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    Review of FEET OF CLAY by Terry Pratchett (see his website)


    Harper Prism, 1996

    It started with two old men--a priest and a baker--both murdered. Then the Patrician Vetinari himself is poisoned, but the watch can find no evidence of how he is being poisoned. When a golem confesses, it appears that Commander Vimes and the city watch have solved the case--but the golem confesses to all the unsolved crimes in the city. There is something going on and Vimes can't find the connecting thread. His new forensics officer, Cheery Littlebottom (a dwarf who wants to be seen as female and feminine despite all dwarf traditions) finds evidence of arsenic, but nowhere near Vetinari. Instead, one of the murdered men has arsenic under his finger-nails--this despite the fact that he died because his head was bashed in.

    Under Vetinari, the city of Ankh-Morpork has prospered. Vetinari has allowed all races into the city, making it wealthy. He has cut down on the inter-guild sniping, resulting in more of Ankh-Morpork's efforts going into production rather than into wasteful shootouts. As a result, he has scarcely any supporters. Desite history, the people and nobility yearn for a King. Vimes will do whatever he can to ensure that doesn't happen, but what can a watchman do against the power of the guilds?

    Underlying the Ankh-Morpork economy are the golems. Golems work endlessly for no pay, taking all of the worst jobs without complaining. This ultimate proletariat isn't even considered alive. Because Vimes is equal opportunity in his contempt, he doesn't mind looking beneath the surface, but still, what possible motives would golems have in overthrowing Vetinari and installing a King?

    Author Terry Pratchett (see more reviews of novels by Pratchett) keeps the laughter coming in this story. Although FEET OF CLAY lacks the character development and nuances of some of the other Discworld stories (see our review of the 2002 SF Book of the Year NIGHT WATCH), it an enjoyable short read. Vetinari, Vimes, and Captain Carrot all show moments of brilliance and manage to do so in amusing ways. Carrot's bumbling affair with the were Agula continues as Agula continues to wonder what she should do and Carrot continues inviting her to Dwarf Bread exibits. Fans of the Discworld series will find FEET OF CLAY an important addition to the series. If you are new to the series, you might consider starting with one of the other novels (NIGHT WATCH or GUARDS! GUARDS! would be excellent places to start).

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 6/09/03

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