Terry Pratchett

Feet of Clay

Victor Gollancz, 1996

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This review is based upon the German translation by Andreas Brandhorst.

Odd things are happening in Ankh-Morpork, the biggest city on the Discworld. Two capital crimes are puzzling Commander Vimes and his City Watch: a harmless old priest is found murdered in his house, under his fingernails he has some sort of grime containing arsenic, and the owner of the Dwarf Bread Museum is killed with a valuable item of the museum's collection. To top it all, the golems in the city start committing suicide and Lord Vetinari, the Patrician, is poisoned and slowly wastes away.

Since Guards! Guards!, the first City Watch book that had been praised everywhere, didn't really do much for me, maybe because the German translation I read was full of typos and most of the humour was lost, it took me a while before I felt ready to pick up another book featuring this cast of characters. Even in German translation Feet of Clay was so funny that Terry Pratchett's Discworld books moved up a good deal on my pile of unread books.

You could call it a Discworld mystery, but solving the crime isn't the most important thing here; even more important are the characters, as in all Discworld books. The City Watch is an odd crowd consisting of all sorts of creatures (including humans), because since Captain Carrot, a more than six foot tall dwarf (we learn in Guards! Guards! that he was adopted) is responsible for recruiting new members, only vampires aren't allowed to join. Corporal Cheri Littlebottom, a newly recruited dwarf, seems to be the ideal person to deal with the murder at the museum, but for a dwarf, he seems to have some really weird opinions, mainly about other dwarfs and their way of life. While he is still busy figuring out if the rumour that there is a werewolf in the City Watch is true, his colleague Angua is much more perceptive and tries to make life easier for him, in a way that seriously puzzles Captain Carrot and Commander Vimes who – as typical males - just don't get what it is all about.

Feet of Clay is tremendous fun and will make you want to discover more Discworld books. However, you should read Guards! Guards! first to fully appreciate it.

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