Mark Reads ‘Men at Arms’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Men at Arms, HOW CAN THAT BE POSSIBLE? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 


Samuel Vimes

in a bubble bath.

Thank you, universe.


Okay, that’s not the sole reason for his scenes at the Ramkin home. There’s obviously a surreal element to the bath scene because… well, it’s Vimes. He doesn’t take bubble baths. BUT HE CLEARLY SHOULD BECAUSE THEY’RE AWESOME. However, the scene serves as a bridge between the two worlds that he inhabits. He’s now about to exist in only one of them, and he’s got anxiety about what that means. I loved this part because I found it to be both illuminating and EMOTIONALLY DESTRUCTIVE:

Vimes dressed himself, and even wore the hat. And he seemed quite normal and composed, until you realized that he avoided meeting his own gaze in the mirror.

Is he becoming like Quirke? Like the men and women he met at the last meal he shared with Sybil’s friends? What does that mean for him exactly? We’re not given the answers to these questions, but I’m satisfied that they’ve been raised.

The Night Watch

You know, in a lot of ways, this is still unfolding like msot of the other Ankh-Morpork novels. Something secretive happens within the city, and someone else stumbles upon it. Everything gets chaotic, the world nearly ends, and then victory! I can’t deny that, and yet this still feels very different from other Discworld novels. I think part of that comes from how big the cast of characters is. It’s fun seeing them work together to solve this mystery as opposed to a single character trying to unravel it all.

With the use of the Librarian, it feels like Men at Arms has turned into a party. LOOK, I JUST LOVE ENSEMBLE CASTS OF CHARACTERS A WHOLE LOT. And it’s a great deal of fun here, at least until it gets bewildering and creepy. When the Librarian shows up at the Watch house with Cuddy and Detritus, I was ecstatic. This meant that we’d find out what was at the end of the tunnel, right?

“What was it?”

“If we tell you, you say, stupid ethnic people, you pulling my leg off,” said Detritus.

“So you’d better come and see,” said Cuddy.

OH, DRAT. But that would mean we would eventually see it, right? At the very least, I appreciated getting another take on the streets/tunnels below Ankh-Morpork. As I suspected, they were part of an ancient city that existed back when the city had kings. I don’t know if it was built over right after Ankh-Morpork abandoned the monarchy, but I’m guessing that’s the case. It makes sense that Edward would use the physical remains of that specific time period to get around the city. It’s almost too good. But my familiarity with all this plummeted as soon as Pratchett revealed what Cuddy and Detritus found:

It would almost be pleasant were it not for the sad, hunched corpse of someone that looked for all the world like Beano the clown.

I have thought this over the last forty minutes since finishing this section. It’s haunted me as I wrote everything you see before this. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how this is possible. It makes no sense to me at all. How can there be two bodies? They already pulled one out of the river. HOW CAN BEANO ALSO BE UNDERGROUND? Is it… like some weird magical cloning thing??? What am I missing??? This doesn’t make ANY FUCKING SENSE AT ALL.

But that’s the point. That’s why Cuddy and Detritus were so disturbed by the discovery, and it’s why Carrot takes it so seriously. It precedes the next revelation about the state of the city, and it’s how Pratchett builds the chaos that’s about to come. Two corpses, no Vimes, and a near-riot about to start? And yet, right in the middle of this, Pratchett reminds us that Edward D’Eath sought to put Carrot on the throne. How does he do that? Through Carrot’s demonstration of kindness. As horrible as these murders are – and they are awful – I keep wondering why it would be bad if someone like Carrot were to become king. Carrot reveals that he bought a farewell gift for Vimes, and it’s about the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing yet. The truth is that Carrot does seem magical because he’s so lacking in all cynicism. He believes the best of others, and he brings that out in them.

I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t just ask Carrot to do this. Why murder so many people? What purpose does that serve? It just seems so cruel and unnecessary. Carrot would absolutely lead people if it felt right, but this? This isn’t right at all.



Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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