Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby raptornx01 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:26 am

Heh, glad I wasn't the only one fascinated by the descriptions of the streets and the city layout. Dunno why that interests me but it does. :D

The other thing that struck me about the book was this overwhelming sense of dread. it's why I consider it one of the darkest books in the series. Not because of what happens, but the feeling. the first time going through it the fear and the looming doom was palpable. For those that read it, I would liken it to the short story version of "The Birds" or the movie "Signs". like you feel something coming. you get the sense the entire thing is taking place in the dead of night, and its pitch black every where except where the characters are. Except that isn't true, and really a fair bit of the early part of the revolution is during the day. But it does feel that way.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:58 pm

I agree with you totally. Along with Small Gods, Monstrous Regiment and parts of Thud, I'd put Night Watch down as Pterry's most 'serious' DW book.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby Margi » Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:23 am

I love Vimes' cameo in Monstrous Regiment. Lounging by the door making faces behind Lord Rust, and then: 'Well, I used to be a sergeant,' as he walks off to deal with the nobs. I could so see him behind those doors where we did not go. 8-)
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:21 am

I've been rereading NW (Actually I've been rereading aLL the Watch books again for the umpteenth time, partly because I'm curious to do so bearing in mind some of the points made on this here discussion board!).

'Night Watch' seems to be a real fan favourite, and while I do like it a lot, it's not really one of mine... I don't feel it paid off, or really developed, a lot of the most interesting stuff it set up. The heart of the story - the emotional core - relied on us sympathising deeply with a 'band of brothers (or sisters)' that, in the main, just weren't rounded out enough for me to feel very strongly about. There's potentially interesting characters there - Ned Coates, Sergeant Knock, young Colon but none of them are really developed to the point I cared terribly about them. Even Swing was killed after about two appearances. Despite the hints made about the terrible things done on his watch, I hadn't worked up any real hate for the character before Vimes killed him. Characters like Nancyball and Wiglet barely made an impression. If I compare how I felt about the deaths in NW to how I felt about, for instance, Cuddy's death in M@A - well, I was given a lot more to go on with caring about Cuddy.

Vimes' relationship with his younger self was a strand I felt partcularly frustrated by. I know the monks are keen to stress this isn't a stable time-loop thing - the real John Keel did teach our version of Vimes everything he knew, not Vimes!Keel. But every time I read the book I find myself yearning for more of an arc between old and young Sam. It seems like an opportunity for them both to learn more from each other than they do. Plus the way the book is set up at the beginning, with Sybil about ready to pop, suggests to me that a lot of the emotional drive is going to be Vimes preparing himself to be a father - his trip into his own past, and intro confronting 'the beast', feel like they should be related to a struggle to reconcile his darker side and his cynical opinion of the world with his imminent fatherhood. He literally gets to mentor his younger self, but apart from the one line about being 'good at teaching people to walk', that parallel wasn't really explored.

I think both problems come down mostly to a bit of a problem with pacing. Vimes arrives in Old!AM, what three days before the barricade-building day? It feels like he should have been given more time in the past. A lot of the threads - his mentoring of young Sam, and themes were the sort that begged a far slower pace.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:20 pm

DreadfulKata wrote:'Night Watch' seems to be a real fan favourite, and while I do like it a lot, it's not really one of mine... I don't feel it paid off, or really developed, a lot of the most interesting stuff it set up. The heart of the story - the emotional core - relied on us sympathising deeply with a 'band of brothers (or sisters)' that, in the main, just weren't rounded out enough for me to feel very strongly about.

I find that the heart of the story for me is Vimes's dilemma, wanting desperately to go home and yet also wanting to make things better than they are where he is. Most time travel stories won't let the protagonist change anything, reducing them to helpless witnesses. It's the emotional stress of someone trapped in his own past, knowing what he knows now but told that he can't make any changes unless he's willing to give up everything he has achieved and everything he loves.

DreadfulKata wrote:Vimes preparing himself to be a father - his trip into his own past, and intro confronting 'the beast', feel like they should be related to a struggle to reconcile his darker side and his cynical opinion of the world with his imminent fatherhood. He literally gets to mentor his younger self, but apart from the one line about being 'good at teaching people to walk', that parallel wasn't really explored.

