"Thief of Time" is the twenty-sixth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series and was first published in 2001. He has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.
Officially, The Auditors are in charge of the universe : they see that atoms spin, that gravity works and that things move in curves. However, they hate life - too many irregularities - and have tried several times to deal with those pesky humans. In "Thief of Time", they're at it again - only, this time, they're being a little more devious about it. Normally Death - wears black, bony knees, big grin, carries a scythe - would do what he could to thwart them. However, due to an impending Apocalypse, he has to gather his fellow Horsemen - Famine, War and Pestilence - for the traditional ride. (There's also the matter of the mysterious fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, who left before they became famous). As a result, Death persuades his grand-daughter Susan into helping out with the fight against the Auditors. Susan is now a teacher in Ankh-Morpork, so she's used to fighting for her life on a daily basis. Thankfully, for this battle she has Death of Rats and Quoth the Raven to help her out.
The Order of Wen and is based at the Monastery of Oi Dong in the High Ramtops. It is known by several aliases - including the History Monks. It's up to them to see that history follows the right track (it doesn't just happen, after all), and when history breaks it's the Order's job to fix it. Their job is made easier by their ability to move and store time, largely thanks to their "procrastinators". Lu-Tze is one of the Order's most notable members. However, as a Sweeper at the monastery, few pay him any real attention - only the most enlightened know who he actually is. He is an expert at deja-fu, a form of martial arts, and particularly enjoys growing bonsai mountains. In "Thief of Time", Lu-Tze is assigned a difficult new apprentice : Lobsang Ludd. Lobsang was a foundling and was raised for a while by the Guild of Thieves. (In fact, it seems he was pretty good at what he did). However, he entered the Monastery after being discovered by Brother Soto, the Order's Field Operative in Ankh-Morpork. Lobsang shows an uncanny talent for the Order's work also : when there's a time leak, he manages the Procrastinators like an artist.
Jeremy Clockson, like Lobsang, is a foundling - though, in Jeremy's case, he was raised by the Guild of Clockmakers. He runs a shop in Ankh-Morpork and is a brilliant, though slightly erratic, clockmaker. He's on medication (senior Guild members make sure he takes it) but id officially sane (he has the certificate that proves it). Jeremy is hired by the mysterious Lady Myria LeJean to build a truly accurate glass clock. If you believed in fairy stories, it might just remind you of one where Time herself was trapped inside a glass clock...
A fast-moving and very enjoyable book - Lu-Tze, in particular, is very funny though I was a bit sorry Quoth and Death of Rats didn't feature more. Lady LeJean, surprisingly, became a very likeable character. Very highly recommended.