**spoiler alert** I liked the description of Jeremy’s ordered mind and how he loved the moment when all the parts of a clock are spread out in front o**spoiler alert** I liked the description of Jeremy’s ordered mind and how he loved the moment when all the parts of a clock are spread out in front of him because everything made sense. The brief mention of the Dysk theatre made me chuckle [a reference to the Globe theatre], as did the scene with Lu-Tze’s inventor friend Qu. I loved the Auditor swear word of “organs!” first uttered by Miss Tangerine, and I felt that the end, with Susan and Lobsang, was wonderful. It’s kind of amazing how much meaning can be conveyed in just two lines, without any details whatsoever.
***SPOILERS FOLLOW AND ARE VERY SPOILERY***
Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett is the 26th Discworld novel and involves the History Monks, Susan Sto Helit, the five horsemen of the apocalypse, the Auditors, and the First Rule: "Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man".
When Lobsang Ludd was born, he was left to be raised by the Guild of Thieves. It was a similar story for Jeremy Jeremy Clockson, though he was raised by the Clockmakers Guild, also in Ankh Morpork. The History Monks offer Lobsang an apprenticeship at their home, Oi Dong monastary, under the famous Lu-Tze, also known as the Sweeper. The head of the monks, the abbot, had “never mastered the arts of circular aging” and was “forced to achieve longevity in a more traditional way, via serial reincarnation”, so he rules over his monks in between bouts of gurgling and yelling “Wanna bikkit wanna bikkit!” They find Longsang has an uncanny gift for manipulating and understanding time, despite his lack of formal training. Lu-Tze is a follower of “The Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite” and is often quoting pieces of her wisdom, beginning with the confusing phrase “for it is written”. Lobsang points out that no one has ever read what Lu-Tze claims is written.
Meanwhile, Jeremy is visited by a woman and her troll guards. Myria LeJean hires him to build a perfectly accurate glass clock, and in order to assist him with his task provides him with an Igor assistant. LeJean is an agent of the Auditors, who believe that humanity mustn’t be allowed to carry on living, what with their imaginations and their emotions. The Auditors can’t organise people, they make the filing messy. They are a collective without names or individual personalities, but they send LeJean in human form to interact with Jeremy and she begins to develop distinctly un-Auditor characteristics. For one, she begins to feel romantic interest in Jeremy.
Susan Sto Helit works for Madam Frout, headmistress of the Frout Academy, and though she is considered an excellent teacher she does not subscribe to the Frout Method of Learning Through Fun. Madam Frout often attempts to reprimand Susan for this but always ends up forgetting to do so. This is partly because of Susan’s ability to give her a Look, and because Susan is the grandaughter of Death.
Susan goes to Fidgett’s gentleman’s club in Esoteric Street to visit her grandfather, where the only women “grudgingly” allowed were “the family or respectable married ladies over thirty...between 3:15 and 4:30PM” which meant many of the club’s members thought this was “the only seventy-five minutes in the day when women are were actually allowed to exist”. Death informs her that the personification of Time once fell in love with a human man and had a son: someone mostly mortal, like her.
Dr. Hopkins, the Secretary of the Guild of Clockmakers, checks in on Jeremy regularly to see how he is doing and ensure the boy is taking his medicine. Igor assures Hopkins he watches Jeremy “pour out a thpoonful” every day, but neglects to inform him that Jeremy then tips it down the sink. Jeremy says this allows him to think more clearly, but even Igor – who has served some genuinely insane madmen – begins to worry about his new master’s grip on reality.
There is a time leak at the monastary and Lu-Tze steps out of his role as a simple sweeper in order to “cross-link futures and pasts” to regain balance, but Lobsang quickly takes over. He is so skillfull that he provides perfect balance, which surprises even Lu-Tze. The apprentice can see problems with time before they happen, and while the History Monks think nothing of dumping thousands of years worth of excess time into the sea, Lobsang finds the perfect place for every last second.
Lu-Tze finds out about the construction of the glass clock and vows to stop it. The last time a glass clock was made, it measured the tick of the universe and there was a massive time slip, and Lu-Tze was unable to reach the device in time to prevent the Big Crash. He and Lobsang travel to Ankh Morpork by “slicing time”, a process where everything arounds them slows down almost to a stop but they keep moving at a rapid pace. Again, Lobsang shows an uncanny competance with this supposedly difficult skill.
