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Night Watch

(Discworld #29)

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  88,275 ratings  ·  2,061 reviews
'Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come round again. That's why they're called revolutions. People die, and nothing changes.'

For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer at loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of bloody revolution. The people have found their voice at last, t
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 27th 2011 by Corgi (first published November 2002)
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Stephen Mackie With all due respect to tother answerers, only a mad-keen Pratchett fan would seriously think you need to read the earlier books.

Each of the Discworld…more
With all due respect to tother answerers, only a mad-keen Pratchett fan would seriously think you need to read the earlier books.

Each of the Discworld books stands entirely alone. There is no continuity, you can jump in anywhere you like and read them in any order.

In the Discworld series, the same characters keep popping up. So often a person who's a bit-part in Night Watch will have several books written about them elsewhere.

For example, at one stage, Death (aka The Grim Reaper) turns up and reaps the souls of people who have just died. Death is a major character in Discworld, he appears in almost every book and is the star of about 3-4 books himself. But none of that is referenced in Night Watch, so you might think "that was a bit weird to introduce the Grim Reaper like that, then have him suddenly leave", but that's it.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Lindsay Coates, Dickins and Snouty were all alive at the time Vimes and Carcer vanished, and clearly died in the fight that continued. Vetinari fought…moreCoates, Dickins and Snouty were all alive at the time Vimes and Carcer vanished, and clearly died in the fight that continued. Vetinari fought alongside them and the others who were wearing the lilac.(less)

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4.49  · 
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 ·  88,275 ratings  ·  2,061 reviews

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Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
My favourite Pratchett novel, but I'm not really sure why.

I think that Sam Vimes' being in it definitely helps: I think my favourite "series" in the Discworld novels are the City Watch series (along with the witches of Lancre and Death). His character arc really comes to a head in this one, even though he still has another level to go to in Thud!

I also think that time travel being in it also definitely helps. Though not the quantum, metaphysical, zany fun of Thief of Time (though Lu Tze makes an

"People are content to wait a long time for salvation, but prefer dinner to turn up inside an hour."

“And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people."

"His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes" has been my acknowledged, unconquerable Discworld/literary C*R*U*S*H ever since the 1st book about
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Terry Pratchett may have been the coolest writer on earth.

Certainty one of the coolest.

In 1969, Steve Winwood and his band mates in Blind Faith (some little known musicians named Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech) sang these beautiful lyrics in the haunting song Can’t Find My Way Home.

“Come down off your throne and leave your body alone
Somebody must change
You are the reason I've been waiting all these years
Somebody holds the key

Well, I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time
And I'm w
May 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
from my blog at

Thud! Thud!

In one timeline, that’s the name of another Pratchett Discworld novel (the 34th, apparently).

In another, that’s the sound of me marching to my own drum.

In yet another, that’s the sound the vegetables thrown by my book-loving friends make when they hit my hard head.

Because, honestly, this was in between the “okay” and ‘liked it” kind of read for me. Given my GR friend average rating of 4.52, I’m missing something. Most likely
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
While Terry Pratchett is known for the humor in his Discworld series, I enjoy them primarily because-- while on the surface, his books do indeed classify as humor, he also writes these almost painful realities, very human thoughts and incredibly immersive emotions in situations that you generally don't find in most humorous fantasy/sci-fi which tends more towards parody and caricatures. Though, I wouldn’t exactly say that the Discworld series isn't a parody-- because his books are parodies, or s ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-books
This was a reread but it has been so long that I did not remember much of it at all, so it was just like reading it for the first time.

Two of my favourite Discworld characters are Vimes and Vetinari and since they both featured in this book it had to be a success in my mind! I loved the way Pratchett created an alternative past and we got to see Vimes as a young man as well as the well worn cynic that we know so well. Plus a tiny bit of back story for Vetinari did not go amiss.

Terry Pratchett w
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
I really enjoyed listening to this audio book. I thought the narrator was excellent with the different character's voices. It was all very entertaining. I adored the humour and the wit present throughout the book. It was the first book from Terry Pratchett I have read - I am not sure why I waited so long to read any of his output - but it will certainly not be the last. A fanstatic read.
Ms. Smartarse
Following a magical accident, City Watch Commander Samuel Vimes finds himself in the Ankh Morpork of his youth. The good news is that the criminal he was chasing has also joined him in the past, so no more cop murders in the present time. The bad news is, that said criminal has more than enough charisma to join and thrive in the Day Watch of the time: a cruel organization way above the law.

