Fate is a word that springs to the lips when to call something coincidence seems mealy mouthed. Destiny is another such. But the problem with destiny is, of course, that she is not always careful where she points her finger. One minute you might be minding your own business on a normal if not spectacular career path, the next you might be in the frame for the big job, like saving the world... (from Goodreads)
Men at Arms has got a super mystery, one of the most twisty mysteries I’ve ever read in a Discworld book. Some of the other Night Watch books focus more on the characters and the surrounding political climate, but this one was a real police procedural. I liked it! One of my favorite things about the Night Watch books is the mystery aspect, so having a whole book with the mystery as the overarching plot was great.
Regarding characters: Carrot and the other Watch officers get fleshed out some more from the first book. Since I’m reading this series out of order, it’s hard sometimes for me to remember that, yeah, Carrot wasn’t the fully 3-dimensional person he is in some other (later) books. Same thing for Vimes, actually. He’s still working out how to be a leader and a force to be reckoned with, and so he does things a bit differently in here than he would in, say, Snuff. Which is great, actually! I love character development, and it’s lovely to see people grow and change as they become more self-confident and get more experience.
Also interesting is the difference in the way people THINK of Vimes. For example! Some of the newer recruits think he’s a stupid booze hound who can’t even tie his shoes properly. Massive difference from later books, when everyone knows he’s competent and dangerous! Again: this is more character development in action, which means yay!
My favorite part was, of course, the developing positive relationships between races who previously killed each other on sight. It’s heart-warming and lovely, and though all the other Night Watch books talk about “what makes a person” and immigration and whatever, in Men at Arms it was especially poignant because of the tight focus on two specific characters. And then the ending happened and I nearly cried.1
It’s technically not my favorite Night Watch books, but it’s definitely one I’ll reread every year, if not more often.
Read: August 24, 2013
- though, honestly, I sort of expected it because I knew that character didn’t show up in other books and so SOMETHING must have happened between this book and the other ones. It still stung, though. ↩