Mark Reads ‘Men at Arms’: Part 16

In the sixteenth part of Men at Arms, Carrot makes a discovery while Vimes prepares for his wedding. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of gay panic / trans panic.

This section is more of a set-up for later parts than anything else, but it’s got a lot of interesting character developments that I’m eager to discuss. LET’S DO IT.


Look, I certainly get a huge kick out of viewing fiction through a queer theory lens, and you should really hear my presentation about queerness within Harry Potter. (Come to GeekyCon/LeakyCon this year!!!) IT IS WHAT I DO. But I can’t mistake headcanons and metaphorical representation as actual representation. At this point, we’re fifteen books into this series and literally every character is straight. While I point that out, I also want to note that it was very easy for me to read a specific narrative within Angua’s story here, and while I don’t believe it’s intentional at all, it’s still interesting to consider.

After Carrot discovers that Angua is a werewolf, he has a very specific reaction, and it tells Angua everything she needs to know about him. As he puts it:

You are a pillock, what are you? Picked up the sword automatically, didn’t you? Did it all wrong! Now she’s run off and you’ll never see her again!

In that moment, Carrot’s reaction mattered because Angua had to be able to discern if she was safe. That’s something I’ve had to do for decades as a gay man. It’s something queer folks and trans folks have had to do, as well, though the context of that is different based on a ton of different factors. Again, I think it’s interesting to interpret it this way, but I don’t mistake it for an actual queer character, you know?

Acting-Constable Detritus

I JUST LOVE ALL OF THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT HE GETS. This lovable troll is now the Acting-Constable, has signed up enough people to but the Watch at an all-time high, and is actually efficient as a leader! In his own special way, of course. But there’s no single detail in this section that I love more than this one:

“What’s that you’ve got on your head?”

Dink. “Acting-Constable Cuddy made it for me, sir. Special clockwork thinking helmet.”

Cuddy coughed. “These big bits are cooling fins, see? Painted black. I glommed a clockwork engine off my cousin, and this fan here blows air over–”

CUDDY MADE DETRITUS A COOLING HELMET. OH MY GOD. It’s so important because it shows how these two characters have learned to do what’s best for one another by putting aside their cultural differences. I even think you could argue that this is a cultural exchange of sorts, and it’s beautiful. A dwarf sharing dwarf technology to help a troll with a disadvantage they have in warmer climates! HELP ME.

Captain Samuel Vimes

If Pratchett was going for the surreal here, then he certainly succeeded. I suspect that Vimes won’t give up being in the Watch after this book, but I can’t see a means for that end. As it stands, he’s preparing for his final day as the Captain of the Watch. And it’s weird! Well, not the bubble bath part, because that’s quickly become my new thing to love about Vimes. DO NOT TAKE BUBBLE BATHS AWAY FROM HIM. But can the man really give up the watch? Can he cope with having a butler? Living life away from the beat?

The Room Where It Happens

Given that there’s so little left of this book, I think the wedding is where everything is going to go down. I love that we’ve got some wild cards thrown into the mix for good measure. The fact that Vimes’s wedding is in the Great Hall is brilliant because that means the wizards are now going to be involved in this plot whether they like it or not. What is that plot, by the way? I had assumed that whomever had killed Edward had assumed the same plan as him, but apparently, I’m wrong. This new conspirator wants everything for themselves, no? They want the god-like power that the gonne gives them. (And I think it’s outright confirmed here that the gonne is an entity/spirit in its own right, too.)

Something is going to go horribly wrong at this wedding, y’all. But perhaps that’s the way that Vimes keeps his job. What if by saving the day at his own wedding, he’s… not allowed to retired? Okay, that sounds terrible when I spell it out, but in my head, it was brilliant! Regardless, I appreciate how everything’s converging on one single room. So how will the rest of the Watch come into the fold? What about Angua and Carrot? Can he repair his relationship with her?

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 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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