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4.7 out of 5 stars
Men at Arms: A Discworld Novel: 14
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Men at Arms reunites us with the stalwart defenders of our beloved Ankh-Morpork: the Night Watch. Along the way we also meet up with some of the Discworld's most distinctive secondary characters (including Foul Ole Ron and Big Fido), get a glimpse of affirmative action Ankh-Morpork-style, discover the identity of the rightful king (if Ankh-Morpork still had a king, which it doesn't, which isn't the fault of the shady characters in this book trying to replace the Patrician with the aforementioned heir to the throne, who doesn't want the job anyway), converse once more with Gaspode the talking dog, and - if that's not enough - make ready for the wedding of the year between Captain Samuel Vimes of the Night Watch and Lady Sybil Ramkin, proprietor of the Sunshine Sanctuary for Sick Dragons and the richest woman in Ankh-Morpork. Captain Vimes is in fact retiring from the Watch, but his retirement involves much more than the traditional gift watch presentation from his men. A washed-up aristocrat named Edward D'eath takes it upon himself to restore the long-lost monarchy, a circumstance that can only come about over the Patrician's dead body. Even clowns aren't safe from this deadly conspiracy.
The trouble begins with an explosion and robbery at the Guild of Assassins. Someone has stolen nothing less than the only "gonne" on Discworld, and a series of murders shock the town. OK, nothing's really going to shock the people of Ankh-Morpork, but the fact that people keep turning up full of holes where guts should be definitely stirs up the Watchmen. The Patrician is also less than happy about things, so he makes sure the Watch gets to the bottom of things by forbidding Captain Vimes to investigate. The Watch itself is growing; thanks to some new laws pushed through by the Silicon Anti-Defamation League, it has ethnically balanced itself with the addition of a dwarf, a troll, and a woman to the force. The woman, Angua, also happens to be a werewolf, and I don't have to tell you that dwarfs and trolls are natural enemies. Luckily, Constable Carrot, the 6'6" dwarf (he was adopted, you know) who is just so doggoned nice that people will actually listen to him and do as he requests, is there to keep the Watch united and performing its duty the way Carrot (alone) thinks it should be done. After a dwarf is killed and a troll arrested by the Day Watch (on the basis that any troll is surely guilty of something), there's an ever-present danger that the city's trolls and dwarfs will have a go at each other (and it won't be like last time, when both groups somehow managed to ambush one another at the same time).
Constable Detritus really steals the show here. Watching a troll think is always entertaining, but Detritus really comes into his own as this story progresses. At first, he can't salute without knocking himself out, but by the end he's recruiting and training fellow trolls (in his own endearing way) and warming up quite well to his dwarf partner. He also manages to show us that, in the right conditions (such as the kind of very cold temperature you find in a pork futures market), trolls can be brilliant thinkers.
People always die in Discworld novels, but there was one death in Men at Arms that really took me by surprise. A bit sad, it was. Don't be sad about Captain Vimes leaving the Night Watch, though. Furthermore, don't worry about the future of the City Guard, as it does not fall into the hands of Sergeant Colon or Corporal Nobbs (who, as we all know, has already been disqualified from the human race for shoving). I'm sure the men and women and dwarfs and trolls and werewolf of the Night Watch will be as ready as ever for the next threat that rears its ugly head in Ankh-Morpork; after all, Carrot's still on the job.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2004
This is the fifteenth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld--a flat world, supported on the backs of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle. Anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does.
Even as the Ankh-Morpork night watch is being expanded, a series of strange and probably interconnected murders takes place. The city is on the edge of a dwarf vs. troll race war, and the watch is only holding things together with their fingernails. There's a long buried secret being dug up, and it's going to cost far too many lives if Captain Samuel Vimes doesn't get to the bottom of things, and fast!
I have been a fan of Terry Pratchett of many years now, and consider him one of the master storytellers of this era. As with all of his books, this one is extremely funny, with a gripping storyline, and fascinating characters. If you like fantasy stories, and want a nice twist on the genre, or if you just like good humor, then I highly recommend that you get this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2005
The sequel to 'Guards! Guards!' and the fifteenth book in the Discworld series, 'Men at Arms' is one of the funniest by Terry Pratchett. In this book the readers are introduced to a host of new recruits to the Night Watch of the city of Ankh-Morpork when they are asked to recruit ethnic minorities, Lance-Corporal Detritus (a troll), Lance-Constable Cuddy (a dwarf) and Lance-Constable Angua (a woman). They also get to learn more about characters from the previous book, including Corporal Carrot and Captain Vimes.
When there is a plot to assassinate the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork using a new and dangerous weapon, 'the gonne', and to restore the rightful king to the throne, which we learnt at the end of the last book is Corporal Carrot, the Night Watch must capture the villain behind it. The storyline is funny with an interesting and original twist although you may find that some jokes are repeated.
My favourite part is when Lance-Constable Angua meets a talking dog called Gaspode who introduces her to another dog, Big Fido. This part of the story is a parallel to Hitler and the Nazis as Big Fido is a dictator of all the dogs in Ankh-Morpork and tells them they must be more like wolves whereas he himself is a poodle, just like Hitler told the Nazis that real Germans should be tall with blond hair and blue eyes but he was short with dark hair and eyes.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Terry Pratchett's other books, however I would also recommend that you read 'Guards! Guards!' first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the fifteenth in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and features the wonderful City Watch under the unflappable guidance of Captain Vimes. Unfortunately Vimes is about to get married, and is under instructions to quit the Watch. Who could possibly take his place? Meanwhile, a dangerous weapon that has quite inexplicably been given to the Assassins to guard may just possibly have gone missing, and may also just possibly be being misused by someone. Who could it be, and what is their goal? And if Edward d’Eath is agitating for the return of the Monarchy, you can be sure the Patrician isn’t going to be happy about that.

