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480 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2002
“Truth! Justice! Freedom! Reasonably Priced Love! And a Hard-Boiled Egg!”I am still angry at the world for taking Terry Pratchett away from us. I miss him — his razor-sharp wit, his pointed humor, the ridiculous clarity with which he must have seen the world. When I can get lost in the pages of his writing - competent, confident, and simply brilliant - the world becomes pretty tolerable.
“Every year he forgot. Well, no. He never forgot. He just put the memories away, like old silverware that you didn’t want to tarnish. And every year they came back, sharp and sparkling, and stabbed him in the heart.”
“If you don’t know where *there* was, you weren’t there,” he said in the same quiet voice.”
“You’re not me, he thought. I don’t think I was ever as young as you. If you’re going to be me, it’s going to take a lot of work. Thirty damn years of being hammered on the anvil of life, you poor bastard. You’ve got it all to come.”
“Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come round again. That's why they're called revolutions. People die, and nothing changes.”I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that Sam Vimes is my moral compass. He’s not an optimist or a pessimist — he’s the ultimate realist who tends to see the world just how it is, but who will stubbornly make sure it ends up just a bit better. He’s angry, he’s gruff, he’s not always keeping up with the times, and he’s not always the sharpest spoon in the drawer — but he’s ultimately GOOD. Not preachy-good but bristly-good, without rose-tinted glasses.
“As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn’t measure up.”
“Yes, thought Vimes. That’s the way it was. Privilege, which just means “private law.” Two types of people laugh at the law; those that break it and those that make it.”
“He wanted to go home. He wanted it so much that he trembled at the thought. But if the price of that was selling good men to the night, if the price was filling those graves, if the price was not fighting with every trick he knew … then it was too high.
It wasn’t a decision he was making, he knew that. It happened far below the levels of the brain where decisions were made. It was something built in. There was no universe, anywhere, where a Sam Vimes would give in on this, because if he did then he wouldn’t be Sam Vimes anymore.”
“You’d like Freedom, Truth, and Justice, wouldn’t you, Comrade Sergeant?” said Reg encouragingly.It’s a pleasure for me to see again and again, on all those countless rereads, how well-done Pratchett’s books are. He trusts his readers to get it without beating them over the head with it, and the readers can trust him to get it right, every time.
“I’d like a hard-boiled egg,” said Vimes, shaking the match out.
There was some nervous laughter, but Reg looked offended.
“In the circumstances, Sergeant, I think we should set our sights a little higher—”
“Well, yes, we could,” said Vimes, coming down the steps. He glanced at the sheets of paper in front of Reg. The man cared. He really did. And he was serious. He really was. “But…well, Reg, tomorrow the sun will come up again, and I’m pretty sure that whatever happens we won’t have found Freedom, and there won’t be a whole lot of Justice, and I’m damn sure we won’t have found Truth. But it’s just possible that I might get a hard-boiled egg.”
“No,” said Vimes, coming to a halt under a lamp by the crypt entrance. “How dare you? How dare you! At this time! In this place! They did the job they didn’t have to do, and they died doing it, and you can’t give them anything. Do you understand? They fought for those who’d been abandoned, they fought for one another, and they were betrayed. Men like them always are. What good would a statue be? It’d just inspire new fools to believe they’re going to be heroes. They wouldn’t want that. Just let them be. Forever.”
But here's some advice, boy. Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come around again. That's why they're called revolutions.
Truth! Freedom! Justice! And a hard-boiled egg!
Nobby's brow creased in genuine puzzlement. 'What's pulling wobblers mean?' he said.
Vimes gave him a similar look. Street parly had changed a lot in thirty years.
'That's stealing trifles... small items. Isn't it?'
'Nah, nah, mister. That's "tottering nevils",' said Nobby relaxing. 'But you ain't doing badly, for someone who's new. '
Vimes held up Nobby. 'See this?' he said.
'Is it a monkey?' said the woman.
'Har, har, very funny,' moaned Nobby, as Vimes lowered him again.
'Just one more thing, Nobby...'
'Yes, sarge?' said Nobby, still spooning.
'Give me back my notebook, my handkerchief and the four pennies you whizzed from my pockets, will you?'
Nobby opened his mouth to protest, dribbling slumgullet, but closed it when he saw the glint in Vimes' eye. Sliently, he produced the items from various horrible pockets.
"I'll get suspicious."
"You'll have to make it convincing."
"I'll still be suspicious."
"You won't even trust yourself?"
"I'm a devious character. I could be hiding something."
"And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.
As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up."
"Who knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men? A copper, that's who. After ten years, you thought you'd seen it all, but the shadows always dished up more. You saw how close men lived to The Beast. You found that people like Carcer were not mad. They were incredibly sane. They were simply men without a shield. They'd looked at the world and realized that all the rules didn't have to apply to them, not if they didn't want them to. They weren't fooled by all the little stories. They shook hands with The Beast.
But he, Sam Vimes, had stuck by the badge, except for that time when even that hadn't been enough and he'd stuck by the bottle instead . . .
He felt as if he'd stuck by the bottle now. The world was spinning. Where was the law? There was the barricade. Who was it protecting from what? The city was run by a madman and his shadowy chums, so where was the law?
Coppers liked to say that people shouldn't take the law into their own hands, and they thought they knew what they meant. But they were thinking about peaceful times, and men who went around to sort out a neighbor with a club because his dog had crapped once too often on their doorstep. But at times like these, who did the law belong to? If it shouldn't be in the hands of the people, where the hell should it be?"