Headscratchers / Guards! Guards!

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    Vimes' nobility 

  • In Guards! Guards!, Vimes appears to have no idea that he is related to a noble family. Plot Hole or was it not part of his character yet? (I've only read the Watch books, so...)
    • I doubt Terry Pratchett had planned the history of Stoneface Vimes etc when he wrote Guards! Guards! Even so, it's not really a Plot Hole. The Vimes family haven't been nobles for several hundred years. Remind the GG-era Vimes that his great-great-great-great-grandfather was a nobleman who lost his rank for killing the king, and he'd just say "Yeah? So what?"
    • There's a time delay between GG and MAA (where he appears aware of the connection, at least during his conversation with Carrot just after the explosion at the Assassins' Guild), so possibly he did a bit of reading up in the interim.
    • Even in Men At Arms, Vimes doesn't seem to know much about his family history. It's Carrot who's read up on it, and discusses it with Vetinari who refers to Stoneface Vimes having been the head of the watch at the time of the regicide. Vimes knows about the regicide but doesn't know his own connection to it. It would be after Men At Arms and his marriage that he researched the subject, or heard about it from Carrot or elsewhere. Presumably Sybil would know more about it than he initially does, too.
    • A very brief reference in Night Watch suggests that Vimes never knew his father, and that his mother told him his dad was run over by a cart when he was small. (It's also implied that this was a lie, indicating that Vimes Sr. either died a much nastier death or abandoned his family.) If Vimes never knew his dad, it's only logical that he wouldn't know much about his father's family, at least until Carrot's remarks spurred him to look into it.
    • I always interpreted that line to mean Sam Vimes was a bastard and his mum didn't want to explain that to her son.
    • Oh. Vimes is a bastard no doubt about it. Dunno if he's illegitimate or not...
    • We know from Dragon King of Arms' recitation of his lineage that "Vimes" was his father's surname. Presumably, Vimes' father had at least a common-law relationship with his mother for a time, else she'd probably have given her son her surname instead.
    • Connectedly, Vimes voices no strong opinions in the monarchy/republicanism debates that the story raises. It's Colon of all people who has the anti-monarchist rants. So even if Vimes knows about his Cromwellian ancestor at this point he doesn't seem to feel sympathy for his cause yet. Characterisation Marches On, I guess.
    • Vimes in Guards! Guards! hadn't yet seen pro-royalist fanatics unleash dragons, firearms, or killer golems on his city. Is it all that surprising that his opposition to kingship would get stronger over time...? Prior to the dragon incident, his only experience of "kings" would've been the occasional chalk-outline cleanup job after some deposed foreign potentate, living in exile in Ankh-Morpork, got assassinated. Those sorts, he probably saw as more pathetic than reprehensible. It's only after he'd seen how badly his fellow-Morporkians has started behaving in order to kiss up to the Dragon King, and had taken a good look at the spoiled-rotten aristocrats Sybil introduced him to, that he really became hostile to the very idea of monarchism.
    • He may not have gotten in any rants, but he did go off at Harga's House of Ribs before "crying in his heart for the essential servility of mankind" and later docked Nobby a day's salary for waving a flag. He was never in favor of royalty, even if he didn't go on at length (or perhaps hadn't ever really thought much) about specific reasons why.