To keep up with the man, Sam Vimes will infiltrate the Night Watch, adopting the identity of his childhood
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I may have said this when I finished the last Discworld book but this was by far the best Discworld book yet. Perhaps the best Pratchett book I've read. I loved it. It was not laugh out loud funny the way many of Pratchett's books are but it was so good. It was darker, delving into the history of Ankh-Morpork (Discworld's largest city) and allowing us glimpses into the past of several repeat characters, primarily Sam Vimes, Commander of the Night Watch, but also Lord Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh- ...more
Feb 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pratchett
If I could give this book ten stars, I would. In fact, it makes me rethink all of the other books that I've given five stars, perhaps they don't deserve it...

Here's the problem: This book isn't going to have the right impact unless you've read, at the very least, three of the previous Ankh-Morpork Night Watch books. Please, if you have heard about Pratchett and are looking for some place to start, go with "Guards Guards!" or "Mort", and read a few more before you embark on this one. You'll thank
Megan Baxter
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Somehow Terry Pratchett seems to go down particularly well when I'm not feeling at my best. I've read several that I've enjoyed but not been particularly grabbed by. In comparison, the times that I've read one of his books while sick or exhausted, I have liked them a whole lot more.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
One of the best books in the Discworld series. The story revolves around Sam Vimes, and it's a very good example of the author's shift from slapstick comedy to a subtler form of humor and to targetting in his imaginary world real problems from the world we live in.
Using the plot device of time travel, the author throws the Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch back to a revolutionary episode of the city history and to his own apprenticeship in the Watch. The theme offers the author rich picki
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Another Watch novel, in which Sam Vimes Is accidentally transported decades into the past in pursuit of a murderous psychopath, whereupon he must play the part of the old Sergeant who first taught young Lance Corporal Sam Vimes what it means to be a copper. Meanwhile, political unrest spreads across the city, the old Patrician is on his way out, and the barricades are going up. Vimes knows what’s going to happen – he was there after all – and he’s visited the graves every year since. And now he’ ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, comedy

This is rated as one of the best Discworld novels out there, a number of friends put this at the top of a highly rated pile so coming into this on those high hopes didn't take much for it to fall short for me.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this. It's a Watch novel which involves time travel. Talk about a winning combo! Add into that seeing all the characters you enjoy reading about at an earlier stage in their life, a revolution, and some quite emotional scenes then you have a recipe
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
I'm a sucker for a good story with time travel or reincarnation... I see a book with those themes and I snatch it up if I have the funds. There's just something about them :)

This one was on the good side... around page 240 or so it dragged for awhile but picked right back up. Other than that little blip, it kept my attention quite nicely and made me smile when I thought about Sam revisiting his memories and having doubts as to whether it was him or Keel.

I remember saying to him in my head "Don'
Night Watch is the 6th book in the Watch subseries of Discworld.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this one pretty well. I say “surprisingly” because, as I’ve said in other reviews, Vimes often gets on my nerves. This book focuses on him very heavily, more than any other book since the first Watch book. However, we see more of the sarcastic and clever aspects of Vimes which I do enjoy and far less of the bitter, woe-is-me, self-destructive aspects which drive me crazy.

This is a time travel story. Vimes ac
I was right. It is my favorite Discworld novel so far. It is dark, gritty, hilarious, fun to read. And somehow, very real. It made me feel I was running chasing bad guys and tiptoeing along side Vimes. I would love a day hanging out with him, my fave character so far. And I think Vetinari was pretty awesome as well. Argh, can't wait to read the other Watch novels!
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I admit, I like Terry Pratchett a lot anyway, but "Night Watch" is hands down my favorite Discworld novels (Jingo comes in a distant second). One of the darkest and most complex of the City Watch stories, while pursuing a truly depraved criminal named Carcer, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes is thrown back through time on the eve of the birth of his son to help... well, himself. Ankh-Morpork is on the brink of revolution, and somebody's got to make sure young Sammy doesn't die before his time.

But it's
Night Watch isn't the best place to start Pratchett, not because it would leave a bad impression, but because you just won't get as much out of it as a seasoned fan. That's because it's a novel that doesn't just follow on from the events of previous books, but that culminates, explains, and perhaps even justifies them. The plot may be close to standalone - there are very few facts a newcomer would need to learn to understand the plot - but the examination of, and recontextualisation of not only ...more
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-humor
Vimes is one of Pratchett's characters that has grown greatly over the course of the Discworld series. This book affirms Vimes' place as the traditional family man, a far cry from where Vimes was when the reader is first introduced to him in Guards! Guards!.

