ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Feet of Clay

Updated on November 20, 2009

He hated the very idea of the world being divided into the shaved and the shavers. Or those who wore the shiny boots and those who cleaned the mud off them. Every time he saw Willikins the butler fold his, Vimes's, clothes, he suppressed a terrible urge to kick the butler's shiny backside as an affront to the dignity of man.

There is a plot stirring in the great Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork, a group of city leaders has decided that it is time for the Patrician to step aside and allow a new leader to take charge. And who do they have in mind for the job? The Night Watch's very own Nobby Nobbs. Oh, now there's a frightening thought. And if that's not enough to keep Samuel Vimes busy, someone has gotten it into their head to start killing off old men. Add a golem revolution and a new forensic technician (a dwarf named Cheery Littlebottom), and the city of Ankh-Morpork is in for some fun.

It seems that, buried deep in the wells and hidden behind walls, the golems have finally decided that they should be free. Tired of being just a tool, they have thought up a way to get their freedom, and have even built a king (complete with clay crown) to lead them to it. But there was a problem with the king, he wasn't built quite right, and when the golems filled him with all their dreams, well, he went a little mad. And because they used their own clay to help build him, they feel his breakdown. All across the city, golems who can't deal with the shame of what their king is doing are making the decision to destroy themselves. Except one: Dorfl.

Dorfl has turned himself in to the city watch for the crimes of his king. But Carrot doesn't believe he's guilty and instead turns him loose. As if that weren't enough, Carrot buys the golem from his owner and then places the receipt in Dorfls head, giving him ownership of himself, the first golem ever to be truly free. And he goes just a little mad. Dorfl however quickly adapts to his new status and decides that maybe there is a better way for the golems to earn their freedom.

During all this, of course, there's still the little matter of someone trying to, well, not kill the Patrician exactly, just make him ill enough that he needs to step down. Who ever thought up that idea obviously knows nothing about Vetinari or Vimes, dangerously underestimating both men. With Cheery Littlebottom helping out, Vimes slowly but surely eliminates every possible way that the Patrician is being poisoned. And as Sherlock Holmes will tell you, it's only by  eliminating the possibilities that you get to the truth. Then again, if you don't get through them quickly, someone may die. Good thing the Patrician is a tough man.

Some Thoughts

As with most of his books, Mr. Pratchett builds his tale from another story, in this case the golem of Jewish myth. In the original stories of the golems, they were considered to be very holy and close to god, a trait that is carried over into the Discworld as a strict moral code. If a person, in the original stories, was holy enough, they would be granted the power to imbue life upon a creation, but because only god has the power to create life, their constructs would be limited, merely a shadow of true life. This becomes a major point in the book as the guards and priests are confronted with the question of what is life. It is a question that confronts computer scientists as they work to develop artificial intelligence: at what point does a self-directing machine become an equal to a human?

Another theme running through the book is equal rights. Even today in our society, there are those that are considered menial, beneath us, and so are some how less deserving of the rights and respect we demand for ourselves. A parallel can be drawn between that mindset, the slavery of 100 years ago and the situation of the golems. The difference is that the slaves of 100 years ago and those that are trod upon today don't way a ton, and so they need, as Captian Carrot says "someone to speak for those who have no voices." We like to think that equality has been achieved, that there is no more discrimination and hatred in the world, but unfortunately there's still work to be done.

But, lest you think this is a book of deep thought and weighty subject, it is of course done with all the humor and fun that Terry Pratchett can inject. The comic duo of Nobby Nobbs and Corporal Colon as they try to deal with Nobbs sudden elevation to the nobility is great, Following Angua as she tries to show Cheery the ropes, without letting on that she's a werewolf is fun. And of course the barely suppressed anger of Samuel Vimes as he stumbles his way through the mystery is always a source of amusement to me. I've mentioned before, Vimes is one of my favorite characters ever. In him I see my own somewhat cynical view of the world, and yet he inspires me to keep working to try and make things just a little better. Thanks Sam.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)