They come across a yeti, who recognises Lu-Tze and agrees to carry them on their journey while they sleep. He also agrees to let them chop off his head. Lu-Tze does so, and the yeti’s headless body vanishes. It reappers and Lu-Tze urges Lobsang to remember what he saw, and to understand that time is more flexible than people think. Susan visits Nanny Ogg, who is a witch and a talented midwife. She tells Susan of how a man came to her several times throughout her life, asking for her help with a tricky delivery. The first time is just a young woman, so she sends him away. The second time she is a grown woman but says she still has much to learn. The third time, she grabs her hat and goes with the man. Nanny Ogg reveals to Susan that she helped Time deliver twins.
The other Auditors begin to suspect Myria is gaining too much humanity and so they send more agents in human form to monitor her actions. She has been secretly sabotaging the clock’s progress in order to spend more time with Jeremy and in her human body. The Auditors want to ensure no further delays in the construction of the clock, which will stop time and put an end to the universe.
Death visits the other horsemen and tells them it is time for them to ride. Famine says that since there will be no shortage of food he wants to “sit this one out”. Pestilence also declines. Death has dinner with Mr and Mrs War, a former Valkyrie, and realises he will be the only one riding out at the end of the world because all of the others have “caught aspects of humanity as though they were some kind of disease”.
Lu-Tze and Lobsang arrive in Ankh Morpork too late to stop the clock being finished. Time stops, and they are separated. Lu-Tze meets Ronnie Soak, the dairyman, and Lobsang meets Susan, all beings who are outside humanity and therefore outside of time.
Ronnie explains that he is actually the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, Kaos.
Persued by the Auditors, Jeremy and Susan go to the Royal Art Musem. There they find a number of signs have been laid out to stop the Auditors in their tracks: an arrow pointing right with the words “keep left” on it, “do not feed the elephant”, “ignore this sign”. Myria LeJean aids them and kills an Auditor by giving it a Higgs & Meakins chocolate. She says even eating toast nearly killed her, so chocolate was death for an Auditor relatively new to having a body with taste buds. Myria reveals that Jeremy was also unaffected by the stoppage of time, and Susan explains that Jeremy and Lobsang have a very special relationship. They are the same person. Mrs Ogg described it as “one soul born twice”.
Lobsang touches Jeremy and everything goes white. When Susan can see again, Jeremy and Lobsang are gone. Susan hears Lobsang’s voice and he urges her to get to the clock. She and Lady LeJean stock up on chocolates from the fine chocolate shop called Wienrich and Boettcher. It is here that Lady LeJean takes the new name of Unity.
Death prepares to ride out alone, but is joined at the last moment by Pestilence, Famine, War, and even Chaos, who agree to fight the Auditors. Lu-Tze, Susan and Unity also fight them, with what chocolate they have left. The Auditors think they have killed the monk but Lu-Tze tells Unity he learned from the yetis and that dying and returning does “sting a bit”.
Susan goes to the clock and Lobsang says he wants to smash it. Suddenly, she is outside the universe with Lobsang and the clock. They meet Time and Wen, who has somehow acquired the constant pain in Susan’s side: the Death of Rats. Wen explains to Susan that Lobsang built and destroyed the clock, “saving the world and destroying it, all at once”.
Lobsang tells Susan he is going to take over as Time, and she is returned to the world, where history has been shattered. They find Lu-Tze and Unity, and go to Oi Dong. Lobsang returns ordered Time and then disappears. Susan and Unity leave the monastery, and Unity asks Susan if she was romantically interested in Lobsang. Susan lies and says she was not, and is annoyed at herself for being sad Lobsang has left.
Lobsang returns to Lu-Tze’s Garden of Five Surprises and asks to know what the fifth surprise is. Lu-Tze says they will go to The Iron Dojo, where only one of them may leave. Lu-Tze claims the fifth surprise is “a cheap carnival mask...a fake pair of glasses, glued above a big pink nose, and a heavy black mustache”. Lu-Tze then attacks Lobsang and forces him to submit. They break the rule of the Dojo by leaving together, and the abbot goes to award Lobsang his robe. Lobsang refuses, and says he would rather take the broom and robe of a sweeper.
Unity realises there is no way she can carry on living as a human nor as an Auditor, so she arranges to die by diving into a vat of chocolate. Chaos and Death agree that she was “a lady with style”. When Unity’s shade appears, Death tells her that she is about to embark on “the next part” of being human.
