The 19th Literature/{{Discworld}} novel and the third in the City Watch theme. It has one of the more conventional plots of the series, but executes it very well in the inimitable Pratchett style.

The newly boosted and renewed Watch from ''Discworld/MenAtArms'' is back, and Vimes is settling into his role as Commander and a knight. But the life of a Watchman is never boring. Two mysterious murders - one in the dwarf community and one in the ecclesiastical - happen one after another. Are they linked? Perhaps to a golem - those stolid ceramic workers who have no voice? And are any of them associated with Lord Vetinari's sudden illness, possibly by poison? And is Nobby Nobbs really (gasp!) an ''Earl''?

The answers are out there, swirling somewhere in the fog of an autumn-suffused Ankh-Morpork...

Preceded by ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', followed by ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}''. Preceded in the Watch series by ''Discworld/MenAtArms'', followed by ''Discworld/{{Jingo}}''.
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!!Contains examples of:
* AcquiredSituationalNarcissism: After [[AlcoholInducedIdiocy drinking a fair bit]], Nobby briefly becomes too pompous for his own good in the Mended Drum, but is saved from getting a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown by Colon. He otherwise averts this for the rest of the novel.
* ActualPacifist: Golems can't hurt people. [[spoiler: Not intentionally, at least.]] Carrot makes this point in his own vivid way when faced with an anti-golem mob.
* AIIsACrapshoot: [[spoiler:The golem king was driven insane by too many words (hopes, expectations, directions) put in his head by his creators, many of which were mutually exclusive]].
* ArsonMurderAndLifeSaving
* AssShove: After Dorfl is freed, he visits his previous masters and exacts (non-lethal) ironic revenge on them. The ones at the poultry merchant's and the pork butcher's involves stuffing apprentices with various fruits and vegetables. Guess where. Go on.
* BatmanGambit: As usual, Vetinari [[spoiler:is well aware of what's going on, and does not actually allow himself to be poisoned further once he figures it out. But he lets Vimes go on crime-solving anyway.]]
* BigDamnHero: [[spoiler:Dorfl]] charging in to stop [[spoiler:the Golem King]] from killing Angua and Carrot.
* BlackComedyRape: Pratchett shows a minor character talking about an apprentice pork butcher who gets an apple stuffed up his arse by [[TurnedAgainstTheirMasters an irate, recently liberated Dorfl]], and a man who suffered a similar fate involving sage and onion.
* BlindAndTheBeast: Mrs. Gammage and the regulars at Biers.
-->'''Angua:''' Well, I heard that last month someone broke into her hovel and stole some of her stuff...\\
'''Cheery:''' ''That'' doesn't sound helpful.\\
'''Angua:''' ...and it was all returned the next day and a couple of thieves were found in the Shades with not a drop of blood left in their bodies. You know, you get told a lot of bad things about the undead, but you never hear about the marvellous work they do in the community.
* BoozeFlamethrower: Nobbs is guzzling expensive brandy and smoking a fancy cigar when he learns that people want him to become King. He does a truly epic SpitTake.
** BoozeFlamethrower is inadequate to describe it. Try Booze ''Rocket''.
** A Booz-ooka, if you will.
* BrickJoke:
** When Carrot is handling some of Vimes's paperwork, there's a note from a Mister Catterail, demanding there be less patrolling by dwarfs and such, with Mr. Catterail claiming Vetinari is a personal friend. Near the end when [[spoiler: Dorfl is going through the city setting everything free]], Mr. Catterail demands help from the Watchmen, telling them their commander is a personal friend of his. He says this to the commander of the Watch himself.
** When Vimes is presented with the evidence that Nobby is the Earl of Ankh, he retorts that given the amount of stuff Nobby's family have stolen over the years, he's probably got enough heirlooms to prove that he's also the Duke of Pseudopolis, the Seriph of Klatch and the Dowager Duchess of Quirm. In TheStinger, [[spoiler:Nobby proves him right: he has three gold lockets, a coronet, and a tiara.]].
* ButForMeItWasTuesday[=/=]NominalImportance: Part of what drives Vimes to rage is that [[spoiler:Dragon]] didn't know who Mrs Easy and her child were.
** Which is [[{{Foreshadowing}} foreshadowed]] when Carrot catches the accomplice and tells him that the [[spoiler:candles]] had killed two innocent people.
--> [[spoiler:'''Carry:''']] [[KickTheDog Were they important]]?