It's not deeply explored, but he does realize that he wasn't always as cynical as he quickly became.

DreadfulKata wrote:Vimes arrives in Old!AM, what three days before the barricade-building day? It feels like he should have been given more time in the past. A lot of the threads - his mentoring of young Sam, and themes were the sort that begged a far slower pace.

Possibly, but Vimes was very busy. He didn't have a lot of time to spend with younger-self, and if he had, it would have caused trouble as people would have been jealous. I spend some of my time reading book reviews on the net, and more often than not, I see complaints about how slow the books are and how long it takes for the action to start. I almost never see anyone complaining about too-rapid pacing. If I recall correctly, most of the Watch books take place in less than a week.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:17 pm

Interesting views, DreadfulKata. I agree that I find NW to be more difficult to re-read than most of the other Watch books.

I don't find it incongrous that Keel/Vimes doesn't spend a lot of time mentoring Young Vimes. For one thing, Keel/VImes has so much to do and so little time to do it in that he can't possibly give YV the time he needs. Secondly, we should assume that Keel himself did teach Vimes things before the time where the older Vimes appears and took his place. Third, let's remember that the Vimes of NW is the "full realized" Vimes who really didn't come into his own until Feet of Clay. The Vimes of Guards! Guards! is mostly a one-dimensional, powerless drunk who is essentially forced into heroism by Lady Sybil and Carrot. The Vimes of Men at Arms begins to show signs of the Vimes who will be, but for the most part Carrot drives the action of that book. Young Sam is much closer to the Vimes of G!G! than to the Vimes of Night Watch. Fourth, well, Keel/Vimes is simply embarrassed at Young Sam's mediocrity, and doesn't want to spend too much time with him since YS reminds him of who he used to be. He only wants to give YS enough skills to survive to become the fully realized Vimes of the later books.

As far as tying the past to Vimes' approaching fatherhood, I think one of the more powerful emotional themes of the book is Keel/Vimes' realization that he really enjoys being in 'past' AM so much that he's beginning to forget about his 'future life.' This is what puts him at a momentary existential crisis that the monks resolve by sending his cigarette case to him.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:50 pm

You guys both make good points.

I'd question this...
raisindot wrote:Secondly, we should assume that Keel himself did teach Vimes things before the time where the older Vimes appears and took his place.


My interpretation was that Vimes dropped into the timeline (and replaces Keel) at the point Keel was coming to the city for the first time. If Keel had already been around in AM, mentoring Sam etc, the other Watch-memebrs would have known him and what he looked like, which they don't when Vimes turns up claiming to be Keel. And Vimes disappears at exactly the think the point in time Keel dies in the original timeline . So the timing is the same in both timelines; our Vimes knew the real Keel for the same length of time the young Vimes of the books know Vimes!Keel for (brainhurt).

raisindot wrote:Third, let's remember that the Vimes of NW is the "full realized" Vimes who really didn't come into his own until Feet of Clay. The Vimes of Guards! Guards! is mostly a one-dimensional, powerless drunk who is essentially forced into heroism by Lady Sybil and Carrot. The Vimes of Men at Arms begins to show signs of the Vimes who will be, but for the most part Carrot drives the action of that book. Young Sam is much closer to the Vimes of G!G! than to the Vimes of Night Watch.


You're right, it would be weird to see young!Sam go from wet-behint-the-ears kid to incipient badass in the space of the book, because it wouldn't really align with how we find Vimes in G!G! I think the book did very well in that sense: I can believe that young!Vimes has been instilled with a deep-rooted idea of how to be a Good Cop, which is never quite banished by the years of (presumably) getting beaten down in between the end of G!G! and beginning of NW. Keel/old!Vimes lit the pilot light of hope and determination that never quite goes out in the years between NW and G!G!, so he's ready in that book (and M@A) to start transforming into the badass we know and love.

raisindot wrote:Fourth, well, Keel/Vimes is simply embarrassed at Young Sam's mediocrity, and doesn't want to spend too much time with him since YS reminds him of who he used to be. He only wants to give YS enough skills to survive to become the fully realized Vimes of the later books.


