The sixth City Watch book.

Publication year: 2002
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2010
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 392
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Pratchett is a fine form here and this is one of my favorite Discworld books.

Commander Samuel Vimes is a bit scatterbrained because Sybil is giving birth. He’s also hot on the trail of a cold-blooded murderer Carcer. The criminal runs to the Unseen University and the police follows him. Unfortunately, both Vimes and Carcer are drawn into a magical storm and sent to the past. 30 years in the past into a darker Ankh-Morpok. Before Vimes can ask the wizards to help him, he’s arrested for breaking the curfew. He realizes that he can’t let Carcer to stay in the past and make a mess of it. He also hears that the man who should have been there, Sergeant John Keel, has been killed by Carcer. In Vimes’ past, Keel was attacked by local thugs but survived to become young Vimes’ mentor and idol. So, Vimes is in the strange position that he has to teach himself everything he’s ever known about being a copper… He also knows what happened during the Glorious Revolution of the Twenty-Fifth of May and even though he knows on an abstract level that he should let things happen as they did and just try to arrest Carcer, he just can’t let awful things happen. Especially to people he knows and works with. Or will know in the future.

This is one of the darkest Discworld books I’ve read because Pratchett set the book in a city which is led by the insane paranoid lord Winder whose secret police, the Unmentionables, run the city with terror and torture. Pratchett also includes lots of dark themes such as revolutions, rebellion, competence (or lack thereof) of military officers, and morality of people in generals and cops in particular. And phrenology. There are humor and funny lines sprinkled here and there but not as much as in some of his books.

The Night Watch is in terrible form. Taking bribes is business as usual and the Watch men also deliver prisoners to the Unmentionables, without ever having to confront the fact that they are bringing helpless people to torturers. Of course, Vimes has to take over and teach them to be real cops.

Most of the cast is new and those few which are familiar are, in fact, younger versions of themselves: Fred Colon as a young constable, Reg Shoe (before he became a zombie he was an avid revolutionist), Nobby Nobbs (a street urchin), Dibbler just starting out on his vendor career, and Vetinari who is an apprentice assassin. I found this refreshing. The Agony Aunts were especially interesting new characters (or at least new to me).

Especially interesting book for Vimes fans.
“Who knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men? A copper, that’s who.”

”The Assassin moved quietly from roof to roof until he was well away from the excitement around the Watch House. His movements could be called cat-like, except that he did not stop to spray urine up against things.”

“No! Please! I’ll tell you whatever you want to know!” the man yelled.
“Really?” said Vimes. “What’s the orbital velocity of the moon?”
“What?”
“Oh, you’d like something simpler?”

”People on the side of The People always ended up dissapointed, in any case. They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward-thinking or obedient. The People tended to be small-minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn’t that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.
As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn’t measure up.”

”Raising the flag and singing the anthem are, while somewhat suspicious, not in themselves acts of treason.”

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