Pratchat 01 Men at Arms

Pratchat – A Terry Pratchett book club podcast
Welcome to Pratchat! In this special 10-minute introductory episode, Liz and Ben talk about their first Pratchett experiences, introduce the Discworld, and put forward their cases for which book they should read first, Mort, or Men at Arms, before announcing the winner of the closely contested public poll. (2017-Oct-08)
🔊 Episode 0 – And the Winner is…

And the Winner is… It was Men at Arms! So get yourself a copy and get reading, as we’ll be discussing it on the very first proper episode, which will be released on November 8th. We’ll probably even have art and a theme tune and everything by then! In the meantime, you can watch this site for more info about the book itself, and our plans – including some thoughts about our long-term reading order. —

Men at Arms!
Terry Pratchett – Men at Arms (1993)
(The Watch #2,Discworld #15) 🎧
“Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!”
But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Detritus (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).
And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is ANKH-MORPORT we’re talking about…

According to LSpace’s Discworld reading order guide (v2.0), Men at Arms is the second book in The Watch Novels thread of Discworld books, so we have jumped Guards! Guards! to start here. ( Updated to Discworld reading order guide (v2.21) ). That said, There’s No Wrong Place To Start Reading Pratchett.
The Watch Novels

🔊 Episode 1 – Boots Theory

The Watch
The Watch stories are largely police procedurals, featuring crimes that have heavy political or societal overtones. Pratchett uses the Watch to explore prejudice, humanity, racism, bigotry and genocide. Big questions are put forward and poked carefully in this series, sometime poked with a very big stick.

❝ The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness. ❞

Regarding names;
* Captain Angua von Überwald: Terry Pratchett writes on the forum: “it’s Ang as in Anger, u as in you, a as in a thing”
* Detritus: all of the early Discworld Troll names have a geological link (eg. Flint and Morraine). This would give Detritus the (/dɪˈtraɪtəs/, dih-trahy-tuh s ) pronunciation.

The Gonne
Gonne ❝The Gonne, like so many other recent technological devices in Discworld, was invented by Leonard of Quirm. As usual, he had the best of intentions when he devised it, but it turned out to be one of the most dangerous weapons ever conceived in the history of the Disc.
With almost supernatural power, the Gonne can possess the mind of the man who uses it. It shows him the power he has in his hands, and erases all scruples by telling him what could be achieved with this power.The weapon is powered by a kind of firework mechanism. It consists of a long tube with a feed mechanism for 6 small cartridges that can be fired quickly and with dangerous accuracy over a long distance. This fact makes the Gonne much more dangerous than the common crossbows.❞

Race relations

❝ Hah! Watchmen like old Kepple would turn in their graves if they knew that the Watch had taken on a w– ❞


To understand why dwarfs and trolls don’t like each other you have to go back a long way. They get along like chalk and cheese. Very like chalk and cheese, really. One is organic, the other isn’t, and also smells a bit cheesy. Dwarfs make a living by smashing up rocks with valuable minerals in them and the silicon-based lifeform known as trolls are, basically, rocks with valuable minerals in them. In the wild they also spend most of the daylight hours dormant, and that’s not a situation a rock containing valuable minerals needs to be in when there are dwarfs around. And dwarfs hate trolls because, after you’ve just found an interesting seam of valuable minerals, you don’t like rocks that suddenly stand up and tear your arm off because you’ve just stuck a pick-axe in their ear.
It was a state of permanent inter-species vendetta and, -like all good vendettas, didn’t really need a reason any more. It was enough that it had always existed. Dwarfs hated trolls because trolls hated dwarfs, and vice versa.

[1] The Annotated Pratchett File v9.0 – Men at Arms

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