Feet of Clay
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Sorry?' said Carrot. If it's just a thing, how can it commit murder? A sword is a thing' - he drew his own sword; it made an almost silken sound - 'and of course you can't blame a sword if someone thrust it at you, sir.'
For members of the City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by periods of torpid inactivity. Now is one such troubling time. People are being murdered, but there's no trace of anything alive having been at the crime scene. Is there ever a circumstance in which you can blame the weapon not the murderer? Such philosophical questions are not the usual domain of the city's police, but they're going to have to start learning fast...
It was a Warm spring night when a fist knocked at the door so hard that the hinges bent.
A man opened it and peered out into the street.
There Was mist coming off the river and it Was a cloudy night. He might as well have tried to see through white velvet.
But he thought afterwards that there had been shapes out there, just beyond the light spilling out into the road. A lot of shapes, watching him carefully. He thought maybe there’d been very faint points of light…
There was no mistaking the shape right in front of him, though. It was big and dark red and looked like a child’s clay model of a man. Its eyes were two embers.
‘Well? What do you want at this time of night?’
The golem handed him a slate, on which was written:
WE HEAR YOU WANT A GOLEM
Of course, golems couldn’t speak, could they?
‘Hah. want, yes. Afford, no. I’ve been asking around but it’s wicked the prices you’re going for these days…’
The golem rubbed the words off the slate and wrote:
TO YOU ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
‘You’re for sale?’
The golem lurched aside. Another one stepped into the light.
It was also a golem, the man could see that. But it wasn’t like the usual lumpen clay things that you occasionally saw. This one gleamed like a newly polished statue, perfect down to the detailing of the clothes. It reminded him of one of the old pictures of the city’s kings, all haughty stance and imperious haircut. In fact, it even had a small coronet moulded on to its head.
‘A hundred dollars?’ the man said suspiciously.
‘What’s Wrong with it? Who’s selling it?’
NOTHING IS WRONG. PERFECT IN ALL DETAIL. NINETY DOLLARS.
‘Sounds like someone Wants to get rid of it in a hurry…’
GOLEM MUST WORK. GOLEM MUST HAVE A MASTER.
‘Yeah, right, but you hear stories… Going mad and making too many things, and that.’
NOT MAD. EIGHTY DOLLARS.
‘It looks… new,’ said the man, tapping the gleaming chest. ‘But no one’s making golems any more, that’s what’s keeping the price up beyond the purse of the small business-’
He stopped. ‘Is someone making them again?’
‘I heard the priests banned making ’em years ago.
A man could get in a lot of trouble.’
‘Who’s doing it?’
‘Is he selling them to Albertson? Or Spadger and Williams? It’s hard enough competing as it is, and they’ve got the money to invest in new plant-’
The man walked around the golem. ‘A man can’t sit by and watch his company collapse under him because of unfair price cutting, I mean to say…’
‘Religion is all very well, but what do prophets know about profits, eh? Hmm…’ He looked up at the shapeless golem in the shadows. ‘Was that “thirty dollars” I just saw you write?’
‘I’ve always liked dealing wholesale. Wait one moment.’ He went backin side and returned with a handful of coins. ‘Will you be selling any to them other bastards?
‘Good Tell your boss it’s a pleasure to do business with him. Get along inside, Sunny Jim.’
The white golem walked into the factory. The man, glancing from side to side, trotted in after it and shut the door.
Deeper shadows moved in the dark. There was a faint hissing. Then, rocking slightly, the big heavy shapes moved away. Shortly afterwards, and around the corner, a beggar holding out a hopeful hand for alms was amazed to find himself suddenly richer by a Whole thirty do1lars.
I'm addicted to Terry Pratchett
- A.S. Byatt
Our best comic novelis
- New Scientist
Has the energy of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the inventiveness of Alice in Wonderland...It has also an intelligent wit and a truly original grim and comic grasp of the nature of things
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His spectacular inventiveness makes the Discworld series one of the perennial joys of modern fiction
- Mail on Sunday
The great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical, who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a multifarious genius for strong parody ... who deals with death with startling originality. Who writes amazing sentences
- A.S. Byatt, New York Times
Like reading Tolkien but with gags - and good gags too
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