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Feet of Clay

Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett, Harper & Prism, Paperback edition 1997, ISBN 0-06-105764-9

The distinguished members of the rabble do not read things like discworld novels; said novels are too coarse and vulgar in their humor and are not properly in touch with literary concerns. Being an undistinguished member of the rabble, I read them and enjoy them very much.

Feet of Clay is not the latest Discworld novel to appear in print; Pratchett has been grinding them out with great enthusiasm of late. However this is the latest paperback edition to hit the stands.

If I am not mistaken there are currently 19 Discworld novels. Like all series there are a few clinkers in the bunch (opinions differ as to which ones are the clinkers.) This is one of the big winners.

For those who might never have read anything by him, Terry Pratchett is a humorist. He deals in broad humor. He does not lay it on with a trowel; no, he pours it on with heavy duty construction earth movers. The discworld novels are broad satires of modern genre fantasy and anything else that occurs to Pratchett to satirize. They are filled with fantastic flights of fantasy, improbable footnotes, bizarre and endearing characters, races and cultures that should not be believed, and the occasional observation of surprising subtlety.

Discworld fans will be sorry to hear that the luggage does not appear in FOC. I wouldn’t be surprised if the luggage is everybody’s favorite character. Cohen the Barbarian is not there either, nor are the three witches.

FOC is set in the city of Ankh-Morpork, which is sort of a cross between Lankhmar, Monty Python, and the Casbah. Ankh-Morpork has the usual – there is a thieves guild and an assassins guild. The character of Ankh-Morpork is exmplified by its river which is so polluted that it does not flow through the city – it ambles through.

This particular novel features the watch, the religious problems of golems, the mysterious poisoning of the patrician, dubious heraldry, and a friendship between two females, one a werewolf and the other a dwarf. I suppose you could call it a mystery if you were really determined.

Battle Cry of the Dwarfs: “Today Is A Good Day For Someone Else To Die!” I like it much better than the Sioux “Today Is A Good Day To Die!”

I won’t explain the plot – it would be a spoiler and besides I’m not sure I’m up to it. The plot is a little complex, not that it matters. However I would like to note that it has a plot and that Pratchett apparently plotted it out before hand.

This is surprising. I never thought about it before but if I had I would have supposed that he just made this stuff up as he went along. It’s one of the ways of writing – you start out with a general idea of what’s going to happen and improvise as you go along. Discworld novels have that feel. However I caught the master with his hand in the cookie jar – there are little bits of foreshadowing that indicate that he knew early in the book what was happening later in the book. Mind you, this is not a reliable cue. One can build an entire plot around a bit of business that one has thrown off. However you can usually tell whether a story was built back to front or front to back.

Good book. Good read. Recommended.

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This page was last updated September 15, 1997.
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