Men At Arms is a great fantasy/mystery novel set in Discworld and I enjoyed it much more than the previous novel. The pacing is spot-on, its unpredictable, hilarious, and the characters are fantastic and well developed. Despite being the second novel set within Ankh-Morpork, the world-building is astounding. I have also come to adore the witty writing!
In Men At Arms, several people have been murdered and it is up to the Night Watch and its newest members to figure out who did it, as well as uncover the mysterious weapon that was used called the “Gonne”. Meanwhile, Captian Vimes prepares for his marriage to Sybil Ramkin and the civilian life, but it’s not going to well for him. This is basically a mystery novel set in a fantasy world and it is incredibly well done.
Due to new integration policies set by Lord Vetinari, the Watch now includes Cuddy (Dwarf), Detritus (Troll), and Angua (Werewolf). This new combination of characters makes for one hilarious story, especially because Dwarves and Trolls are arch-enemies.
“Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat.
They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.
So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.”
I actually enjoyed this story a lot more than the previous one mostly due to the characters and a more intriguing plot. The pacing was perfect, so I never found myself skimming or became bored. There was just the right amount of detail. I never wanted to put the book down. As far as predictability goes, I couldn’t figure out who did it, though I did figure out what the weapon was right away. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the mystery and suspense.
The story was also incredibly hilarious. At one point, two of the Watch members write out police reports for Vimes and I had to read them both twice because they were hysterical. It wasn’t only that but the entire book and I think a lot of that had to deal with the banter between Cuddy and Detritus, not to mention Carrot.
Like the previous book, this one is also set in Ankh-Morpork but the world building was astounding! In this novel, we are introduced to several new species that inhabit this world including werewolves, dwarves, trolls, and the undead.
We also get to explore more of the Guilds within the city including the Assassin’s and Fool’s Guilds. Learning more about some of the Guilds was one of the highlights of the novel. Additionally, we travel below the city and learn more about how the city was built and re-built and kind of how it functions, which was all fascinating.
“No clowns were funny. That was the whole purpose of a clown. People laughed at clowns, but only out of nervousness. The point of clowns was that, after watching them, anything else that happened seemed enjoyable”
I’m not sure where exactly to comment about it, but I enjoyed the personification of the “Gonne”, as well as the fear it instilled in everyone. Not to mention what it does when you touch it. This easily helps to counteract the saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, which is actually partly untrue. Yes, there has to be a motive, but anyone can see how much easier it is if you hold a gun than if you have a knife or a sword.
I adored the characters in this novel and was surprised at their development. Cuddy and Detritus, I think, change the most throughout the book as they learn to understand one another and forgo their differences. Carrot also changes quite a bit and becomes more of a leader while Vimes is away even though Colon is technically in charge. Colon also does a great job stepping up and filling the role as acting Captian for awhile. None of the Watch seem to be as clueless as they used to and I think they are starting to appreciate their roles.
Even though we are introduced to new characters, it is apparent who is who. Each of them has their own distinct personality and some even have their own dialect. I never had trouble imagining the characters unlike I did in the first novel. Colon is the only one I’m not sure about since we still don’t know much about him. I hope Pratchett worked on Colon’s development in other novels.
“Colon thought Carrot was simple. Carrot often struck people as simple. And he was.
Where people went wrong was thinking that simple meant the same thing as stupid.”
I do like the addition of another female character!! Angua is strong and just plain awesome and I can’t wait to learn more about her!
Horrible things happen to the characters in this novel and one of them won’t be returning. I’m terribly upset by this. 😦
I do like the relationship that is developing between Angua and Carrot. It’s so cute! 🙂
Despite there not being decent breaks in the e-book version, I didn’t have as much trouble shifting from one POV to another as I did in the previous novel. I love the witty writing!
I like that the cover portrays different characters and doesn’t actually give away the murder weapon used in the book. However, it doesn’t take long to figure it out, so I would say that perhaps it should have a “Gonne” on it somewhere. I know other editions of this book do. I like how clean the cover is without any blurbs and how it mostly focuses on the illustration. The only downside is the lack of book numbers, which is important, especially in a series this large.