is the 21st Discworld
novel and the fourth in the City Watch theme. It's written as a criticism of war, with particular reference to the Falklands Conflict and the first Gulf War of 1990-1. And a few Shout Outs
to R'yleh of the Cthulhu Mythos
Politics is a funny thing, and all the more so on the Discworld. When the sunken island of Leshp
rises again, the bustling metropolis of Ankh-Morpork and the Arabic Expy
Klatch both stake claims to it — diplomacy leading to riots, assassinations, and eventually war. Commander Vimes is determined to keep the peace as much as he can — unless it involves the bastard who he suspects of murder getting away with it.
Soon Vimes and his ragtag group of Night Watchmen find themselves in the unfamiliar deserts of Klatch, trying to stop the war before it starts. In the meantime, Lord Vetinari is on his own quest, with designs of his own on the direction the future should take — and oddly enough, it involves Sergeant Colon, Nobby Nobbs, Leonard of Quirm, and at least one donkey.
Preceded by Hogfather
, followed by The Last Continent
. Preceded in the Watch series by Feet of Clay
, followed by The Fifth Elephant
Contains examples of:
- Alien Geometries: For all the fighting being done over Leshp, nobody who actually visits the place wants to stay for long.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Surely the idea of a brutal war being fought over an island that's just risen from the ocean is a fantasy narrative device used by Terry Pratchett to poke fun at the idiotic nationalism of a bygone age? The Other Wiki disagrees!
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Ankh-Morpork native Les and Klatch native Akhan bond over this while their fathers are threatening each other:
"Les caught Akhan's eye. They exchanged a very brief glance which was nevertheless modulated with a considerable amount of information, beginning with the sheer galactic-sized embarrassment of having parents and working up from there."
- Appeal to Inherent Nature: Ahmed turns this around so those who feel the need to punish are covered by this as well.
- Arab Beoble Talk: Klatchians are given prominence as the Discworld reference for all things vaguely Arabic and Middle-Eastern. Native ‘Klatchian’-speakers speaking ‘Morporkian’ are distinguished by exaggerated guttural back-of-the-throat sounds breaking into their speech (similarly to the Arabic pharyngealised consonants), together with a take on the stereotypical formal ‘Effendi’—only in Pratchett's world, this comes out as Offendi.
- Arc Words: the wind turns...
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Subverted - while this is a cast-iron law of comedy, "the laws of narrative causality were up against the fact of Nobby Nobbs, and were forced to give up". Nobby once scares men away by threatening to strip.
- Badass Boast: Detritus, when Vimes and co. turn their badges in.
"I got my badge carved on my arm. Someone c'n try an' take it off if dey likes."
- By Proxy for Vimes: on meeting Carrot, an enemy commander remarks: "This man can convince D'Regs not to charge, and he has a Commander..."
- Batman Gambit: Ahmed provokes Vimes into following him all the way to Klatch.
"Why did you drag me here?"
"Drag you? I had to sabotage my own ship so you wouldn't lose me!"
"Yes, but... you... knew how I'd react." Vimes's heart began to sink. Everyone knew how Sam Vimes would react.
- Battle Butler: Willikins.
"I'LL CUT YER TONKER OFF'F YER YER GREASY - Oh, is that you, Sir Samuel?"
"Indeed, sir." The butler straightened up.
"Do excuse me one moment, sir KNOCK IT OFF YOU MOTHERLOVIN SONS OF BITCHES I had no apprehension of your presence, sir."
- Blatant Lies: Vetinari insists he is unable to speak Klatchian despite having just translated said language in an instant, after hearing it through at least two walled surfaces.
- He never speaks a word - though he can clearly understand it, a distinction he points out in the narrative.
- Bluff the Impostor: The Klatchians in the bar are instantly suspicious of Colon, so one asks him in Klatchian "Excuse me, fat one, but can you understand what I am saying?" Upon realizing he can't, they have some fun by telling him the army has gone to "En al Sams la Laisa": "The Place Where The Sun Shineth Not".
- Brick Joke:
- Near the beginning, Nobby and Colon notice a man painting "Pride of Ankh-Morpork" as the name of a ship has forgotten to include the 'e'. Later on, Lord Rust is dismayed to learn that one of his ships is named the Prid of Ankh-Morpork.
