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Literature / Thud!

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Mr. Shine, him diamond!

The 34th Discworld novel and the seventh in the Watch theme.

"Thud" is the Discworld equivalent of chess, with pieces portraying dwarfs on one side and trolls on the other, at the legendary Battle of Koom Valley. The anniversary of the Battle is just around the corner. Since this was a very important date for both the Dwarfs and the Trolls (No one knows who won, who started it or what the heck actually happened, but everyone cries "Remember Koom Valley!" when they want to get the blood up), tensions are running high in Ankh-Morpork. Commander Vimes of the City Watch is not happy about this, nor about Salacia Von Humpeding, the new vampire recruit, nor about the Patrician's clerks poking about the Watch. Nevertheless, he takes all this in stride, and still manages to get home every day at six to read his son a bedtime story.

The situation only becomes worse when Hamcrusher, a grag (a sort of dwarven preacher and lorekeeper, a "deep-down" dwarf fundamentalist) who vehemently speaks out against trolls, is found murdered beside a troll club. Vimes visits the scene, butting heads with Hamcrusher's right-hand dwarf Ardent and a nervous servant named Helmclever, and finding an expansive tunnel system filled with doorways stretching underneath the streets of Ankh-Morpork. While there, he catches his hand on one of the sealed doorways, and it begins to itch...

Preceded by Going Postal, followed by Making Money. Preceded in the Watch series by Night Watch, followed by Snuff.

This book provides examples of:

  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls in Discworld are made out of metamorphorical rock (a portmanteau of the words metaphor and metamorphic). Once in a while a special diamond troll will turn up; these trolls tend to be the kings and leaders of the troll race. This is because diamond trolls are capable of regulating their internal body temperature; troll brains, being silicon-based, work better and faster the colder they get (as long as they don't actually freeze to death), and diamond is a very good thermal conductor, so diamond trolls are naturally the smartest trolls around
  • Alucard: Alluded to when a vampire character signs a secret message with their name spelled backwards.
  • Angst Coma: Vimes remembers at one point Mrs. Oldburton, who went mad after the death of her baby and began compulsively cleaning the house non-stop.
  • Arc Symbol: The Summoning Dark mine-sign, which looks somewhat like a floating eye with a tail. Every so often, objects around Vimes just so happen to fall in a way that forms this sign, which is a sign that Vimes has been possessed by the Summoning Dark. To a rather lesser extent, the Following Dark symbol, which is basically a written way of saying that doom is in the air.
  • Arc Words: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? — Who watches the watchmen?
    • Also: "Mr. Shine! Him diamond!"
    • They undermine our city and they don't obey our laws ...
    • "That is not my cow". At parts of the book fulfilling every "Crowning Moment Of ___" trope on this site.
    • "If you do it for a good reason, you'll do it for a bad one."
  • Armor-Piercing Response: After the attack on his house, Vimes is furious, just barely holding back the urge to pretty much kill the group of dwarfs who come to the station by his fingernails, until one of them says one thing; "They [meaning the same fundamentalists who just attacked the Vimeses] killed my son." Sam's fury evaporates.
  • Ascended Extra: A.E. Pessimal previously appeared as a humble Obstructive Bureaucrat in a short story, but is elevated to Beware The Boring Ones here.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The book opens with troll-dwarf tensions simmering over, to the point where everyone can feel the threatening atmosphere.
  • Attractiveness Isolation: Currently provides the page quote for the trope. Tawneee the dancer falls under this, even going so far as to go out with Nobby, simply because he's the first person to ever ask.
  • Badass Boast: One brilliant yet simple one from the Guarding Dark.
    Imagine how strong I must be.
    • An unexpected one from A.E. Pessimal: Come on if you think you're hard enough!
  • Battle Butler: Willikins, who was once a member of a street gang, served as a surprisingly effective Sergeant (biting off someone's nose in the process), helps to calm the riots and stabs a Dwarf with his ice knife. Which he happened to be holding, having been cutting ice in the cellar.
    • A.E. Pessimal is similar — although he's a Battle Bureaucrat... wannabe. At the end of the book, Vimes makes him a watchman with a desk job, but stipulates he needs to go onto patrols two nights a week to make sure he understands the job fully. This is the short stuffy office worker's dream come true—although Vimes is quick to point out that anyone who would go after a troll bare handed, quite literally tooth and nail to protect his commander has earned his place in the Watch... as well as the right to call His Excellency His Grace Commander Sir Samuel Vimes "Mister Vimes".
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The Summoning Dark vs The Guarding Dark, Vimes' inner Watchman. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes indeed.
    "He created me. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen? Me. I watch him. Always." [...] "But I think you misunderstand. I am not here to keep darkness out. I'm here to keep it in."
  • Beneath Suspicion: Brick is so far down in the dregs even Chrysoprase's most intensive search blows right over him.
  • Berserk Button: The Summoning Dark searches for these in its victims to use as a portal into the world. See above for what happens in Sam Vimes' mind when it tries the same thing on him.
    • Questioning the motives of Mr. Shine turns out to be this for Detritus. When Vimes does, the normally placid troll suddenly explodes at him in a way that unnerves a man who's already fought werewolves.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: A.E. Pessimal, the prissy milquetoast bureaucrat investigating the watch turns out to be an insanely brave badass who attacks a troll barehanded that was about to kill Vimes and manages to distract it for long enough for Detritus to intervene.
  • Beyond the Impossible: The head of the Uberwald Temperance League has somehow learned how to roll his w's, apparently overcompensating for an after-lifetime of speaking in Vampire Vords.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Cwm (pronounced "koom") is Welsh for "valley".
