Mark Reads ‘Night Watch’: Part 1

In the first part of Night Watch, Samuel Vimes prepares. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Night Watch begins at an interesting place within the greater Discworld mythology. It’s undeniable to me that the world of this series has changed, and that change is all over the first eighteen pages of this book. More than anything, the inevitable change to Vimes’s family looms over this story. It’s a major change for… well, everything! And I don’t know what the Discworld books will look like once Vimes and Sybil have a child! Will the man change as is referenced here, and will he want to make the world better because he’s having a kid?

Well, I’d argue that Vimes has been trying to make the world a better place for a long time before the events that’ll transpire here in Night Watch. He started long ago, y’all! We’ve all watched him change from the man who was introduced to readers IN A LITERAL GUTTER. Now, he’s in charge of a Watch that’s grown to over 100 members. He employs a werewolf and a zombie and an Igor and the city has changed in response to that, too. (I loved the detail about the scent bombs being used to combat Angua’s powerful nose. WORLDBUILDING IS SO GREAT.) And, of course, Vimes’s dress uniform is perhaps the most literal change that’s come over Ankh-Morpork. It’s slightly less useless, y’all! I FEEL LIKE THAT’S A HUGE DEAL, OKAY.

Yet the changes in Ankh-Morpork come with a tragedy: the murder of Stronginthearm by Carcer, a career killer and criminal who revels in the act of committing crime while pretending he’s innocent. It is a shocking thing to have revealed so early in the book, but death—and the legacy left behind—seems to already be a theme of Night Watch. While Vimes considers the ramifications of Stronginthearm’s death, there are the lilacs. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE, at least not in a direct way. They commemorate something, yes, and it’s important enough that Corporal Ping is chewed out by Colon for being flippant and insensitive about the others wearing one. Though, even reading through the exchange again for this review, I don’t feel like Ping was being inconsiderate. They seemed genuinely interested in what they were for, but I also don’t truly understand the point of them, so perhaps I’ll rescind this later.

It all must be related to John Keel, whose grave read, “How Do They Rise Up.” Which… I’m pretty sure I have not been introduced to this character before. It doesn’t ring as familiar at all! It’s someone they all knew in the Watch, but prior to Night Watch, they’ve not been mentioned once. WHICH FEELS REALLY WEIRD. If this man is so important to the Watch—so much so that they commemorate his death with lilacs every year on May 25—why wasn’t he mentioned before?


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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