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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2011
Commander Vimes is sent to the Shires to his wife's estate for a holiday. But crime seems to follow him anyway and when he finds that a murder has been committed he starts to bring city justice to the country. This means dealing with hot-headed blacksmiths, the poo lady and a Chief Constable who is an expert in Bhangbhangduc, and those are just the "good guys".

Reviewers have said that Sir Terry's books of late are very hit and miss, that they are not as funny as they used to be. They are certainly much longer and less punchy. The humour is much more droll, but more importantly the books are much more thoughtful. Unseen Academicals started the story of racism, with an Orcish footballer who had all the traits of a certain England forward. This time it is the Goblins and how attitudes can be changed, taking them from being vermin to being people. They reflect the times they are written and the issues that are important to Sir Terry.

These are much more serious books, there always was an underlying moral sense to Discworld but in these latest books it is the morality that is more important than the humour. These are morality tales with the real bits left in. In Vimes' world he cannot wave a magic wand so everything turns our better - so he has to take a much more pragmatic route. This makes the book much more thoughtful and much slower than the mad-cap early Discworld, so while they are no longer 5 stars for humour, they are 5 stars for their emotional commitment and making you think.
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on 23 October 2011
I am a Pratchett addict; I took my first dose in 1976 with 'Dark Side of the Sun' and have read everything he's written since (and went back to read 'The Carpet People' and Strata') I read the Nome Trilogy - I even bought 'The Unadulterated Cat'!

For a time in the 90s he spoiled me for other fantasy writers; his style was (to me) so accomplished that others couldn't begin to match him. The earlier Discworld books, from #01 'The Colour of Magic' to #10 'Moving Pictures' were wonderful romps with a hugely imaginative drive. 'Equal Rites,' 'Wyrd Sisters' and 'Guards! Guards!' were the absolute pinnacle of comic fantasy.

Later books (with occasional returns to the earlier broad humour) were darker, more thoughtful and with a more philosophical edge. Gradually the humour became less important to the story - the books were still funny in parts, but the Discworld became less magical and more a distortion of our own world, tackling in more detail real issues such as class, racism and sexism - prejudice in all its ugly forms. He even created a new 'ism' - speciesism. He was at his best in this period when he was angry about prejudice in books like 'Small Gods,' 'Lords and Ladies' and 'Feet of Clay'.

Even the 'lesser' works (again, to me! I know it's subjective) such as 'Soul Music', 'Hogfather' and 'The Last Continent' had enough of the classic Pratchett mix of wisdom and gags to satisfy most of us.

I feel the last great Discworld book (for adults) was 'Thief of Time'. The last great book for younger readers was 'The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents'. Both of these were classic Pratchett, filled with imagination and brio.

And then... things started to change. The Tiffany Aching books were, increasingly, becoming just a little less vivid and gripping in their execution. The Moist von Lipwig books were pretty good, but a little too long and under-edited. 'Monstrous Regiment' was (to me!) muddled and the characterisation was weak. The lightness of touch that characterised earlier books was gone; the moralising in the stories became more blatant and heavy-handed.

'Unseen Academicals' - well I hate football so maybe some of the humour went over my head. Not bad, but not great.

Now, this book... well, it's ok. I like Vimes a lot, and thought he acquitted himself well in 'Snuff'. The plot was as usual fairly convoluted but worked well. The pacing was a little off - some passages went at a snail's pace, others seemed rushed and incomplete. Young Sam is a great character, developing nicely, and it was nice to see Willikins in all his bruiser glory.

The dialogue is the greatest change in Pratchett's style - where it used to zing off the page and allow you to really identify with the characters, it now seems a little stilted and over-complex.

Having said all this - even a substandard Pratchett is considerably better than most other writers' masterworks... I will always buy a new Terry Pratchett book and take what enjoyment I can - and there is always a great deal of enjoyment, just a little less than in the past. I still must have my regular Pratchett fix...
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on 30 October 2011
I've been a long-time fan of Pratchett ever since getting his first novel The Colour of Magic back in my early teens, and I can honestly say that it's a rare thing to come away with a slight sense of disappointment after finishing one of his books. The sheer fun and whimsy of the early Discworld novels seems to me to have given way to a slightly more darker more muted world, and where once you could expect gag after gag spilling off nearly every single page, now there is a bit more slightly heavy-handed moralising and exposition to get through before you find any gems to remind you of those earlier stories.

Don't get me wrong, I still liked Snuff and there is still much to enjoy in the characters, old favourites like Vimes in particular, but in terms of where I'd rank this in the Discworld series as a whole, I'd have to say somewhere around the middle of the list, tending towards the lower half.

My son is reading the book at the moment and appears to be enjoying it (though some of the more adult ideas pass him by) so even if Snuff is slightly below par for Pratchett, it's still got plenty to offer and, if you're a fan of the series, still worth a read. If you're new to Pratchett, well you're probably better off going right back to the beginning and enjoying the pure unadulterated fun of those early novels.
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on 14 November 2011
As so many have said, it's better than the average book but nowhere near as good as the average Pratchett. (I confess to having a soft spot for Reaper Man and Pyramids, which nobody else seems to like.)
May I also point out that one reviewer was correct in saying that the drop in humour doesn't necessarily lead to a worse book (just look at Night Watch).
My main niggles:
1) Since when did Willikins have that past? He's been working for the Ramkins for at least 30 years (Night Watch - he's mentioned as the bootboy). He's also very abruptly come out of his shell.
2) Vetinari is TOTALLY out of character. Far too emotional and uncertain.
3) Moral of the story is RAMMED IN WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER. Rather like Unseen Academicals but worse.
4) Villain totally undeveloped. Even Carcer had more depth - he'd realised that the rules of normal people didn't actually have to apply to him if he didn't want them to.
5) As someone else on here said, where's the Guarding Dark? Also, the Summoning Dark LEFT Vimes, acknowledging defeat by a worthy opponent, and the mark on his wrist was a scald from lamp oil (shaped by the Dark).
6) No Death cameo, but neither did The Wee Free Men.
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on 17 October 2011
I was so excited about the release of Snuff. I love the Discworld books, the Watch series constitute my favourite story arc and Vimes is my favourite character within them (and probably my favourite literary character), however I found this book slightly... different.