  • The Brainless Beauty: Tawneee Mobil. Thicker than a yard of lard, but it doesn't really matter.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Sally is the first vampire in the watch, but she gets in due to the Temperance League and Vetinari forcing her on Vimes (despite his well-known aversion to vampires). When he discovers she's a spy for the Low King, he keeps her on the force because she is useful, but is happy that this means he won't have any more people forced on him.
  • Brick Joke: Koom Valley was mentioned back in Men at Arms as the only battle in history where both armies ambushed each other. It turns out that was a misunderstanding.
  • Calling Card: Supernatural variant, as scattered objects near the Dark-inhabited Vimes keep arranging themselves into the Summoning Dark symbol.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • Vimes' previous joke that he used to be "blackboard monitor" in The Fifth Elephant suddenly isn't so funny any more when he ends up dealing with some very fundamentalist dwarves, who attach the same stigma to someone wiping out words as, say, a human would to someone who defaces sacred items.
    • Also, the revelation of what actually happened at Koom Valley. What was once a humorous Noodle Incident (both sides somehow ambushed each other) is now a tragic mistake and conspiracy that led to centuries of needless deaths.
    • In-universe this is noted in the first page. In the dwarf creation story the part about trolls being unintended abominations was clearly added much later by a second author.
  • Chalk Outline: At the crime scene Carrot examines as "smelter", the position of Hamcrusher's body is outlined in glowing chalk made from crushed vurms. A rare case where Discworld does not play this trope for laughs, but for creepiness.
  • Character Development: Vimes is forced to compromise on two of his most strongly held principles, which go back to Men at Arms and have been referenced in nearly every Watch book since: his particular hatred of vampires and refusal to employ them in the Watch, and his reluctance to ask the wizards for help.
    • Also, paralleling the way computer technology has gone from a gimmick to mainstream use in police work, he finally learns how to use one of his Dis-organizers and puts it to good use. Granted, he finds a person to do the same work for him, but he seems quite fond of Gooseberry.
  • City Mouse: A trend amongst the cosmopolitan young dwarfs of the Discworld's big city is sushi rat, bought from Gimlet's Hole Food Delicatessan's new franchise "Yo, Rat!" (a parody of the UK's Yo! Sushi chain).
  • Companion Cube: Reputedly played straight by the Tenth Egg Street Can't-Think-Of-A-Name gang, a band of street trolls so thick that they count a lump of concrete on a piece of string as a gang member.
  • Continuity Nod: In the barricade scene, when the Watch stands its ground between two mobs of battle-crazy dwarfs and trolls, Fred Colon asks Vimes if he remembers 'another barricade.' Colon is of course referring to the barricades erected by the Watch and the citizenry of Ankh Morpork on the night of the Glorious Revolution, at which both Colon and a sixteen year-old Vimes had been present. Colon also mentions Sergeant Keel, who 'pulled a trick or two that night'. The 'Sergeant Keel' Colon refers to was in fact Vimes himself, who travelled back thirty years into his own past during the events of Night Watch Discworld due to a major time anomaly that was the focus of Thief of Time.
    • Night Watch Discworld also had the Arc Words "at this time, in this place" in reference to the Glorious Revolution, eventually being used by Vetinari to inform Vimes that he will tolerate his defiance because the significance of the day warrants it. Near the end of the book, Vimes uses the same words in a demand to the Low King, who complies for similar reasons to Vetinari.
    • There's a passing mention of Treacle Mine Road's watchhouse, which was destroyed by the dragon in Guards! Guards!, then revisited by time-traveling Vimes in Night Watch Discworld. At the end of the latter, restoring Vimes' old HQ was Vetinari's obligatory end-of-book reward to his Watch Commander, and Thud! proves he'd made good on this pledge.
    • Vimes also mentions, sardonically, that it's been a long time since the city burned down. Faced with the complexities of city politics and running the modern Watch, he grows nostalgic for the days when it was just him, Colon, Nobby and Carrot confronting obvious problems, like a gigantic fire-breathing dragon.
    • Mention is also made of Detritus's girl, Ruby, now his wife.
    • Several to the immediately previous Discworld novel, Going Postal:
      • Mr. Pony is mentioned briefly as the head of the Guild of Artificers (quite a step up since Going Postal).
      • Vimes complains about "that pea-brained idiot from the Post Office" making commemorative Koom Valley stamps (one showing the dwarves ambushing the trolls, the other showing the situation in reverse) - this references Stanley Howler from Going Postal, who was raised by peas. Afterwards, Vimes and Cheery discuss Sto Plains cabbage stamps, which Stanley designed in the last book - with the added nugget that they've turned out to be highly volatile if you place too many together.
      • Dave's Pin Emporium is implied to have become a stamp collector's specialist shop.
      • Sir Reynold almost recites the old saying about pins, which goes "See a pin and pick it up, and all day long you'll have a pin."
    • Sybil, accompanying Vimes and co. to Koom Valley, cheerfully mentions her and Sam's last 'holiday'. Vimes reminds her that werewolves tried to eat him.
    • Sir Reynold mentions that the museum's night watchman lives in the attic. Presumably, it was his time-frozen family whom Lady Myria was using as furniture ("Pull up a small child") in Thief of Time.
    • Vimes is evidently being driven mad by rage and the Summoning Dark during the final confrontation with the grags, judging by the increasing number of exclamation marks he uses. (It's been established in the series that 5 is the sign of a deranged mind.)
    Vimes (quoting from his son's favorite book- it's complicated): That! Is!! Not!!! My!!!! Cow!!!!!
    • When Vimes says everyone in the Watch starts at lance-constable, his internal monologue notes that this isn't strictly true. In Feet of Clay, Cheery was told that, as forensics officer, she was technically a corporal, as long as she didn't give orders to real watchmen.
    • One of the members of the Temperance League who meet with Vimes to foist a vampire Watchman on him is Doreen Winkings, the Countess Notfaroutoe, last seen in Reaper Man with her husband Arthur, as a member of the Fresh Start Club.
