- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- Carrot's Hidden Depths in this book help create the impression that he is just as competent a manipulator as the Patrician. This includes stopping a riot between dwarfs and trolls by talking (a feat noted to have got any other member of the watch killed) and bluffing the head of the Fool's Guild.
- Is the gonne itself somehow alive and actively corrupting its users, or is it all a product of the delusions of grandeur such a perfect killing tool puts into their heads? It seems to talk to them, and they have lucid moments that come and go... but most of them are degenerating mentally. It does fire itself at least once... but then again, that could just as easily be a product of the man in question fiddling around with something dangerous and volatile he didn't fully understand being interpreted differently by other characters later on.
- Genius Bonus: There is a throwaway line partway in the book, when Cuddy and Detrius are chasing the antagonist, that he runs down Grope Alley, which the book explains the origin of the name is "fortunately" lost in the mists of time. This is very amusing if you happen to know that many streets were renamed to "Grope" from "Gropecunt".
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- With the rise in stories about police brutality and shooting innocent people in the 2010s (or depending on how cynical you are, the rise in means to record these things), the Gonne's effect on Vimes is even more chilling. Ditto the part about how a good person will just kill you.
- Vimes's prejudice towards the undead along with Cuddy and Detritus quickly turning into Boomerang Bigots behind the badge are largely played for laughs, but much less funny in light of current discussions about deeply ingrained racism in policing.
- It Was His Sled: Angua is a werewolf. None of the subsequent Watch books make a secret of it, naturally, and there's a running gag in the other Ankh-Morpork books that the general populace - told only that there is a werewolf in the Watch - leap to the assumption that it's Nobby.
- Values Dissonance: Possibly the source of the biggest culture clash between British and American Discworld fans - the book has a very British attitude towards firearms that has caused some heated debate in the fandom.
- Which is ironic, given that the attitude towards weapons expressed by Vimes' internal monologue in Night Watch is more in line with an American one. Of course, Vimes is not Pratchett, and Pratchett was not Vimes, and in any case, Vimes was thinking from a very different standpoint when the City Watch was little more than the Patrician's gang of armed thugs.
- Also, the reason the gonne is portrayed as Very Bad within the story is the same reason that sourcery is Very Bad in Sourcery: it's a complete game breaker for the Discworld. (Whether or not, or to what extent, that reflects the real world is entirely up to the reader, and not really relevant in-story.) The point, which is explicitly brought up several times, is that all other forms of power on the Disc have built-in balancers. Magic is capricious and unreliable, and both witches and wizards are inherently resistant to forms of cooperation that don't involve highly-competitive fireball contests; melee weapons like swords require training and expertise; crossbows are unwieldy, and take both time and strength to wind up. The gonne, however, is instant power unlike anything else on the Disc, at one's fingertips: if allowed to exist in that world it would utterly destroy the balance of power. That's why it instantly corrupts anyone who touches it: it's the effect that kind of power has, especially in a world that runs on Narrativium. Trying to project this moral onto our world is just that: a projection, and outside the scope of the story.
- ... An interpretation which is in itself one other fans may disagree with! Pratchett always wrote fantasy that had a strong bearing on the real world. It is by no means self-evident exactly how applicable Pratchett saw the themes of this book to the real world.
- Woolseyism: The Swedish translation translates Edward's last name "d'Eath" as af Lifva, using the noble prefix af while punning on avliva, meaning "to put down" (as in "kill").
YMMV / Men at Arms