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Night Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) (Discworld Novels) Hardcover – 4 Nov 2002
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The new Discworld novel Night Watch has the power and energy that characterizes Terry Pratchett at his occasional best, as well as the wild surreal humour he always gives us. Sam Vimes, running hero of the Guards sequence, finds himself cast back in time to the Ankh-Morpork of his youth--a much nastier city, with an actively deranged Patrician and a sadistic secret police--and finding himself filling in for Keel, the tough honest copper who teaches the young Vimes everything he knows. And, more worryingly, who dies heroically in the insurrection Vimes knows to be imminent. With a psychopath from his own time rising in the vile ranks of the Cable Street Unmentionables complicating things, Vimes has to ensure that history takes its course so that he will have the right future to go back to, and to keep his younger self alive--this is Pratchett's plotting at its most thoroughly constructed and wonderfully devious. Ankh-Morpork has for a long time been one of the most thoroughly imagined cities in fantasy--here Pratchett gives us a fascinating gloomy glimpse of its past and of the younger selves of some of his best-loved characters, and of the brief-lived People's Republic of Treacle-Mine Road. --Roz Kaveney
'His spectacular inventiveness makes the Discworld series one of the perennial joys of modern fiction.' -- Mail on Sunday
'Like Jonathan Swift ... he is a satirist of enormous talent ... incredibly funny ... compulsively readable.' -- The Times
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Vimes is some ways resembles Granny Weatherwax; both secretly fear the darkness within themselves, and gain much of their power through denying it. Vimes calls this side of himself, "the Beast". While it can be useful in combat, granting Vimes a kind of Berserker fury, he worries that he might give into it completely. To avoid this, Vimes has created a kind of internal Watchman to keep the Beast on a leash.
In this novel, Vimes and a serial killer named Carcer are sent back in time due to a magical accident. They arrive around thirty years in the past, when Vimes was a raw recruit, and Ankh-Morpork was on the brink of revolution. Vimes must protect his younger self, capture Carcer and return to the present. And do it all without changing the past too much.
We meet younger versions of the regular cast, so to speak; Nobby, Colon, Reg Shoe, Mrs Palm, CMOT Dibbler and even Vetinari and Downey. The History Monks, aka The Men in Saffron, aka No Such Monastery also play a prominant role.
Noticably less overtly humorous than many Discworld novels, with a bitter-sweet edge to the writing. A book I've read many times and still take pleasure from.
There is much sadness and pathos and a total sense of isolation pervading this novel. I happen to think it is one of the best Discworld novels out there and I recommend it most highly.
There's an awful lot of philosophising, but I enjoyed the unique Pratchett/Vimes viewpoints on life and the living.
There is an edge to this tale, a little bit more darkness in it than we're used to in a lot of the other books, with some terribly poignant and dramatic moments. That's not to say that the customary humour isn't there, but it has the additition of much more city intrigue, rebellion, action and a noticeably less-familiar setting (I am trying not to give too much of the game away here).
Whilst the rest of the Guards books centre around Sam Vimes, this one is much more so. as with 'Snuff' this book often sees Sam without the backup of his traditional supporting cast and trying to hold onto his sanity when the situation often leaves him feeling a bit like he's just being swept along by events.
Night Watch is a story I can go back to again and again and also have on audiobook for long car journeys. Just be sure to read the previous books first. This is not a good place to jump into the Guards continuum.
If you are new to Discworld, it will have helped to have read the previous Night Watch books, but this is one of the best.
Thank you Terry for giving m the gift of a book that I wished would never end/