    • The Pork Futures Warehouse, and its frigid condition's supercharging impact on the troll brain, reappear for the first time since Men at Arms.
    • Vimes meets privately with Ridcully in the UU gardener's shed, where compost sacks provide improvised seating. Looks like Modo from Reaper Man remains a dedicated craftsdwarf where composting is concerned.
    • Sally mentions that Bonk is in the process of establishing a proper police force, not just the political-puppet enforcers of privilege it'd had in The Fifth Elephant. Sounds like Vimes' lesson to Tantony about law enforcement's greater responsibilities has left a lasting impression.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: The one betrayed miner who didn't die instantly scrawled the Summoning Dark symbol in his blood.
  • Could Say It, But...: Vimes and Ridcully engage in some of this, though Ridcully, despite having been introduced to the concept as far back as Interesting Times, still hasn't quite got the hang of it entirely.
  • Covered in Gunge: Although not seen, Sally and Angua's trip through the sewers leaves them covered in foul-smelling mud. It takes about six or seven showers to get rid of it.
  • Cowboy Cop: Vimes always has elements of this, but after the deep dwarfs make things very personal he has to fight the urge to embrace it totally.
    "Beating people up in little rooms... he knew where that led. And if you did it for a good reason, you'd do it for a bad one."
  • Creating Life Is Unforeseen: According to one legend, Tak (the Dwarf creator deity) made the First Man and the First Dwarf from a rock. Afterward, the rock was trying to come life by itself, leading to the creation of the First Troll. Depending on which version you hear he either never noticed or happily adopted it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: the Summoning Dark-possessed Vimes vs. the dark dwarfs. And the Guarding Dark against the Summoning Dark.
  • Dark Is Evil: Dwarves don't believe this and it's usually averted with their mine-signs, which usually take the form of X Dark and can mean pretty much anything- 'Long Dark' simply means a mine, for instance- but there's two instances that play it mostly straight. There's the Following Dark sign, which means 'apprehension about the future' and generally signals that the writer thinks the situation is going to go to hell very fast, and the Summoning Dark, which is considered the evilest of the mine signs and is also a vengeance-driven entity of pure darkness driven away by light.
  • Deception Non-Compliance: A deliberately Revealing Cover-Up is used for this purpose. Helmclever can't stop or expose the villains' operation himself, so he deliberately goes too far in trying to keep their secret, ensuring that as many people as possible receive strict instructions against cooperating with the Watch. In fact, he knows perfectly well that the Watch will see such conspicuous silence as all the more reason to investigate - and that Commander Vimes will be personally angered by it.
  • Demonic Possession: How the Summoning Dark works. It gets into people and feeds their anger and thirst for vengeance, influencing their actions more and more. It's been in Vimes for most of the book, ever since he passed by the locked door, behind which a dying, betrayed miner had invoked the Summoning Dark.
  • Derailed Fairy Tale: Well, derailed children's book; Vimes pokes fun at the fact that Where's My Cow features farm animals that the city-dwelling Sam Jr. will never see alive ("They go sizzle!") and decides to tell his own version featuring prominent Ankh-Morpork people and the sounds they make instead. Unfortunately, he has to stop because Sybil doesn't like Sam Jr. mimicking Foul Ole Ron's catchphrase of "Buggerit." This is also the plot of the defictionalized Where's My Cow? book.
  • Determinator: It's Vimes. Always. Even if he's fighting Unstoppable Rage itself.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The murder of a fundamentalist dwarf which was planned to be pinned on trolls, because of course a troll would kill a dwarf, goes completely belly-up when Brick, a troll, is actually present at the murder scene and gets away.
  • Disappeared Dad: Vimes treats it as extremely serious business to avoid becoming this trope and never misses reading his son's bedtime story for any reason, even going so far as to shut down all the traffic in Ankh-Morpork so he can leg it home in time.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The contrast between Hamcrusher and Bashfulsson and those who follow them, with radical preachers trying to take over parallel communities of immigrants, trying to turn them against the culture of their adopted home by invoking fundamentalist ideas and traditions, as well as those groups' insistence that their internal problems are to be handled internally and according to their tradition not general law, is something that is strongly analogous to the struggle between traditionalist/fundamentalist and moderate streams visible in many different religious (and nonreligious) communities, particularly among immigrant populations.
    • Once again, the stigma against female dwarfs admitting they're female reminds one of that against homosexuality and transgender presentation. Especially when Carrot implies that the deep-downers (very religious, set-in-their-ways dwarfs) are very hostile towards women who display their femininity.
  • Doomed New Clothes: When Vimes meets a gangster troll in a cold warehouse, the trolls give him a fur coat to keep him warm, and offers to let him take it home to give to his wife. Vimes quickly has it destroyed, to show that he won't be bribed.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Johnny, driver of the carriage which Vimes commandeers in his rush home for Young Sam's storytime, brags about being able to do wheelies and two-wheel-driving stunts with a coach-and-four.
  • Drums of War: As the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley approaches and tensions grow between the dwarves and the trolls, mention is made of troll war drums called gahanka. Traditionally it is made of cured Dwarf-skin for preference, stretched over a frame. Human skin will do, if Dwarf is in short supply; although today's trolls assure humans they don't do dat sort of ting no more and use animal leather.
  • Dying Curse: A group of Dwarven miners are betrayed and killed by their masters. One takes a while to die, and uses the opportunity to write down the symbol of the Summoning Dark, a demonic embodiment of vengeance.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Summoning Dark.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A troll thug working for the troll Mafia (specifically, Chrysoprase) gives an implied threat to Vimes' family in the middle of the Watchhouse, and is sent back being carried by his comrades. When Vimes speaks to Chrysoprase later, itís heavily implied he executed the thug for doing so, and offers his remains to Vimes as a rockery.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Alluded to after Vimes recovers from going full-on berseker. Even though dwarfs are perfectly able to defend themselves, part of the human brain instinctively objects to fighting someone the size of a child.
