Men At Arms is the fifteenth book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and sees the return of the City Watch. In this book you feel that Pratchett really has committed to the Watch as a sub series of the Discworld books. He takes it into more concrete territory here, extending story lines, plotting into future books and really hooking the readers into the cast of characters that got their first outing in Guards Guards.
My son absolutely loved this story of the assassination of one of the Clown’s Guild and the mysterious deaths plaguing the city, all played out against the backdrop of Commander Vimes marriage to Lady Sybil. In this book you get to meet Angua, a fantastic character who goes on to be one of the backbones of the watch, Detritus finds his forever home, and the Patrician begins his journey to the complex three dimensional character he finally ends up as in later books.
You also get to see Pratchett moving further into his role of social commentator.
Reading this book with Oscar, during recent weeks, where intolerance and fear of the ‘other’ has blossomed and spread into violence and hatred on our streets, I felt so strongly that this book should be mandatory reading for all. It made me miss Terry and what he would make of these extraordinary times we are living through, and listening to my son read it was equal parts pain and pleasure.
A book for our times. As ever with Pratchett’s oeuvre, not really one for primary school children unless you are very relaxed about swearing and explaining things like the seamstress’ guild. Perfect for teens.