Mark Reads ‘Night Watch’: Part 5

In the fifth part of Night Watch, Vimes learns the rules. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 


  • I actually did dig the Garden of Inner-City Tranquility, especially since it reminded me so much of what it felt like to live in downtown Los Angeles nearly a decade ago. That’s where I was the year before I moved up to Oakland, and I can honestly say it’s changed a lot since I lived there. Was it for the better? I dunno, I feel like a “clean up” of a neighborhood usually means that someone had to be pushed out for that to happen. Progress routinely happens at the expense of someone else, you know?
  • BUT OKAY, I’M HONESTLY NOT TRYING TO GET ALL SERIOUS HERE. I have a different tolerance for the sights, smells, and sounds of a city, especially since I’ve gravitated to large metropolitan areas once I was able to. For example: I know people are disgusted by the way New York City deals with garbage. We don’t do big-ass dumpsters or recycling bins; my super packs our garbage into large black trash bags (recycling goes into clear bags on the day it gets picked up) and it’s piled on the sidewalk just off the way from the alley behind our building. I should note that sidewalks in my neighborhood are two to three times wider than I’m used to in most places in California, so it doesn’t actually block anyone’s path.
  • The point I’m making is that this is just the standard here, and I’ve already gotten used to it. So I feel like that’s part of the joke of Lu-Tze’s garden. Life is just different here, and thus, Lu-Tze manages to pull meaning from everything that’s in the garden.
  • Well, not everything. Not that damn beer bottle!
  • In the Garden of Inner-City Tranquility, Lu-Tze walks Vimes through the ground rules of multiverses so that he can understand why he can’t just be popped back home and why the universe’s magic may have deliberately dropped him into this specific moment. What upset the timeline enough to pull Vimes here is still a mystery, but I suspect it has to do something with Carcer’s arrival and his first crime: murdering John Keel a day earlier. Is this all a course correction? Is history trying to repair itself?
  • That question is almost unnecessary, though, because Lu-Tze does his best to impart the importance of Vimes’s will. More so than perhaps ever before in Vimes’s life, the man has the chance to change the entire universe. Without the nudge that happened at this exact time, a multiverse option may become reality: Vimes will become a terrible cop. And how can he not, when he’s surrounded by people like Sergeant Knock, Corporal Quirke, and Constable Colon?
  • I found it interesting that we’re flat-out told that these two new characters were awful people, but not shown that. Normally, that’s a weird way to tell a story, right? Why wouldn’t we be shown why this might unfold into the darkest timeline? But I think this was necessary for a different reason: we’ve already seen good Vimes. These secondary characters aren’t as important when compared to the main conflict, which is that Young Vimes lost the mentor that guided him towards being a good person.
  • (Admittedly, I’m curious why Colon is included here. I suspect he will be shown to be even more bigoted than he has been in past books?)
  • Thus, this is a quantum paradox, since two timelines are currently existing side-by-side, and the History Monks can only maintain them for a few days before one of them takes hold of history and becomes reality. And at this point, the bad timeline has got the upper hand, doesn’t it?
  • I love this because it’s not the traditional time travel story I normally read. Time is not relative to Vimes, and his “present” timeline could be overrun by the multiverse one. Thus, the main conflict has REAL tension. It’s believable, it’s scary, and it’s absolutely an engaging idea. Vimes has to stop himself from becoming a nightmare.
  • QU. At least I figured out the reference not long after it was made. I UNDERSTOOD IT.
  • Can we appreciate that he made a privy that dumps waste into a volcano ten million years in the past? LET’S MAKE A LITTER BOX FOR CATS THAT DOES THIS, TOO.
  • So, with this weighty and important mission in mind, Vimes is snapped back into the Watch House, where he proceeds to BEAUTIFULLY manipulate Captain Tilden into GIVING HIM A JOB. Y’all, he got arrested and GOT A JOB OUT OF IT. He literally threatened Tilden to WALK OUT THE DOOR AFTER BEING ARRESTED IF HE DIDN’T GET HIRED. I just??!??! I ADORE VIMES.
  • It’s all about authority. Pratchett takes it to an extreme length, of course, but y’all. Vimes just acts like he has authority, and he is given literally everything he asks for. It’s incredible!
  • It’s also incredible to see the transformation come over him. I recalled how much he missed the “good ol’ days,” before he ran the Watch, before he cared so much. And look: he got what he wanted. He gets to walk a beat in boots whose soles are nearly worn through.
  • But the time he is in is bleak, y’all. Pratchett only gives us a small sense of the chaos; the curfews; Lord Winder; the violence. Vimes is comfortable being a Watch man, but he’s not comfortable in this time. It seems there are constant reminders of that on the page, and I’m really invested in seeing how these reminders will continue to manifest in the story.


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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