It's murder in Discworld! -- which ordinarily is no big deal. But what bothers Watch Commander Sir Sam Vimes is that the unusual deaths of three elderly Ankh-Morporkians do not bear the clean, efficient marks of the Assassins' Guild. An apparent lack of any motive is also quite troubling. All Vimes has are some tracks of white clay and more of those bothersome "clue" things that only serve to muck up an investigation. The anger of a fearful populace is already being dangerously channeled toward the city's small community of golems -- the mindless, absurdly industrious creatures of baked clay who can occasionally be found toiling in the city's factories. And certain highly placed personages are using the unrest as an excuse to resurrect a monarchy -- which would be bad enough even if the "king" they were grooming wasn't as empty-headed as your typical animated pottery.
A flat platter of a planet spinning atop the backs of four giant elephants perched on the shell of an immense turtle: it's no surprise that life on Discworld is far from mundane. Pratchett's 17th Discworld novel picks up where his last, Men at Arms, left off, following Ankh-Morpork City Watch Commander Samuel Vimes and his fellow cops as they strive to maintain a semblance of order in a city as infamous for its intrigues as for its ethnic diversity. An elderly priest is killed, then the harmless old curator of the Dwarf Bread Museum is found beaten to death with one of his own exhibits. Investigation reveals a link to the city's golems?silent, tireless workers built of clay and brought to life with magic. There's a rash of golem suicides, and Vimes uncovers a plot that could topple the government. Pratchett's latest is full of sly puns and the lively, outrageous characters his readers expect. Those new to Discworld?which first appeared in Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, 1983?will have no trouble keeping up with the action. This is fantasy served with a twist of Monty Python, parody that works by never taking itself too seriously. Author tour; U.K. and translation rights: Ralph Vicinanza.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 01, 1997
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Excerpt from Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
It a warm spring night when a fist knocked at the door so hard that the hinges bent.
A man opened it and peered out into the street. There was mist coming off the river and it was a cloudy night. He might as well have tried to see through white velvet.
But he thought afterwards that there had been shapes out there, just beyond the fight spilling out into the road. A lot of shapes, watching him carefully. He thought maybe there'd been very faint points of light ...
There was no mistaking the shape right in front of him, though. It was big and dark red and looked like a child's clay model of a man. Its eyes were two embers.
"Well? What do you want at this time of night?"
The golem handed him a slate, on which was written:
WE HEAR YOU WANT A GOLEM.
Of course golems couldn't speak could they?
"Hah. Want, yes. Afford, no. I've been asking around but it's wicked the prices you're going for these days . . ."
The golem rubbed the words off the slate and wrote:
TO YOU, ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
"You're for sale?"
The golem lurched aside. Another one stepped into the fight.
It was also a golem, the man could see that. But it wasn't like the usual lumpen clay things that you occasionally saw. Ibis one gleamed like a newly polished statue, perfect down to the detailing of the clothes. It reminded him of one of the old pictures of the city's lungs, all haughty stance and imperious haircut. In fact, it even had a small coronet molded on to its head.
"A hundred dollars?" the man said suspiciously. "What's wrong with it? Who selling it?"
NOTHING IS WRONG. PERFECT IN ALL DETAIL NINETY DOLLARS.
"Sounds like someone wants to get rid of it in a hurry. . ."
GOLEM MUST WORK GOLEM MUST HAVE A MASTER.
"Yeah, right, but you hear stories ... Going mad and making too many things, and that."
NOT MAD. EIGHTY DOLLARS.
"it looks ... new," said the man, tapping the gleaming chest. "But no one's making golems any more, that's what's keeping the price up beyond the purse of the small business-" He stopped. "Is someone making them again?
"I heard the priests banned making 'em years ago. A man could get in a lot of trouble."
"Who's doing it?"
"Is he selling them to Albertson? Or Spadger and Williams? It's hard enough competing as it is, and they've got the money to invest in new plant-"
The man walked around the golem. "A man can't sit by and watch his company collapse under him because of unfair price cutting, I mean to say . .
"Religion is all very well, but what do prophets know about profits, eh? Hmm . . ." He looked up at the shapeless golem in the shadows. "Was that thirty dollars I just saw you write?"
"I've always liked dealing wholesale. Wait one moment." He went back inside and returned with a handful of coins. "Will you be selling any to them other bastards?"
"Good. Tell your boss it's a pleasure to do business with him. Get along inside, Sunny Jim."
The white golem walked into the factory. The man, glancing from side to side, trotted in after it and shut the door.
Deeper shadows moved in the dark. There was a faint hissing. Then, rocking slightly, the big heavy shapes moved away.
Shortly afterwards, and around the comer, a beggar holding out a hopeful hand for alms was amazed to find himself suddenly richer by a whole thirty dollars.*
The Discworld turned against the glittering backdrop of space, spinning very gently on the backs of the four giant elephants that perched on the shell of Great A'Tuin the star turtle. Continents drifted slowly past, topped by weather systems that themselves turned gently against the flow, like waltzers spinning counter to the whirl of the dance. A billion tons of geography rolled slowly through the sky.
People look down on stuff like geography and meteorology, and not only because they're standing on one and being soaked by the other. They don't look quite like real science.