- The section introducing gargoyles mentions that Ankh-Morpork sees unnaturally harsh rains, but falling bedsteads are considered unusual. A bit later Vimes is mildly surprised to hear that one of the Watch's informants was recently killed by a falling bedstead.
- Brought Home the Wrong Kid: An Ankh-Morpork fisherman and a Klatchian fisherman stumble on the newly-risen island of Leshp at the same time. When the two men realize that they can't lay claim to it for their respective nations unless they get home first, each grabs for his boy's arm and rushes back to his boat... and then returns, lambasting the other man as a kidnapper, to swap for his own boy.
- Butt Biter: Angua in werewolf form resorts to this to scare people off without causing severe injuries. She doesn't like it very much.
- Call Back: Carrot organizes two huge armies of hundreds of men each into playing football. When asked by Vimes where and how he got a football, Carrot replies that he has taken to carrying one in his pack, since it's a very effective pacifying tool. This is a reference to much, much earlier in the book, where he also pacifies two small (but armed and violent) gangs of street urchins by organizing them into football teams. In that case, they were too embarrassed to actually play, but they each picked up their weapons and went their separate ways without fighting.
- Canis Latinicus: An Ozymandias-like statue in the ruined Ankh-Morporkian outpost bears the inscription Ab Hoc Possum Videre Domum Tuum, which means "I can see your house from up here!" (In this case, this doesn't mean "Look, that's where I live!" but the veiled threat of "I know where you live.")
- Also Prince Khufurah's diploma, which is a "Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci," or "Doctorate of Sweet Fanny Adams," i.e. nothing
- Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: While talking about other massively lopsided battles, Rust starts including ones from children's stories. When this is pointed out, he says "Are you calling my nanny a liar?"
- Continuity Nod / Ironic Echo: the line "the night is always old" is one to Hogfather, where Death says it in an attempt to be dramatic. Played very straight here.
- Cool Boat: Going-Under-the-Water-Safely Device. (Leonard sucks at naming things.)
- Cowboy Cop: 71-Hour Ahmed.
- Cunning Linguist: Carrot, who eventually acts as a Shout-Out to Lawrence of Arabia; Also done humorously with Colon who is able to speak "Morporkian" and pass for a Klatchian, as Morporkian is a lingua fraca in Klatch, and he respondes to the question "where are you from?" with "Er." Ur, (as Vetinari points out, after a long story that made no mention of Colon's incompetence) is a region renowned for the stupidity of its inhabitants.
- Carrot's linguistic expertise is, however, instantly subverted if he's ever asked to write down anything.
- Dawn Attack: Jabbar claims that "Charging is what dawn is for."
- Deadpan Snarker: Vetinari is on particularly good form here, especially in the early stages.
- Delayed Reaction: Vetinari, of all people, has one of these following an off-hand comment from Leonard regarding Leshp.
- The Dreaded: Vetinari is usually this, of course, but Colon is shaking with terror at the prospect of something so mundane as almost beating him at scrabble
- Either World Domination or Something about Bananas: Lord Rust brings his Lieutenant Hornett as a translator to the pre-battle meeting between the Klatchian and the Ankh-Morpork army officers. Sadly for Lord Rust, Lt. Hornett only knows how to read Klatchian, resulting in Lt. Hornett being unable to translate "Do any of you gentlemen speak Klatchian?" and then partially translating "this clown’s in charge of an army?" as "Er... something about... to own, to control... er... ".
- Emergency Cargo Dump: Vimes orders his men to throw out the ship's cargo so they can reach Al Khali faster. Detritus complies, discarding every loose object he can get his hands on. Like the anchor. And the ship's barometer. And the lifeboat.
- End of an Age: the fate of the Gnolls, who in Equal Rites were the Apache-like race who "practiced hospitality to travellers of the red-hot knife variety" and terrorised the remoter parts of the overland trade routes. Debased remnants of the race have surrendered to civilization, and have entered the city, like Reservation Indians, to occupy the lowest rung of the social ladder, as street-cleaners and rubbish pickers. By Going Postal, the wild hills will have been ethnically cleansed of the last residual gnoll problem. Echoing the fate of American Indians?