  • Facial Dialogue: Vimes and Vetinari have learned to communicate through this:
    He gave Vetinari the look which said: if you take this any further I will have to lie.
    Vetinari returned one which said: I know.
    'You yourself are not too badly injured?' the Patrician said aloud.
    'Just a few scratches, sir,' said Vimes.
    Vetinari gave him a look which said: broken ribs, I'm certain of it.
    Vimes returned one which said: nothing.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Vimes' insistent refusal to countenance supernatural explanations for his Summoning Dark experience, despite living in a city with a university for wizards.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Quite early in, during one of the Summoning Dark scenes, the narration mentions footsteps, slow, but the Dark knows they'll catch up. They do.
    • Mr Shine: him diamond! Mr Shine is a diamond troll.
    • When Vimes thinks of those guilty of the murders, he says "When I catch up with them, and I will, I hope there's someone to hold me back." That's exactly what happens.
    • This exchange between Vimes and Pessimal:
      Vimes: "Who watches the watchmen?" Me, Mr Pessimal.
      Pessimal: Ah, but who watches you, Your Grace?
      Vimes: I do that, too.
    • "You stared into the dark until it blinked. You stared it down."
    • The version of "The Things Tak Wrote" at the beginning has the description add that the last paragraph of the original seems to have been added much later than the rest of it. The real version of "The Things Tak Wrote" paints trolls as an equal to dwarves and humans, something the deep-downers want to keep from getting out.
    • Early on, Vimes muses on the importance of paying attention to graffiti, as it often provides insight into what the community as a whole is thinking. It later turns out this is even more true in a dwarf mine, where "mine-sign" frequently provides the only way for dwarfs to express their feelings without starting bloody fights. Moreover, Vimes' observation that "you ignored the writing on the wall at your peril" proves to be far more literally true than he imagined.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Sally, seemingly just trying to get along in the Big Wahoonie, but is subsequently found to be a spy for Rhys Rhysson, Low King of the Dwarfs... which Vetinari knows already, and Vimes suspects from the beginning but can't prove, in the usual wheels-within-wheels fashion of most things relating to Vetinari.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Blink and you'll miss it, but during the climax, Sally uses her "turn into a cloud of bats" ability during combat, which has the abovementioned drawback.
    He raised the bow again, looked round at a noise like two slabs of meat being slapped together, and was picked up and thrown across the cave by a naked woman. An astonished miner swung his axe at the smiling girl, who vanished in a cloud of bats.
    • Both Angua and Sally in their scene in the sewers—drawbacks of being shapeshifters.
  • Funetik Aksent: Brick's so thick even his inner thoughts are like dis.
  • Fur Against Fang: Werewolves and vampires do not get along. The "elegant" nature of vampires makes werewolves feel like stupid animals, and vampires are envious of the werewolves' ability to easily change shape and pass as human.
  • Gargle Blaster: Three examples show up - Troll-booze known as "Big Hammer" which etches pavements, the recurring Scumble that is made of "mostly apples" (and a strong cocktail "Fluff" made by mixing Scumble with Dwarven Beer), and a variety of unnaturally brightly-coloured cocktails with paper umbrellas in that Sally is unable to stomach properly due to the potency of their combined ingredients.
  • Genre Savvy: Indeed, how did Bashfullsson know Vimes would be going to Koom Valley? Was it the power of story, or the Summoning Dark? Or did he just realize that Vimes (with or without the Summoning Dark) would never stop investigating until he'd rooted out the whole mystery? Or did Mr. Shine, who knows what's really going on, slip him some info?
    • When Vetinari and Drumknott discuss who would win between Vimes and a semi-demonic elemental force of vengeance as old as the universe, they conclude it's too close to call. At the deciding moment the two are so evenly matched his muscles lock up mid-swing and he has to be rescued before the strain injures him.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Vimes has Mr. A.E. Pessimal put in the Specials unit just as they're assigned to break up a riot before it starts mainly to mess with him. It turns out this is A.E.'s lifelong dream.
  • Good is Not Nice: The Summoning Dark is not actually evil; it is in fact a spirit of righteous vengeance, summoned to kill those who broke one of the most sacred dwarf laws (and are continuing to break it). No one ever expresses the idea that the Dark's victims don't deserve to die. But in the modern world, the rule of law and justice is more important than killing the guilty, so Vimes knows he needs to stop it.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ardent kills a group of miners who happened to be nearby when the Device was found. They didn't even know what it said - they were just a bunch of dwarfs who wanted to feel like proper dwarfs for a day or two, and got murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Heroic Willpower: Vimes, particularly at the end of the book.
  • Hooking the Keys: Averted, with Fred Colon being established as a particularly good jailer for, among other reasons, keeping the cell keys in a little tin box on the bottom drawer of his desk, where no one can reach them this way.
  • Hypocrite: The deep-downers hate Vimes's title of Blackboard Monitor, because, to them, the destruction of words is a severely heinous crime. But, at the same time, they are also willing to erase the true version of their creation story, as well as the truth behind Koom Valley, even going so far as to try and destroy the bodies to make it happen. That said, their absolute refusal to break the letter of their law by erasing words is a plot point, since it means that they can't just destroy the Devices that contain problematic evidence but must conceal their existence instead.
    • In a moment of frustration brought on by Vimes questioning the motives of Mr. Shine, Detritus accuses Vimes of this, pointing out thet he's bending over backwards to accommodate the dwarf traditionalists and community (though mainly because the alternative is snapping spectacularly) but not giving the troll community any of the same benefit of the doubt. Vimes can only shakily apologize, although this is due to being taken aback by Detritus of all people yelling at him.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: A.E. Pessimal
  • I Know Karate: Bashfulsson dispatches Ardent with some sort of dwarf martial art:
    "It is like using an axe, but without the axe."
