Alytha's Reviews > Snuff

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
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's review
Jan 08, 2012

really liked it

Finished the latest Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, Snuff.

I quite liked this one. To be honest, I'd read the phonebook if Terry had written it, but this is a really good novel. I admit that I was a bit worried after Making Money and Unseen Academicals, which I didn't like that much, but Terry is back in pretty good shape here.

Of course, the main subject matter, the acceptation into society of yet another previously hated and persecuted humanoid species, is not terribly new for Discworld, but it's decently executed. It's amazing to see the evolution of the society of Ankh-Morpork from a medieval society through the industrial revolution (or thaumo-technological revolution?) to something resembling the middle of the twentieth century on Earth in terms of moral and political philosophy, within 20 years or so in-universe. I wonder if they'll continue their advances in space-travel, which they began Da Vinci-style, at some point soon...

Staying with Snuff, here the goblin race is rehabilitated into sentient society through the revelation that they are an intelligent, artistically talented species which happens to smell unpleasantly, which is unfairly persecuted in what appears like a horrible mixture between the Holocaust and slave-trade. Still, I would have liked to find out how the Soul of Tears ended up in the cigar. For a while, I had the horrible suspicion that the newest hit in certain societies was to smoke baby goblins's souls in their cigars. As no other crying cigars turned up, I guess it was a sort of cry for help of the goblin mother in order to alert people to what is happening to them.

I also quite liked the parody of the pretentious, useless ladies of Jane Austen's novels. I really really hate those. I think I fell asleep about every 5 pages when I had to read Pride and Prejudice for uni. All these women spouting platitudes as if they meant anything, and being proud of them...Vimes asks the right questions: what exactly do these people do in life? And how can it be that this society if proud of people who have never done anything useful in their lives? I would have liked to see more about Hermione the lumberjack.

In terms of Vimes, this is very much a sequel to Thud!, in which Vimes acquired the Summoning Dark, (or possibly the other way around). Here, it acts as a bit of a Deus ex Machina, allowing Vimes to see in the dark, understand the goblins, and find some valuable clues. As the Summoning Dark is a kind of God, I guess you can't really say anything against that either...However, Vimes seems to have come out of the events in Thud! a bit more settled and emotionally stable, allowing him to solve this case by going ice-cold and calculating instead of blowing up at every occasion, which would not have done him any good here.

In conclusion, a decently built story about the social acceptability of the goblin persuasion, which touches the right emotional veins, and is nevertheless complex enough in terms of plot and morality to keep you reading. Not quite as good as Thud!, which would be hard to top in its emotional intensity, but much better than Unseen Academicals, which I felt was a bit hollow. This one definetely has a soul, and plenty of muscle too :)


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Judy I've noticed the changing times of the Discworld myself. I think it's clever, and I like each novel for it...but there's something that feels ...wrong! I don't WANT the streets of Ankh Morpork to feel like a cobbled street in Manchester circa 1970 (Unseen Academicals), or a Steampunk Postoffice (Though Going Postal is still brill!). I pine for the old days.

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