- Entertainingly Wrong: Both Vimes and Achmed come to the same conclusion that the assassination attempt was a frame job in order to be a pretext for war and suspect their own people (Ankh-Morpork & Klatch respectively). The only difference is that Achmed is right.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: If you find yourself under attack by the D'Reg, the men will attack. And the women will attack. And the camels will attack. And the chickens will attack...
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Curious Squid, noted In-Universe.
He fished for Curious Squid, so called because, as well as being squid, they were curious. That is to say, their curiosity was the curious thing about them.
- Excuse Boomerang:
Oh, no doubt the man would suggest there were mitigating circumstances, that he had an unhappy childhood
or was driven by Compulsive Well-Poisoning Disorder. But I have a compulsion to behead cowardly murderers.
- Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The war in this book combines elements of the Gulf War (the enemy is the Arabian Fantasy Counterpart Culture, it's mentioned that Ankh-Morpork (i.e. the West) actually sold the Klatchians their weapons for use in "pacifying" their own people, and jingoism leads to racism against Klatchian-Morporkians) and the Falklands War (the conflict is over an island that is of no real significance except that the other lot aren't getting their hands on it).
- Fall Guy: What Carrot and Angua rather quickly learn, there were two assassins, and one of them is dead.
- False Flag Operation: Used in a rather complex way.
- Fauxreigner: Ahmed is a real Klatchian who has been educated in Ankh-Morpork, but he feigns bizarre "foreign ways" as a form of Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Fearless Undead: Lampshaded; Detritus thinks Reg is one because if the ship sinks he'll be all right and can just walk to safety. Reg is pretty brave, but also pretty pessimistic, so he points out all the reasons why someone who can't die should still worry about a ship sinking. Including "the trouble if a shark tries to eat me."
- Foil: Ahmed is shown as similar to Vimes in being an honest cop, but unlike Vimes is decidedly not a Technical Pacifist.
- They even think alike. "Both of us suspected our own people first. The only difference is that I was right."
- Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Played about with the "clumsily set up to look like it's Klatchian-funded" assassination attempt. Actually, in a double bluff, it actually is Klatchian-funded.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: The Klatchians that Colon talks to immediately realise he's a spy, but believe he's so blatantly obviously a Morporkian spy that he must actually be from another country and trying to implicate Ankh-Morpork.
- For Want of a Nail: The Dis-Organizer's very creepy alternate timeline.
- Full-Frontal Assault: A couple of Mooks on the Klatchian ship are attacked by a naked Angua.
- Giant Robot Hands Save Lives: When the Klatchian embassy is on fire, Vimes saves a Klatchian woman by throwing her out of the window and letting Detritus catch her. Detritus is a troll. He is made of rock.
- Giver of Lame Names: Naming things is the one area where Leonard of Quirm's inventing genius fails, for some reason.
"Well, because it is submersed in a marine environment, I've always called it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely-Device."
- Glory Hound: Lord Rust. Actually, more like he has such a low opinion of "Johnny Klatchian" that he thinks Hollywood Tactics will work and the glory is just for the taking.
- He's also been trained since birth that the most important part of a battle is that you took part and there were huge casualties. If they were on the other side or not is a very minor thing.
- Good All Along: 71-Hour Ahmed turns out to be an honest Klatchian police officer trying to prevent the war, like Vimes.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Carrot's attempt at a Rousing Speech. It still works, because it's Carrot.
Carrot: "If we succeed, no one will remember! And if we fail, no one will forget!"
- Grievous Harm with a Body: In the dunes in Klatch, when the Klatchian soldiers cut off Reg's arm he hits them with it until they run away screaming. (He's a zombie, so it's not as bad as you think). Detritus also attacked people by hurling other people.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: Vimes. Parodied when he gets accused of trespassing (of the embassy on fire) and kidnap (of the woman he rescued).
- Hypocritical Humor: After Vimes chews Colon out for calling Klatchians "ragheads", Colon complains to Nobby that it's not as if he cares what people call him...
Nobby: "That's right, Fred."
Colon: "That's Sergeant Colon, if you please."
