on 9 December 2013
A lovely book that places an interesting take on sectarianism. TP shows us a world where traditionalists try to maintain a view that favours their own agenda even though they discover an alternate view. 10 out of 10.
on 21 October 2005
Terry Pratchett has done it again. With Thud! (I've lost track of how many Discworld books there have been), Pratchett returns to the adventures of the "coppers" of Ankh-Morpork, one of the largest cities on the Discworld. It's been a while since we've had a straight "City Watch" book, with Night Watch being a character study of Commander Samuel Vimes, and the subsequent books being standalones, I've really missed seeing the Watch in action. Thud! delivers on all cylinders, going back to some of the basics that made Pratchett what he is today. You've got your quirky characters, you've got your hilarious footnotes (something which seemed to have disappeared from Pratchett's books, much to my chagrin), and you've got Vimes leading them all, trying to be the best copper he can be, doing what's right despite what everybody else seems to want him to do.
The anniversary of the battle of Koom Valley, an ancient battle between the Dwarfs and the Trolls, is coming up, and tension in the city of Ankh-Morpork is rising. Commander Samuel Vimes can smell trouble, and he'll do anything to keep the city safe. When a rabble-rousing Dwarf from the Dwarf homeland is murdered, the Dwarfs immediately blame the Trolls, and it looks like blood will wash over the city. But not with Vimes and the rest of the Watch on the case. A sinister secret from the depths is working its way into the real world again, planning to use the animosity between the two races as its entry point, but it keeps getting stymied. Will the Watch solve the case and bring the perpetrators to justice? And just what is the secret of Koom Valley, and what does it have to do with this entity? And will Vimes be able to keep his daily six o'clock appointment with his young son to read Where's my Cow?
Previous Discworld books have been very humorous, but not laugh-out-loud funny. They've been good, but while I enjoyed them, I've longed for a Pratchett book of old. That's what I got with Thud!, with the return of beloved characters like the very tall, very human Dwarf, Captain Carrot, along with his girlfriend (and werewolf), Sergeant Angua. Pratchett is the master of making all of these characters funny without really making fun of them (ok, he does make fun of Nobby Nobbs, but that's just too easy). Carrot is earnest to a fault, honest, and very loyal. The scene between him and the Patrician at the end of the book is just priceless. Angua becomes suspicious of the female vampire that Vimes has been forced to accept onto the Watch, and the rivalry between them (the werewolf versus vampire rivalry, I mean!) is fun to watch. The rest of the characters are also extremely well done too. Pratchett has shown that he is the master of characterization, and this is yet another example of it.
The plot is a bit too mystic for my tastes (even Vimes can't force himself to believe it), but overall it worked out fine. I loved the ongoing tension between the Dwarfs and the Trolls, especially as we see it in great detail when the Trolls and Dwarfs on the Watch have to deal with it. Detritus, one of the more prominent Trolls on the Watch, really comes into his own, even forcing Vimes to back down from his prejudices at one point. All of the little plots tie together into one big one, even Vimes' insistence on reading the same children's book to his son every night at six o'clock. This did lead to one of the sequences that I had a problem with. The first time this comes up, Vimes has to make it across the city in record time in order to keep his appointment, and he gets a little help from Captain Carrot. I found this sequence forced and not very funny, feeling very out of place in this book. Yes, it does begin what becomes a prominent part of the story, but I think it could have been introduced better.
That is really the only major fault I can find with Thud!, and it's only a small sequence. There are a few other minor things that bothered me, like the disappearance of A.E. Pessimal, the man who comes to audit the Watch, but ends up being deputized and becoming a hero instead. Vimes does do something to him that ensures he will be back, but it would have been nice to see him at the end too. He was extremely funny, especially his introduction to Vimes where he comes off as a humorless git. I also found that the "girls' night out" dragged on a bit too long, but it did have its moments.
Overall, though, Thud! is worth every penny it costs. Instead of serious books with some good humour in them, we get a book that's funny but has a good serious point as well. The differences may be subtle, but they are there, and they can be seen in the footnotes. In older Pratchett books, the footnotes were some of the best comedy in the books, but he started to move away from them. Now, they're back, and with a vengeance. "This was a bit of a slur on Nobby, Vimes had to admit. Like many other officers, Nobby was human. It was just that he was the only one who had to carry a certificate to prove it." I loved almost every page in Thud!, and if you're a Discworld fan, you will too. You don't even need to have read any Discworld before, though it certainly helps if you have at least read some of the Watch books. You'll still laugh a lot, though.
on 14 March 2006
You have to read "Where's My Cow?" every night for a month to a small unrelenting child before reading "Thud!" and therefore truly appreciating it. OK you don't but it did add to the experience plus had the added bonus of my youngest declaring "It's Foul Ole Ron!" at the dinner table and nearly causing me to choke.