  • It has always bugged me that Sam "This is how you play Lawful Good" Vimes is willing to accept all the various interesting ways it is possible to commit "suicide" in Ankh-Morpork. Like going into a dwarf bar and ordering a "short beer," etc. etc. While that makes for a clever one-off joke, what it basically means is that Sam Vimes' City Watch deliberately turns a blind eye to MURDER on a regular basis. Calling it "suicide" takes all the blame off of the murderers and all the responsibility off the Watch to do something about it. And that's not the attitude of the Lawful Good, that's the attitude of a Dirty Coward.
    • It's probably nothing more sinister than the sort of dark humour that people in jobs such as police work tend to get due to the job they do being pretty grim at times. The series never actually says they dismiss these cases as less than murder, just that these cases are called suicides in a darkly humourous way, plus there are scenes of these and/or similar situations (pub brawls for example) in plenty of the books where the attackers ARE arrested.
    • Also, given the crime rate in the city at this point in the series, if the Watch stopped to investigate every such murder, they'd never get anything done. Probably also because "Being a Watchman questioning people in the Drum" also counts as suicide.
    • And remember, this is Vimes before he became Vimes. This is the pathetic, drunken Vimes who does want to do the right thing but doesn't have Carrot's good influence to make him bloody well stick to that. At this point in Ankh-Morpork history, the entire (three-man) Night Watch is a joke. It's hard for a joke to seriously investigate any crime.
    • Vimes believes in protecting the innocent, presumably he doesn't extend the definition of innocent to what we would call trolling (although if you called it that in Ankh-Morpork then you'd almost certainly just have committed suicide). Remember they have a "Being Bloody Stupid" law, so they are almost certainly breaking that, how fortunate that breaking it is also its own punishment. As long as it is done off the streets then the peace has been kept.
    • And in the early books, Vimes probably felt there were few if any real innocent people in the city at all.
    • No 'probably' about it. Remember (in a book I can't remember offhand) where he prevents Detritus firing the Piecemaker because he might hit an innocent person, "Even in Ankh-Morpork."
    • There's also the possibility that the city in which the 'Being Bloody Stupid' act is actually enshrined into law also has decided that asking a Troll if he has rocks in his head is legally regarded as suicide.
    • Look at it from Vetinari's point of view, someone who has gone to lengths to cause problems and raise ethnic (speciesist?) tensions has now through his own stupidity caused his own removal from both the city and the gene-pool, and in a way that handily highlights the problems such behaviour causes. Provided the property damage is kept to a minimum then it doesn't effect the city, except by removing an irritant from it.
    • And then again, there's the undeniable fact that despite the gallows humor, living with this state of affairs is one of the many things that is slowly killing Vimes. I don't think it's a coincidence that his recovery from alcoholism and his growing power to actually protect the innocent instead of just talking about it happen at the same time.
    • Bear in mind, "suicide" was mentioned in the context of something that made watchmen go back on duty. The meaning behind calling those kinds of deaths suicide is not that there is no one to blame and punish for the death, it's that the victim was pretty much trying to die.
    • Why do you think the book opens with Vimes drunk and in the gutter? One of the Watchmen — his friend — died as they were trying to do something about all the crime. There's only three Watchmen at the time Carrot shows up, three cops versus a city of over a million people, with legalized theft (and murder, counting the Assassins). Vimes is Lawful Good, not Lawful Stupid. Attempting to do anything about those "suicides" and other crimes will only get him and the other outnumbered Watchmen killed...and won't change anything. That's why he's drunk and comparing the city to an unfaithful woman. He does care, but the task seems too big and unsurmountable. It takes Carrot and Sybil to show him otherwise.
    • Well - three points:
      • Vimes is a cop - he (at least at the early stages of his character development) does not make the rules, he just lives with them, although he's arguably rather comfortable with this one.
      • Many real-life societies used to have (or some perhaps still have) concept of words being considered so offensive that starting a fight in response to them was taken as completely acceptable. "Suicide/by being bloody stupid" is this concept taken Up to Eleven.
      • This is Ankh-Morpork, city where Assassins' and Thieves' Guild are completely legit operations.

    Noticing locks 

  • How do you lock an overthrown dictator in a dungeon without noticing that the locks aren't on your side?
    • The lock is on the outside of the dungeon (or more accurately both sides), it's the various bolts and such that are on the inside.
    • Putting someone in a dungeon isn't like a hotel, where the guard would walk them around and show them the amenities and then open the door to leave... they open the door, insert the prisoner, and close the door, never seeing the inside of it.
    • Heh. Why else would Vetinari have walked so compliantly to the cell and stepped inside, not giving his escort the slightest bit of trouble?
    • Hidden in Plain Sight or Weirdness Censor? After all, guards are not paid for their insights on prison architecture - this is Somebody Else's Problem.