- Colon also says "There's always a know-all" when someone in the crowd in Al-Khali is arguing with Vetinari. Colon himself is a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
- I Can See My House from Here: Rather, 'I Can See Your House From Here', carved into the base of General Tacticus' statue, as a boast and a threat.
- Impostor Exposing Test: Angua sneaks aboard 71-Hour Ahmed's ship in wolf form by posing as a Klatchistan wolfhound. Ahmed quickly catches her, however, by having the dogs eat from silver plates.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: When Vimes arrests the armies, he lists off charges, including "Loitering With Intent" and "Loitering Within Tent".
- Informed Flaw: Klatch has been seen before in the Discworld books, but this is the first time it or its people have been seen in such detail. This might even be the first mention of a prominent Klatchian subculture in Ankh-Morpork. (The city has always been cosmopolitan, but details about Klatchians there weren't necessarily filled in.) Therefore, Colon's casual, petty racism or at least jingoism comes out of nowhere just in time for the Hypocritical Humor and Aesop.
- On the other hand, his own utter inconsistency in this is instantly picked up on and mocked by Nobby as part of the joke. Also, Vimes previously noted in Guards! Guards! how the average Morporkian man in the street can suddenly become seized with anti-Klatchian Patriotic Fervour when the moment strikes.
- Insult Backfire: Lord Rust means to belittle and insult Vimes when he refers to the Commander as a "thief-taker" and nothing more, but Vimes wears the appellation with pride because, well, he IS a thief-taker. It happens AGAIN with Rust when he contemptuously refers to Vimes as "not a gentleman", with all the venom he can muster. Vimes' response?
Vimes: I knew there was something about me I liked.
- Internal Reformist: Defied. Vimes briefly wonders if he should have been an Internal Reformist to Rust's regime, rather than throwing down his badge and storming out, before thinking "No. That never worked."
- Ironic Echo: "Things to do today: die..."
- Island of Mystery: Leshp.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet: A soldier thinks this to himself, but ten years of experience with the D'regs and their form of guerilla warfare leads him to consider what the noisy parts of war are like, and he concludes that it can never be too quiet.
- Kansas City Shuffle: the villain's plan revolves around Vimes seeing through the 'fake' Klatchian plot and accusing his own people of the assassination, which he would have if not for Ahmed.
- The Key Is Behind the Lock: The Bursar locks himself in the Unseen University safe and takes the key with him. "It's not even as if there's a keyhole on the inside".
- Language Equals Thought: The D'reg's particular Klatchian dialect. Most informatively, their word for freedom is the same as their word for fighting.
- Leeroy Jenkins: The D'regs. "At dawn we shall charge!"
- Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: Vimes expects an equally impressive quote on the ruined statue of General Tacticus. However, see Canis Latinicus above.
- The Magnificent: 71-Hour Ahmed.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Ahmed was educated in Ankh-Morpork - specifically, the Assassin's Guild school. He claims that life among the D'regs is a picnic next to years at a boarding school "patronized by the sons of gentlemen".
- Mildly Military: Justified, in that the Ankh-Morpork army is thrown together by a bunch of idiot aristocrats who are working from a vague idea about how armies are supposed to function. It's clear that the disciplined, seasoned Klatchian army are likely to make mincemeat of them.
- Modern Major General: Lord Rust, and also Colon's old general when he reminisces on his army days - who actually had the troops form up into big arrow-shaped columns so it would look like all the tactical maps he'd seen.
- Mook Horror Show: Reg Shoe (a zombie), Detritus (a troll) and Angua (a werewolf) vs. some raiders.
- Myopic Architecture: Referenced by Nobby in a parody of a common nostalgic phrase. "We never had locks on our doors in those days...that's because the bastards even used to steal the locks".
- Namesake Gag: Cleverly combined with Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" when Vimes' internal monologue uses the phrase 'Pavlovian response', even though the animal psychologist Ivan Pavlov obviously doesn't exist on Discworld. A footnote explains this by saying that in fact the animal response experiments were instead done on the Discworld by the wizard Denephew Boot, and are so called because they involved ringing a bell which caused a dog to instantly eat a strawberry meringue.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: 71-Hour Ahmed again. An explanation of his name: in D'Reg culture, anyone you offer hospitality to is completely safe for three days i.e. 72 hours. Ahmed, a D'Reg, didn't want to wait the extra hour to dispense with a man he arrested for poisoning a well.
