Men at Arms

Men at Arms
Terry Pratchett
The Discworld series
15th novel – 2nd City Watch story
Characters The City Watch
Havelock Vetinari
Locations Ankh-Morpork
Motifs Affirmative action, firearms, and crime novels
Publication details
Date of release 1993
Original publisher Victor Gollancz
Hardback ISBN ISBN 0-575-05503-0
Paperback ISBN ISBN 0-552-14028-7
Other details
Other notes Adapted as a play by Stephen Briggs.

Men at Arms is the 15th Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett first published in 1993. It is the second novel about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch on the Discworld. Lance-constable Angua von Überwald, later in the series promoted to the rank of Sergeant, is introduced in this book. Lance-constable (in the course of the novel promoted to Acting-constable) Detritus is introduced as a new member of the watch as well, though he had already appeared in other Discworld novels, most notably in Moving Pictures. Also notable is the only appearance of Lance-constable Cuddy (also promoted to Acting-constable).


Edward d'Eath, an Assassin and son of a down-and-out noble family, becomes convinced that the restoration of the Ankh-Morpork monarchy will solve the social change in the city which he blames for his family's humbling. Obsessively researching the history of the royal family he becomes convinced that an heir to the throne is still alive living within Ankh-Morpork, but these efforts are met with skepticism by his peers.

Meanwhile, Captain Samuel Vimes, captain of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, is confronted by new problems. About to be married to Sybil Ramkin, richest woman in Ankh-Morpork, he has to deal with the new recruits first: a dwarf, a troll, and a werewolf, representatives of ethnic minorities in the city. He also has to figure out who stole a mysterious device from the Assassins' Guild and solve a string of gruesome, seemingly random murders.

As the story progresses, it is made clear that d'Eath has stolen the 'gonne', the Disc's first and only handheld firearm. He meant to use it to set the rightful king on the throne, but the device (invented by Leonard of Quirm) appears to have a strange mind of its own. After d'Eath takes it to Dr. Cruces, head of the Assassin's Guild, along with his evidence of the king's identity, he is murdered by Dr. Cruces who then becomes a puppet of the gonne.

The Watch foil his attempt on the Patrician's life, losing Cuddy in the process, and Vimes and Carrot Ironfoundersson tail him into the sewers. After a brief struggle, Vimes manages to take the gonne and corner Cruces in his office in the Assassin's Guild. With Carrot's help, he resists the weapon's allure and Carrot, learning of his apparent heritage as the heir, kills Dr. Cruces with his distinctly non-magic sword. The gonne is destroyed, and Vimes takes over in the revived post of Commander of the Watch.

Following his promotion to Commander of the City Watch (and becoming Sir Samuel Vimes as a consequence), the role of Captain of the Watch is given to Carrot. They spend some time together re-organising the Watch, combining the Day and Night Watches into one force, expanding the membership and creating an effective police force around the city.

The evidence that Carrot may be the true King of Ankh-Morpork vanishes, along with the gonne, despite both having been entrusted to the care of Carrot himself. Following Acting-Constable Cuddys' funeral, Vimes suggests that the coffin was heavier than expected, which Carrot agrees may have been the case. Carrot later mentions to the Patrician that he is sure that they are "well guarded", an apparent reference to the tradition of burying dwarfs with weapons with which to face the next life, implying the gonne is serving Cuddy in this way.

External links

Reading order guide
Preceded by
Lords and Ladies
15th Discworld Novel Succeeded by
Soul Music
Preceded by
Theatre of Cruelty
3rd City Watch Story
Published in 1993
Succeeded by
Feet of Clay

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