Susan’s classroom returns to normal, and she decides to eat the single chocolate she allows herself a day in the middle of a lesson. She goes to the stationery cupboard to do so, and sees her supplies whirl in spirals. She assumes the Death of Rats is playing a trick on her, but it is Lobsang, and the book ends with Susan having “a perfect moment”, even though the chocolate is her least favourite kind: nougat....more
Another good 'theme' story, this time focusing on Holy Wood, the Disc's answer to Tinseltown. Very little of the Watch, which is a negative, but plentAnother good 'theme' story, this time focusing on Holy Wood, the Disc's answer to Tinseltown. Very little of the Watch, which is a negative, but plenty of Gaspode the Wonder Dog, which is a positive....more
This was excellent Pratchett. I think I will recommend people new to the Discworld start here, rather than The Colour of Magic. As with much of PratchThis was excellent Pratchett. I think I will recommend people new to the Discworld start here, rather than The Colour of Magic. As with much of Pratchett I occasionally felt that some crucially witty satirical comment was going over my head, because I was too busy loving his disgustingly skilled descriptions of entirely wonderful things. ...more
Re-reading this because a) it's what I'm up to and b) I love it to tiny pieces.
Not the first Pratchett I read (I think) but one of my favourites. A goRe-reading this because a) it's what I'm up to and b) I love it to tiny pieces.
Not the first Pratchett I read (I think) but one of my favourites. A good Discworld to start with! Mort is just fabulous and Ysabell is silly and wonderful. DEATH as usual steals the show, though, and the whole time I was reading this I was having flashbacks to that Discworld cartoon showed a few episodes of on the ABC here in Australia when I was a kid, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. ...more
**spoiler alert** I want to give this more than two stars because there were parts of it where I couldn't put it down, but ultimately I didn't like it**spoiler alert** I want to give this more than two stars because there were parts of it where I couldn't put it down, but ultimately I didn't like it. I used to read a lot of pseudo-feudal fantasy and the 'wives as property' thing didn't bother me nearly as much. This whole book was like a little boy's king/prophet fantasy, with an unlike-able protagonist in Paul. I don't know if it's just a difference between sci-fi and fantasy, or between male protag and female protag, or if I myself cannot shut off some of my knee-jerk reactions enough to enjoy a story, but I felt that the entire premise of the Bene Gesserit needing a man to bridge the gap between giver and taker and Paul forcing the Princess Irulan into a loveless marriage to unite his kingdom rubbed me entirely the wrong way. I could have done without the overtones of religious fanaticism, also....more
The Hogfather, a rather modern iteration of the most ancient concept, has gone missing, and now Death is worried the sun won't come up. He takes up thThe Hogfather, a rather modern iteration of the most ancient concept, has gone missing, and now Death is worried the sun won't come up. He takes up the Hogfather's rounds, and cunningly conscripts his granddaughter to help him. The God of Hangovers and the Death of Rats, the wizards, Corporal Nobbs, the tooth fairy, a thinking machine called Hex, and an assassin named Teatime all become involved.
I felt Hogfather dragged on a little bit, but I still enjoyed it. Susan is my very favourite female character he's ever written, and she is second overall to Sam Vimes. However, I don't like that Discworld women are either sensible or silly. Having said that, I quite like this kind of Pratchett story: where intense scrutiny has been applied through a wonderfully warm and witty filter, resulting in a poignant and gripping examination of things like belief and faith and I'm not doing it any justice. Anyway, my point is, that even though this book was set in so many different places, and featured so many different threads all coming together, I still felt there was a little bit of stagnation. I haven't seen the film version of this and it strikes me as odd that this particular book was chosen for a movie adaptation.
Mr Teatime is a wholly villainous monster that I found unpleasant and vile from the beginning, and Susan makes an excellently sensible governess who also happens to be Death's granddaughter. Death is, as usual, a delight to see (against all logic) and his double team with Arthur is pretty funny. The appearance of the God of Hangovers almost gave me an actual headache, and I think all of Hex's dialogue was genius.
In parts, the story was touching, and in others it was horrid. I felt it could have been shorter, but overall I feel that any Pratchett is good Pratchett. ...more
**spoiler alert** It's not the book's fault but The Truth stressed me out a little bit (because it was constantly reminding me that I'm studying journ**spoiler alert** It's not the book's fault but The Truth stressed me out a little bit (because it was constantly reminding me that I'm studying journalism even though I don't want to even be a journalist). Also it kind of featured Vimes as a bad guy. I always want to be on Vimes' side, and it was nice to see him being fiercely loyal to Angua after William overpowered her werewolf sense of smell, hurting her in the process.