I will always have a soft spot for the books based around the Watch of Ankh Morpork. A policeman's lot is never a happy one but they are put through their paces once more in this cracking book. Only Carrot seems a little off his best, but the addition of a Vampire was a genius move.
The plot is always secondary for me in discworld novels; but as usual it is never less than excellent throughout. As always I would recommend reading the series in order so as to truly appreciate the tapestry involved in each characters progression, but if you do read it in isolation be prepared to be hooked like the rest of us and having to then purchase all his other work (and there's a few bit to plough through).
Ankh-Morpork, the Great City of Discworld, is proud of its "multiculturalism". Except here, it's "multi-speciesism". Trolls, dwarfs, golems, even a werewolf have been incorporated into city society. They are represented in the ranks of the City Watch, that bastion of law enforcement. Once scorned as ineffective, the Watch, under Commander Sam Vimes, the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, is now considered an exemplary force in the City. "All are just coppers" is one of Sam's litanies. Except when it comes to vampires. Yet, once again, Pratchett forces Vimes to confront his prejudices. And we readers to face up to ours.
Into the quietly seething mixture of Ankh-Morpork peoples there arrives a new element. For years, the dwarfs have scrambled up out of the deep dark of their mines to emigrate to Sam Vimes' city. They've become the city's largest "minority group". While boisterous, dwarfs are generally well behaved. Clashes with their ancient enemy, the trolls, have taken little real toll of either group. The deep dark of those mines, however, contain a secret. A secret treasured and sought by elements of dwarf society who consider themselves guardians of its value - the "grags". Nothing offends a grag as much as encountering someone who has "seen the light". These guardians scorn the "short humans" who have abandoned traditional dwarf values in Ankh-Morpork's materialist environment. One of those "traditional values" is the cause of the ancient clash in Koom Valley.
A Discworld legend in its own right, the Battle of Koom Valley is one of those "We won!" - "No, we won!" myths so many societies possess. Each side ambushed the other. Both sides shamefully ran away at its conclusion. Legends inspire spin-off myths and Koom Valley is no exception. There's even a massive painting depicting the confrontation. And a "sign" is supposedly hidden away in the daubs of paint. Or someplace. It's hard to tell, however, since the 50 feet of canvas has been taken from its frame. Vimes, who might be goaded into solving that crime, hasn't the time. He's busy investigating a murder that didn't happen. And learning to cope with a new recruit - one representing the last minority group entering his City's population.
It takes a split personality to appreciate Pratchett fully on a first reading. One side can inhale the wit and surprises Pratchett produces in all of his stories. The other side can take pause and note the graceful nuances that represent deeper human values. Are the grags just fantasy characters? Or are they mullahs, rabbis or even ministers from the Southron Baptist Convention? If dwarfs, golems and trolls in the City Watch are "all coppers", are the citizens of Ankh-Morpork just citizens? Should the distinctions and customs of various groups be allowed to set aside or modify the City's Law? How meaningful are "ethnic traditions" and who is allowed to decide what these shall be? Pratchett, with astonishing frankness, wraps these questions within his usual framework of wit and hilarity. But when you've recovered your breath from laughing, you will find the questions still there.
Those who are new to Pratchett may find this book a bit confusing. The characters, developed and portrayed over many volumes, have clearly depicted, individual personalities. The new reader, along with Mr A.E. Pessimal, may well ask "What is Corporal 'Nobby' Nobbs for?". Many of us are still wondering. But no Pratchett reader would give up the man who carries a certificate to prove he's human. And all will welcome this new, worldly, version of The Auditors. The new reader will meet Angua and may puzzle over her reaction to Sally. The established reader will gain an entirely new view of this officer - and be reminded that Gaspode forecast aspects of canine behaviour several books back. All these twists and arabesques demonstrate once more, if it needed buttressing, that Pratchett, even after so many Discworld books, remains a master of innovation and surprise. New and faithful readers of Pratchett will combine to applaude this outstanding work. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
On June 28, 1389 a combined army of Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians and Romanians waged a fierce battle against an Ottoman army on the Plains of Kosovo. Although details of the battle are obscure and lost in the mists of time the animosity between the parties has lingered. It was no surprise therefore that on the 600th anniversary of the battle President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia launched his `ethnic cleansing' campaign in Kosovo. Sometimes the oldest animosities burn the brightest.
That is just about the scenario found in "THUD", Terry Pratchett's latest roller coaster ride through Discworld. The origin and outcome of the ancient Battle of Koom Valley between the Trolls and Dwarves has been obscured and the subject of much debate; but, the lingering and long-lasting hatred between them means they are always one spark away from renewed battle.
