10/01/2006

Thud!

This is the latest offering from Terry Pratchett in his lengthy (and bestselling) Discworld series. It mainly features the Ankh-Morpork 'Watch' (ie the police service) and particularly Sam Vimes, the totally honest - if unimaginative - commander. Vimes is worried. There's a lot of tension in the city, as they approach the anniversary of the battle of Koom Valley. A dwarf is found dead, and other dwarfs accuse a troll. A strange picture goes missing from an art gallery. A vampire applies to join the Watch, and Vimes is obliged to take her on despite not trusting her race - even those who have taken the 'black ribbon' and do not drink blood.

Not a book I'd expect to have enjoyed, since I'm not a huge fan of the series involving the Watch. But this one was excellent. Vimes was well-characterised and I found myself getting more behind his skin than before. It helped that there was another subplot running through the novel, that of Vimes needing to read a book to his toddler son each evening. There's a hilarious sequence when we finally learn what that book is about, and the gentler side of Vimes adds to his personality greatly.

I'm glad it was a good one since this will be a poignant memory for me: it's the last book I've read aloud to my two teenage sons. They've been busy with so many things that it's taken over two months to read it to them; my older son has now gone away for two years, so I won't be reading to him again, at least not for a while. So it was good to finish with such an enjoyable book. Pratchett's novels are excellent for reading aloud: they don't have chapters (but plenty of section breaks) so it's easy to read a little or a lot, depending on time. There's plenty of ironic humour too, and asides that might be missed in reading to oneself.

Not really a book to introduce someone to Discworld - there are too many returning characters, and the various subplots are complex enough for someone familiar with the places and people. But highly recommended for anyone who's read a few of the others, and not only for Watch fans.

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