There’s plenty of action in this story, and plenty of great characters – trolls, dwarves, and … other beings … all of whom keep the Watch on their toes. I love the character of Gaspode the dog – he’s good at heart for all his disgusting outside, and he has a central role in this story. There’s a tragic element in the story, too which really tugs at your heartstrings. But at the end, all is, more or less where it should be – and in Ankh Morpork you can’t really ask for more than that, and Lady Sybil has her man. This is a good chunky read, with plenty of atmosphere (and in Ankh Morpork that has an almost tangible presence), plenty of great characters, and a really great story. What’s not to like?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love the City Watch stories for their extremely well developed characters and situations. Men at Arms explores both the tense relationship between trolls and dwarfs and the still fairly broken presence of the Watch in the city. Vimes is having a hard time facing the thought of giving up his badge and reacts badly to Vetinari's order that he forceably step down just as a big investigation begins, featuring murder and tension between two guilds. Carrot really comes into his own here and singlehandledy rallies the troops to save the day. One of the best Discword books in the series, an absolute gem.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 8 December 2004
Of all Pratchett's brilliantly drawn characters, Samuel Vimes stands unique in providing a realistic role model for the rest of us. He's honest, forthright, deeply suspicious of aristocracy, and best of all, despises the idea of kings. The last is important here, for someone wishes the return of the Ankh-Morpork monarchy. And Sam Vimes' remote ancestor, Old Stoneface, executed the last one.
Edward d'Eath [how does PTerry come up with these names?!], an impoverished aristocrat, seeks fulfillment of his destiny by restoring the monarchy. Recruiting fellow lords to his cause proves difficult. It's been a long time since the last king, and the Patrician runs the city with commendable, if frightening, efficiency. So Edward embarks on a solitary campaign.
Pratchett's inventive mind takes us from the "fantasy" genre into the murder mystery domain. Murder isn't a common event on the Discworld, and its occurrence here creates an intensity of feeling rarely evoked by Pratchett's works. Vimes is particularly irritated by such abhorrent events as murder. Assassination is bad enough, although carefully regulated by its Guild. For Vimes, murder is too arbitrary. It reflects the one aspect of society he resents the most, the exercise of absolute power. He's affronted both as a copper and a man.
Partly inspired by Corporal Carrot, Vimes is no longer content having the Watch "let things lie anymore". Forces that used to push a drunken Vimes into the gutter are forces he now resists, even struggles to overcome. It's an inspiring read watching Pratchett give Vimes a new sense of dedication. Vimes has always sought justice, and his recent rise in society and the Watch has given him fresh impetus, and clout, to gain it. However, first he must survive. He's up against a new force. A force of absolute power, without soul or pity - the Gonne.
There are other aspects in this book beyond the new Old Stoneface trying to catch a murderer. Pratchett pays homage to the struggle for women's and immigrants' rights in Britain [and elsewhere]. The Watch has been compelled to recruit dwarves, trolls and, um, a woman. Sergeant Colon's attempts to reconcile size, attitudes and anatomy with a traditional human, male, role must bring tears to the eyes of all recruiting sergeants reading it. Pratchett's sympathetic view of Angua pays homage to the efforts of women striving to enter men's realms. But for a novel view of the world we all inhabit, there's few that can out-express Gaspode, one of Pratchett's finest creations.
Pratchett possesses a superior ability to create timeless works. Nestled in this library since its publication, this book is taken up as an old friend for repeated enjoyment. There's nothing lost in re-reading Men At Arms - the issues remain timely, the characters worth noting - sometimes emulating, and the wit undiminished. If you're new to Pratchett, this is a fine place to start. If you're coming along in the Discworld sequence, be prepared for an item of exceptional value, something beyond the humorous fantasy of wizards, witches and Mort's employer. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2006
Men At Arms is another riveting read by Terry Prattchett.In Men At Arms a strange new weapon called a "gonne" has been invented and to stop it from destroying the city of Ankh-Morpok Captain Carrot along with help from Nobby Nobson,Sgt Colon and the new Lance-constables Angua,Detritus and Cuddy must form the first ever Ankh-Morpok city militia.If you like reading sci-fi,fantasy or detective stories then read Men At Arms.If you enjoy this book then try books 8,19,21,24,27 and 32.
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VINE VOICEon 23 August 2005
This 15th Discworld novel is essentially a direct sequel to 'Guards! Guards!', with a soon-to-retire Captain Vimes investigating another mysterious threat to Ankh-Morpork. Much as Moving Pictures shook up the Discworld with the introduction of cinema, here the driving plot force is Pratchett's introduction of guns (or 'gonnes'), alongside another attempt to overthrow to Patrician and replace him with a king. What adds a lot of fun to what is a fairly direct repeat of the central plot of 'Guards! Guards!' is that the Night Watch itself is expanded, and the inclusion of age-old enemies trolls and dwarfs (not to mention a werewolf) allows Pratchett to examine racism through the mirror of the Discworld universe. Having killed off Gaspode the Wonder Dog in 'Moving Pictures' Pratchett strains credulity by re-introducing the character, but Gaspode's scenes with a group of rebellious dogs is fun, and elsewhere Da Vinci rip-off Leonard of Quirm gets his first appearance in the series. A great mix of an involving plot, some good humour, some nice lifts from Clint Eastwood films during the climax for those who spot them, and some surprisingly emotional scenes when Pratchett kills off one of his characters. Highly recommended, but do read 'Guards! Guards!' first.
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on 22 August 2009
This was my first Pratchett book and I am going to be on the look out for more.