--> '''Carrot:''' ''(nods to himself)'' I was almost feeling sorry for you. Right up to that point. You're a lucky man, [[spoiler:Mr Carry.]]
--> [[spoiler:'''Carry:''']] You think so?
--> '''Carrot:''' Oh yes. We got to you before Commander Vimes did.
* TheCaligula:
** Lorenzo the Kind, last king of Ankh-Morpork, beheaded by Vimes' ancestor. All we hear for definite is that he was... ''very fond'' of children. "[[NoodleImplements Machines]]" are also alluded to.
** More literally, Mad Lord Snapcase, who was the Patrician before Vetinari, apparently appointed a horse as one of his advisors, like the tropenamer. It is pointed out that said horse was still a better official than some inanimate objects that were his other choices.
* CantUseStairs: The Golem King. Golems are invulnerable unstoppable robotic killing machines created by an alchemical marriage of magic and pottery. There is just one drawback: they are far too heavy for a normal set of stairs to take without [[FloorboardFailure collapsing]].
* ChekhovsGun: Played straight with Cheery's silver vest.
** Subverted with the green wallpaper in Vetinari's bedroom, which turns out to be a {{RedHerring}}.
** Subverted again with Vetinari licking his fingers to turn the pages of his diary, which is another {{RedHerring}}.
* TheChessmaster
* ContinuityNod: The "dwarves hang criminals up by the... town hall" joke from ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'' makes a reappearance.
* DeathSeeker: The [[spoiler:golem king Meshugah]] turns out to be one, and smiles just as [[spoiler:Dorfl]] kills him.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: [[spoiler: Golems make themselves a king in order to imitate those around them. Instead of being their deliverance, the king goes insane, violates golem law, and his role is subsumed by another golem who slaughters animals. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people asked God for a king because everyone else had one. They got Saul who went insane, disobeyed God and the Jewish prophets, and eventually lost his throne to a shepherd-boy named David.]] A bit of a stretch, but consider the golems are originally creatures of Jewish folklore and this is Pratchett we're dealing with.
* DrugsAreBad: Sergeant Detritus' campaign against the troll drug Slab parodies the classic slogan "Just Say No" targeted at kids, with a much more direct campaign targeted at dealers.
** The specific line is:
-->'... Mr Vimes is lettin' me run a' Detritus concentrated - 'pub-lic a-ware-ness campaign tellin' people what happens to buggers what sells it to kids...' He waved a hand at a large and rather crudely done poster on the wall. It said:
--> Slab: Jus' say 'Aarrghaarrghpleeassennonono UGH'.
* ElementsDoNotWorkThatWay: Used in-character when Vimes speculates that Vetinari's tableware could've been made of arsenic, and Cheery explains how that couldn't possibly work.
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Cheery Littlebottom (who also has an Embarrassing Last Name). Tries to change it a lot, eventually settling on the almost identical 'Cheri', though this doesn't last. (Later books clarified this by saying she was Cheery, ''pronounced'' Cheri).
** It could be worse. Her father was named [[spoiler: Jolly Littlebottom]] and her grandfather was named [[spoiler: Beaky Littlebottom]].
** Her name in Dwarfish is Sh'rt'azs, pronounced Shortarse, whence the translation Littlebottom.
* EnhanceButton: Parodied. Cheery asks the iconograph imp to paint larger, more detailed pictures of the murder victim's eye.
* EvilHasABadSenseOfHumor: [[spoiler:Dragon King of Arms loves his heraldic wordplay]]. This becomes important later, as it turns out one of these "jokes" was a vital clue.
* EyeRemember
* FantasticRacism: Cheery towards werewolves, and Angua towards golems (said to be the 'hatred of the undead for the unalive')
* FingertipDrugAnalysis: Lampshaded. The Watch isn't supposed to do it anymore, "ever since Constable Flint had dipped his finger into a blackmarket consignment of ammonium chloride cut with radium, said "Yes, this is definitely slab wurble wurble sclup" and had to spend three days tied to his bed until the spiders went away." Detritus, of course, does it later on
** Carrot actually does this ''immediately after'' the paragraph describing Flint's little problem.
* FlatEarthAtheist: Dorfl is perhaps the most literal example, being on the Disc. When he challenges the gods to prove they exist, they hit him with lightning bolts, but, being made of pottery, all it does is melt his armour. His response:
--> I Don't Call That Much Of An Argument.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** Angua's description of the yudasgoat, a goat kept in the slaughterhouse and used to lead the other animals to the slaughter. The comparison between it and the plot to replace Vetinari with a puppet king is made obvious when Nobby, who had been selected to serve as said puppet, runs into the goat and is suddenly filled with a strange sense of camaraderie.