  • I'll Kill You!: What Vimes screams at the dwarfs who invade his house and head towards Young Sam's bedroom, many times.
  • Implacable Man: Vimes when possessed by the Summoning Dark. Actually Vimes Period.
  • Implausible Deniability: Vimes does not deny the existence of the Summoning Dark, but tries to convince himself that it has not messed with him and the scar on his wrist does not look like its symbol. Surely it's just because of the dwarfs and their beliefs that even the Low King is hesitant to antagonize him when the scar is in view. Not that any of this would stop Vimes from using it if he needs some extra leverage.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness
    Watchmen across half the continent will say that Sam Vimes is as straight as an arrow, can't be corrupted, won't be turned, never took a bribe.
    • Though Vimes is a Deconstruction: the reason heís incorruptible is his constant vigilance against his dark side.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Combined with The Tape Knew You Would Say That after a historical recording proves that a major facet of dwarf life is completely wrong:
    "For the enemy is not Troll, nor is it Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good. Those we fought today, but the wilful fool is eternal and will say-"
    "This is just a trick!" Ardent shouted.
    "-say this is a trick."
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Vimes calls out the troll Chrysoprase during their talk. Chrysoprase knew there was a troll club found at Hamcrusher's murder scene. Chrysoprase dismisses the accusation by claiming that he has merely overheard Dwarf gossip. Which is probably true, as Brick hadn't yet told anyone what he'd seen when Chrysoprase met with Vimes.
  • Innocent Swearing: Sam Vimes reads his son his own version of Where's My Cow? with the Catch Phrases of prominent Ankh-Morporkians instead of animal noises, including Foul Ole Ron's "Bugrit! Millenium hand and shrimp!" The next day Young Sam says "Buglit!" to his nanny, and from then on Vimes sticks to the authorised version.
  • Insistent Terminology: Vimes only allows people who have fought alongside him to call him "Mister Vimes".
  • Ironic Echo: When Vimes first gets an audience with a grag, he mocks their belief that light is evil and blinds you. However, some dozens of pages later, Vimes talks about visible shades of darkness, and recalls the memory of when he stopped using the lantern in the Night Watch.
    He'd learned, then, not to use his little lantern. Light only ruined your vision, it blinded you. You stared into the dark until it blinked. You stared it down.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: Spoofed in both directions: Colon reasons that a picture's in a museum and has an urn, a plinth, or a cherub somewhere in it, it must be art; Nobby rationalizes Tawneee's job as "artistic."
    • Subverted with Tawneee as she honestly believes men come to watch her dance because she's really good at dancing. Some of what she does is quite difficult, see?
  • Large Ham: Mr. Boggis is apparently in danger of being killed by the God of Over-Acting.
  • The Laws and Customs of War
  • Literal-Minded: Some of the dwarfs faced with a beyond-furious Sam at the climax of the book get very confused by what he's screaming. What cow? What horse? How the hell'd they get underground?
  • Mad Artist: Methodia Rascal, who painted the Koom Valley painting the plot is driven by, believed he was a chicken. Or that he was being pursued by a chicken; the notes he left weren't consistent on this point, as the characters note. Either way he was eventually found dead with a mouth full of feathers after writing IT COMES.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Anything designed by Bloody Stupid Johnson, such as Empirical Crescent, which continues his newly-revealed ability to turn simple stupidity into mind-bending horror.
  • Meaningful Name: 'Ardent' means passionate or zealous.
  • Memetic Badass: Being a Trollish culture hero, Mr Shine is one of these in-universe.
    Him who hammer him break him no
    Him who fire him fear him no
  • Miranda Rights: The Discworld equivalent. Apparently, prisoners being allowed tea is #5 and a biscuit is #5b. Prisoners only get right #5c if they have Teatime Assortment in stock.
  • Mugging the Monster: More like mugging the family of monsters. A suicidal attack of dark dwarves on Vimes' family did not take into account Willikins and his ice knife, the symbol of the Summoning Dark forming and terrifying one of the attackers into stumbling off a balustrade or the fact that a flamethrower makes for a bad weapon against a dragon breeder in full protective gear, surrounded by her dragons who take the attack as a challenge...
    • The Summoning Dark bit off a bit more than it could chew when it attempted to possess Vimes. It ended up thrown out by the Guarding Dark.
  • The Men First
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Vimes mentions that this is about how far he understands dwarfish.
    He knew dwarfish, in a 'The axe of my aunt is in your head' kind of way, and it didn't sound like that at all.
  • Nay-Theist: Bashfulsson doesn't "believe" in the Summoning Dark, he just knows that it exists - and is extremely dangerous.
    • Vimes acknowledges the existence of the Summoning Dark, but privately convinces himself that it didn't mess with him and the scar on his wrist does not look like the symbol, nope, definitely not.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe, Vimes quietly thinks this of his butler. He defended himself against an assassination squad in the cellar using an ice knife. A knife used for cutting foot-wide blocks. It's a foot and a half of steel.
    If Willikins wanted someone dead, he wouldn't have taken a prisoner. It must have been a surprise, breaking into a cellar and meeting something like Willikins.
    • Note that this is a rare positive instance of this trope. When you've got incidents like teams of assassins coming through your basement walls to murder your family it's a very good thing to have a loyal butler like Willikins.
  • Noodle Incident: Non-comedic example in the Battle of Koom Valley. All they know is that dwarves fought trolls and vice-versa. The climax finally sheds some light on it.
  • The Nose Knows: One of Angua's main contributions to the Watch, but here Sally's ability to sense heartbeats continually threatens to one-up her.
