Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★
Feet of Clay is the nineteenth novel in the Discworld series. While you certainly don’t need to have read all nineteen first, you’d be better off if you picked up the two prior books following these characters, Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms.
In Feet of Clay, the City Watch discovers to murders while the Patrician is being mysteriously poisoned. The result is a well plotted fantasy mystery where all the plot threads tie together well.
Honestly, my biggest problem with Feet of Clay is that it feels like it retreads a lot of familiar ground from Men at Arms. Let’s see, someone trying to depose Vetinari and reinstate the monarchy? I’ve seen that twice already.
The best thing about Feet of Clay is the introduction of Cheri, a dwarf who’s the forensic analyst and who wants to be openly female. For a while in the series now, Pratchett has had the idea of all dwarfs looking and presenting as male, but this is the first time he starts exploring that idea.
“You can be any sex you like provided you act male. There’s no men and women in the Watch, just a bunch of lads.”
I also really enjoy Cheri’s friendship with Angua. While I love Angua, she was pretty much the only female character in Men at Arms, but in Feet of Clay her friendship with Cheri is an important subplot.
Feet of Clay also touches on class issues – Vimes has to deal with his class identity and being married to the richest noblewoman in the city.
“And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions.”
I continue to love Vimes. His strange mixture of cynicism and idealism is very compelling.
The common people?” said Vimes. “They’re nothing special. They’re no different from the rich and powerful except they’ve got no money or power. But the law should be there to balance things up a bit. So I suppose I’ve got to be on their side.”
Anyway, I would recommend Feet of Clay to people who are a fan of the Ankh-Morpork city watch books.