I found it took a quite a long time to get going; there is a lot of reflection at the beginning rather than the action which is traditional of the Watch books. I think the initial slow pace is linked to Vimes' discomfort with the boring countryside; it only really starts to get going after the first hundred and fifty pages or so.

I also found that a lot of the characters seemed a little out of character. Willikins really comes into his own, and is developed brilliantly, but his characterisation is quite different to the Willikins of the other books. Sybil seems a lot more, uh, forceful in this book. The other guards felt kind of tacked on, the villains were faceless, Vimes felt...weird.

I really enjoyed Thud! and Vimes' battle with the Summoning Dark. At first I welcomed the Dark's cameo, but I think it was a little overplayed. What happened to the Guarding Dark anyway? Vimes seemed to be deviating a bit from Lawful Good in this book; I thought he was supposed to carry the law like a beacon wherever he went!

Snuff takes a rather more serious tone with fewer laugh-out-loud gags, and some occasional clunky writing, I feel terrible for saying this but I found it hard not to read without thinking about Pratchett's illness and wondering how much it was affecting his writing. Snuff is not one of the best Discworld books but having said this I did finish it in a day and I did still enjoy it despite my quibbles.
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VINE VOICEon 4 June 2015
I've been a Terry Pratchett fan for many years, and would like to think I'm pretty familiar with his style of writing. I LOVE his dialogue, the way characters speak and interact - it's an essential part of the delight of a Discworld book.
And that's what's missing here.
I can only assume that Terry's illness was finally taking over his thought processes.
The concept of Snuff is a good one, and adds another race to the rich texture of the Discworld. Goblins are brought to the fore as a complex and misunderstood people, and some of the ideas are genius.
However,
The way people speak has changed dramatically, and not for the better. There's far too much exposition and rambling speech that is totally un-necessary, and frankly repetitive. Characters speak in ways and use phraseologies that are nothing like previous encounters with them in past books. If it weren't for the names, you'd think they were different people.
It's such a shame. I made it through the book, but it was a struggle.
I think in hindsight there were signs that all was not well in Unseen Alchemicals and I Shall Wear Midnight, but in this book it's painfully apparent.
RIP Sir Terry.
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on 2 August 2012
It is with sadness that I say that I think that the Pratchett magic is gone. I suppose it's inevitable, given the circumstances but I feel an enormous sense of loss. I own a copy of every one of the Discworld novels and have read all of them, some of them several times. I waited with anticipation for this one but was very disappointed because while it has the structure of many of his novels, Terry's lightness of touch and impish humour is missing. It feels to me that he didn't actually write it (although I'm sure he 'drove it', as it were).

The telltale signs were that:

a) the prose has become ponderous. There are over-long sentences the sense of which had to be found by re-reading (something I almost never had to do before)
b) long and incongruously articulate (sometimes political) speeches were uttered by characters who, hitherto in earlier books, could only utter things that were short, pithy, and often amusing - just read some of the things that Nobby Nobbs says in this book.
c) the twinkle in Terry's eye that accompanies a wicked pun, or witty phrase that just captures the zeitgeist are completely absent
d) there are points that Terry appears to want to get across (like the importance of the rule of law) that are delivered as oft-repeated hammer blows rather than the subtle point well made

For all that, as a Terry Pratchett lifelong fan, I am still happy that he published this and I'm pleased that I bought it and read it. While he can continue to produce books that are readable (and this is still a readable book) I will continue to follow him. But I'm afraid that, as I said, the magic has gone. Terry is unique in the English-speaking world, and under the circumstances of his cruel illness, I suppose it's too much to expect that he could continue unimpeded.
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on 6 January 2013
Probably the least satisfying of Pratchett's many, many books. He's produced better since, as well as before, this one.

There's an entertaining story in there but it's hidden behind lots of superfluous verbiage and at times you have to put it down to gather the energy and inclination to find out what happens next. It really feels like an early draft. Lots of ideas have been thrown in, the story-line wanders all over the place and there's too much 'top of the head' dialogue that needs to be trimmed down. Plus all the explanations of items relating to other books, which haven't been seen as necessary in other books.

This one really cries out for proper editing and then reissuing.
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on 24 November 2011
I have to say that while I did like the book overall, I found this Discworld novel to be a little disappointing in places. The villain of the story was rather underwhelming, put down easily by Sam or others at every turn. I also thought the character of young Sam was a little too silly. Who was really THAT obsessed with poo at age 6? I know I wasnt. Also the humour of previous novels seems to have really dried up, mostly replaced with more serious moralising and long speeches. While thats not a bad thing as such, it does stand as a stark contrast from his ealier works, which I have always enjoyed.

I really hope he can lighen it up a little for his next novel. A few more laughs and a few less long winded speeches might not be a bad thing Terry.
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on 12 January 2014
Not up to Terry's usual standard. I found it an effort to get to the end. That said, it has its moments, but more like someone else trying to create a Pritchett book by cutting and pasting from his other books.
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