- Ahmed was the guest of the poisoner, and the custom also says you shouldn't harm your host. Ahmed, however, saw no reason to not to kill the man once he had confirmed that he really had killed a number of men, women, children, and camels, some of which were quite valuable. The fact he had poisoned the only source of water for 20 miles in a desert country makes it much worse than just killing the people, as he killed the PLACE ITSELF. The place will be uninhabitable until the water clears, if it ever does.
- No, Except Yes: When Angua asks Carrot if Snowy Slopes is an assassin, Carrot replies, "No, he just kills people for money." The Assassins' Guild would definitely tell you there's a difference, though.
- Noodle Incident: Vetinari and Colon make one up.
Vetinari: It's going to be like that business in Djelibeybi all over again, Al.
Colon: Oh, dear.
Vetinari: I don't know if they ever got that man down off the flagpole.
Colon: Oh, most of 'im, they did.
- Nose Tapping
- Not So Different: The Klatchian and Morporkian fathers who lead the groups of settlers on Leshp, and also vividly demonstrate that bigoted, small-minded pillocks come from all nations, races, and creeds.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Detritus does a bit of this in the beginning, almost seeming to play with Vimes for a moment of amusement at one point, though of course his comment about how amazing the weathercocks are could be taken at face-value. The latter part of their conversation did seem to throw Vimes off guard for a second, though.
- One Scene, Two Monologues
- Orgy of Evidence: Deliberately invoked. The killers leave behind 'everything but a camel' to point to the murderer being from Klatch; knowing that Vimes' suspicious mind will cause to look everywhere but Klatch.
- Outscare the Enemy: Vimes does this to a less-than-loyal sailor regarding a dangerous beach.
- Overt Operative: Double-subverted. Colon and Nobby are so incompetent as spies that the Klatchians assume that they are actually spies from another Klatchian tribe pretending to be incompetent Ankh-Morpork spies.
- Painting the Medium: Carrot speaks some Klatchian — i.e., he can change his font to an italics cursive. There's even a few letters in the normal font, because he's speaking with a slight accent.
- The main one is the 'H', and some Klatchians speaking Morporkian similarly leave a Klatchian-font 'H' in. This is Fridge Brilliance, because in Real Life Arabic, the tongue that the font's style evokes, indeed has several different H sounds that non-speakers find difficult to master.
- Pocket Protector: Parodied: Colon's ancestor was given a small book of prayers to take into battle, which he carried in his breast pocket. During a battle, an arrow came out of nowhere, hit the book, and stopped at the last page. Unfortunately, it didn't do much to stop the other seventeen arrows. After hearing this, Nobby goes and grabs the biggest religious book on the disc (about five inches thick) and tries strapping it to his chest as armor.
- Positive Discrimination: Vimes struggles with this a bit. He refuses to think that Klatchians can be evil or small minded because everyone else thinks that's all they can be. This story is slightly about him learning that even people from an ethnic minority can be awful, petty and cruel, and he needs to accept that to truly be fair.
71-hour Ahmed: Be generous, Sir Samuel. Truly treat all men equally. Allow Klatchians the right to be scheming bastards.
- Pretend Prejudice: Colon is racist against Klatchians but still friendly towards the Klatchian... Er, probably Genuan owner of a restaurant he likes. Out of a sense of national pride he attempts to use racial reasons to justify Morporkian superiority, but this falls flat when it is pointed out the many people he has no problem with of other nations who are also 'pretty brown', such as Constable Visit. In truth Colon is just naturally amiably disposed to most people.
- Not to mention realising that Nobby probably has every colour in the world on him somewhere.
- Pretext for War: Leshp, one in Ankh-Morpork and Klatch's long history.
- Red Herring: Early in the text it's revealed that Leonard has discovered how to produce nuclear weapons. So when Vetinari takes a submarine to Klatch, carrying an important package that will end the war quickly, in a sealed tube... it turns out to be Ankh-Morpork's document of surrender.
