Moving on with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, and it’s time to catch up with the City Watch. There’s a Cunning Plan involving some of the city guilds. They want to replace Lord Vetinari, the Patrician, with a more, err, flexible leader, someone who can do all the ceremonial stuff, wave, smile and generally not get in the way of business.
To that end, someone by some devious means is slowly poisoning Vetinari. Just enough to debilitate him, and avoid all the trouble that a sudden death would involve. By some even more devious means, the conspirators select a suitable candidate for King of Ankh-Morpork. They’ve decided that a member of the Watch is just the man they need. Now it’s well established that Captain Carrot is the obvious heir – he’s got the birthmark and sword, but he really wouldn’t meet the needs of the conspiracy, what with him being thoroughly decent and honest. So their idea is to use someone else altogether…
As if that wasn’t enough, Golems seem to be having some trouble. Used as motive power, or for jobs generally too dangerous or vile for humans, dwarves or even trolls to do, they normally just work continuously, apart from the odd Holy Day. But something has gone wrong. Could a Golem be killing people? Surely not!
Meanwhile in the Watch, a new recruit is causing some surprises. And Vimes is getting nicely angry.
All good stuff, as ever, with a very serious meditation on notions like freedom and rights hidden between the jokes.
For instance, Vimes is about as keen on the idea of Kings as his ancestor “Old Stoneface”, who executed the city’s last king:
Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.
But we also learn some useful vocabulary. For instance, it would appear that the dwarfish for dwarfish is
Just try saying it out loud.
And while the guild leaders are plotting, we have this little discussion on Vetinari:
“He does have all street-theatre players and mime artsits thrown into the scorpion pit,” said Mr Potts of the Bakers’ Guild.
“True. But let’s not forget he has his bad points too.”
Carrot gets frustrated enough to almost swear:
“D*mn!” said Carrot, a difficult linguistic feat.
And of course, the usual game of “spot the reference” can be played. When confronted by the shattered remains of a Golem…
“We can rebuild him,” said Carrot hoarsely. “We have the pottery.”