Men at Arms Discussion **Spoilers**

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Postby Bouncy Castle » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:32 am

I loved the Cuddy/Detritus relationship, and was most miffed when Cuddy was killed.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:36 am

We've never really had a 'proper' dwarf character in the Watch since. Yes there are dwarfs in the Watch, but they seldom play an important role. And Cheery is hardly a typical dwarf.

But I agree, the scenes between the two of them were really good. :D
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Postby raisindot » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:07 pm

[Future book spoilers ahead]

I don't think Carrot's "charisma" and his ability to influence others is based on the belief of people that he is the rightful king. After all, MAA is the book that really introduces this idea, and even here the idea doesn't go far beyond the high and mighty of AM.

Carrot truly does possess an innate ability to rule people, not by force by sheer will of personality. Part of this is bound up in his unshaken belief that every sentient thing--alive, undead, or golem--is ultimately good, deserves to be treated with respect and can be convinced to act in their better nature.

As Angua will later say in TFE, in the old days Carrot would have been the kind of king would wear leaves in his hair and dispense sage advice under an old tree--his kingly authority comes naturally to him, rather than taken by force.

In MAA, you really can see Pterry's struggle to determine which 'copper' will ultimately lead the Watch. In the beginning, it sppears that Carrot will be that person, and he carries most of the story. It doesn't matter that he's two-dimensional; the style of the early parts of MAA is much closer to the "jokey" style of Guards! Guards! By the end, you see that Pterry has pretty much decided that Vimes will remain in control of the Watch. Carrot's 'forcing' of the issue metaphorically represents Pterry's narrative decision, although we won't be quite sure of how Vimes will evolve until Feet of Clay, where we get the first glimpses of the 'ultimate copper' he will become.
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Postby SimsKatie » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:00 pm

Tonyblack wrote:We've never really had a 'proper' dwarf character in the Watch since. Yes there are dwarfs in the Watch, but they seldom play an important role. And Cheery is hardly a typical dwarf.


I'm fascinated by the dwarfs in Discworld, which if I'm not mistaken, we start to get our first clear look at here in terms of culture and identity (the audience is aware of them in previous books, but here they move out of fantasy parody race for the first time) I've often wondered which Roundworld group they're supposed to parallel, but the more I think about it the more it appears to be that Pterry has created something unique.
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Postby raisindot » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:00 pm

Tonyblack wrote:We've never really had a 'proper' dwarf character in the Watch since. Yes there are dwarfs in the Watch, but they seldom play an important role. And Cheery is hardly a typical dwarf.

:D


But no one in the Watch is a typical "anything." Detritus isn't a typical troll--he's savvy, street-smart, and has a strong sense of where the political wind is blowing even when it's not freezing cold out. Angua isn't the typical werewolf; she's in control of her 'inner wolf,' obeys (and enforces) the law, and suffers from a lack of self-confidence. Dorfl isn't the typical golem; he is the first truly 'free' member of his species. Buggy isn't the typical Feegle, since he's a loner and law enforcer instead of law-breaker. And Sally isn't the typical vampire; she doesn't try to dominate and rule everyone around her. And Nobby--well, he's not a typical anything.

For a dwarf, I think Cheery is a much more interesting character than Cuddy was. Unfortunately, her character hasn't had that much of a chance to develop all that much over the course of the series other than as a lynchpin of cultural change among the dwarfs.
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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:14 am

Why do you think everyone finds it so difficult to destroy the Gonne?
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Postby meerkat » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:38 am

Gods alone knows what Leonard de Quirm put in it to make it as it was!:shock:
Then again, the gonne is all power and power corrupts.
Humans and probably dwarves, if they let themselves go, would appreciate that power ... the only way to get what you really want is to annihilate your enemy/friend/contact ...even Vetinari knew and recognised that fact, yet was able to recognise it and demand it was destroyed (what a guy! 8) ).

However, giving the gonne to the Assassins was like giving a child a sweetie
. They would never want anything so beautiful, so deadly, destroyed but kept at the Guild, in their museum - where it seemed safe enough until De'Ath came along and released it (twit cum nutter wot he was).

