Some weeks ago I came across #MarchMagics on Chris’ blog (here)—reading the books of Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett in March. I haven’t read Wynne Jones so far (though I will eventually), but since I had a few of Pratchett’s books waiting on my TBR, I decided to join in and pick one up. The one I chose is Feet of Clay (1996). Book 19 in the Discworld series, Feet of Clay is the third of the books set around the Ankh-Morpork Citywatch (after Guards Guards and Men at Arms).
As one can tell from the cover, this one involves among other things golems—as the story opens, a golem is secretly being sold, and for a pittance—why? Golems work tirelessly and endlessly and need only to be let off on holy days. Meanwhile, as always, all is not well in Ankh-Morpork as not one but two murders are discovered—an old priest, Father Tubelcek, and Mr Hopkinson, curator of the Dwarf Bread Museum. The Citywatch must of course investigate but to add to these seemingly unrelated deaths, someone is attempting to poison the Patrician, and perhaps to put in his place a new King. Later, two other deaths are also discovered. Alongside, Vimes is also dealing with his new life after his marriage to Lady Sybil in the previous book, as we also learn about his ancestors and even those of some others in the Watch.
This was once again a really entertaining and fun instalment in this set of books—while I have only read a handful of Pratchett’s Discworld books and enjoyed nearly all, the Citywatch ones are especial favourites—an enjoyable combination of mystery and humour, and of course all the happenings in Ankh-Morpork. The mystery element in this one was also well done and rather complex, as like Vimes one keeps picking up different pieces of the puzzle, knowing that they are related, and yet one doesn’t really figure out how they come together, and what really happened until he does. Humour goes alongside in the writing as well as the characters, for instance, the interesting doctor that Vimes picks to treat Vetinari when he is being poisoned. I also enjoyed Vimes and the Vetinari’s conversation at the end.
The book introduces us to some new characters, Cherry Littlebottom, a dwarf who is an alchemist and joins the Watch (with a little secret), and Dorfl a golem who undergoes a rather interesting life-change. Like the previous book, Men at Arms, this one too deals with issues relevant to our world as well—specifically of diversity, and hostility that those who are ‘different’ have to face. While the point isn’t as prominent in this book as the previous one, it still does stand out. Despite this of course, Ankh-Morpork does prove to be the city where everyone can find a place. And some more characters find (as in previous books too) that once one gets to know each other, some of our fears, our doubts about those ‘different’ from us may turn out entirely misplaced. But not everyone does, unfortunately.
Among our regular characters, Carrot, now Captain, with his simple and straightforward outlook, and no ulterior thoughts or motives whatsoever manages to keep the peace, and deal with opponents rather well too. I enjoyed his arguments to protect Dorfl—reasoning over whether he is person or mechanism, but also how he should be protected nonetheless. Also, we find a rather unexpected ‘secret’ about Nobby while Angua is torn over wanting to stay in the city and wanting to return because of who she really is. It was fun following their stories and see how things are turning out for them. Death too makes a small appearance, in more than one form! Lady Sybil too barely comes in but some of her dragons do.
I love how Pratchett manages to poke fun at as well as really deal with various issues that face us in our lives, and combine humour with some deeper observations. Great fun as always. And as always I remembered to mark quotes rather late in the day, and just noted very few: I end with these:
Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.
But, unfortunately, and against all common sense, sometimes people inconsiderately throw their bound enemies into rooms entirely bereft of nails, handy bits of sharp stone, sharp-edged shards of glass or even, in extreme cases, enough pieces of old junk and tools to make a fully functional armoured car.
Only crimes could take place in darkness. Punishment had to be done in the light.
Have you read Feet of Clay or any other books in the Citywatch series? Which ones and how did you like them? Do you enjoy the Discworld books? Looking forward to your thoughts!