In the Canon:-Edit
There are some Assassins who must have been allowed full membership of the Guild by a method that bypasses the usual method fo acceptance by the Guild - ie, seven years of training in the Guild School followed by the Final Exam. The classic example is Lady T'Malia, who is accepted as a full and very senior Assassin despite the fact that for a very long time, she was the only named female teacher at an all-boys school - she could not, therefore, have come up by the same route via the School. Whatever the mechanism is for adult entry to the Guild, Terry has not yet described it. Leaving the field free for...
In the Pessimal Discworld:-Edit
Some Assasins, such as Koucouchou-sama, are accepted instantly into the Ankh-Morpork Guild as affiliated full members, and are not expected to do further compulsory training nor the Final Run, because it is accepted that they have been educated and trained at a parellel institution that provides at least as good a training in the Dark Art. In Butterfly's case, this is the HungHung College of Ninjitsu - Agatean Ninjas being thought of as the equal of a Guild graduate. The same courtesy is offered to the Hashishim, the Klatchian Assassins who train and dwell in the forbidding mountain fastness of Mount Inhalat.
But everybody else has to work at it: hence the Mature Students' Classes, offered to promising potential entrants of over eighteen, with no theoretical upper age limit (although the oldest person to qualify was forty-eight when she passed, the course is arduous and physically demanding. There is a good reason why the Guild prefers to train children as they grow to maturity.)
The Guild will not accept just anybody on a Mature Students' Class. These have been known to occur at roughly four year intervals - the Guild is looking for a specific type of late-entry candidate and can afford to take its time in assessing potential people with the right skills. Indeed, a lot of people being assessed for a training place were not aware, right up until the last moment, that they were being so monitored. Others, such as Major ffetch-Felix, self-select and approach the Guild completely of their own volition, pointing out they have got skills and talents the Guild would find interesting, and that they'd quite like to do the training purely for the challenge of it and to round themselves off as people. This is rare, but not unknown, and in these cases the Guild will perform background checks, ask for character references, and of course ensure the person has sufficient resources or wealthy backers who will ensure the fees are paid upfront.
Consider Gillian Lansbury, formerly a struggling artist and private art teacher, who deliberately failed to warn a difficult pupil that sucking the bristles on her paintbrush to get them up to a point again is not advisable when working with Agatean White (one of the most poisonous paints known on the Disc). Surprised the pupil became seriously and embarrassingly ill, Gillian did her research, and created the most lethal paintbox hitherto known to Man. This became the foundation of several successful amateur inhumations, and attracted both clients for her skills and money to her bank account.
But both the Watch and the Guild were monitoring her activities, the Guild having given notice of an interest under what is now known as the Vimes-Downey Protocol. The Protocol was modelled on the existing agrement between the Watch and the Seamstresses' Guild, which in its essentials said that those cases which normally came under the purvieu of a Vice Squad in the City of Ankh-Morpork would now, except in unique or exceptional circumstances, be dealt with by investigators from the Guild. Vimes was all for this, as he recognised the efficiency of the Agony Aunts and anyway it would generate less paperwork. however, the Vimes-Downey Accord, brokered by Assassins' Guild graduate Lord Vetinari, was an arrangement he was far more reluctant to enter.
its central clause was an understanding that the Guild of Assassins would take little or no interest in the vast majority of murders around the city, viewing them as crimes of passion, assisted suicides, clear instances of psychopathology or merely ham-fisted clumsy amateur inhumations. The Watch was welcome to all those. However, from time to time there would be cases of amateur inhumanists who went about their one-off or more often serial business with a degree of flair, or style, or cool, or inventiveness, that would be of interest to the Guild. Freelance Assassins undercutting Guild rates by asking for money to bring about cancellations would also be of professional interest to the Guild, especially if they overlapped the first category. The Guild therefore asked for the right to offer the former class an opportunity to, ah, regularise the situation by accepting an offer to join its ranks as mature entrants. Killers in the second category were those the Guild had right, under existing City and Guild law, to detain and deter from further freelance actions. (If they had shown style and flair, however, the Guild was prepared to be lenient and offer mercy.) Vimes won a rearguard action to win the concession that if the Watch caught such a murderer first, however, normal City law and practice would apply. Knowing that normal City practice in these matters now involves the offer of an Angel to one who would otherwise be hanged for their actions (but who has demonstrated in their criminality that their talents could still be of use if harnessed to the good of the State), Vetinari had nodded his assent.
