Mark Reads ‘Night Watch’: Part 19

In the nineteenth part of Night Watch, Vimes succeeds, but it has a terrible cost. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Well, what now?

I braced myself for the last hundred pages or so for a bloodbath. And while this is still violent and frightening, it’s not what I thought would happen. With such a massive force attacking the barricade, I assumed that a lot of people would die. But it wasn’t just a logistical issue! My biggest worry is that despite all of Vimes’s efforts, history would correct itself. The course would be righted.

And yet, there does not appear to be any determinism at work. With the help of the grannies (MY FAVORITE SINGLE DETAIL IN THIS WHOLE SECTION, I LOVE THE BARRICADE GRANNIES WITH ALL MY HEART), a expertly-constructed barricade, and Vimes’s know-how, the rebels are able to expel the city’s soldiers with only one casualty. In the original timeline, lots of people died. So, it’s a success… sort of? I’m guessing Vimes isn’t too happy about Nancyball’s death. (And what a particularly gruesome way to die, too.) But is this enough? Is this what he was supposed to do, or will the monks oppose his changing of history?

I don’t actually know the answer to this question! But I feel like this is thematically on point with the larger issue brought up in Night Watch. Throughout this book, we’ve seen how complicity with power and authority can naturally lead to corruption and evil. So many people within this world and at this point in time simply did what they were told. They were just following orders, which is a mantra that still persists to this day. And what happened in Ankh-Morpork when people defaulted to this kind of law and order?

Torture. Violation of human rights. Cruelty at a systemic level. Constant intimidation. Murder. (Carcer’s playground, so to speak.) Thus, I find that Vimes’s characterization always meant that he was going to defy the monks. Why would he do what they said without question? Why would he not try to save as many lives as possible while he still could? And that’s not a new revelation, of course, and I’ve brought that up before in reviews. But it feels crystallized now, more clear than before, and that is why I am completely not certain about the end of this. See, Vimes may have succeeded, but how is he going to deal with the next wrench in the machine?

I found it humorous that Winder’s own paranoia is probably what killed him, and I’m guessing that Vetinari knew that, hence the production. (That was Vetinari, right???) So, with Winder’s demise (NO CAKE FOR HIM), Lord Snapcase rises, and he’s better, so to speak, but even if that’s only relative to Winder, his appointment still presents a major problem: Keel was too radical. He was too good at what he accomplished, and thus, he’s a threat to Snapcase.

So Snapcase orders him assassinated.

WHICH. Okay, so Keel died in the original timeline. Is he supposed to die in this one, too???? And how can that be possible if Vimes is Peel? Clearly, Vimes has been able to change history, so to speak, so he could do it again. But… wouldn’t he have to so that Keel could provide the revolutionary framework for Ankh-Morpork to change? That part is so VITAL to what motivates the Watch in the future. So… I DON’T KNOW. How??? How does he navigate this??? Will Vetinari reach him in time???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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