But overall I enjoyed the book, the interaction with Harry King and the description of his work as essentially a garbage tycoon was sweet and very enjoyable. Mr Slant and Lord de Worde make for wholly satisfying villains, and Pin and Tulip as the henchmen double team were fine, all things considered. I loved Tulip's mannerisms and how worried he became when it was clear Pin was no longer 100% in charge of his faculties, and his fond assurance that "if you've got your potato, everything will work out fine". Tulip also had a pretty sweet interaction with Death, though to be honest that one scene was just about enough of the most skeletal character in the Discworld.
The Truth featured constant references to class and wealth, and the supporting characters were always telling William that even though he was pretty similar to all the awful rich people who think they are better than the rest of the world, it was okay, because at least he cared if he was being a buttface. However, this contrasted with William's fellow borders: self-important, racist and narrow-minded people who wanted to believe all of the Inquirer's ridiculous stories because it reinforced their existing beliefs about foreigners and distant lands.
My main other gripe is the women in the book. I’m getting increasingly irritated with Pratchett’s incidental female characters. He seems to think that all women are either unattractive and sensible or frightened, silly, and irritating. Obviously there are exceptions to that rule, but it seems that if a woman isn't a protagonist in a Discworld novel, she's almost certainly going to be one or the other. Even if she's the main love interest (Sacharissa, Adora Belle Dearheart, etc).
I don't know if it was because I was keeping notes or because the plot was less frenetic than they have been in past books, but I found it much easier to keep up with The Truth than some other Discworld stories. The plot was compact but interesting, easy to follow but intriguing, and had just the right blend of "real" historical fact and sheer fantasy madness. Definitely worth the re-read :)
The aforementioned notes are as follows, ie a very detailed plot outline.
***SPOILERS BEGIN HERE AND ARE QUITE SPOILERY***
The book begins with Mr Pin and Mr Tulip, otherwise known as the New Firm, rowing along the Ankh river with an unnamed captive who looks identical to the Patrician, Lord Vetinari, and it is clear that they have dark deeds on their mind.
William de Worde, the second son of the wealthy and famous de Worde family, moved in disgrace to Ankh Morpork to work with words. There he meets a dwarf called Gunilla Goodmountain after the latter’s new printing press knocks William out. Goodmountain shows William a “very nearly magical way” of making copies of a letter.
And so, in a shed at the back of the Bucket (a tavern owned by Mr Cheese, frequented almost exclusively by the Watch) Goodmountain and his team of dwarves set up the press.
A group of apparently sinister people intend to remove Vetinari from power in retaliation for the Patrician’s tolerance of other races. Meanwhile, despite considerable guild objection to moveable type, Vetinari feels that the technology must be embraced because a) it will help maintain relations with the dwarves, who are a major economical partner and who make up a large number of the city’s inhabitants, and b) because the world is changed not by the likes of kings and queens but by “a couple of men tinkering in a workshop”.
It is revealed that Charlie, the Patrician’s double, is to be paid $10,000 for his role in the plot: “just saying a few words”. He agrees after some encouragement from Mr Tulip, who has such a hard drug problem he snorts moth-repellent.
Vetinari visits the press and is initially concerned that “whenever some well-meaning soul begins a novel enterprise they always, with some kind of uncanny foresight, site it at the point where it will do maximum harm to the fabric of reality”. He cites “that Holy Wood moving picture fiasco [and] that Music with Rocks In business” as examples.
(Mr Tulip is often swearing but in print it comes out as just a dash, so things are “-ing brilliant” or “-ing simple”. He is also described as so angry that he “lived his life on that thin line most people occupy just before they haul off and hit someone repeatedly with a spanner.”)
Boddony, a dwarf, is second in command of the print room, as well as Goodmountain’s fiancé. She is the first to suggest William’s news letter be formatted like a newspaper; that is to have headlines, as well as have a title. Initially William suggests “Ankh Morpork Items” but Goodmountain accidentally prints “Ankh Morpork tImes”, so it becomes the Times.
Foul Ole Ron, a beggar, and his talking dog Gaspode, see Pin and Tulip watching the Patrician. Ron’s familiar muttering of “millennium hand and shrimp” and “buggrit, I tol’em” is one of my favourite Discword catchphrases.
The beggars are as follows: Coffin Henry, expectorator. Arnold Sideways, legless. The Duck Man, sane except for his constant denial of the duck on his head. Foul Ole Ron and Altogether Andrews, who has eight different personalities. They are hired to sell the Times.
The New Firm were hired by a zombie lawyer by the name of Mr Slant. Tulip has a limited capacity for deep thought except when it comes to fine art and architecture. “Look at the -ing quality...that’s -ing genius that is”. “It’s just a late eighteenth century copy of the -ing Baroque Style...didja see them pillars in the hall? Didja?”
