain Vimes impending nuptials to Lady Sybil Ramkin and therefore his moving into the upper echelons of society which is a big shock to most of the echelons. It doesn’t tell us about Corporal Carrot and the rumour that he’s royalty, nor does it tell us about his charisma oozing from every poor without him even trying. It doesn’t tell us about Angua or Nobby Nobbs…not that you want to know about Nobby Nobbs, he’s a good person not to know about.
It is a bit misleading, as they don’t need to clean up Ankh-Morpork, they only need to solve the murders that have been happening and do this without upsetting the guilds as they feel they should look after their own.
I picked up this Pratchett as I do all Pratchetts because I wanted a light read. I should know better by now, while all of his works can be a light read they have several depths to them and it depends on how extensive your knowledge is as to how deep you read them. This book has a great deal about politics and I’m not politically adept so there’s one area I’m left guessing at. It does skirt around the edges of society and also puts in a great deal about policing. We see how the Night Watch go around achieving more than they normally would as they’re thinking about Corporal Carrot and Captain Vimes and how they would not appreciate them coming back with the job only half done. It’s interesting seeing how these people operate and how they achieve so much more by looking at their superiors, they don’t need to be told what to do.
I find Corporal Carrot absolutely fascinating. He is friendly to everyone and expects everyone to be friendly not just back to him but to everyone else. Here’s a small example.
A beggar looked Carrot up and down. His mouth dropped open.
‘It’s Cumbling Michael, isn’t it?’ said Carrot, in his cheerful way.
The door slammed.
‘That wasn’t very friendly,’ said Carrot.
On another occasion Carrot was between a legion of Trolls and a legion of Dwarfs. A fight was about to explode and he just stood there telling them all off and telling them to put their weapons down…just as if they were errant children. It worked and they stopped all thoughts of fighting…until he walked away when the world exploded.
Pratchett has a particular turn of mind that comes up with some very interesting ideas and that includes someone called Bloody Stupid Johnson who invents things but has no idea of scale. His Colossus of Morpork was easy to lose; the caretaker checked his pockets for it. According to Corporal Carrot
‘I’m afraid that for Mr Johnson accurate measurements were something that happened to other people.’
As with all Discworld books, I’m left feeling I’ve learned a lot about people and how they work. I’ve been entertained and fallen in love with Corporal Carrot once more…actually that’s not true, I much prefer Captain Vimes. I don’t really like people who are too good to be true so Captain Vimes is much more my style, he’s got foibles and weaknesses and is a truly rounded character.