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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Feet of Clay

*****+ Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. Fantasy. Re-read.

This was my morning read with Camden. I was a little worried that with only one kid left in the house, Camden wouldn't want to continue with our breakfast read-alouds, but apparently he still likes it--at least as long as I have Jim Butcher's Codex Alera books and Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

Feet of Clay is the third Watch novel in the Discworld series, and the 19th overall.... 19th?? Huh. I didn't realize the Watch books started so far along in the series, or at least I hadn't paid that much attention. I've been reading them since Equal Rites, the third book.

Anyway, this book introduces the golems--if you know your Jewish folklore, it's a man made of clay. They can't speak, and they're animated by the words in their heads inscribed on a piece of parchment. They're the perfect workers: they're impervious to pain, cold, heat, and chemicals; they can't be killed; they don't need food or rest or companionship; they do whatever they're told, and only what they're told. Of course, sometimes this turns out like The Sorcerer's Apprentice, but that seems to be the only drawback to owning a golem. Except that people find them really creepy.

Even more so, when there's a murder and it seems evident that a golem is the murderer.

Sam Vimes, who's now the Watch Commander rather than just the Night Watch captain, is on the case, aided by his usual crew, which is growing now and becoming ever more integrated with the various races on the Discworld.

Somebody wants to restore the throne of Ankh-Morpork, and they start recruiting... Nobby Nobbs? Who's apparently the long-lost Earl of Ankh?

And the Watch gets a new crime scene alchemist, dwarf Cheery Littlebottom (don't laugh!). Cheery (later known as Cherry) is female (it's not easy to tell with dwarfs), and now that she's in the big city, she wants to become more feminine, and looks to Angua for advice. The only problem is that Cherry is vehemently prejudiced against werewolves.

I think those are the major plot threads. As is usual in Discworld novels, particularly the later ones, there are a lot of threads, but they all fit together in the end.

Feet of Clay includes a nice whodunit that's very much a police procedural, particularly given Cherry's crime scene investigations. It also answers the questions--in Discworld fashion--of what it means to be human, what it means to be royal, and what it means to be female. There's a good helping of emotion surrounding all these questions, particularly as applied to golem Dorfl, and to werewolf Angua.

And of course, all this deep thought is cushioned by lots and lots of humor, making it practically painless.

This is one of my favorite Discworld books, because there's so much emotion and truth in it, there's a good mystery, and of course plenty of humor. All the elements are perfectly balanced and it's just an awe-inspiring joy to read. Of couse, "favorite" is relative--I've never yet found a Discworld book that I didn't absolutely love.

We've started reading Jingo now--it seems eerily timely, despite the fact that it's 11 years old now.

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It is great to see that your son Camden like to continue the morning reading at breakfast times. And it even wonderful to see mother and son enjoying reading together too.

Sound like it was a good reading and that it became a favorite :)
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