I've always been something of a heretic in the geek community in that I think Tolkien is overrated anyway. As far as I'm concerned Pratchett is a way superior writer, not only in terms of literary skill, but also in terms of messaging. Tolkien's message, such as it is, is indeed easy to miss what with all the Wagneresque pomp and the manichean worldview that often allows readers to figure out where characters stand on the moral scale by how far they stray from Englishness. Whereas it's a lot more difficult to come out of a Discworld novel not having reached the conclusion that jingoism isn't a good thing, that people of different backgrounds and identities can and should get along with a modicum of goodwill, and that the world becomes a better place when we open ourselves up to new ways of looking at it.That fantasy section is usually stuffed with overextended trilogies of eleven numbered books, getting more and more brick-thick as you go, and frequently starring characters that rip off Tolkien while missing the message of ”The Lord of the Rings”
WRONGYet even if we look at the story purely from the view of a character study of Vimes, there are still issues with it. Easily the biggest of these is that Vimes has an arc in which he despairs, fears he will never get back to the present (or the present may cease to exist altogether thanks to Carcer’s actions) and needs something, a connection back there, to inspire him to carry on. He is constantly at war with ‘the beast’ inside himself (a working title for the book was “The Nature of the Beast”) and an important moment at the end is when he doesn’t kill Carcer but sends him to the hangman, the law overruling the beast. To return to this moment of despair, the History Monks give him that solid connection with the past, and it’s…a silver cigar case Sybil gave him, which was stolen before he woke up in the past. Now this sequence could have been very powerful, and I know some readers do find it so, so this is subjective. But I cannot get over the fact that this is an item that was never mentioned before this book, and by the time the sequence rolls around, I’d forgotten it was even mentioned at the beginning of this one. I realise that it would be a tall order to have established an item many books in advance for a purpose that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen, and it is possible to make the argument that it was established that Sybil had gotten Vimes on cigars as a substitute for his past alcoholism so it is a link to the present in that way – but it smacked too much of ‘remember this important McGuffin we totally just didn’t make up on the spur of the moment’ to me. I feel this could have been handled a lot better.
I strongly object to that.Carcer is evil Valjean
Yeah, there a quiet and dignified tragedy to the character, but I don't think Thande's own view of revolutions allow him to see it.It's been a few years since I've last read Night Watch but I remember the Reg Shoe reveal really working for me - not that he was a past activist, that just seemed like "ha ha Reg Shoe", but that you learn the reason he's a zombie is he was betrayed & cut down. Suddenly he's not just a running gag but someone who meant what he said and was killed for it.
Right but there's literal references to Carcer saying Vimes is after him for stealing bread.I strongly object to that.
Yes, in the sense that Valjean is facing Javert, but no, since the most evil Valjean was involved him reflexively stealing after spending nineteen years doing forced labour in jail (for a good deed!) while Carcer does crime because he likes to cause suffering. Since Valjean's entire purpose in life after his reformation is to be good and do good including at the cost of his own happiness on several occasions, evil Valjean is a contradiction in terms. Carcer is just evil and a criminal.
As for Javert, his whole point is that Lawful equals Good and when he is shown mercy by Valjean and understands there is more to life than this dogma, it breaks him. He writes a long letter pleading for more humaneness in prisons as a way to foster rehabilitation in convicts, then goes to commit suicide since he can't reconcile himself to having been wrong so long and with so damaging consequences. Vimes never needed to be told the law and good did not perfectly coincide. He's not a good Javert, he's just a good and dedicated cop.
I suppose I object because to me Les Misérables is a novel before it is a musical and so the pastiche can never quite land. And we're told the bread line as a transparent lie by a serial murderer looking for some sympathy.Right but there's literal references to Carcer saying Vimes is after him for stealing bread.
It's a take on Les Mis with the motivations and audience sympathy switched so obviously characterisation doesn't line up but it's very much a Les Mis pastiche.
It does spoil the part in Jingo where Reg is recruited into the Watch. At that point Vimes has to be told who he is, which really shouldn’t have been necessary given that young Vimes had met him in Night Watch. (Cue muttering about the Trousers of Time).It's been a few years since I've last read Night Watch but I remember the Reg Shoe reveal really working for me - not that he was a past activist, that just seemed like "ha ha Reg Shoe", but that you learn the reason he's a zombie is he was betrayed & cut down. Suddenly he's not just a running gag but someone who meant what he said and was killed for it.