It’s August (Really? Already?) and for this month, I’ll be reviewing Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett, because I promised to review something lighter to cleanse the pallet of Karen Miller’s dirge.
Men at Arms takes place in Discworld shortly after the events of Guards! Guards! (If you have not read Guards! Guards!, I’d strongly suggest you go back and read it before reading Men at Arms or you won’t know what’s going on) Captain Vimes has just announced his retirement from the City Guard to marry the richest lady in all Ankh-Morpork. His decision doesn’t sit well with him, because he leaves the safety of the city to Corporal Carrot and the new recruits, which include a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf. Before Vimes takes his leave, he must first help Carrot solve a series of murders committed with a strange new weapon called a gonne. As usual, the Patrician and the various guilds get in the way. And then there’s the unearthing of an ancient document that reveals the identity of the lost king. The only problem is, he doesn’t want the job.
Admittedly, I did not enjoy Men at Arms as much as I did Guards! Guards! The humor was good, but I did not find myself laughing out loud as often. Also, I was not in suspense over who the murderer was or what the weapon was. It was all a little too obvious. Still, as always, I enjoyed Pratchett’s whit and humor. The characters were fun, especially some of the newer ones such as Detritus the Troll and Cuddy the dwarf. Personally, I enjoyed the romance between Carrot and Angua, but even that could have been better developed.
My favorite part of the book was when Captain Vimes got hold of the gonne. It’s not a particularly comedic scene, (actually, it was very dramatic) but Pratchett pulls it off well. It’s a psychological roller coaster ride that makes an interesting statement about guns and power.
Overall, I really did enjoy the novel, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, Brittish humor, and good writing. Just make sure you’ve familiarized yourself with Discworld and The Watch prior to cracking the spine.
I hope you enjoyed the review. Next month, I’m hoping to have completed George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. We’ll see.