William remembers his first reporter, Sacharissa Cripslock, as “just a girl in an apron...doing light dusting and arranging flowers”, the granddaughter of his original printer. She “mistook mannerisms for manners and thought etiquette meant good breeding. She has good boobs and wears severe, old-fashioned dresses. William offers her a job writing down stories, which she thinks could be a fine and proper job for a young lady.
Another woman who makes an appearance is Mrs Arcanium, the “proprietress of Mrs Eucrasia Arcanium’s Lodging House for Respectable Working Men”, who has “Views” about people who were late for meals, and wasn’t “just respectable but Respectable”. I’m getting increasingly irritated with Pratchett’s incidental female characters. He seems to think that all women are either unattractive and sensible or frightened, silly, and irritating.
Rocky, a troll, is hired as the Complaints, Beheadings, and Horsewhippings Editor, to fend off unhappy readers. Mr Bendy, a zombie, is hired to write obituaries.
Otto Chriek, a vampire, offers to provide graphics for the newspaper. He carries a black ribbon to denote his abstinence from “ze b-word”, so William reluctantly agrees to hire him. Otto is only somewhat disadvantaged by the fact that the bright light of his camera flash causes him either immense pain or to crumble to dust. He experiments with “dark light” and captures something in a photograph which unsettles everybody.
William and Otto go to the palace after hearing that Vetinari has stabbed his assistant, Drumknott, and speak to Commander Sam Vimes, who says the facts of the case do not add up.
William meets an Igor who is described as being very modern because he doesn’t lisp every ‘s’ and who is caring for the unconscious Patrician and the injured Drumknott. Meanwhile, everyone is dismayed by the success of a rival paper, the Inquirer; set up by the Engraves Guild, and which is printing farfetched sensationalised stories about women in Quirm giving birth to snakes and demons stealing a man with a sizable debt “last seen buying a very fast horse”.
Since the Engraves have become involved in printing, paper prices have soared and supplies have dwindled, so William and Goodmountain visit Harry King, the King of the Golden River. William persuades Harry to let them take one cartload of the paper meant for Mr Carney at the Inquirer.
After having a dark light photo taken of him, Mr Pin is haunted by his past and decides he will retire after the New Firm finish their current job. Meanwhile, after negotiating with a mysterious stranger known only as “Deep Bone” (and as Gaspode), William is able to interview the Patrician’s missing dog Wuffles about his involvement in the stabbing incident.
The Times dwarves tunnel into the Inquirer’s HQ and discover Cut My Own Throat Dibbler is writing their outlandish stories, and so he is hired to sell advertising space for the Times instead.
Sacharissa and Rocky go to a property owned by William’s family so she can borrow a dress for a ball they have been invited to only to discover Charlie is being kept in the basement. Unfortunately, Pin and Tulip return just in time to discover them. Tulip knocks Rocky out and they take Sacharissa to the press, demanding to see Otto. Pin wants to kill the vampire for making him see what he believes to be the ghosts of his victims as a result of the dark light photograph.
William enters the shed with Wuffles, who attacks Pin, remembering him from their attack on the real Patrician. A misfired crossbow bolt hits a lamp and a fire starts. Pin and Tulip are trapped in the Times’ cellar, and as hot lead begins to drip down from above, Pin kills his New Firm colleague in order to use his corpse as a shield.
The press is destroyed in the fire and as Pin re-emerges from the cellar he attacks William, getting himself accidentally stabbed by a document spike (used by Sacharissa for organising the paper’s paper) in the process. Pin’s pockets are searched resulting in the discovery of a fortune in jewels (the New Firm’s payment from Mr Slant) and a Dis-Organiser Mk II; purchased by Pin to record his conversations with Slant – for leverage. William hears Slant use a favourite phrase of his father’s: “a lie can go all the way around the world before the truth has got its boots on”.
The Times take over the Inquirer’s press by force and Pin and Tulip both meet Death. Pin is reincarnated as a potato, while Tulip is given the opportunity to make amends – he is reincarnated as a woodworm.
William confronts his father, who was the ringleader of the whole plot against the Patrician, and decides to embrace some of the qualities his family are famous for. Vetinari returns to office and the Times begin operations anew. They hire more writers, and emboldened by his new found aristocratic confidence, William feels that the press must continue to be “fed” news, not just “olds”.
***SPOILERS END HERE AND ARE NO LONGER SPOILERY***...more