Top critical review
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.