Investigations into serial murders now involve an almost automatic procedure where the Guild and the Watch at least begin by pooling their talents, resources and information, sometimes even formally so. However, the analogy is pursuit cycling. This is a formal race where both parties appear at first to co-operate and co-ordinate their actions in order to keep a leisured 180 degrees between them. However, all semblance of co-operation breaks down near the end of the race into a hell-for-leather sprint for the finishing line, so as to arrest the desired person first before the other mob get in there.
People detained in this manner and invited for a sherry with the Master of the Guild include:-
- Alice Band
- Davinia Bellamy
- Bill Bradlofrudd
- Emmanuelle-Marie Lapoignard les Deux-Epées
- Major ffetch-Felix
- Gillian Lansbury
- Joan Sanderson-Reeves
- Johanna Smith-Rhodes
- Joyce Tanner
After signing an agreement with the Master to say they are embarking on this course of action of their own free will, are not being coerced in any way and are waiving the right to compensation if it all goes wrong, there is a short wait until the optimal thirty candidates are gathered together. the candidates are usally gathered with care and forethought: there is still a serious gender imbalance among teachers at the Guild School, for instance. This was the reason for all the female candidates in the first Mature Students' Class to be gathered together for training. Any lady teacher who inhumes in the line of Education is of great interest to the Guild, this explaining the presence of Art teacher Gillian Lansbury. Mr Wimvoe, the Guild Bursar, is approaching seventy and will not last forever: Accountant/Assassins are usually thin on the ground, so any suitably qualified person who has inhumed is of interest to the Guild as a possible successor. The same applies to the ongoing quest for a dual-qualified Assassin-Librarian. It was thought Miss Beforegod was the ideal candidate, but alas, she was discovered to have certain disappointing personality problems which meant she had to take early retirement from the position.
The year of the MSG is more correctly around fifteen months, as the tutors of the Guild race to fit in everything which is normally encompassed by seven years at the Guild School, and cram it into just over a year.
However, the reasoning goes that anyone considered worthy of mature entry to the Guild will already have received a general education to a more than acceptable standard. This strips the best part of four years off the syllabus to begin with. It is also accepted that they will come from good families who know how to behave at the dinner-table, ball and Hunt, so the lessons in elocution, social deportment and good manners may - largely - be set aside. (Remedial classes are provided for adult entrants from lower social classes, or from Fourecks and other troublesome former colonies).
The rest is relentless physical activity, interspersed with advanced lectures and classroom theory. It is hard: it is meant to be tough. Dawn till dusk in the summer months is taken up with training. In autumn or winter, the MSG class might be wakened from a deep sleep with orders to get dressed for Edificeering and assemble on the Guild roof. Training exercises may suddelnly be sprung at any hour of the day or night. People get tired. People lose focus. People get overconfident.
The MS class of which Alice Band, Joan Sanderson-Reeves and Johanna Smith-Rhodes, among others, were a part, began with thirty students: only twenty-one lived to graduate. It is that sort of a training course and only the mentally hardiest survive. But, as Lord Downey said at a funeral for one of the over-confident:-
Let me make it very clear" Downey went on, addressing the packed Chapel, "That we have no interest in killing you. We accepted you as potential full Guild members, each of whom has something vital and important to offer the Guild family, and the death of any one of you diminishes us all. We have every interest in seeing you qualify as full, chartered, Assassins.
Let me remind you. Let me make it abundantly clear. The only person who can fail you as an Assassin is you yourself. Conquer that enemy within, and you will qualify. And I look forward, very greatly, to that day. I recruited most of you, after all! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen."