Monday, 20 August 2012

Review: Men at Arms

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, I'm back at Terry Pratchett, and back in the British Books Challenge 2012.

Men at Arms (first published 1993) is discworld novel number 15, and the second focused on the Night Watch. It is set about a year after Guards! Guards!, where Captain Vimes and his crew were up against a huge dragon. This time, the enemy is not even of flesh and blood.

It all starts with the crazy mind of an aristocrat (and assassin), who wants a king for Ankh-Morpork, and who, by coincidence, recognises the current heir, who happens to be... well, present at all times anyway. In order to remove the Patrician and the current Guild structure, he steals the most deadly and dangerous weapon in existence: the gonne (I believe I don't have to explain to you what it is). It was invented by Leonard of Quirm and ordered to be destroyed by the Patrician, but instead it was kept in the assassin's museum. And it has a mind of it's own...
As more and more corpses - planned and accidents alike - turn up around the city, the Night Watch has to try and come to terms with the proceedings, as well as getting used to ethnic minorities as new recruits and the loss of Captain Vimes, who is going to be married and will be retiring in the process. Lucky for them that they have Corporal Carrot, then, who has a way of owning the city and bringing people to act as good as he believes them to be, so he can quell even the strongest of upheavals.

As someone who has enjoyed many a good murder mystery, I can definitely recommend Men at Arms to fellow readers. The plot is a thrill - as well as the usual Terry Pratchett funny - and ends on quite a surprise.
For me as a Terry Pratchett reader it was also great, because there were a lot of old acquaintances, mostly from Moving Pictures: Gaspode the talking dog, Ruby (Detritus' girlfriend), and even (if only with a small role) Mr. Silverfish of the alchemists. I guess you can read and enjoy the book even if you haven't read Moving Pictures before, but it's so much more fun to see how the old faces are never forgotten.

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