The story itself highlights the growth of Anakh-Morpork as well as gives the reader valuable insight into the city's recurring, though not central, characters, such as Reg Shoe, Nobby, and Colon. Pratchett seems to really like Vimes, and in f
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have read and enjoyed most of Pratchetts books set in the Disc World.

For recent reads, whilst I have liked the books for the language and comedy, I have felt that the plots were getting formulaic.

This book has reaffirmed my faith in Mr Pratchett. It is a wonderful read, full of pithy comments and hugely funny.
The thing about Prachett's discworld books is, that once you've read five or six of them you've read them all.

Aside from that they are the literary equivalent of a good cup of tea and a biscuit.
L.J. Smith
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: terry-pratchett
Where do I begin with this most beloved of books, by this most beloved of current authors? I guess I can start by explaining how I came to read the world-renowned works of Sir Terry “the new Chaucer”* Pratchett myself. It was because of a blog that I came across accidentally. The blogger was thrilled because a new Disc World book had come out in the USA, and she couldn’t wait to read about “Death’s granddaughter.” She added that she envied anyone who hadn’t read a single book in the fantasy seri ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the very best!

Doing the right thing in a time, where nothing seems to be right. This book may well be the most profound and most moving one of the Discworld series. It certainly moves me every time I read it - and I stopped counting how often this was.
This time I read it aloud to my two boys (8 and 10), and I hope, that some of the deeper meaning reached through to them. We certainly talked a lot about it.

Terry Pratchett is a master, and I have yet to find another author, who can play all
J.A. Ironside
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this is my favourite Watch book to date which is a bit bizarre because most of the Watch as we know it wasn't in it. I'm always a bit tense about predestination time paradoxes but Terry Pratchett is a safe pair of hands. Vimes has come a long way since Guards Guards. this was just a pleasure to read.
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another winner in the City Watch series. I've read it before and am currently re-reading it. Here we travel back 30 years and meet a much younger Nobby Nobbs, Fred Colon, Havelock Vetinari, and Sam Vimes, new rookie constable. Even a teenage Sybil makes a cameo.

Night Watch isn't as witty the previous two books. Not so much word play. Not as much political satire. This book is a more intense and more poignant novel, where Vimes, as his old street-savvy self — but disguised — must teach his younge
Olga Godim
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
Unlike most other Discworld novels, this is not a funny book. It’s exploratory and philosophical and delves deep into the natures of leadership and decency, courage and tolerance.
By accident, Sam Vimes, the Watch Commander of Ankh-Morpork and a Duke, is transported 30 years into the past, when the young Sam Vimes was just starting his work in the city police. The streets are boiling with unrest on the eve of a bloody rebellion, and it’s up to the older and much more experienced Vimes to preserv
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2010, 2012, 2015
I have written on here many times how much I love Terry Pratchett and how I literally feel like I cannot - can. not. - get enough of his Discworld series. [2015 update: still can't get enough.] I don't write reviews for all the books of his I read because that would be insanely repetitive for both me to write and for you to read. Those imaginary reviews would include the words 'comfort food for the soul' in every bloody review, I can tell you now.

But I did want to write quickly about this little
Kaethe Douglas
2005 October 9

Sam Vimes is a most excellent policeman, the platonic ideal that is possible in a work of fantasy. Pratchett plays around with the idea of the past, both our own, and our society's, and dabbles with fate and bootstraps. Meanwhile, there is a psychopath to stop, and an insurrection to deal with, and the governing bodies of the past are worthless or deranged... I can't even throw all those words into a review and come up with anything funny, let alone, insightful, which is what Pratc
Book Wyrm
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-a-tuin
After a nicely paced and quite exciting opening, I was horrified to have a giant rubber stamp of 'Jumping the shark' slammed directly onto my forehead about 10% in, when the 'twist' happens. It seemed to be the most egrecious and lazy of plots, the most stupid of gimmicks, and I was that bloody annoyed by it I almost put the book down. Thankfully, I have my Missus, the woman who spent about seven years gently badgering me to even try Pratchett and who always proclaimed this to be her favourite D ...more
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Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, i

Other books in the series

Discworld (1 - 10 of 42 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Death, #1; Discworld, #4)
  • Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
  • Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)
  • Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)
  • Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10; Industrial Revolution, #1)
“No! Please! I'll tell you whatever you want to know!" the man yelled.
"Really?" said Vimes. "What's the orbital velocity of the moon?"
"Oh, you'd like something simpler?”
“We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.” 810 likes
More quotes…