Mark Reads ‘Men at Arms’: Part 7

In the seventh part of Men at Arms, the Watch get a little bit closer to the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Well, shit, this was a lot of fun. And I can’t believe I just read a clown funeral. What the HELL.

The Alchemists’ Guild

I think it’s a damn treat to see the Watch actually out in the field, doing their job. I know that sounds a tad condescending, but that’s really what’s happening! In fact, that’s the whole joke Sgt. Colon makes when he reads Carrot’s letter. He’s simply not used to being… well, a detective. Right?

Pratchett uses this whole scenario to create dynamics between characters as they turn into sleuths who are trying to track down the murderer of Hammerhock and Beano. (At this point, I think it’s safe to say that they all believe Vimes’s stipulation that the murders are somehow connected.) Unsurprisingly, he sticks Detritus and Cuddy together, and the two Lance-Constables assault and insult their way into the Alcehmists Guild. What happens when they get there?

They start working together really well.

It’s a quiet, subtle thing that happens, and Pratchett doesn’t call attention to it. He doesn’t place a flashing arrow in the narrative to tell us that LOOK, LOOK, I’M DOING A THING. But look how much these two argue with one another as they get into the guild, and then look what happens once they start getting real information from Mr. Sendivoge and Mr. Silverfish. Cuddy is actually really good at asking the right kind of questions, and while Detritus hasn’t learned how to read or write yet, he knows exactly what he’s supposed to be doing. Cuddy even has the wherewithal to point out that Leonard da Quirm could have just went somewhere else instead of turning invisible.

I am really excited to see them grow.

The Fools’ Guild

I can’t even deal with this.

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this whole sequence. Pratchett densely packs this with about a thousand jokes and visual gags, and he does so in a way that’s not only funny, but deeply sad! These people are mourning the loss of their friend, and they’re doing it in a way to honor his memory. Yet the entire scene is just… I can’t even keep track of how detailed this shit is. The sound the knocker makes. (The name of it is a pun too, holy fuck.) The whitewash above the door. The bells tinkling in the breeze. The actual funeral procession. HOW DOES ONE PERSON THINK OF SO MANY THINGS???

At the same time that all of this is happening, Colon and Nobbs both move closer to discovering what might have happened to Beano. I love that Colon realizes how strange it is that unlike practically every case they’ve ever gotten, this one is the one that they’re pursuing. Like the scene with Cuddy and Detritus, Colon and Nobbs’ scene is both awkward but empowering. The two of them might be a bit behind on what to do during an investigation, but they’re not unskilled. Colon realizes that Dr. Whiteface is covering something up, and he’s the one who focuses on the fact that somehow, Boffo saw Beano the previous morning. Despite that the body of Beano was clearly dead for a few days. And isn’t that the timeline we know, too? Beano was killed prior to Edward breaking into the Assassins’ Guild, and we know that Beano was simply “in the way” of Edward.

So what the hell is going on here? On the one hand, I understand that the Guilds like to keep business within their own walls, so Dr. Whiteface’s reaction makes sense. But why cover-up a murder so heinous and terrible? Why insist it was an accident when it clearly wasn’t? Is this some political thing between the two guilds?

Edward D’Eath

And through this all, we’ve still got Edward, who is now aware that Vimes has refused to obey the Patrician’s orders to stop investigating these crimes. Okay, perhaps he has no idea that it was specifically the Patrician who ordered this, and I suspect that this tiny little POV part sheds a whole lot of light on the way that Ankh-Morpork works. Pratchett writes:

That damn Vimes! Exactly the wrong man in the wrong place. Why didn’t people learn from history? Treachery was in his very genes! How could a city run properly with someone like that, poking around? That wasn’t what a Watch was for. Watchmen were supposed to do what they were told, and see to it that other people did too.

What if Dr. Whiteface’s reaction is merely a manifestation of this? It’s clear that the Guilds are thankful for the arrangement that the Patrician came up with because it greatly benefits their livelihoods. The organization of the crimes and merchants has helped them immeasurably, and here’s Vimes. The man is poking his nose in things that threaten to upset the entire hierarchy, and perhaps the Guilds want nothing of it. That’s just a theory, of course, and even if I’m wrong, I still think the scenes in this section help paint a better picture of the political climate within the city. I get a chance to understand how the Guilds interact with one another and how they view the Watch. The Alchemists and the Gamblers are far more amenable to working with the Watch, but the Assassins and the Fools? For the most part, they’re the resistant forces here.

But I still don’t quite know how Edward will fit in to all of this. What’s a “gonne”? Who was Edward talking to when he asked, “What shall I do about Vimes?” WHO RESPONDED?

The original text contains use of the word “idiot.”

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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