Also true. Its one of the many parts of the book where Vimes has to accept that things have to happen in a certain way for him to re-create the future he knows - and while it's obviously important he keep his younger self alive to HAVE a future, it's also important he not try to change his younger self's path: he knows he can't arrive as his present position and wisdom without going through the years of disappointment and increasing cynicism.

My problem (such as it is) was not any of the in-universe reasoning, just how some parts were framed. It seems to me that idea of Vimes mentoring himself is set up to be much more important than the pay-off really lives up to. And as I say the parallel between Vimes' attitude towards his own younger self with his attitude towards fatherhood, was an opportunity I felt was missed rather.

=tamar wrote:I find that the heart of the story for me is Vimes's dilemma, wanting desperately to go home and yet also wanting to make things better than they are where he is.


Sorry, I should clarify - you're right; that's absolutely Vimes' emotional story. But what I meant is that this very dilemma didn't resonate with me quite as much as it should have because on one side of the dilemma, we have characters we care about deeply and want Vimes to get back to (particularly Sybil and her unborn child, of course) and on the other... meh.

I wanted more of an idea of young Vimes and his fellow lance-constables. These were Vimes' training partners, people he entered the Watch with, developed a strong bond with and then watched die horribly. I didn't get much of a sense of old!Vimes' feelings about seeing these people again. In M@A, to draw a parallel, we watch Detritus, Cuddy and Angua (particularly the first two) go through this process, so it's heartbreaking when Cuddy dies (And when you think Angua may have). There was never an chance to get attached to Wiglet or Nancyball or anyone, so while it's always sad to see young characters dying in battle, I felt no particular pang (and even having just re-read the book would be hard pressed to tell you the full list of the dead). For instance, it came as a surprise to me that Coates dies, as no doubt it surprised me the last three or four times I read the boos. He's just not that memorable as a character to me. He barely appears.


I sound like I'm laying into this book, and I don't dislike it at all. And some themes/characters are just brilliant. It just frustrates me because it feels like it has so much more potential than what it delivers on.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:05 am

DreadfulKata wrote:I'd question this...
raisindot wrote:Secondly, we should assume that Keel himself did teach Vimes things before the time where the older Vimes appears and took his place.


My interpretation was that Vimes dropped into the timeline (and replaces Keel) at the point Keel was coming to the city for the first time. If Keel had already been around in AM, mentoring Sam etc, the other Watch-members would have known him and what he looked like, which they don't when Vimes turns up claiming to be Keel. And Vimes disappears at exactly the think the point in time Keel dies in the original timeline . So the timing is the same in both timelines; our Vimes knew the real Keel for the same length of time the young Vimes of the books know Vimes!Keel for (brainhurt).


It's the double timeline problem. In timeline-Original, Keel did the teaching. Our Vimes did learn from Keel. However, in timeline-Altered, Vimes had to do the teaching exactly as Keel had done in timeline-Original. Once Our Vimes was replaced in his correct time where he was an expectant father, the two timelines merged, I assume with timeline-Original taking over, so that Our Vimes still did in fact learn from the real Keel, not from himself.

DreadfulKata wrote:My problem (such as it is) was not any of the in-universe reasoning, just how some parts were framed. It seems to me that idea of Vimes mentoring himself is set up to be much more important than the pay-off really lives up to. And as I say the parallel between Vimes' attitude towards his own younger self with his attitude towards fatherhood, was an opportunity I felt was missed rather.

I saw that as more of a problem than an opportunity for Our Vimes, along with the problem he had contemplating seeing his old mum, knowing she had died. He couldn't stand the idea of ripping off the scabs on that one, and it hurt a bit to realize just how unformed he had been.

DreadfulKata wrote:
=tamar wrote:I find that the heart of the story for me is Vimes's dilemma, wanting desperately to go home and yet also wanting to make things better than they are where he is.


Sorry, I should clarify - you're right; that's absolutely Vimes' emotional story. But what I meant is that this very dilemma didn't resonate with me quite as much as it should have because on one side of the dilemma, we have characters we care about deeply and want Vimes to get back to (particularly Sybil and her unborn child, of course) and on the other... meh.

