The Night Watch is an organization that see’s all men as equals whether they be human, dwarf (both actual and adopted), troll, or werewolves of the female gender. In “Men at Arms” Terry Pratchett allows the male chauvinist speciesist Sam Vines to retire upon his marriage to Lady Sybil Ramkin instead of lead this new Watch, or at least that was the plan until someone decides to make Ankh-Morpork a monarchical city-state once again which upsets Vimes more than equal opportunity.
Captain Vimes’ last week in charge of the Night Watch finds himself embroiled in a plot to restore the monarchy in Ankh-Morpork which is leaving a trail of bodies across the city with a new type of weapon, the gonne, and causing tensions to rise as well as anarchy (even more than usual). In addition, the Watch has new recruits from different ethnicities, which on the Disc means species sense racism doesn’t exist. After the Patrician overdoes his criticism, as a form of reverse psychology, Vimes loses his motivation and prepares to join the aristocracy with his impending wedding. Stepping into the void comes Corporal Carrot Ironfoundersson who takes charge not only of the Watch but of the investigation into a string of crimes related to one another while also being the focal point of the plot to return the monarchy, which he doesn’t know about.
Pratchett weaves together a magnificently written and humorous main story arc with several subplots that cross paths in hilarious ways before all coming together in the end to form a perfect ending, well except for one little thing which I’ll get to later. The interactions between the new dwarf and troll Watch recruits Cuddy and Detritus, who come from species that really dislike one another, produces some of the best scenes in the book. Character growth of Carrot and Vimes personal crisis throughout the book are equally hilarious as well as mirroring one another, only adding to the overall quality of the book. The canine relationship of Watch recruit Angua, a werewolf, and Gaspode the talking dog is a good subplot that has a few elements that seem a bit off (Big Fido the Psycho Poodle and Gaspode scene at the very end of the book) and ruin a perfectly written ending.
The second entry of the Discworld’s Night Watch series, following “Guards! Guards!” is simply hilarious and a joy to read for anyone who enjoys fantasy or humor or both. I can’t recommend this book more.