  • No True Scotsman: A major problem with the dwarf-troll argument is that, when Koom Valley Time comes around, both types of being start getting extremely self-conscious about this.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: When Lady Sybil and young Sam spend time at Pseudopolis Yard, the officers begin combing their hair, speaking quietly and less coarsely, and wiping their boots at the door.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Mr. Shine uses this on Vimes when the latter questions his concern for Brick:
    Vimes: Tell me why you helped Brick. Why should you care about a slushed-out gutter troll?
    Shine: Why should you care about some dead dwarfs?
    Vimes: Because someone has to!
    Shine: Exactly! Goodbye, Mister Vimes.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: When Vetinari learns that A. E Pessimal attacked a troll bare-handed, he looks genuinely taken aback for one of the only times in the entire series. He has to make very sure they're talking about the same A. E. Pessimal ("Small man? Very clean shoes?"), before asking in an uncharacteristically direct fashion "Why?"
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: It's mentioned that instead of four angels guarding his bed, young Sam has four trolls watching over him, all of them just itching for some deep down dwarfs to try something.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A.E. Pessimal.
  • Older Than They Look: Sally could have passed for 16, but is actually 51, though by vampire standards she's of "no age at all."
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: It's subtle, but Vimes is acting much angrier than normal for a significant portion of the book. By that point, readers may have already guessed that he's the Summoning Dark's host.
  • Orphaned Etymology: When Carrot tells Vimes about Hamcrusher's death, he thinks back to "cassandraic warnings" he heard from Angua and Fred, despite the lack of a Cassandra of Troy on the Discworld. note  note 
  • Painting the Medium: There are some instances, but mostly:
    Carrot: Well, technomantic Devices look like things that are built, you know, out of -
    Vimes: Captain, you've lost me again. What are Devices and why do you pronounce the capital D?
    • Sections of text are set apart, not by Pratchett's usual row of asterisks, but by the symbol of the Summoning Dark. At one point, a section ends with "For Brick, everything went dar-", immediately followed by a symbol that is Dark.
  • Papa Wolf: Vimes does not react well to the thought of his son being in danger.
  • Pardon My Klingon: "Why don't you go ghuhg yourself?"
    • In a similar vein we learn that the Troll word for "cigar" is wukwuk because it resembles the eponymous body part. The explainer's embarrassed reaction makes it quite clear what a wukwuk is.
  • Pet Gets the Keys: Defied by Fred Colon, whom the narration describes as being a particularly good jailor for, among other reasons, keeping the keys to his cells "in a tin box in the bottom drawer of his desk, a long way out of reach of any stick, hand, dog, cunningly thrown belt or trained Klatchian monkey spider." A footnote mentions this makes him possibly unique in the annals of jail history.
  • Pet the Dog: Briefly, but the Summoning Dark manifests in some form or other by young Sam's cradle, protecting him from the deep down assassin, when not doing anything would probably have suited its purposes better.
  • Plague of Good Fortune: Vimes is beginning to worry about this, having gone from a drunken nobody to a happily-married, filthy rich, world-famous Duke in just a few years.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Grag Hamcrusher's.
  • Portmanteau: Trolls are said to be made out of "metamorphorical" rock, a portmanteau of "metamorphic", a type of rock, and "metaphorical". This is used to explain Brick: trolls tend to take on the appearance of the dominant rock where they grow up, and he grew up in a city.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Dwarves and trolls around Koom Valley Day.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: That! Is!! Not!!! My!!!! Cow!!!!!
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Brick regards being the center of attention in a room full of watchmen to be his worst nightmare. Then he remembers all the surreal nightmares he had from particularly bad trips and is mentally distracted sorting them out, getting up to his nineteenth-worst nightmare before Carrot brings him back to the present.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?:
    • Vimes's reputation as an honest copper, who will arrest anyone if they break the law, is based on his exploits in previous Watch novels.
    • Vimes gets a bit narked at the fact that, amid listing his achievements (arresting two armies, killing a werewolf with his bare hands), the people saying this usually include "maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but..."
  • Retcon: Remember, in Feet of Clay, when Carrot was taking Angua to the Battle Bread Museum to show her the actual Battle Bread of B'hrian Bloodaxe, used in the Battle of Koom Valley? Remember when they found the museum curator dead, and that same battle bread had been used to kill him? Here, the Battle Bread never left Koom Valley, since it is found next to Bloodaxe's centuries-old ossified corpse in the hidden cave, with multiple dwarven scholars verifying the Bread's authenticity.
    • However in this case it's also worth considering the Grags' somewhat... ecumenical approach when it comes to replicas of historical sacred relics.
    • There's also the fact that there was more than one Battle of Koom Valley, and B'hrian Bloodaxe could well have used a different loaf of battle bread for earlier ones.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The dark dwarfs attack to cover up the truth of Koom Valley, but by trying to do so they lead Vimes right to it.
  • Revenge: The Summoning Dark is some sort of personification of revenge for Dwarfs.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The grag guards are prepared to fight for their bosses, and have the flamethrowers to prove it. They are prepared to die for their bosses. They are not, however, prepared to fight and die fighting a blood-soaked berserker warrior wielding two axes and screaming a child's bedtime story so loud it shakes the cavern. It's just not something they are equipped to deal with.
    • One of the deep down assassins that sees the Summoning Dark symbol backpedals out of Young Sam's room so fast he breaks through the bannister and falls to the ground floor. He then decides to cut his losses and run, unwilling to face that to carry on his mission.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Vimes describes thinking that spelling their name backwards is an impenetrable disguise is one of the lesser known failings of the vampire. It's how he's able to confirm that Salacia is sending messages to someone, later revealed to be the Low King, behind their backs. The messages were being sent by an "Aicalas".
