A perfect autumnal read to get you ready for the winter ahead and make the current weather seem so much warmer.
Confession time: there are several Disc...moreA perfect autumnal read to get you ready for the winter ahead and make the current weather seem so much warmer.
Confession time: there are several Discworld books that I haven't bothered to read because I didn't think they would interest me. Having now read one of them, because it was given to me for free, I can't imagine why I thought I wouldn't enjoy them. Perhaps it is because they are billed as for young adults and I found The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to be amusing but not great on the plot front. , however, is so well plotted and paced that I found myself unable to put it down and it certainly rivalled many of the "grown up" Discworld novels.
If you are not already convinced that Pratchett is a true master of stroytelling then Horace should surely cinch the argument. Horace is without a doubt Pratchett's silliest character, which is putting him up against tough competition
I was somewhat unsure about starting the book with some of the final events of the plot; it didn't ruin anything and established the serious consequences of actions which will come later in the book. I don't think it lost or added anything really, other than leaving a clear impression in my mind - so there at least is a good reason for Pratchett using this technique.
"Crivens!" has sidled into my own vocabulary, a sign of how engaging the Wee Free Men are.(less)
Sam Vimes on holiday in the countryside, with chickens on the cover? This sounds like an ideal book for me. And, unsurprisingly I really enjoyed it an...moreSam Vimes on holiday in the countryside, with chickens on the cover? This sounds like an ideal book for me. And, unsurprisingly I really enjoyed it and laughed aloud (to the shock of my cat) many times. Pratchett's take on the countryside is funny without resorting to tired cliches - or at least no cliches which aren't a truthful representation of rural life; I'd know, I live in the Westcountry.
In many ways this feels like a sequel or reply to The Fifth Elephant; Vimes and Sybil on holiday, Vetinari hatching political plots, and barges. The plot is less complicated and the moral theme rather more obvious. This is less a Guards book generally though and more focused on Vimes, although Nobby and Colon make it in. In fact, it could have done with being maybe a touch longer and having a greater breadth of characters, just to break up the cleverness of Vimes. On the other hand, the plot was good and rattled along at a comfortable pace that kept me reading. I ended up reading the whole book in one go because I wanted to know how it all worked out!
If you have become a little bored with the all-powerful, ever so moral, and undefeated Vimes then perhaps you should stay clear. Pratchett does hammer the moral lessons home and I wonder whether he thinks his readers are going to disagree with what are pretty standard values. I've always liked Pratchett's observations on the real nature of people (and often use his ideas to explain real situations) but Snuff felt short on these insights. Fortunately, it was full of enough witty banter and silly situations to make up for this.
The highlight of the novel, for me, was Sam Vimes junior. He's an entertaining kid and so brilliantly observed, which makes up somewhat for the flimsy characterisation of some of the new characters. All the quirks of young children are there and Pratchett excels at catching childish dialogue accurately. And Vimes junior provides plenty of poo jokes which are sure to appeal to certain people, myself included.
As a considerable fan of the Discworld I am naturally inclined to like anything Pratchett writes about it and to recommend Discworld novels enthusiastically to anyone who will listen. Snuff would be a great holiday novel however I think it relies on already knowing Vimes very well. Some aspects of it might seem preposterous if you haven't already got to know the Commander in books like Jingo or The Fifth Elephant where he develops his legendary reputation. I think you also need to know a bit about Anhk-Morpork to understand a lot of what is going on.
Incidentally, if you are buying this on the Kindle then there is the added bonus that they have included a proper cover for it that is a greyscale version of the real one. I'd have hated to have missed the chickens.
My copy of Soul Music has been read and re-read so many times that it is fluffy edged, lacking corners and badly faded. I think this pretty much sums...moreMy copy of Soul Music has been read and re-read so many times that it is fluffy edged, lacking corners and badly faded. I think this pretty much sums up how much I enjoy reading this Discworld novel. Admittedly, the first time I read it when I was little I didn't get many of the jokes as I'd barely heard of rock and roll. Even now I think a few fly over my head. Here, though, is the main reason that Soul Music isn't one of my favourite Pratchett books - it relies slightly too heavily on puns, parodies and pastiche (saw alliteration, couldn't resist, guilty as charged). The plot is simple enough, to allow space for enough jokes: while Death takes a career break, handing over to his granddaughter Susan, The Band With Rocks In introduces rock and roll to the Discworld. A couple of perennial favourite characters get involved, including the Librarian, Death of Rats and C.M.O.T. Dibbler.
This is the first book to introduce Susan, one of my favourite Discworld characters. It's fun to see her reacting to the general weirdness of the Discworld in the way that anyone from a sensible world like Earth would to such things as Death of Rats and floating horses. And Death of Rats of course makes the whole book better - how can "SQUEAK" manage to be such an expressive phrase? It's a good outing for the wizards as well and their general susceptibility to weirdness allows Pratchett to cram in a few tasteless jokes (OK, so I giggled lots at them).
My only real problem with Soul Music is that it doesn't quite all hang together as well as some of Pratchett's later Discworld novels. Things seem a bit haphazard and good plot is neglected in favour of getting in all the possible rock and roll references. That said, it always makes me laugh and it does manage to send up some of the most notable and funny aspects of the music industry. And it introduces the idea of a shop that appears only when you need it, then disappears again, which I have found invaluable for everyday use, like so many of Pratchett's well observed details.(less)