raisindot wrote:I don't agree that the SD was in any way necessary. It showed up once in the story, and never again. There is no 'darkness' in Vimes at all in Snuff. The outrage that often led the Beast to show its ugly face is completely gone. He is completely in control at every step. He gleefully uses his power as both Watchman and aristocrat to manipulate people and event the way he wants to.
I wouldn't say he was gleeful about it. He agonizes over it (pg.252 US h/c, just before Stoner brings the Cease and Desist order). However, he has matured in the unseen five years, and in this book we see Vimes in a position very much like what I think Vetinari was in when he first took over. Vimes is in a place that has not, so far, acknowledged any real submission to Ankh-Morpork. It is a county run by a bunch of rich people, two days by coach away from the city, and with one hereditary village constable. (It's pretty close to the Wild West, complete with riverboats.) Vimes is dragooned into going by a combination of Vetinari and Sybil, and it's shown in a conversation (pg.10-11 US h/c) with Drumknott that Vetinari knows there is a situation there and he has sent Vimes and Sybil because he knows Vimes will find it, much as he sent Vimes into Uberwald where Sybil's unique social talents were also of great help. Like Vetinari, Vimes has stepped into a position of power that has a history of bad management and everyone there expects him to follow suit. It's even specified that Vimes uses methods he has learned from Vetinari. Like the city in Guards! Guards!, the village has one cop who cares and who can't do much about it. Carrot arrived and supported Vimes's old beliefs, and Vetinari began to support the Watch. Feeney in the village has the support of his old mum, and has Vimes's reported training to inspire him; when Vimes supports and improves Feeney's attempts at real policing, the parallel is very close. In an odd way, we are watching Vetinari's rise to real power mirrored by Vimes. Even Vetinari's careful checks and balances and deals behind the scenes are paralleled by Vimes's interactions with the barkeeper and other local powers.
raisindot wrote:This is a far cry from the "Vetinari's Terrier," "Blackboard Monitor" or the "Not the Sharpest Blade" Vimes of earlier books, when Vimes is manipulated by others to arrive at a conclusion he would not have arrived at as quickly on his own.
I see Vimes still being manipulated to some extent, but only by Vetinari, Sybil, and, somewhat, by Willikins acting as Drumknott in some ways. I feel that this book would be lessened if it were just another Vimes-gets-manipulated story. It is the story of Vimes coming into his own, learning to deal with the power he has as an aristocrat as well as a police commander. He even has his own bowler-hatted gameskeepers.
raisindot wrote:Having the SD here as little more than an informant not only trivializes its importance, but also demonstrates that by this point Vimes is completely invincible--like Superman without any kryptonite around. Over the course of the books, Vimes' major appeal was that there was always something in him that made him feel fearful and inadequate. In Snuff, his supreme self confidence, to the point that he can even consort with ancient transdimensional entities on a first name basis, is the major flaw of the book.
Vimes is still uncomfortable in "polite society" (where, again, Sybil deliberately uses his plain speaking to help a friend who made the mistake of bringing up most of her daughters as conformists). He is not at all confident on horseback. He is astonished and defeated by the auriential martial arts of both Feeney and his old mother. There's plenty of uncertainty and a good deal of fear on the river. I feel that the SD had to be acknowledged and shown to be fully under Vimes's control, but that it wasn't the point of the book. The SD is not trivial; the fact that Vimes can, with care and suspicion, use it indicates Vimes's strength, not the SD's weakness. It was vital for the river-flood scene. Without it, the riverboat captain would have had to be a superhuman hero to guide the boat in darkness. There is no way Vimes could have guided the boat himself even had it been daylight. Their survival required the combination of Vimes's SD-given night-sight and the captain's experience and perfect memory.