    Magnificent bastard 

  • Why exactly is Vetinari supposed to be some kind of magnificent bastard in this? He outright discourages Vimes from considering the possibility off a dragon appearingnote , he has no idea whatsoever what to do with the dragon once it starts flapping around for people to see, assumes that just because he can speak to it he can solve the situation and once he realizes who the one responsible is he does nothing to stop them. All that screams jerk with too high an opinion of himself, not a competent ruler.
    • Well, the dragon was new territory for Vetinary, and you're also disregarding other instances of Magnificent Bastardry. Don't forget how magnificently he played the Guild of Thieves into keeping crime under control themselves and building a cell he can get out of at his leisure in case he gets thrown in it. Let's not forget how he tormented the Big Bad near the end of the book.
    • I think you're being a bit harsh on Vetinari. He stopped Vimes from talking about the dragon because he didn't want the city to panic over unsubstantiated rumors (Vimes wouldn't have spread them, but Vetinari didn't know that at the time). For another, he never had the opportunity to negotiate with the dragon, so we don't really know how that would have gone—maybe he could have solved the situation. Finally, I'm not sure if it's ever stated when Vetinari figured out who was behind the dragon, but it would have been an incredibly bad idea for him to try and stop him with the dragon living in the actual palace, and by the time the dragon's gone the Night Watch are already on the case.
    • It definitely seems to be a thing that he hasn't quite come into his ability to handle unexpected situations yet. He gets some Character Development throughout the series, and it hasn't happened yet. It's not just the slightly wrongheaded attempts to handle the dragon; "'They were laughing at me,' said the Patrician. 'I could tell!'" is amazingly petulant and emotional compared with his later behavior. He's clearly pretty clever about running the city when it's not any more wild and crazy than usual, but he hasn't been through enough major crises yet to handle them beyond trying to not get killed or turned into a lizard. It's only around Feet of Clay where he starts coming out ahead from setbacks rather than just trying to do damage control.

    Carrot and Minty's "Understanding" 
  • When Carrot first brings up Miss Rocksmacker, as a reason he'd rather not leave his home, he tells his father that they have "an...understanding". My mind, at least, can imagine no possible meaning of this that isn't sexual, but seeing as this is CARROT, that can't possibly be the case. So what the heck does he mean?
    • It could mean they're dating. There's tons of meanings for that besides sexual ones.
    • Or that Carrot's proposed. An "understanding" is an old-fashioned way of saying the couple wants to be wed. Given how conservative the dwarves are in later books, there might be an expectation of virginity before marriage. Another book brings up the point that dwarven courtship consists mainly of discreetly finding out what the other dwarf's gender is, after all.

    Sybil vs Bacon 
From the main page:
  • Considering Lady Sybil's subsequent campaign to bar Vimes from his beloved bacon sandwiches, it's a bit jarring for her to serve him an artery-clogging breakfast fry-up after the attack on the Watch House.
    • To be fair, that's Character Development and understandable. When you're just meeting someone and trying to be friends, you don't start off by imposing a dietary regime on him. A wife/mother trying to ensure her husband eats healthy so he'll live a long time is another matter; the "no burnt crunchy bits" thing doesn't start until after Fifth Elephant, when Sybil becomes pregnant.
    • Just to put my two cents in, also, in Guards, Guards Vimes thinks of himself as "skinny", then in Feet of Clay he thinks he's been putting on weight since he got married, and in Night Watch Rosie Palm points out he could stand to lose a bit. So when Sybil serves him a big greasy fryup, he probably looks like he could do with some feeding up, but eventually he puts on some pudge so she goes on her anti-bacon crusade. All things in moderation and all that.

    Talking rats? 
  • The rats are implied to talk, since Vetinari knows at least one rat's name, says they bring him news, and tells Skrp what to tell the kitchen staff, but we never actually see them talk on-page (Skrp is only seen communicating by twitching his nose and whiskers, like if he can talk he prefers not to), and Vimes seems to have enough trouble getting his head around the concept of rats understanding human speech. So I can't help wondering whether these are actual talking rats like in The Amazing Maurice or whether they're not quite that advanced but have their own way of communicating which Vetinari can somehow understand. Given the occasional Ambiguously Human jokes about him, it would make a kind of sense if he has a sort of vampire-like affinity with rats...