The realities of a multi-ethnic society in the Century of the Fruitbat

I prefer these covers to the original ones

Feet of Clay is the 19th of Terry Pratchett’s 36 Discworld novels. Many series begin good and get worse. The Discworld series began okay, swerved wildly for a couple of years, before settling on a plateu of consistently good, where they have stayed up to this day.

The early novels were parodies of fantasy conventions. (Ankh-Morpork is based on Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar.) They were funny, but not very funny. The joke wouldn’t have lasted for 36 novels.

Terry Pratchett found his voice when he moved the comedy into the background, and infused his stories with ideas from philosophy and science. In the process he’s been turning Ankh-Morpork from a dark and medieval cesspool into an enlightened and modern cesspool, one concept at a time.

A Discworld novel doesn’t surprise. They’re safe, even predictable. People who praise them as imaginative miss the point: That is precisely what they’re not. Pratchett writes wisdom literature in the guise of light comedy. Wisdom is a subtler form of common sense. It doesn’t shock, it lifts. This works when you have something actually worth saying, and Pratchett does.

Oh, I didn’t leave room to say what Feet of Clay is about. Oh well: It’s a City Watch novel. It has Vetinari in it. Wikipedia sums up its motifs as: “Robots, golem mythology, atheism, race relations, heraldry, slavery and serfdom”, a good description.

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