  • Shame If Something Happened: After two troll thugs working for the troll crime boss Chrysoprase tell Commander Vimes that their boss wants to see him, Vimes tells them "Well, he knows where I live," to which one of them remarks meaningfully "Yeah, he does." Not a good idea. Later, Chrysoprase insists to Vimes that he never gave orders to make any threats, and had the infractors... dealt with. Later in the story, the Low King of the Dwarfs unthinkingly does this in a moment of anger. To his credit, he immediately shuts up when he realizes what he said and is informed what the fundamentalist grags had ordered earlier in the book (and what happened to the people who carried those orders out)...
  • Shout-Out: The Long Dark rune, which simply symbolizes the entrance to any mine or delving, is a circle with a horizontal line through it - which in Real Life is the symbol of The London Underground and is displayed on signs outside the entrances to Tube stations.
    • The term may be a reference to the "long dark of Moria".
    • The mysterious Cubes, all-powerful Devices which appear to store massive amounts of energy, come in various forms, and for which nobody, not even the Dwarfs, as a clue as to who made them nor how they work. This appears to be a reference to the Cosmic Cubes of the Marvel Comics universe which appear in Spidey Super Stories in the hands of a malevolent Dwarf-like character called Thanos. The Cubes and Devices are never referred to again in the Discworld cycle.
    • "The Gooseberry", the new Dis-organizer, is an obvious one for the Real Life Blackberry mobile email device.
      • Possibly unintentional, but another well-known fruit-named computer, the Macintosh, was the first computer to become easily usable to new computer users. It was also the 5th Apple computer (after the I, II, III, and Lisa), much like the Gooseberry is the Disorganizer Mark V.
      • Excellent double pun as well, since (at least in the UK) 'gooseberry' is another term for a third wheel, or in other words someone you really wish would leave you alone and let you get on with the task at hand...
    • There's also the older than... something legend surrounding King Arthur that his army met Mordred's army to parlay but one of Arthur's knights sees a snake about to strike. The knight raises his sword to kill the snake which Mordred's guys take as an ambush and the whole thing just gets messy. Sounds a lot like Koom Valley, doesn't it?
    • The unsanitary game of "Poosticks" (referenced in a footnote) seems to be a shout out to "Poohsticks" from Winnie the Pooh
    • "I do not drink... wine." Subverted by Sally and Angua after a night of what Sergeant Colon terms as a night of "minge drinking", as Sally is throwing up in a corner.
      Angua: Serves you right for drinking... vine.
      Sally: Oh ha ha. I am perfectly fine with sarcastic pause "vine" thank you!
    • A double shoutout, to the American Civil War and the song "War" comes from Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs:
      Fred: War, Nobby. Huh! What is it good for?
      Nobby: Dunno, Sarge. Freeing slaves, maybe?
      Fred: Absol—well, okay.
    • "War" is referenced again when Angua goes out drinking with Cheery, Sally, and Tawneee as the narration asks what fun is good for as they get increasingly drunk.
    • "The Battle of Koom Valley" is based on similar pictures in real life. More specifically, it's an allusion to the Civil War cyclorama, famous for being the 'Largest Painting in the World', painted in the 1890s.
    • Vimes maintains three boxes for paperwork on his desk: In, Out, and Shake It All About. This implies the "Hokey Pokey" (or, given Sir PTerry's nationality, the "Hokey Cokey") song is known in Discworld.
    • Bashful Bashfullsson's name is yet another example of Discworld dwarf names that Shout-Out to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
    • Sir Reynold Stitched, curator of the Royal Art Museum of Ankh-Morpork, is a play on British arts pundit Sir Brian Sewell, who has a similarly thick accent.
    • Likewise, enfant terrible artist Daniellerina Pouter, whose masterpiece is an artfully assembled pile of rags and rubbish and who is known to get confrontational concerning her work, is a Discworld take on avant-garde artiste Tracey Emin.
    • "The axe of my aunt is in your head" is a play on the archetypal introductory foreign language class, which has students learning silly sentences like "the pen of my aunt is on the table" until they pick up enough vocabulary to be able to make meaningful statements.
    • Tawneee notes her real name is Betty, but she uses the stage name because she thinks Betty would just make her sound like she needs to hold a spoon in her hand.
    • The nature of trolls as the fundamentally different form of life that is oft discriminated against and assumed to be little more than animals at first glance, but was, in fact, adopted by the Creator ironically mirrors that of dwarfs in The Lord of the Rings, who were created by Aule, but adopted by Eru Iluvatar, who gave them the spark of life after seeing how they strove to live.
    • Hiker and guide writer Eric Wheelbrace (who was also mentioned in The Discworld Mapp) is a pretty obvious nod to Alfred Wainwright. However, they differ fundamentally in personality; whereas Wainwright — for all the ire his books would draw from farmers for suggesting routes that wandered off the official rights of way — was noted for his humble and kindly nature, Eric represents the rather nastier and more aggressive archetype of British fell-walkers — those who believe their "Right to Roam" (wherever they like) supercedes all else, such as other people's right to keep trespassers off their land.
      Eric believed firmly that The Land Belonged To The People, and also that he was more The People than anyone else was.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: When the Deep Dwarfs kill the miners who knew too much, one doesn't die instantly and has enough time to scrawl out the Summoning Dark symbol in his own blood.
  • Smart People Play Chess: The game of the battle between dwarfs and trolls plays a central role in the story, and most sympathetic characters outside the Watch are players.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Mr Shine is explaining how humans came to view trolls as mindless monsters.
    Vimes: Don't look at me when you say that. Detritus is one of my best officers!
  • Stealth Pun: When Carrot is collecting Sally to go to the mine.
    Carrot: Now, Lance-Constable, have you ever seen a dead body?
    Sally: Strictly speaking, No.
    • A Vampire's reflection doesn't appear in the mirror.