** "Next you'll be telling me they have emotions!"
** Early on, Vimes muses about how people are hard-wired to believe that kings make everything better. [[spoiler:It later turns out that the golems created a king to make things better for them.]]
** During the scene where Nobby and Colon are getting drunk at the Drum, one man is complaining that Mr. Carry fired him because he got a new golem to work the line. [[spoiler:Mr. Carry who makes candles. And the golem in question moves unnaturally fast.]]
* FreedomFromChoice: As the Discworld Companion puts it, Stoneface Vimes introduced democracy to Ankh-Morpork, and the people voted against it. In fact, fear of freedom and the desire for a strong leader are a reoccurring theme within the book.
* FurAgainstFang: Although no direct vampire/werewolf fights occur, Dragon King Of Arms' distaste for a Carrot/Angua lineage is an early clue that this trope applies in Discworld.
** Of course, it also interferes with his little "hobby".
* GenreSavvy: The moment Nobby Nobbs hears about a plan by certain nobles to put him on the throne he realizes it'll end with his head getting cut off (probably by Vimes) and jumps out a window.
--> He'll go ''spare!''
* {{Golem}}: Golems and Dorfl himself were briefly mentioned in ''Discworld/ReaperMan'' and ''Discworld/SoulMusic'', but this is the book to really develop them. Also, in a {{Retcon}}, golems are now powered by a scroll with words inside their flip-top heads rather than a word physically carved on their forehead.
* TheGoodKing: What [[spoiler:the golem king]] was intended to be.
* GoneHorriblyWrong: The Golems' attempt to make another of their kind results in a half-baked, insane monstrosity.
* GrowBeyondTheirProgramming: Many of the golems appear to be doing this, however only Dorfl really does when [[spoiler: Carrot puts Dorfl's bill of ownership in the golem's chem and gives him ownership of himself.]]
* HoistByHisOwnPetard[=/=]PoeticJustice: [[spoiler:Subverted. Vimes claims to have put holy water in the wick of the candle that was lighting the room in which he confronted Dragon, but is implied to be bluffing. Played straight shortly after, when Vimes, upon realizing that Dragon is too influential for Vetinari to punish, uses the very same candle to burn the genealogies which Dragon has worked on for centuries.]]
* HumiliationConga: Poor Colon.
* HypocriticalHumor: "I don't want a killer working in my slaughter house!"
* ImAHumanitarian: Invoked by name, and averted in the same sentence when Angua reflects on the troubles of being a werewolf. It's easy to be a vegetarian by day, but hard not to be a humanitarian by night.
* [[IncrediblyLamePun Incredibly Lame Pune Or Play On Words]]: Several. Some are in fact clues to the murder plot.
* InherentInTheSystem: ''The Sir Samuel Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Economics'' explains how the rich stay rich and the poor get poorer.
* JustFollowingOrders: Between them, Carrot and the Golems subvert the hell out of this one.
* JustForPun: At the book's end, Hughnon Ridcully addresses Dorfl as ''me old china'', china plate being Cockney rhyming slang for mate. Of course, Dorfl, described in the same section as a ceramic atheist, is also, in a sense, made of china.
** [[spoiler:Meshugah, the golem king]], is described as being incompletely fired - "half-baked" being a British English expression meaning ill-conceived or incompletely carried out
* KnockingOnHeathensDoor: Constable Visit takes many opportunities to proselytize, and is fully prepared to do so against considerable odds. When [[spoiler:Dorfl]] takes an interest in his pamphlets, he's ecstatic about it.
* LightningBruiser: Dorfl when defending himself. [[ArrowCatch He can snatch arrows out of the air]].
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: To [[Literature/TheBible the Book of Daniel]].
* LockingMacGyverInTheStoreCupboard: Lampshaded when Colon gets captured in a cell that strangely does ''not'' contain various items that he can use to make his escape.
* LookOnMyWorksYeMightyAndDespair: Dragon King of Arms (whose long life grants him a certain perspective on these things) reflects:
--> Men said things like [[NevilleChamberlain peace in our time]] or [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler an empire that will last a thousand years]], and less than half a lifetime later no one even remembered who they were, let alone what they had said or where the mob had buried their ashes.