- Refuge in Audacity: Unintentionally used by Sergeant Colon, when some Klatchians easily work out he's a spy but can't believe he could possibly be an Ankh-Morporkian spy because of how blatantly obvious that would be, and so assume he must be a spy working for a third power clumsily trying to implicate Ankh-Morpork.
- Also the basis of a key plot point: the Klatchians were able to ensure Vimes wouldn't suspect them of paying an assassin by planting clues that looked like a ham-fisted attempt by ignorant racists to implicate Klatchians—using Klatchian money, 'sand out of his sandals on the floor', etc..
- Retcon: The second edition fixed a continuity error by changing 'Snowy can't read and write' to 'Snowy can barely read and write' - in the original, immediately after this is said they discover that Snowy Slopes wrote out a confession.
- Retirony Parodied. After 71-hour-Ahmed cuts down an Ankh-Morpork soldier after a misunderstanding, Wilkins calmly tells Vimes that he showed him a picture of his girlfriend the night before.
- Revealing Coverup: See False Flag Operation
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Colon, at one point. The thing about a double-bluff is that someone, somewhere, will fail to realize that it is a bluff in the first place. In this case, taking the absurdly blatant clues pointing to Klatch as evidence that Klatch is responsible.
- Running Gag: Rains of bedsteads, seafood (tinned sardines included), etc.
- That bit about people or (large) animals falling and "splashing". "There is no water!""I know what I said"
- Sacred Hospitality: Not only the D'reg's 72-hour rule, but they are duty bound to save anyone lost in the desert. Even if those people choose, like Vimes, to attack them.
- Sanity Slippage: The Dis-organiser when it begins reciting its final messages from the Alternate Universe where Vimes stayed in Ankh-Morpork, mainly manifested through repeating itself:
Things to do today today today... Die...
- Sergeant Rock: Vimes' butler Willikins, with a few Drill Sergeant Nasty tendencies.
- Shout-Out: Extensive ones to Lawrence of Arabia— Carrot and Vimes split the role of Lawrence between them, and Vimes plays out the "the trick is not minding that it hurts" scene with Rust.note Of course, this is Terry Pratchett, so there's a Shout-Out and/or Lampshade Hanging on pretty much every page.
- A shout out to Sweeney Todd also occurs. "That business with the barber on Gleam Street—Sweeney Jones, his name was? Of course, he was killing people, but he hadn't meant to. He was just a very bad barber."
- There are quite a lot of squid pictures in the sunken city of Leshp.
- A parody of the song that brought us the modern meaning of Jingoism. "We have no ships. We have no men. We have no money, too."
- And the whole assassination (attempt, in this case) that's part of a huge conspiracy, with the apparent shooter being dead before being interrogated, and the conclusion of several people that there must have been 'a second bowman' is reminiscent of plots and conspiracies seen around the murder of John F. Kennedy.
- Even to the point of introducing the character of Stoolie, a gnoll so dirty he has grass growing on him. Yes, he's a grassy gnoll...
- Doctor Strangelove: "Let's have no fighting, please. This is, after all, a council of war." ("You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!")
- Shea and Wilson's Illuminatus!! trilogy: the world's major powers are poised on the brink of war over ownership of a small, hitherto unregarded, island (which as bonus is full of Alien Geometries hinting at its being a doorway to Other Realms). Of course the intrepid crew of a submarine commanded by a devious manipulator (advised by a technological genius) are the right people to defuse the situation and avert war.
- Carrot's use of football to disarm two opposing armies is more than reminiscent of the Christmas Truce of World War I.
- Indeed, the Klatchian leader dismisses the opposition as "a contemptible little army", echoing Kaiser Wilhelm's dismissal of the tiny British Expeditionary force of 50 000 men that helped a French army of 1,010,000 men halt a German Offensive Operation with 1,400,000 men trying to take Paris in the first month of The Great War. An even tinier and previously more contemptible "army" - the City Watch - succeeds in stopping the entire war.
- The statue of Tacticus with only its feet remaining is a reference to Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" (see Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!).
- Vimes describes Colon and Nobby as 'the keystones of the Watch', referencing the Keystone Kops.
- Vetinari briefly channels comedian and magician Tommy Cooper. Twice.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Lord Rust as a military commander.
