In the third part of Night Watch, Vimes goes on a trip. Sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I’m now realizing that my previous review has got to be hilarious because all I wrote about was nostalgia and the possible dangers of obsessing over it. And this book was just about to LITERALLY send Vimes back to the time he adored and respected so much. LOOK, I DIDN’T KNOW, TIME TRAVEL WASN’T EVEN REMOTELY ON MY RADAR. Vimes’s sudden trip back to the past—and it’s got to be at least a couple decades ago—is announced unceremoniously in a scene from Ridcully’s point of view. I wasn’t even thinking about Vimes being missing after the lightning strike; I was convinced that we were just seeing the damage from the point of view of one of the wizards, you know? And I also assumed that everyone was looking for Carcer, not Vimes, and then Carrot’s line completely upended me. WHAT THE FUCK, Vimes might have traveled through time?
And as soon as I realized that, I knew that Vimes would HATE this. Oh, he would NOT PUT UP WITH THIS BULLSHIT AT ALL. Yet I misjudged the situation; Vimes inability to deal with bullshit was overshadowed by the sheer bewilderment of traveling into the past. Pratchett drops Vimes into this, but doesn’t do that thing you often see in time travel narratives where it takes the character a long-ass time to figure out what has happened. Oh, Vimes is absolutely confused for a solid length of time. He awakens in a lot of pain, he’s got an eyepatch, there’s a large slash on his face, and he’s in the presence of a much younger Mrs. Palm from the Guild of Seamstresses. (Well, she’s not a “Mrs.” quite yet!) That reputation he’d gained over years of work with the Watch—which we were reminded of in the first part of the book!!!!—is now gone. No one recognizes him. No one treats him like a duke or the head of the Watch or even a member of the Watch. It’s through this device that Pratchett strips Vimes of all the things he’s gained over the course of the Discworld series. And if Vimes does not posses any of these aspects of his life, then who is he? Who is he allowed to be?
Initially, he just seems like an anonymous drunk who got in a fight with someone who literally stole all of his clothing and his armor. After taking on a name that seems clearly fake to Palm, he tries to go to the Watch house in Pseudopolis Yard. Nope, not there. The Agony Aunts don’t recognize him either. He rushes to Sybil’s house, knocks out the butler he doesn’t recognize (THERE’S THE VIMES I EXPECTED), and then sees Sybil… as a teenager. Which means he’s also lost all the privilege and prestige that comes with being married to her, too! He can’t appeal to those people for help!
Obviously, this is upsetting for more obvious reasons, but I suspect Pratchett was intentionally reference nostalgia at the start of Night Watch. Vimes thought fondly of the past, so Pratchett immediately sent him there. And guess what?
IT ALREADY SUCKS. Which means it’s gonna get a lot worse, isn’t it?
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