* MeaningfulName[=/=]BilingualBonus[=/=]YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Fittingly for creatures whose origins lie in Jewish folklore, the golems all have Yiddish names. Most of them (Dorfl, Bobkes, Klutz) describe humble or insulting things, while [[spoiler:"Meshugah" appropriately means "crazy, insane"]].
** A subtler bilingual bonus is in the coats of arms Dragon shows to Vimes, which turn out to conceal clues - unusually he gives Mr. Carry's arms' motto in English (or Morporkian) as "Art Brought Forth the Candle"... Vimes eventually figures out that in Latin (or Latatian, the Old Morporkian language) this would be [[spoiler: ''Ars Enixa Est Candelam'']].
* TheNapoleon: Wee Mad Arthur, probably the most ridiculously extreme example of this ever. He's a six-inch tall gnome, but also a tiny, highly concentrated ball of BadAss. The explanation runs that he's no more angry than the average human, but since he's so small, all his rage is condensed into a tiny space and under intense pressure. And things under pressure have a habit of blowing up.
* NostalgiaFilter: Vimes complains about the very romantic view many Ankh-Morporkians seem have of the old royal family; some of his dialogue suggests that [[NonIndicativeName Lorenzo the Kind's]] propensity for torture and "fondness for children" is widely known, but it's the rebel who cut his head off that gets the most scorn.
* NotQuiteDead: One of Nobby's grandmothers -- his excuse for having taken three "grandmothers' funeral" days off in that year alone.
** Later in the series taking the day off for your grandmother's funeral becomes a running gag, and at one point it's mentioned watchmen get three annually.
* ObviouslyEvil: [[spoiler: Dragon, King of Arms, made apparent in his ''second'' scene if not the first.]] It's part of the reason the book's a ''how''dunnit rather than a whodunnit.
* OffTheWagon: Subverted.
* OneGenderRace: Deconstructed with dwarfs (although the thing about female dwarfs looking almost identical ultimately came from the appendices to ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', because OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame).
* OrphanedPunchline: The end of a joke Nobby tells at a party: "And she said, "That's funny -- it didn't do that last night!"
* PaintingTheMedium: The font used for the golems' writing evokes the look of Hebrew, in a nod to golems having their origins in Jewish folklore.
* PhraseCatcher: Several unrelated people describe Nobby as 'an absolute tit'.
* PintsizedPowerhouse: Wee Mad Arthur. [[ExaggeratedTrope Exaggerated]] by the fact that he also has a HairTriggerTemper and a kick like a normal-sized man's, but concentrated to a smaller surface area.
* PlayingDrunk: Vimes, when he's not really OffTheWagon.
-->'''Vimes''': When we find the man responsible, somewhere at the top of the charge sheet is going to be Forcing Commander Vimes To Tip a Whole Bottle of Single Malt On The Carpet. That's a hanging offence.
* PullingThemselvesTogether: After smashing on a warehouse floor, Meshuggah reconstitutes itself, in a manner [[ShoutOut reminiscent]] of a [[Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay T-1000]].
* PuppetKing: Part of the plan was to set up Nobby Nobbs as one. Fortunately he's intelligent enough that even if he didn't understand their motives he knew it was far safer to run away.
* RedHerring: References to Vetinari's [[spoiler: green wallpaper]] seem to imply it had something to do with his poisoning (also a reference to the theory that Napoleon was poisoned by [[spoiler: arsenic-containing wallpaper]] in RealLife). Vimes even entertains this theory briefly, before realizing that it couldn't possibly be true.
* RefusalOfTheCall: Nobby '''never''' volunteers, ever.
* ReligiousRobot: A newly liberated golem declares himself to be an [[FlatEarthAtheist atheist]], but expresses interest in discussing religion with a pious watchman who has a penchant for KnockingOnHeathensDoor.
* {{Retcon}}: There's a minor continuity error; at the beginning, Angua has to introduce Cheery to Dorfl and explain what a golem is, yet later in the book Cheery tells Vimes she worked with golems at the alchemist's guild in Pseudopolis, which took place before the book started.
* RetIrony: Subverted. [[spoiler:Colon swears he is retiring after this to go live on a farm, but close experience of animals rapidly changes his mind.]]