Grag Hamcrusher is what you might call a Dwarf extremist. Emerging from the depths he rails against those dwarves who have risen close to the surface. He intimates Dwarf residents of Ankh-Morpork who have made accommodations to a life lived above ground. Hamcrusher is a zealot who would like nothing better than to renew a holy war against the hated Trolls. As Thud opens Hamcrusher has just been murdered, thud "being the sound the heavy club made as it connected with the head". The initial evidence, a troll club found near the apparent murder scene, seems destined to bring their historic enmity to a boil. It is up to Commander Vimes and the Watch to find out who killed Hamcrusher and try to avoid a war that could destroy Ankh-Morpork.
The Patrician, not surprisingly, has complicated matters for Vimes. Bowing to pressure to increase the diversity of the Watch, Vimes is obligated to hire his first vampire, a very young, very attractive lady named Sally. This serves to increase the tension in the Watch most notably with Angua, the Watch's werewolf. Sparks fly and the claws are drawn as Angua senses that Sally is more than a bit interested in Captain Carrot. The Patrician has also seen fit to bring in a pencil pushing bureaucrat to audit the Watch's operations. This all serves to make Commander Vimes' own emotional fuse as short as the one keyed to the Trolls and Dwarves.
It is never a good idea to reveal too much of the plot in a review. This is particularly the case for the Discworld books where Pratchett has twists and turns on every page. Needless to say, events race from pillar to post. The furtive nature of the Dwarves, whose emotions are as submerged as the Dwarves themselves and the rather stoic nature of the Trolls (with the exception of Shine who appears to be one droll troll) has Vimes feeling as if he is trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle without any visual image of the puzzle he is trying to solve.
Two elements of Thud put Thud for me in the highest rank of Discworld books. First, we are given very full, textured look at Commander Vimes. The reader is exposed to the growing disconnect between his controlled, outward demeanor and his emotionally charged interior that seem to grow increasingly more uncontrolled as the plot develops. It is both compelling and more than a bit scary. It brought Vimes to life in a very realistic way. Second, I thought the ending was one of Pratchett's best conclusions.
Thud is a great addition to the Discworld series.
on 28 August 2013
Another thoroughly enjoyable read in the series of Sam Vimes and The Watch of Ankh Morpork. Humour, tension, thrills, twists, fear and above all brilliantly defined characters. You even like the baddies a tad! A novel deep in history of trolls and dwarfs, and the inner rage of Samuel Vimes. Highly recommended. A thoroughly outstanding read!
on 20 April 2014
Yet another (albeit hated) Plume in Sir Terri's Helmet! All his work demands that the reader Think, Remember, and then grin wryly when the proverbial penny finally hits the cobbles. Humour with a side of Sarcasm and obvious Love of his Craft. Bravo! Again. Next Please?
on 9 December 2006
I've recently been carefully working my way chronologically through the discworld books, but I got a short loan of this one and couldn't pass it up, despite being nowhere near its turn. It is very different to the earliest books, perhaps lacking rather a lot of their laugh-after-laugh humour, but it wins out on one point. The whole book was justified for me by the staggeringly re-readable account of a man literally breaking the laws of the universe in order to read to his son at the appointed time. If the rest of the book were only a scene-setter for this, it would be worth it. Walking around for days after finishing it telling all and sundry that "It goes hrrugh, it is a hippopotamus" is surely a sign that a book is worth reading!
If you have a sense of humour, you cannot help but like Pratchett's Discworld novels. They are unique in every way and are impossible to plagiarise. Not many books can make you laugh out loud, but I guarantee Terry Pratchett's will.
This book is about my favourite part of the Discworld, the Ankh Morpork City Watch, led by that pillar of society Commander Samuel Vimes.
Something is going off in the City. A prominent member of the Dwarves has been murdered, and the word on the street is that the murderer who sent him to that great mine in the depths is a Troll.
Dwarves and Trolls have never been the best of friends and all of them vividly remember the famous battle of Koom Valley, although it was so far back in the past that non Trolls and Dwarves cannot even remember when it happened.
Sam and his band of watchmen, who include dwarves, trolls, vampires and also the token werewolf, are going to have their hands . . . claws . . . teeth cut out solving this one.
Continuing the ever growing saga of Commander Sam Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. The anniversary of a famous battle between Dwarves and Trolls is approaching and the Duke of Ankh must deal with the rising tension as well as getting home to read to his young son, without fail. This book is quite slow to start but once the plot gets going I found it very difficult to put down. Terry Pratchett has returned to his previous style by not using chapters and although this book isn’t quite as funny as many of the others in the Discworld series there are enough moments of humour to satisfy even the most hardened fan. All the major Watch characters are involved to some extent and a couple of interesting new additions such as the cities vampire watchwoman. All together, although this is not the best book ever it is a very interesting addition to the Discworld universe.