Diggers (by Terry Pratchett)

I've enjoyed most of Terry Pratchett's novels over the past fifteen years or so, particularly the Discworld ones. I am also very fond of the 'Bromeliad Trilogy', which I read first, and then read aloud to my sons when they were around eight or nine.

I hadn't read them for many years, but a few months ago decided to re-read the first of the three, 'Truckers'. I enjoyed it so much, I put the other two on my to-be-read shelf... and, a couple of days ago, started to re-read 'Diggers'.

This book follows directly on from Truckers, although it's not absolutely essential to have read it first. Hundreds of six-inch-high nomes managed to escape when the Arnold Bros store was closed down, and are now living in a disused quarry. Six months has passed, but to nomes that's like about five years in human time. Those who spent all their lives in the department store are still suspicious of the outside world; it doesn't seem right to eat food grown in the ground, or to see sky rather than a ceiling.

Still, they're mostly getting along, albeit with plenty of fights and arguments (the nomes must, surely, have been a prototype for the brilliant Nac Mac Feegles who appear on the Discworld from time to time). Then disaster strikes, in the form of humans. it appears that they are going to start mining the quarry some more, and there will no longer be room for the nomes.

Masklin, a reluctant leader, goes on a voyage of exploration with some of the other leaders in the hope of finding someone who can help them. Meanwhile, Dorcas, the mechanically-minded nome, has discovered a digger... the dragon Jekub. He doesn't let anyone know about his find until it's necessary to attempt to move it.. in hope of repeating the journey the nomes all took in the big truck at the end of 'Truckers'.

There's lots of humour, subtle digs at the world of humans, and at blind trust in the unknown. Not as brilliantly funny as 'Truckers', but a worthy sequel nonetheless, with rather a cliff-hanging and unexpected ending which - if I remember rightly - leads directly onto the final book in the trilogy, 'Wings'.

'Diggers' is still in print in the UK, but in the USA seems only to be available in a volume containing the entire Bromeliad trilogy.

Recommended to children who read fluently, or parents wanting an enjoyable read-aloud, or indeed anyone wanting a short break from reality with a good dose of humour.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 30th August 2008

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