FEET OF CLAY
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Feet of Clay, the most recent in Terry Pratchett's long running Discworld series, is actually nearly a straight mystery. The book opens with a couple of deaths, a priest who studies comparative religions and the curator of the Dwarf Bread Museum. On top of these crimes, it seems someone is trying to poison the Patrician.
Naturally, the Ankh-Morpork City Catch moves into action. Although originally only four men, the Watch is now much larger and includes Dwarves, Trolls and the occasional werewolf.
Of all Pratchett's characters, Sir Samuel Vimes, the commander of the City Watch, is perhaps the most mainstream. Vimes looks at life using Aristotelian logic. He disagrees with Sherlock Holmes's famous dictum that when the impossible is removed, what remains, however improbable, must be true. Instead, he feels that what remains must answer to certain levels of probability. Recently raised to the nobility through his marriage to Lady Sybil Ramkin, Vimes is now in a position where he can advise the Patrician.
Although Pratchett constantly points out that Vimes doesn't like the Patrician, he shows that Vimes does respect the leader of Ankh-Morpork. Whatever the Patrician is, he is not a king, which may be the most important thing to Vimes, whose ancestor, "Old Stoneface" Vimes, killed the last king of Ankh-Morpork. Anti-monarchic sentiment is hereditary in Vimes's family. However, there is a movement within Ankh-Morporkian society to replace the Patrician with a monarch, especially now that he seems to be on the verge of dying.
As Pratchett has hinted in previous books, the rightful heir to the throne is Corporal Carrot, a member of Vimes's own City Watch. Although Carrot, a six and a half foot tall human raised as a dwarf, has shown no inclination to take the crown which many think should be his, the forces of history may be too strong for him to avoid his rightful position. Or, they may find a more willing and malleable candidate for the throne of Ankh-Morpork.
Feet of Clay moves reasonably well, providing the readers with several mysteries which can be solved with the clues provided. Pratchett's ability to weave clues and red herrings is good, and hints he passes over early in the book come to play a role later in the book.
I recently made the comment that when Pratchett is "on", his books are fantastic, and when he is "off", his books are good. In Feet of Clay, Pratchett shows what it means when he is on. Although the book may not have quite as many laugh out loud moments as some of his earlier books, it has a good plot and story line, showing that Pratchett is a novelist as well as an humorist.
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