Men at Arms (Discworld Series #15)

Men at Arms (Discworld Series #15)

4.5 92
by Terry Pratchett

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A Young Dwarf's Dream

Corporal Carrot has been promoted! He's now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork, Discworld's greatest city, from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It's a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf.

But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork,

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A Young Dwarf's Dream

Corporal Carrot has been promoted! He's now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork, Discworld's greatest city, from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It's a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf.

But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork, ruled for decades by Disorganized crime, has a secret sovereign! And his name is Carrott...

And so begins the most awesome epic encounter of all time, or at least all afternoon, in which the fate of a city—indeed of the universe itself!—depends on a young man's courage, an ancient sword's magic, and a three-legged poodle's bladder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his latest effort, Pratchett skewers the hard-boiled detective novel as effectively as he's satired fantasy fiction all these years. Set on Discworld, there are a few more gargoyles and exploding dragons than Sam Spade ever had to deal with. But there's a trail of corpses and a hero named Carrot determined to track down the killer. His partners-the token dwarf, troll and werewolf on the police force-must overcome discrimination as well as the occasional rampaging orangutan. Although Men at Arms isn't as consistently funny as his earlier novels, the dialogue is hilarious, and Pratchett's take on affirmative action is a whole lot of fun. There's not a lot of rational narrative cause-and-effect here, but it doesn't really matter. As usual, Pratchett provides enough bad-tempered clowns, bloodthirsty trolls and dogs with low self-esteem to keep readers entertained. (Mar.)
Roland Green
The umpteenth Discworld novel introduces Captain Vines, who is about to leave the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork. The ensuing efforts to replace him are quite as zany, as devoid of conventional plot, as rich in displays of offbeat imagination, and as satirical (particularly of affirmative action and the hard-boiled detective thriller) as we have come to expect from Pratchett. Although not an outstanding Discworld novel and absolutely not the place to start with Pratchett's best-known creation, "Men at Arms" upholds Pratchett's reputation as a master of humorous fantasy and is good, highly recommendable fun for those who have already acquired a taste for Discworld.
Kirkus Reviews
In Pratchett's latest Discworld fantasy romp (Lords and Ladies, p. 1068), Captain Vimes of Ankh-Morpork's City Watch is retiring in order to marry the city's richest lady and become a Gentleman. The Watch, you see, thanks to affirmative action, has been forced to hire both dwarfs and trolls—they loathe each other—and even women (actually, a she-werewolf). But before he goes, Vimes, with Corporal Carrot—he's probably the lost heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork—and Gaspode the talking dog must solve a series of horrible murders involving a strange explosive device, meddling Assassins, and the doddering denizens of the Unseen University.

An about average installment in this always entertaining, sometimes hysterically funny series.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Discworld Series, #15
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 11.06(h) x 1.06(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Corporal Carrot, Ankh-Morpork City Guard (Night Watch), sat down in his nightshirt, took up his pencil, sucked the end for a moment, and then wrote:

"Dearest Mume and Dad,
Well here is another fine Turnup for the Books, for I have been made Corporal!! It means another Five Dollars a month plus also I have a new jerkin with, two stripes upon it as well. And a new copper badge! It is a Great responsibility!! This is all because we have got new recruits because the Patrician who, as I have formerly vouchsafed is the ruler of the city, has agreed the Watch must reflect the ethnic makeup of the City-"

Carrot paused for a moment and stared out of the small dusty bedroom window at the early evening sunlight sidling across the river. Then he bent over the paper again.

"-- which I do not Fully understand but must have something to do with the dwarf Grabpot Thundergust's Cosmetic Factory. Also, Captain Vimes of who I have often written to you of is, leaving the Watch to get married and Become a Fine Gentleman and, I'm sure we wish him All the Best, he taught me All I Know apart, from the things I taught myself. We are clubbing together to get him a Surprise Present, I thought one of those new Watches that don't need demons to make them go and we could inscribe on the back something like 'A Watch from, your Old Freinds in the Watch', this is a pune or Play on Words. We do not know who will be the new Captain, Sgt. Colon says he will Resign if it's him, Cpl. Nobbs -- "

Carrot stared out of the window again. His big honest forehead wrinkled with effort as he tried to think of something positive to sayabout Corporal Nobbs.

"-- is more suited in his current Roll, and I have not been in the Watch long enough. So we shall just have to wait and See --"

It began, as many things do, with a death. And a burial, on a spring morning, with mist on the ground so thick that it poured into the grave and the coffin was lowered into cloud.

A small greyish mongrel, host to so many assorted doggy diseases that it was surrounded by a cloud of dust, watched impassively from the mound of earth.

Various elderly female relatives cried. But Edward d'Eath didn't cry, for three reasons. He was the eldest son, the thirty-seventh Lord d'Eath, and it was Not Done for a d'Eath to cry; he was-just, the diploma still had the crackle in it -- an Assassin, and Assassins didn't cry at a death, otherwise they'd never be stopping; and he was angry. In fact, he was enraged.

Enraged at having to borrow money for this poor funeral. Enraged at the weather, at this common cemetery, at the way the background noise of the city didn't change in any way, even on such an occasion as this. Enraged at history. It was never meant to be like this.

It shouldn't have been like this.

He looked across the river to the brooding bulk of the Palace, and his anger screwed itself up and became a lens.

Edward had been sent to the Assassins' Guild because they had the best school for those whose social rank is rather higher than their intelligence. If he'd been trained as a Fool, he'd have invented satire and made dangerous jokes about the Patrician. If he'd been trained as a Thief,* he'd have broken into the Palace and stolen something very valuable from the Patrician.

However ... he'd been sent to the Assassins . . .

That afternoon he sold what remained of the d'Eath estates, and enrolled again at the Guild school.

For the post-graduate course.

He got full marks, the first person in the history of the Guild ever to do so. His seniors described him as a man to watch-and, because there was something about him that made even Assassins uneasy, preferably from a Iong way away.

In the cemetery the solitary gravedigger filled in the hole that was the last resting place of d'Eath senior.

He became aware of what seemed to be thoughts in his head. They went something like this:

*But no gentleman would dream of being trained as a Thief

Any chance of a bone? No, no, sorry, bad taste there, forget I mentioned it. You've got beef sandwiches in your wossname, lunchbox thingy, though. Why not give one to the nice little doggy over there?

The man leaned on his shovel and looked around.

The grey mongrel was watching him intently.

It said, "Woof?"

It took Edward d'Eath five months to find what he was looking for. The search was hampered by the fact that he did not know what he was looking for, only that he'd know it when he found it. Edward was a great believer in Destiny. Such people often are.

The Guild library was one of the largest in the city. In certain specialized areas it was the largest. These areas mainly had to do with the regrettable brevity of human life and the means of bringing it about.

Edward spent a lot of time there, often at the top of a ladder, often surrounded by dust.

He read every known work on armaments. He didn't know what he was looking for and he found it in a note in the margin of an otherwise very dull and inaccurate treatise on the ballistics of crossbows. He copied it out, carefully.

Edward spent a lot of time among history books as well. The Assassins' Guild was an association of gentlemen of breeding, and people like that regard the whole of recorded history as a kind of stock book. There were a great many books in the ...

Men at Arms. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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