Was this all part of Lord V's plan - that the assassins would knock out someone Vetinari did not approve of?
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Postby swreader » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:15 pm

The "gonne" (hereafter gun) is interesting in some ways because of what it shows about people. Leonard regrets (to some degree) having made it because he never thinks about people actually using any of his inventions as a means of harming others. d'Eath seems to have known about its existence from being at the Assassin's school for so long. It's not at all clear that it has the kind of hold on him it does on the others, as he is apparently temperamentally unsuited for killing people. He's very apologetic and upset about Beano and after the gun (in it's own right) kills Hammerhock, he comes all upset to Dr. Cruces (who promptly kills him). It's not clear what the difference in the plan of putting Carrot on the throne is between these two--it seems to me that Cruces is actually more drawn by the lure of the gun than any other reason.

But as Terry has drawn the gun, it has a spirit (an idea he will also use in Soul Music) which to some degree takes charge of the individual who has it. The gun seems to try to find something in each individual--a power they'd like to have--and try to force them to use it. And the gun fights hard to keep it's own uniqueness--no other guns, just it. Even Carrot, who is unreal enough to be untouched by it and see it only as a device, notes that it's one of a kind, and as his father used to say, "something special". Even Vetinari was unable to destroy it--though one can speculate as to why he decided (or was persuaded by the gun) to give it to the Assassins, who were equally unable to destroy it.

I think Meerkat has the point -- power is what the gun confers on it's humans. And it wants to kill--

Does make me think of Rick Perry and his gun for running??
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:48 pm

But does the Gonne have a life of its own? Or is it the idea of the Gonne and what it can do that seduces people? We see, in the book, what appears to be the voice of the Gonne. But is it? Or is it the voice of the person holding the Gonne and the power that they feel.

I always remember the first time I held a proper gun (my sergeant would be most annoyed to hear me call a rifle a gun. :lol: ) - there is a feeling of power there. The thought that you could point at someone at a distance, pull the trigger and that person would be dead. I've been on night exercises in the pitch dark where holding even an unloaded rifle gives a feeling of security.

Terry is, I think, in this book, addressing some of the fascination that people have for guns. :)
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Postby Penfold » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:47 pm

Having fired guns myself (for fun and practice at stationary targets) I know what you are talking about Tony. I also had to carry a gun when I was escorting people on safari for safety and fortunately I was never called upon to use it. I know gun clubs and enthusiasts always argue its not the gun that kills people but the person holding the gun (i.e. the gun is not responsible) and I can't help but feel that Sir Terry was taking an opposite viewpoint in this regard.
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Postby SimsKatie » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:56 pm

Tonyblack wrote:But does the Gonne have a life of its own? Or is it the idea of the Gonne and what it can do that seduces people? We see, in the book, what appears to be the voice of the Gonne. But is it? Or is it the voice of the person holding the Gonne and the power that they feel.


I think it's a combination of this and another element. Terry makes a point in this book of describing how a crossbow is loaded and fired, and the physical effort that it involves. Also, he mentions the limitations of distance and force using bolts. As far as I can recall he doesn't do either of these in any other book, and I think the point is to remind the reader that the gonne in contrast requires almost no physical effort at all. You just point it and someone - even someone quite far away - and they're dead.
The discworld isn't ready for the power of the gonne, it's the equal of a cartoon superweapon becoming suddenly real in our world. It is also completely unique, a work of art. We still preserve hideous tools of pain and cruelty from our own past, knowing they did nothing in their useful careers but evil. It isn't so surprising that people couldn't destroy the gonne.
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Postby swreader » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:57 pm

Tonyblack wrote:But does the Gonne have a life of its own? Or is it the idea of the Gonne and what it can do that seduces people? We see, in the book, what appears to be the voice of the Gonne. But is it? Or is it the voice of the person holding the Gonne and the power that they feel.


Sorry Tony, but I think that's "utter tosh"--clearly The Gonne has a life of its own. If you doubt that, think of the death of Hammerhock. The Gonne is protecting itself by killing someone who might make others. It's a powerful being with a mind of its own. And d'Erth and Dr. Cruce and to some extent Sam all have experiences with it wanting to act on its own that I think we have to take into account.