      • Everyone knows that, who knows anything about Vampires.
  • Stock Phrase: "It's a dwarf/werewolf/vampire/married couple/female thing."
  • Stolen by Staying Still: A gigantic painting is stolen first by cutting it out of its cylindrical frame, then rolling it up among other rolls of fabric, to be removed later.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Vimes wonders if "the community leaders appealed for calm" really means that they're winking and saying "Do not use those shiny new battle-axes in that cupboard over there... No, not that one, the other one."
    • Also occurs between Archchancellor Ridcully and Vimes when Vimes needs fast transport to Koom Valley.
  • Take That!: Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is parodied and roundly mocked in this book.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: "This is just a trick!"
  • That Wasn't a Request: Carrot is attempting to investigate the death of a prominent dwarf community leader, but is being stymied by another dwarf:
    Helmclever: I refuse to comply with your request!
    Carrot: It wasn't a request.
  • They Call Me Mister Vimes: Sam Vimes has a strict code of who may call him "Commander," "Mr. Vimes," and even "Sam."
  • Tricked into Escaping: The dwarfs who chain up Detritus know perfectly well that the chains aren't strong enough, but are trying to provoke him into breaking them so that they have a justification to kill him. He doesn't fall for it.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: invoked
    • There are two "modern art" pieces by Daniellarina Pouter: Don't Talk to Me About Mondays, which consists of a pile of rags, and Freedom, which consists of a stake to which Ms. Pouter had been nailed after Lord Vetinari had seen her previous piece. (She was delighted and is planning to nail herself to a wide variety of objects in the near future as a special exhibition.)
    • Despite that, Nobby's suggestion that the empty frame where The Battle Of Koom Valley had been before it was stolen be reclassified as a piece of modern art named Art Theft was rejected.
  • Tulpa: The Guarding Dark, the part of Vimes' mind that keeps watch over the rest (especially the worst bits), is able to interact with the Summoning Dark, an ancient vengance demon.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Subverted in that Vimes does, in fact, manage to stop it when it comes to the moment of glowering over the cowering dwarfs with an axe in his hand. Far more awesome than it sounds since in stopping himself he was putting a lot of strain on his body, as in he was tearing himself apart. Thank whatever gods look out for coppers that Angua was about.
    Angua: You resisted for about four seconds, and then I brought you down.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Averted with museum curator Sir Reynold Stitched who, despite having an accent so posh that Nobby and Colon can barely understand him and being flabbergasted at their (lack of) knowledge of art, is never demeaning to either of them. He is also shown to not be at all stupid, as when Fred highlights the major clues about how the painting was stolen (that took him a long time to put together even after being told what to look for,) Sir Reynold pre-empts Fred's explanation and immediately works out what must have happened.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live:
    • The dwarves send a suicide squad to assassinate Vimes' family... causing him to pursue their sorry asses all the way into Koom Valley, and filling him with so much primal vengeful rage, he almost murders them.
    • One of the two troll enforcers for The Breccia attempt to intimidate Vimes by saying this... right in the middle of the Watch house while surrounded by officers. Chrysoprase assures Vimes later his man had no authorization to say that and would never make such a threat to a man like Vimes.
      • And offers Vimes a rockery, while sitting on a box that is implied to hold what is left of the offender; Vimes notes itís too small to contain a whole troll.
    • The Low King of the Dwarves almost pulls this on Vimes in a moment of anger before catching himself and mentioning diplomatically how nice it would be to meet his family. Vimes isn't fooled, but lets it slide.
  • Weapons of Their Trade: The butler for the Vimes household, Wilikins, is caught unawares by an assailant while cutting ice in the basement with an ice saw. He apologizes for being unable to avoid killing them.
  • Wham Line: When Vimes meets a number of senior dwarfs just after his house has been attacked by Deepdown troops, he's right on the verge of snapping, and the rage is building to breaking point (mainly at the fact that the senior dwarfs didn't act against the Deepdown preaching earlier, and the consequences)... then one of them, Setha Ironcrust (who'd made a comical cameo in Men at Arms) comes out with four words, in a dead voice, that just make all Vimes' rage drain away.
    "They killed my son."
  • What You Are in the Dark: Vimes finds himself alone in a cave with the dwarfs who have instigated the entire mess. Egged on by the Summoning Dark, he nearly kills them... but his own will to not cross that line overcomes it.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: Hamcrusher, the fundamentalist dwarf whose death kick starts the plot was rabble-rousing so badly Ankh-Morpork was on the brink of war. His murder doesn't have much to do with his fundamentalism.
  • Who Watches the Watchmen?: Vimes claims that they watch each other. But when he's alone his own inner watchman, the Guarding Dark, watches him.
    I watch him. Always.
  • With My Dying Breath I Summon You: This is how to call up the Summoning Dark. It's not enough to just write the symbol, you have to want it with your very last breath. In the book, a dwarf who's been betrayed, abandoned, and left to die does this. Fortunately for Sam Vimes, he harbors an even more powerful entity than the Summoning Dark.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Summoning Dark's eventual view of Vimes, expressed in its parting words.
    I salute you.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Fred is the only member of the Watch alive with more experience than Sam Vimes. Thus when the usually slow Fred calls his commander "Sam," Vimes knows Fred senses something very big and uneasy in the streets.
  • You Say Tomato: The peculiarly "posh" pronunciation of words used by Sir Reynold Stitched, the Arts Curator, draws a lot of comment from Nobby and Colon particularly, complete with its own lampshade and characteristic merciless mocking. The whole scene is a riff on how "gallerie" is a posh version of "gallery". Sir Reynold pronounces every word ending in a "y" this way.
    Sir Reynold Stitched: We've had a burglareah, officer!
    Nobby: A burglar rear?
    Fred Colon was impressed. You could barely understand the man, he was that posh.