I wanted more of an idea of young Vimes and his fellow lance-constables. These were Vimes' training partners, people he entered the Watch with, developed a strong bond with and then watched die horribly. I didn't get much of a sense of old!Vimes' feelings about seeing these people again. In M@A, to draw a parallel, we watch Detritus, Cuddy and Angua (particularly the first two) go through this process, so it's heartbreaking when Cuddy dies (And when you think Angua may have). There was never any chance to get attached to Wiglet or Nancyball or anyone, so while it's always sad to see young characters dying in battle, I felt no particular pang (and even having just re-read the book would be hard pressed to tell you the full list of the dead). For instance, it came as a surprise to me that Coates dies, as no doubt it surprised me the last three or four times I read the books. He's just not that memorable as a character to me. He barely appears.


I think it's another case of not wanting to rip off the scabs. Our Vimes had to see them die the first time, mourn them the first time - he couldn't stand to go through that again with full emotional openness, so he kept it closed off. Also, he's using all his emotional flexibility to deal with being separated from Sybil and he just doesn't have any to spare for people he has already mourned. He knows Dibbler and Nobby survived, so he can allow himself to feel the compassion he probably didn't feel as much back then, because back then he was too accustomed to the harshness of life in Ankh-Morpork to even notice. I just as little for Young Vimes as for the others, because the focus of the story is on Old Vimes; less, really, because we know Young Vimes survived and many of the others didn't.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Wed Mar 27, 2013 1:22 pm

=Tamar wrote:
DreadfulKata wrote:I'd question this...
raisindot wrote:Secondly, we should assume that Keel himself did teach Vimes things before the time where the older Vimes appears and took his place.


My interpretation was that Vimes dropped into the timeline (and replaces Keel) at the point Keel was coming to the city for the first time. If Keel had already been around in AM, mentoring Sam etc, the other Watch-members would have known him and what he looked like, which they don't when Vimes turns up claiming to be Keel. And Vimes disappears at exactly the think the point in time Keel dies in the original timeline . So the timing is the same in both timelines; our Vimes knew the real Keel for the same length of time the young Vimes of the books know Vimes!Keel for (brainhurt).


It's the double timeline problem. In timeline-Original, Keel did the teaching. Our Vimes did learn from Keel. However, in timeline-Altered, Vimes had to do the teaching exactly as Keel had done in timeline-Original. Once Our Vimes was replaced in his correct time where he was an expectant father, the two timelines merged, I assume with timeline-Original taking over, so that Our Vimes still did in fact learn from the real Keel, not from himself.


I think you've misunderstood what I was saying: I understand that our Vimes comes from the original timeline, and therefore really was mentored by Keel. But I was responding to rainsdot's post about whethere Vimes had less time in which to mentore young Vimes than Keel did in the other timeline. I was pointing out that they worked to exactly the same timescale: Vimes arrived in the AMNW at the same time Keel did in the other timeline. He 'dies at the same time. So both old!Vimes and Keel are present in AM for the same few days.

=Tamar wrote:
DreadfulKata wrote:My problem (such as it is) was not any of the in-universe reasoning, just how some parts were framed. It seems to me that idea of Vimes mentoring himself is set up to be much more important than the pay-off really lives up to. And as I say the parallel between Vimes' attitude towards his own younger self with his attitude towards fatherhood, was an opportunity I felt was missed rather.

I saw that as more of a problem than an opportunity for Our Vimes, along with the problem he had contemplating seeing his old mum, knowing she had died. He couldn't stand the idea of ripping off the scabs on that one, and it hurt a bit to realize just how unformed he had been.


I meant, opportunity for the story/Pratchett, not for Vimes to treat as an opportunity in-universe (clearly he would never think that way). I wanted the story to go there.

=Tamar wrote:I think it's another case of not wanting to rip off the scabs. Our Vimes had to see them die the first time, mourn them the first time - he couldn't stand to go through that again with full emotional openness, so he kept it closed off. Also, he's using all his emotional flexibility to deal with being separated from Sybil and he just doesn't have any to spare for people he has already mourned. He knows Dibbler and Nobby survived, so he can allow himself to feel the compassion he probably didn't feel as much back then, because back then he was too accustomed to the harshness of life in Ankh-Morpork to even notice. I just as little for Young Vimes as for the others, because the focus of the story is on Old Vimes; less, really, because we know Young Vimes survived and many of the others didn't.


