The Patrician leaned forward, gripping the arms of his chair.
“I want to be clear about this,” he said coldly. “Are we to believe that you are asking for a petty wage increase and a domestic utensil?”
Carrot whispered in Colon’s other ear.
Colon turned two bulging, watery-rimmed eyes to the dignitaries. The rim of his helmet was passing through his fingers like a millwheel.
“Well,” he began, “sometimes, we thought, you know, when we has our dinner break, or when it’s quite, like, at the end of a watch as it may be, and we want to relax a bit, you know, wind down…” His voice trailed away.
Colon took a deep breath.
“I suppose a dartboard would be out of the question–?”
hey I just want to talk about this bit for a sec cause it’s a favorite of mine
I wouldn’t say Guards! Guards! is the darkest Discworld book, but it’s up there. it’s a book about corruption and the abuse of power and the willingness of people to blindly follow any higher authority no matter how terrible. it’s a book that begins with its protagonists at their lowest: the last three remaining Watchmen, having just buried a comrade, who have seen their institution crumble into nothingness, who have no power left, who have nothing left, who are so beaten down by life they have given up everything but wandering drunkenly through the gutters, with no hope of affecting any change in their rotten city. it’s a book where the–largely accidental–saving of the day is capped off by Vetinari’s blisteringly cynical speech about how there are no good people, only bad people on different sides, which leaves even Vimes utterly speechless and unable to argue.
and then. and then this happens. the Watch are told that they can ask for any reward for saving the city. any reward. Vetinari and the assembled nobles clearly expect them to ask for something pretty big. this has, after all, been a story about how awful people will be if you give them any leeway.
…and the extravagant reward the Watchmen ask for is… for a five dollar raise, a new kettle, and a dartboard.
and Vetinari, the chessmaster, the manipulator, the man who always seems to be ten steps ahead, who seems to know everything and predict everything, who a few pages before outlined a world view so dark that “the only thing to hope for is that there is no life after death”–Vetinari is surprised. the man who anticipates everything did not anticipate this.
it’s this glorious little gleam of light, after a book full of associating mundane humanity with the awful, the humdrum evil and petty bigotry, that suddenly turns around and says sometimes mundane humanity is tea kettles and dartboards and silliness. sometimes people will do terrible things because it’s easy, but sometimes people will do great things because what the hell, someone had to.