- Soapbox Square: Sator Square is described as generally holding several ranters, haranguers, and self-absorbed mumblers at any given time, all of which declaim at the top of their voices. The crowds generally cheer them no matter what they're actually saying, to egg them on. What makes Vimes worried at the beginning of the book is that the crowds are actually pausing to think about what the ranters are saying.
- Stealth Pun : Carrot gets important information about the assassination attempt from a lowly garbage collector who happens to be a kind of troll called a gnoll, who are more earth-like than stone-like and have plants growing all over them. He is a "grassy knoll"...
- More subtly, the actual Second Bowman is named Snowy Slopes. Not "grassy knoll", but then Ankh-Morpork is in a somewhat cooler climate than Dallas...
- Talk Like a Pirate: Subverted. Vimes tries to use sea-talk but Captain Jenkins tells him off. "All that yo-ho-ho stuff's for landlubbers, or it would be if we actually used words like landlubber. We don't say 'port' and 'starboard.' I've never even drunk starboard!"
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After being repeatedly abused and ending up organizing a different universe than the one he was in, the Disorganizer was able to get a nice, easy job scheduling the life of a shark.
- Title Drop: Doubling as a parody of the 19th-century song that led to the term "Jingoism". "We have no ships. We have no men. We have no money, too."
- Too Dumb to Fool: Colon accurately guesses the main villain's plot by not realizing the "Klatchian" plot is obviously faked and realizes the death of a Klatchian prince in Ankh-Morpork would give his brother an excuse to invade.
- Truth in Television: The main driver of the plot, an island rising from the bottom of the sea and being the source of diplomatic disputes? Really happened. Ferdinandea, or Graham Island, was a volcanic island that rose from the ocean and was the cause of a four-way dispute regarding it's sovereignty, between Britain, France, Spain, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. And yes, it did sink before the diplomatic issues could be resolved.
- Turn in Your Badge: Lord Rust has Vimes hand his in, at which point the other present watchmen proceed to turn in theirs out of loyalty to Vimes. Except Detritus, whose badge is carved into his skin.
- This scene plays differently if you've read Men at Arms. After how pathologically reluctant to part with it he was there, handing it in quickly as a protest of what he's been asked to do speaks volumes.
- It also didn't make a speck of difference. Vimes still went back to the Watch House, everyone still obeyed him and he still saw himself as Commander of the Watch (some of Lord Rust's comments — and especially one of the wrong-timeline Dis-organiser's appointments — indicate that even he still sees Vimes as Commander of the Watch). He didn't even hesitate a moment in continuing his duties. Detritus may have his badge carved into his arm, but Sam Vimes has his carved into his soul.
- Unwitting Pawn: Vimes, despite his suspicions he's being set up and his Genre Savvy efforts to avoid it.
"That business with the Klatchian money and the sand on the floor, I saw through that right away-"
"Yes. You did."
- Ossie Brunt ends up being this for Snowy Slopes, the real assassin. Ossie thought he had been hired to assassinate Prince Khufurah. In reality, he was just a very literal fall guy.
- Upper-Class Twit: The Ankh-Morpork nobles, who think that it will be easy to defeat Klatch, despite the facts that the Klatchian army outnumbers them by a wide margin and that the Morporkian army has no experience or training. Or, indeed, before the events in the book, no soldiers.
- Water Source Tampering: 71-Hour Ahmed was once visited by a man who had poisoned the only well for twenty miles worth of desert, killing five men, seven women, thirteen children, and thirty-one camels (some of which were very valuable) in the process. Once he had solid evidence and witness testimony, Ahmed immediately executed the mass-murderer one hour before the customary three days of Sacred Hospitality was up. This is the source of his much feared nickname.
- We Have Those Too: Ashal didn't buy the spyglass (or "Make-Things-Bigger Device"), he inherited it from his grandfather.
- You Know What They Say About X: Angua tries to make a joke about this when she and Carrot are investigating Ossie Brunt's apartment, which had a huge collection of the Discworld equivalent of Gun Porn. She says "You know what they say about men who like large weapons." Carrot doesn't know. "They're rather...small." Carrot thinks she means "short" and starts talking about how the dwarfs love big weapons.