I don't buy that, but fair enough. I don't think you don't get to choose what to feel emotional over. You say he's made his peace with their deaths - but wasn't the whole point of the story to take Vimes back to a time he HASN'T made his peace with? If the explanation you put forward was there in the text (Vimes thinking to himself about how he can't get to know these kids all over again because its too painful) then I'd accept it a bit more, but the issue never really comes up.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:34 pm

DreadfulKata wrote:I'd question this...
raisindot wrote:Secondly, we should assume that Keel himself did teach Vimes things before the time where the older Vimes appears and took his place.

(snips)
I understand that our Vimes comes from the original timeline, and therefore really was mentored by Keel. But I was responding to raisindot's post about whether Vimes had less time in which to mentor young Vimes than Keel did in the other timeline. I was pointing out that they worked to exactly the same timescale: Vimes arrived in the AMNW at the same time Keel did in the other timeline. He 'dies at the same time. So both old!Vimes and Keel are present in AM for the same few days.


Ah. I agree, old!Vimes and Keel spend exactly the same amount of time in old A-M.

DreadfulKata wrote:
=Tamar wrote: (Vimes) He couldn't stand the idea of ripping off the scabs on that one, and it hurt a bit to realize just how unformed he had been.

I meant, opportunity for the story/Pratchett, not for Vimes to treat as an opportunity in-universe (clearly he would never think that way). I wanted the story to go there.


If it's wrong for the character, the author shouldn't force it to happen.

DreadfulKata wrote:
=Tamar wrote:I think it's another case of not wanting to rip off the scabs. Our Vimes had to see them die the first time, mourn them the first time - he couldn't stand to go through that again with full emotional openness, so he kept it closed off. Also, he's using all his emotional flexibility to deal with being separated from Sybil and he just doesn't have any to spare for people he has already mourned. He knows Dibbler and Nobby survived, so he can allow himself to feel the compassion he probably didn't feel as much back then.


I don't buy that, but fair enough. I don't think you don't get to choose what to feel emotional over.


Sometimes you do get the choice of whether to lower the blocks. Different people, different control systems, but we know that Vimes has a very strong internal control system.

DreadfulKata wrote: You say he's made his peace with their deaths - but wasn't the whole point of the story to take Vimes back to a time he HASN'T made his peace with? If the explanation you put forward was there in the text (Vimes thinking to himself about how he can't get to know these kids all over again because its too painful) then I'd accept it a bit more, but the issue never really comes up.

I'm not sure that's the point of the story. I agree, it would be clearer if it were specified.
[edited by =Tamar to clean up the quoting.]
Last edited by =Tamar on Wed May 15, 2013 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby OneManBucket » Tue May 14, 2013 3:15 pm

I was surprised, upon my second go at reading Night Watched, to find that the actions were a direct result of the events in Thief of Time
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Tue May 14, 2013 3:31 pm

OneManBucket wrote:I was surprised, upon my second go at reading Night Watched, to find that the actions were a direct result of the events in Thief of Time

That's why it's always good to reread Pratchett! ;)

Welcome to the site, OneManBucket! :D
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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Tue May 14, 2013 5:24 pm

Tonyblack wrote:
OneManBucket wrote:I was surprised, upon my second go at reading Night Watched, to find that the actions were a direct result of the events in Thief of Time

That's why it's always good to reread Pratchett! ;)

Welcome to the site, OneManBucket! :D

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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby The Mad Collector » Tue May 14, 2013 6:33 pm

Yes, one is OneManBucket (no spaces) and the other is One Man Bucket (spaces)
One of those? Oh I'm sure I have one somewhere..

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Re: Night Watch Discussion *spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Tue May 14, 2013 6:52 pm

Yes, but it doesn't matter. The more men with buckets the better! After all, we've got at least two Cheerys as well. :mrgreen:
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