01/03/2006

Feet of Clay

This is the 19th Discworld series by the phenominally successful Terry Pratchett. As with most of these novels, there are several concurrent threads. Two old men are murdered, and the Watch - in particular Sam Vimes - want to find out who did it, and why. Lord Vetinari is being poisoned, and Vimes tries to discover how as well as who and why.

Alongside this there are gender issues, racism issues, and questions about what life really is. This is the book where 'golems' are introduced for the first time: the Discworld equivalent of robots. Are they to be treated like another species, or as independent tools? There are quite a few philosophical discussions about whether something not technically alive can commit murder, and whether it has any rights. There are even debates towards the end of the book about the nature of atheism: is it a religious belief in its own right?

All in all, a very thought-provoking book, set amidst the usual Discworld brand of pseudo-mediaeval technology with plenty of classical references and irony that can all too easily be missed.

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