That being said, in a curious way, it seems to me that the Gonne is roughly the equivalent of the Atomic Bomb. Oppenheimer certainly regretted developing it, and tried to limit its use. (Ahead of his time, and rather like Leonard) The problem with these dramatically different, powerful weapons is that they bring a level of threat into society which is both attractive and terribly dangerous.
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Postby jaeger » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:09 pm

Tonyblack wrote: (my sergeant would be most annoyed to hear me call a rifle a gun. :lol: )

He would be vigorously prodding buttock indeed Tony :lol:

I kinda see you all have a point really.

There is a morbid fascination for guns by those unused to handling them.
They DO almost speak to you of the power you wield when you have one in hand. Until you're trained and had a severe buttock prodding for mucking about with one.

It is a sad reflection on modern society that the gun makes small minded little people puff up into big powerfull people in their own minds eye.

I like the analogy of the cartoon weapon becoming real in a time before the place is ready for it.

In a roundabout way, I think we've all hit the nail fairly close to the head Terry has presented us.
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Postby raisindot » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:39 pm

I think the talk about the 'literal' power of the gonne is missing its metaphorical point.

The gonne isn't about the weapon itself; it's about the power it gives to its possessor.

Power is one of the central themes of this book, and there are may ways its is portrayed here. d'Earth represents the 'artificial' power of the discredited aristocracy who desires more power. Cruces and the guild leaders represent the power of the ruling class, bestowed upon them in an uneasy agreement between consenting parties (other guilds and the Patricians). Vimes's power is, at the start of the book, clearly dependent on Vetinari's willingness to give it to him; by the end, Vimes, by saving the Patrician, has earned a greater level of independent power based on the power of the Law.

In the hands of d'Eath, the gonne provides a source of power to carry out his desire to overthrow the political system. Cruces wants the gonne because it gives him a chance to get rid of the person limiting his continued amassing of political power. Even Vimes, who at this point isn't aware of that well of lawless chaos within him that ultimately become The Beast, isn't immune from the temptation the gonne provides as a means for him to enact his revenge on the power brokers who have been putting him down for so long.

The only one immune to its effects is Carrot, simply because he already possesses the kind of inner power that transcends any that the gonne could itself bestow. Carrot doesn't have political aspirations or a personal axe to grind, therefore the gonne offers no use to him.
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Postby swreader » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:59 am

I have to disagree, JiB. You're seeing this book in the light, I think, of the later books. But at this early stage of the Watch Books, I don't think Terry is writing about Power. And I'm not at all convinced by your attempt to see this as a struggle for political power.

Rather, I think that in this book Terry is exploring the possibilities of continuing to develop the Watch series as a vehicle for more serious exploration. After all, it's six years since he wrote G!G! and he's gotten his feet wet with more serious satire through Small Gods, Reaper Man and Lords & Ladies. But in this book, he is exploring what is possible with the characters--what works and what doesn't. That's probably part of the reason that none of the characters behave in any other book quite like they do here.

At the simplest level, Colon and Nobby are still funny, but not in the way they were in the previous book. And Nobby taking control and getting them into the armory is startling to the reader and to all the characters. Carrot, though he remains a flat and unrealistic character shows more depth in this book than he ever does again. Vimes goes through a crisis of change. He doesn't like the way he has lived, and he still thinks he's not worth much, but he does realize how much the Watch and being a Watchman means to him. Sybil notes the change just before Carrot turns up with the final resolution.

Sybil Vimes, nee Rankin looked at him with an expression of faint concern. For as long as she'd known him, Sam Vimes had been vibrating with the internal anger of a man who wants to arrest the gods for not doing it right, and the he'd handed in his bade and he was . . .well, not exactly Sam Vimes any more.


Vetinari learns that he is not as invincible and invulnerable as he thought. And he has a bag leg to remind him of it, and of the horrible mistake he made in dealing with Vimes and the Night Watch. He has learned that Vimes is no clockwork policeman, but a man who will take responsibility and act on it.

And The Gonne is the catalytic character that brings this all about. It is rather like the spirit of music in Soul Music in that it bends the possessor to its will by any means it thinks will work. I suspect that it knows when it's beaten--because Carrot has just stabbed Cruces through the stone. But even he picks up the gonne by the barrel and immediately destroys it. Though it's not entirely clear, I suspect that the "evidence" and the "gonne" have been laid to rest with Cuddy.
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