on 8 December 2012
If this is Sir Terry writing with a memory problem besetting him mits easy to see why he is considered so brilliant. As always he deals with things which we moere mortals consider from time to time and lays out in an amusing and instructive way his take on them
on 10 December 2013
I started reading Terry Pratchett at a time when I needed all the cheering up in the world. I find Discworld novels all uniformly enjoyable. You get to love the characters, and care what happens to them as they live on the Discworld. Some groups of characters are more involving than others. My five stars always go to the witches and the watch, but this is a good read as anticipated.
on 23 February 2016
A stale storyline told through amusing narrative is not quite the same as a funny story told via the medium of slapstick humour. This is the former, Pratchett at his most thoughtful but least amusing. The storylines he weaves together here aren't actually funny by themselves, rather more serious than we're used to. The narrative takes the burden of making us feel good, and it creaks and strains under the burden. If he'd written this one deadpan it would have worked better for me. It's lots of little bits taken from previous novels bundled together in a slightly different format. Little more than a filler until his next inspired comic idea. But nonetheless, well written.
on 29 September 2014
“No other species anywhere in the world had invented boredom[...] that strange ability to think “How dull. I wonder what happens if I bang this rock on that head?””
Thankfully, Terry Pratchett addresses his boredom by writing novels and Thief of Time is the 26th set in Discworld. The plot revolves around the construction of the perfect glass clock, craved by The Auditors, a group of supernatural clipboard holders, because it will freeze time and enable them to eradicate humanity's unpredictability.
When (the personification of) Death learns of the plan he sends his granddaughter, Susan, on a thwarting mission. The news of the clock also reaches a valley which is partly populated by the History Monks, one of whom, Lu-Tze, has experience of such a device's power and is keen to block its construction.
Thus, with all of elements of the screwball plot in place, Pratchett uses it to riff on the nature of time and relativity. The novel is stronger on philosophy than character or plot. Its comedy is gentle rather than tear inducing, although the description of Susan's classroom is excellent as is the satire of martial art movie tropes. The reader also discovers that death by chocolate really is a possibility.
Although it is not his best and not an ideal entry point for a new discoverer of the Discworld, Pratchett's voice is unique. He is incapable of writing a bad novel and long may he alleviate his boredom by treating us to the fruits of his imagination.
on 28 June 2004
I have read all the Discworld novels and most of them I rated 5 stars for enjoyment. This book, however, would get 7 stars for enjoyment, style and the ideas behind it. My friends usually borrow my TP books but so far they have not been able to put their hands on this one!
There really isn't much of a plot (depending on your point of view of course), but the action is continuous and the punchline - although a little bit expectable - quite striking.
I got to meet one of my favourite characters in a bit more detail - Susan. We meet a new guy - Lobsang - whose namesake actually has some achievement in real-life buddhism. Also all the other nicking from 'well-known' ideas, films, etc will keep your head spinning until the last page, because you start wondering after a while if you have missed anything.
Another thing I love about Terry Pratchett is his thought-provoking style. Even a unenthusiast of physics like me has been inspired to read up a little more on the subjects of time and relativity thanks to this book.
I agree with the others that this book is not for the beginning Discworld novel reader, since most of the characters are already well known from the other books and their personalities - and in some cases personifications - are well developed there up to this book.
Once you get to sit down with this book you only have to do two things: read and enjoy!
It is difficult to write about this the twenty-sixth Discworld novel, without having ever written about any of its predecessors. It seems to lack context. Much the way, I would imagine, that new readers must feel in opening the first page of a later Pratchett book without, like myself, having grown up with the Discworld series. It is hard, also, to be objective when I can chart the passage of my life by what the characters in these books were up to.
But, for new readers, Thief of Time surely represents the best way in. There are new characters at the centre of events - Lu Tze, Lobsang Ludd, Jeremy, a renegade Auditor. There is no Granny Weatherwax, Rincewind or Vimes, with all their associated baggage of sharp, subtle characterisation and well-earned history and affection, to contend with. True, Nanny Ogg appears, but her role is that of a big film star making a cameo in a film: notable and warmly received, but not integral to the understanding of the story. Susan is also in place, and her role is entirely central, but she has been growing up with the series, and she is now a very different woman to the one who appeared in Soul Music, for instance. Death also performs a role that he has not previously investigated in earnest - that of a horeseman riding out in the face of an apocalypse - and so even the (almost) unchanging face of mortality appears fresh for the new recruits.
There is another reason that this novel represents the ideal entry point for the novice. It is as sure-handed a book as Pratchett has produced. It is funny, it is warm and it flows with the incredible pacing that Pratchett has made his hallmark. Out of thin air he can form a thriller of plot and anticipation. Imagine Waiting For Godot reading like a Raymond Chandler story. That is what the unquestionable genius of Pratchetts's timing can do for anything he chooses to tell us.
And, as ever, the narrative is filled with light touches of wonder that collapse myth and storytelling and history into atoms of glowing humour. A smile can break out on your face like an infectious rash at any time in the course of the story. Take an example: War, personification extraordinaire, and one of the four horseman of the apocalypse (apologies to Ronnie), has, with the passing of time and the increasing maturity of humankind, become a different man. He has settled down and married Mrs War. A once blood-thirsty, unrepentant force of nature, he is now a brow-beaten husband who is not allowed to eat red meat because his wife tells him that it will bring on his trouble. He thinks that, in this day and age, he may as well change his name to Negotiated Settlement in keeping with how humans now resolve dispute. He has taken up a hobby even, now watching the unflinching battles of ants at the bottom of his garden. His hacking arm isn't what it used to be. It is just a short scene showing us War's home life, but it is a snapshot of perfect and quiet humour that steals its way into your affections just as so many of Pratchett's characters do.
I won't say that this is the best Discworld book, as I think we are no longer in those realms. But I will say that Thief of Time is a wonderful book. It is impossible to put it down once you pick it up. It bids your body to stay up late at night when your mind knows that you have work in the morning. It draws your eyes towards it when you should be looking at the football match you've been waiting to watch for months. It is wonderful because it inspires wonder. It is enchanted. It is magic.
on 4 February 2013
This is a wonderful tale. Full of Terry's delightfully credible pseudo-science, it has me believing that this is really how time works barely half way into the novel. The wry tilt at eastern mysticism and the monastic life is clever and entertaining. The characters are of course initially stereotypical - that's a fundamental necessity in such a parody - but there are enough off-balance moments and character development to make them feel real and sometimes lovable. Even Death. You kind of feel for the guy, as our American cousins would say.
And lots of laugh out loud moments. This is not high literature, but it is very well written, by a master craftsman. I can't be the only person in the universe who wants Discworld to be real. Read this book, and it is!
on 7 September 2013
I am a great fan of Terry Pratchett and I am buying the kindle versions of these books at the moment to save space on the actual bookshelf!
If you haven't ever read a Terry Pratchett, then start at number one, The Colour of Magic, and work your way forwards through the discworld series. Fantasy at it's best!
"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.
on 24 October 2012
This is a fabulous story. Full of comic incidents, wonderful characters and a convoluted plot. Two inter-twined love stories. DEATH's granddaughter, TIME's son and a loveable AUDITOR. How will it all end?