This is the second book in the Watch series, and I like it more than Guards Guards just because Vimes is so much easier to understand when he’s not drunk all the time haha. I also enjoy watching Vimes grow as a character, it’s one of my favorite bits in Discworld since he’s one of the characters that’s always growing, changing and learning.
Vimes is getting married! He’s marrying Sybil Ramkin who is one of the most under-appreciated characters in the books, I feel. She’s one of the wealthiest residents on the Disc, but she doesn’t let it go to her head. She likes getting her hands dirty and works with her dragons constantly, she has a good heart, and genuinely loves and cares for Vimes despite their large social status gap.
Vimes is planning on retiring once he marries Sybil so the Watch is giving out promotions in preparation for his departure. The Watch is also rapidly expanding, in the first book it was just three losers who ran the entire Night Watch, but now there are dozens. The cast is getting expanded, new and awesome personalities are starting to mix together and it makes for a lot of fun. This is also one of the first times serious social commentary is being used – there’s a lot of racism and cynicism as dwarves, werewolves, and trolls are starting to join the Watch. Vimes isn’t always the greatest at being inclusive and accepting of other species, particularly werewolves and vampires. However, as he gets to know people his temperament and mindset change for the better and it’s pretty satisfying to watch.
It also seems like it’s an inopportune time for Vimes to retire because there’s a plot going down in Ankh Morpork to depose the current ruler, Lord Vetinari. There’s a subset of people who are upset that Ankh isn’t ruled by Kings anymore – particularly Edward d’Eeath, an assassin from a noble family that used to be of some standing, but has since lost much of their power. He blames Vetinari for the social changes going on in Ankh and wants to find the “rightful heir” who he’s convinced must exist someplace.
A series of murders that appear to be random are rampant all over Ankh – committed with the Discworld’s first and only “gonne” (gun). The Disc previously had no idea that you could shoot metal projectiles which are more devastating and lethal than your average bow. Vimes has to investigate whey they are taking place and fix it before he’s set to get married.
I really liked this one, it’s one of the more ‘serious’ Discworld books (if you can call any Discworld book serious). The Watch is usually the series that tackles things like leadership, race, religion, and other topics which are more cutting than say the Wizards dealing with a Sorcerer.
“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
“I believe in reincarnation,” [Bjorn] said.
“I tried to live a good life. Does that help?”
THAT’S NOT UP TO ME. Death coughed. OF COURSE… SINCE YOU BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION… YOU’LL BE BJORN AGAIN.”
“Personal isn’t the same as important.”
“Colon thought Carrot was simple. Carrot often struck people as simple. And he was.
Where people went wrong was thinking that simple meant the same thing as stupid.”
“Some people have inspired whole countries to great deeds because of the power of their vision. And so could he. Not because he dreams about marching hordes, or world domination, or an empire of a thousand years. Just because he thinks that everyone’s really decent underneath and would get along just fine if only they made the effort, and he believes that so strongly it burns like a flame which is bigger than he is. He’s got a dream and we’re all part of it, so that it shapes the world around him. And the weird thing is that no one wants to disappoint him. It’d be like kicking the biggest puppy in the universe. It’s a kind of magic.”
- Plot: 13/15
- Characters: 13.5/15
- World Building: 13.5/15
- Writing: 13.5/15
- Pacing: 13/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 10/10