Feet of Clay is the nineteenth book in the Terry Pratchett Discworld series that my son and I have been reading together, and it has been a hit right from the get go. We read ten pages per day, and this is the book my son has most consistently asked to keep reading. As if I’m going to say no. We finished it this morning and as he put it down he said to me very wistfully, ‘I love the books about the watch soooo much.’
I confess that they have never been my favourites. I’ve always loved the witches best, but sharing the watch stories with him bring them to life for me, and I’m learning to love them because he loves them so much and takes so much obvious pleasure in them. It’s one of many reasons why sharing books is so very important.
Feet of Clay takes Commander Vimes of the watch deeper into the territory he most despises, dealing with the aristocracy. Of course, the irony is that Vimes himself is now a member of the aristocracy, and he’s really struggling to deal with it. He’s not the only one. In a meeting with the college of heraldry it is discovered that Corporal Nobby Nobs is also a reluctant aristocrat. Neither take it well.
The main story here is about sovereignty, which given what is going on in UK politics at the moment makes this book even more pertinent than usual. I feel Pratchett would love this. I imagined him many times as I sat listening to Oscar reading, that he was laughing somewhere. At us, if not with us.
The story deals with the issue of golems, and werewolves and whether dwarves are allowed to be girls in public, and divide and rule and a million other tiny life lessons for us all. It’s full of humanity, humour and incisive comment about the society we are saddled with. Oh for a Vetinari rather than a Theresa May though. A Vimes wouldn’t go amiss either.