October is Pratchett Novel Month. Some people may celebrate other things, but this is the only one that’s known and practised worldwide. This year’s cause for festivity is another Discworld novel: the 39th in the series, in fact.
How Terry Pratchett has managed to write so many novels based in the same mythical universe and still receive acclaim for them may be mystifying to some. In fact, the answer is quite simple: although he may sometimes reuse the same characters, each situation, each plot is different. Each book examines a different side of human nature, real human nature. The fictional setting just makes it much more fun to read.
Each book is different? Well, perhaps up until now, because in Snuff I detected elements of The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch and Thud!. Not enough to render the book uninteresting, and all these novels come highly recommended. No, it’s just that you get the feeling that Sam Vimes, the copper who’s so through-and-through copper that even his inner demon is a copper, has reached the end of his long psychological journey…
Oops, that might be almost considered a spoiler.
It’s a detective novel, with obligatory chase (not in cars, this is a world halfway between magic and steampunk). It’s a plea for tolerance, rational thinking and solvable crossword puzzles. There are goblins: a strange, hunted, unloved and apparently unloveable race. There is a murder and an unexplained disappearance. Then things really go downhill.
It’s a walk on the dark side of humanity and, even if the ending is perhaps is a little too glib, you need to read it. And the 38 preceding books as well. Some of them are principally aimed at children in their early teens (the main character is a young girl), but then so are the Harry Potter books, and these are far better written. Adults can read them without shame or embarrassment.
For some weird reason, I keep visualising Vimes as looking like David Tennant. It must be all the running.
Look, go buy the damn thing, will you? Just click on the title of any novel to go to its Amazon page. I assume you know what to do after that? Good. I’ve got a book to re-read in case I missed any clever stuff the first time.
- Pratchett’s Snuff: a rural/nautical tale of drawing-room gentility, racism, and justice (boingboing.net)
- Snuff: A Discworld Novel : Book 39 by Terry Pratchett (booktopia.com.au)