I really liked the writing style, the distinct lack of chapters made it so much easier for me to read as I do most of my reading on the train and it is easier to finish a paragraph than a chapter which meant i read more than i normally do.

The plot is a serious end of all order and bringing down the city's government, which is as serious a plot as anything by Dan Brown but with so much comedy and character quirks that you find yourself chuckling along and not worrying about the "End of civilisation" which makes for very light reading with the same page turning ability.

Pratchett has created a very vivid world and a city that does feel lived in, so many writers create worlds and cities that feel new and sterile with generic formats and buildings but Ank-Morpork feels like its always been there and is exceptionally individual!

I loved the style, very reminiscant of Tom Sharpe and Hitch Hikers and i found myself laughing out loud, much to the concern of other commuters, on more than one occaision. The characters are all very individualistic with amazing interaction.

If you want a light bubbly and funny book to read I can't think of a better one.
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As Captain Vimes prepares for retirement and marriage to Lady Ramkin, the Night Watch has been on a drive to become more `ethnically diverse' resulting in the recruitment of Cuddy a dwarf, Detritus a troll and Angua a woman (mostly). This new watch is soon put to the test as an explosion at the Assassins Guild begins a series of events that could see the city erupt into violence.

`Men at Arms' is the second Discworld book to focus on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and easily gets a place in my top ten favourite Discworld books. The book introduces two of my favourite City Watch characters Detritus (who previously made appearances in `Moving Pictures' and `Guards, Guards!') and Angua who are both very funny and likable. This book has an interesting plot with some nice action sequences and is also very funny, as you would expect from a Discworld book. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit but `Men at Arms' was also the first Discworld book to make me cry as it does get somewhat emotional towards the end.

`Men at Arms' is easily one of my favourite Discworld books and is a must read for any fan of Discworld and the Watch books in particular.
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