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Terry Pratchett - Thud!Here's my review of Thud!, the 30th (according to the blurb) instalment in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.
Thud! is a Watch novel, or, by current standards, a Commander Vimes novel. Now, some of those were great entertainment, whilst others were forced, both in genre/style as well as story wise. Take heart - this here is one of the good ones.

Sam Vines, Duke of Ankh-Morpok, Commander of the City Watch, has a problem. OK, he has more than one, but the Big One is that Koom Valley day is approaching fast. Koom Valley, where the Trolls ambushed the Dwarves. Or the Dwarves waylaid the Trolls. Depending who you ask, you see. I mean, who remembers, after all those hundreds of years? But there are trouble makers at work, stoking inter-species tensions, twisting old stories to their liking, and the tempers are flaring. There are deep-down dwarves in Ankh-Morpok, dwarves who always go shrouded, and who have never seen the light. There are tunnels, miles and miles of them, under the city. There are dead dwarves, first a grag (Dwarf spiritual leader), the chief troublemaker, apparently (obviously?) killed by Trolls. Then there are more, killed by other dwarves. There are rumours of a Troll king in town. And then there’s Brick, a city-born Troll, a gutter Troll, a lowest-rung-drug-peddling-always-out-of-whatevers-left-of-my-mind Troll; who has seen, but doesn’t know, can’t tell, and won’t be believed.
Looks like Sam Vines will have a full-scale re-enactment of Koom Vally right here, on his doorstep.
And what is it with the secret, ancient, feared Dwarf runes, talking of troubles mines, calling the Following Dark? And why is he forced to accept a Vampire into his troops, even if he hates Vampires? Read for yourself, if you dare to be entertained…

How much do you need to know of the 29 books that went before if you want to read and enjoy this one? Hard to tell (I’ve read 28 of them…Going Postal hasn’t hit my desk yet…), but I’d say that a certain background knowledge will help to understand, er, the background and appreciate the in-jokes in this book. But on the other hand I’m sure that the story works on its own – you don’t NEED these other bits, the book is perfectly self-contained (it’d better bloody well be as number 30!), and will be an entertaining read showcasing Pratchett’s way with words and stories to great effect.
There’s a companion volume to this book – it’s called “Where’s my Cow?”, and is (I presume) the book that Sam Vines has to read to his infant son every 6pm sharp, whilst doing all the right animal noises. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t read it, no idea, go look at it in the book shop yourself – I’d expect to find it in the Children’s section…

This is a great book (stocking filler, anyone?). It mixes a murder mystery with a number of urban yarns everyone will recognize, adds a good number of jokes, funny bits, and witty one-liners (yours truly had several cases of laughing-out-loud… this can be an embarrassing book to read in public!), and finishes it off with a good dose of multi-culturalisms, how-to-get along, and pacifist sentiment nicely hidden in the story without ever being patronizing.

The characters are well rounded and complex (hey, Sam Vines is gonna need a second body soon to hold all the in-depth information on his inner life!), and gel well with the story. The support cast is much more two-dimensional and this-is-your-role-in-the-story, but that’s normal and to be expected – and I guess some the new arrivals here have the potential to grow into prime story material themselves. I’m looking forward to more Sally, please! ;-)

The plot is interesting, bordering on fascinating at times. There are a good number of unexpected twists and turns – I thought I knew where the story was heading several times, just to be thrown of course by the next chapter – exactly how a good murder mystery should be! The story starts quite slowly, introducing all the main players and elements, and providing some tantalizing flash-backs and flash-forward and other snippets to make the story interesting, and keep the reader ahead of Sam Vines (or at least makes you think so…). But once the plot starts unfolding the pace picks up, carries you along, and doesn’t relent until the final pages. Decidedly hard to put down once you’re going.

What is new in this book? Vampires in the watch, their special skills (match well with werewolf skills. Vampires DON’T match well with Werewolves, though…). Sam Vines getting an unusual grip on his Dis-organizer. Mr Shine, him Diamond, the Troll King/God/whatever. And the ancient artefacts found in volcanic rock that the dwarves are after (have been for millennia) – is this a turn back to the days of Strata? Fascinating, indeed.

Now then, why should YOU read it? I mean, besides because I enjoyed it (hey, that’s a good reason, at least for me! ;-)
Well, if you enjoy Murder Mysteries you’ll like that one, if you like good humour then you’re well served, too, and if you’re a Discworld Fan then you’ve read it already. Maybe inflict in on someone else this Christmas then, eh?

More Terry Pratchett


Title: Thud!
Series: Discworld
Series Number: 30, apparently.
Author: Terry Pratchett
Reviewer: Markus
Publisher: Doubleday/Transworld
Publication Date: Oct 1 2005
Review Date:
ISBN: 0385608675
Price: £17.99
Pages: 362
Format: Hardback
Topic: Fantasy
Topic: Humour

 

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