** He's going to [[spoiler:[[StealthPun buy a farm]]]], even.
* RoyalInbreeding: It's mentioned that in the city of Genua, the royal lines died out "through interbreeding so intensively that the last king kept trying to breed with himself"
* RunningGag: Roderick and Keith the hippos.
** References to people "[[GoshdarnItToHeck prodding buttock]]" rather than "kicking arse". Kicking arse is too violent.
** Another one features a vampire who complains to the watch every time something goes wrong at his new job. His jobs? Holy water bottler, garlic stacker, pencil maker, picket fence builder, and sunglasses tester.
* ShoutOut: According to WordOfGod, the climatic scene in the candle factory was inspired by the end of ''[[Franchise/{{Terminator}} Terminator 2]]''.
** Biers is a pun on ''{{Cheers}}''.
** Drumknott's comment that if Vimes did not exist, Vetinari would have to invent him is based on a Voltaire quote.
** Discussing clay, Igneous the troll says that "[[Film/MontyPythonsLifeOfBrian he's got lumps of it, out the back]]".
** The Rats Chamber is a reference to England's Star Chamber, and the German Ratskammer (which has nothing to do with Rats).
** "Undead or Alive, You're Coming With Me" and "Somewhere There Is A Crime Happening" from ''Film/{{RoboCop|1987}}''.
** Dorfl also partially quotes the three Prime Directives from the same movie:
--->'''Vimes:''' What are your duties?\\
'''Dorfl:''' To Serve The Public Trust, Protect The Innocent, And [[TheLastOfTheseIsNotLikeTheOthers Seriously Prod Buttock]], Sir.
** Fans of Creator/IsaacAsimov's [[Literature/IRobot robot novels]] will recognize many of the issues raised here.
** ''TheSixMillionDollarMan'': "We can rebuild him. We have the pottery."
** Stoneface Vimes' {{backstory}} is based on that of Oliver Cromwell. Correspondingly the "Peeled Nuts", Nobby's historical re-creation society, is a reference to the "Sealed Knot", a real life society that re-enacts the English Civil War.
* SlaveLiberation: The golems attempt this by [[spoiler: Making the king, which fails]]. Only Dorfl becomes truely free when [[spoiler: Carrot buys him from his previous owner and puts the receipt in Dorfl's control chem, giving the golem ownership of itself. Dorfl plans to free other golems this way by saving up money to buy his fellows and put their receipts in their chems.]]
* SmugSnake: Dragon, King of Arms. He shows Vimes [[spoiler:a vital clue]] early on in the story.
* SpitTake: Nobby is told by a cadre of nobles that they want him to become king. Since he's gulping down brandy, smoking a cigar, and sitting in a chair with wheels at the time, the result is a [[BoozeFlameThrower literally rocket-powered]] Spit Take.
* StealthPun: Two within a few pages of each other; when Angua and Cheery go off to see Dorfl, it makes a reference to Angua's 'PLT', (Pre-Lunar Tension, according to the synopsis); then later it mentions that one can hear the occasional bleat of worried sheep. (A reference to events in ''Discworld/TheWeeFreeMen''.)
* TheStinger: [[spoiler: Nobby commenting that he has more than just the ring of the Earl, hinting that he actually is the Earl of the city, second in line to the throne, and related to Carrot. Or, if Vimes is right, that Nobby's family stole the heirlooms of at least three different aristocrats.]]
* ThoroughlyMistakenIdentity
* ThreeLawsCompliant: Golems must obey their master, and cannot kill. The golems are so distressed at [[spoiler:creating a golem that violates these principles]] they commit suicide. Dorfl is unique, as well, [[spoiler:after being re-baked and having his chem replaced with his bill of sale,]] later being described as simply not doing violence because he decided for himself that it wasn't moral.
* TwoBeingsOneBody: According to Rogers the bulls' viewpoint, at least.
* UncannyValley: Invoked in the way (most) people tend to react to the golems.
* UnfortunateName: Cheery Littlebottom. She got off better than her ancestors did.
* VerbalTic: Dragon, ahaha, King of Arms.
* WartsAndAll: Mentioned in a ShoutOut (as Stoneface Vimes is a CaptainErsatz of Oliver Cromwell).
* WeCanRebuildHim: [[ShoutOut We Have The Pottery]].
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman: A large theme in the book concerns the treatment and prejudice the golems receive from other races, including from the undead. Carrot largely defies this and takes an interest in Dorfl's case.
* WhereDidWeGoWrong: The poor golems.
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