28/02/2003

Night Watch (by Terry Pratchett)

My usual genre of novel is light character-driven fiction featuring family relationships, and a bit of romance thrown in. Terry Pratchett does not begin to fit this pattern, yet I very much enjoy his books too. They're classified as fantasy, since they mostly take place on the 'Discworld', and include trolls, zombies and other unlikely creatures. But they're really a parody of life on earth, with many literary and other ironic allusions, and some very clever humour.

They also make very good books to read aloud to teenagers. They don't have chapters, but there are asterisks designating breaks between different threads of the plot. Pratchett books can seem a bit confusing at first, particularly for someone who hasn't previously read any, but I usually find them very enjoyable.

'Night Watch', however, was not one of my favourites. It's a book about the Watch - the Discworld equivalent of the police force. But bizarrely, even by Discworld standards, Vimes - chief of the Watch - gets taken back in time during this book, and finds himself re-living the early days of the Watch during riots in Ankh Morpork.

The idea was clever, but I found the book had far too much fighting and bad language, and not enough humour or even plot for my tastes. I read it aloud to my sons, and we didn't hate it - there were some good moments, and we were interested to know how it would turn out, although we guessed most of the twists and turns that were coming. But it's not one I shall be re-reading frequently.

Read it by all means if you like Watch books, or are a fan of the Discworld in general, but if you haven't previously read any Pratchett, start with something else.

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