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Thief of Time

(Discworld #26)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  67,325 ratings  ·  1,844 reviews

Everybody wants more time, which is why on Discworld only the experts can manage it -- the venerable Monks of History who store it and pump it from where it's wasted, like underwater (how much time does a codfish really need?), to places like cities, where busy denizens lament, "Oh where does the time go?"

While everyone always talks about slowing down, one young horologist

Kindle Edition, 437 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published April 24th 2001)
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Sarah Yeah, felt very much like a "He was a boy, she was a girl, can i make it anymore obvious" situation. I'm wilfully ignoring the romance-angle, and just…moreYeah, felt very much like a "He was a boy, she was a girl, can i make it anymore obvious" situation. I'm wilfully ignoring the romance-angle, and just interpreting them as starting a friendhip based on their "almost human" connection.(less)
Cassandra Chocolate!

Definitely. Time can come later.…more

Definitely. Time can come later.(less)

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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Mario the lone bookwolf
The Auditors didn´t think about the true potential of seemingly wacky teachings, although their manifestations have never been that sexy.

Master and apprentice, the wise old man using very unconventional and seemingly strange teaching methods, concepts, and even finally achieved abilities, are driven to show what they really got by the good old auditors. That many ideologies and especially religious teachings are always to be taken with a truckload of salt is well known, but towards the end of th
I could repeat what all the other reviews have said about this book, but I'm not.

You should read it for a total of five reasons.

1. Susan (one of the best characters ever)
2. Pratchett's character of Death rules.
3. The wonderful use of chocolate in the novel.
4. Mrs. War
5. One of the best descriptions of a school room ever.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Thief of Time (Discworld, #26; Death, #5), Terry Pratchett

Thief of Time is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the 26th book in his Discworld series.

The Auditors hire young clockmaker Jeremy Clockson to build a perfect glass clock, without telling him that this will stop time and thereby eliminate human unpredictability from the universe.

Death discovers their plans, but cannot act against them directly, so he instead sends his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit.

Meanwhile, Lu-Tze of
Well, I did not love Lu-Tze, or the History Monks, or the Glass Clock plot...BUT, this being a Pratchett book, it was easy to find plenty of other things to go gaga over.

- This exchange between Susan and her grandfather:

"They're going to do something to time? I thought they weren't allowed to do things like that."


"No one would be that stu---"

Susan stopped. Of course someone would be that stupid. Some humans would do anything to see if it was possi
Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first exposure to the work of Terry Pratchett. As a long-time Douglas Adams fan, I had heard Pratchett's name many times, but never took the time to actually read one of his books. I grabbed this one because the plot sounded interesting, and when I read the jacket at home, I noticed it was part of the "Discworld" series. Curious about how to properly start the series, a lump formed in my throat as I discovered that there are thirty-two Discworld novels, and that's not counting four y ...more
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kwai Chang Caine and Master Kan sit meditating, sipping tea and discussing Terry Pratchett’s 2001 Discworld novel Thief of Time.

Master Kan: Please tell me, young Caine, what was your favorite part of Sir Pratchett’s book.

Caine: I liked it all, master, but I suppose I most liked the character Lobsang Ludd.

Master Kan: Why is that grasshopper?

Caine: Master, he was an apprentice to the great Lu-Tze, who was only a sweeper, and yet he was so much more, he traded his deserved greatness for a lowly pos
Julian Worker
This book comes alive (hehe) when Susan Sto Helit, her grandfather Death, and Ronnie Soak are involved more in the story. The part with the monks heading to Ankh Morpork does drag a little bit.

The development of The Auditors' behaviour is hilarious, even though it's a depressing comment on humanity.

This is another imaginative story that's funny, sad, and poignant too. I have only given it 3 stars within my Terry Pratchett ratings scale. For any other author, it would have been 4.5/5
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fantasy, 2019-shelf
Re-read: 7/29/19

Cheese and Chaos, time and death, the grand auditors of the universe, and every kung-fu movie ever made.

Does this sum up this novel?

Yep, pretty much. :)

Some parts in the middle dragged a bit, but getting all the horsemen together and Ronnie sped it up a great deal. And is it just me, or do Ronnie and Gaspode need their own novels? An epic team-up, perhaps? Maybe it's just me. And, oh, the end this novel actually brought a tear to my eye. :)

I don't know why I didn't review this one before. Death is featured, but once again, more play is given to granddaughter Susan, who, in the ongoing move to Discworld modernity, is now an elementary school teacher. There is an impending apocalypse caused by the Auditors again. We also get a few new characters: one a very talented clockmaker, another a novice under Lo Tze the time monk. Marvelous fun along the way as Pratchett explores what time means to humans. Such fun. There's
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
Honk if you like Time Yetis.

This continues the trend of top-notch Discworld novels published around the turn of the twenty-first century, when Sir Terry was at the peak of his game. Every book during this period shows outstanding pacing, characters, humour, and analysis of human nature.

Thief of Time could potentially be read as a standalone book for the Disc-curious, but I think this one will go down best with at least a little bit of prior Discworld experience first, but one needs not read eve
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Welcome to Discworld. As we all know, things work a little different on Discworld (though Susan does not approve).

This goes for Time as well. Thus, only the experts can manage time - thes eexperts are called the Venerable Monks of History and they store it and pump it from where it's wasted (like underwater - how much time does a codfish really need after all?) to places like cities where people lament "Oh, where does the time go?".
After discovering a remarkable thief in Ankh-Morpork's Guild of
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thief of Time is the fifth and final(!) book in the Death subseries of Discworld. I’ve always been a little iffy on this subseries, but I think this was my favorite of the five books. The general story is that an Auditor has commissioned a clockmaker, Jeremy, to make a special clock. What the Auditor doesn’t tell Jeremy is that this clock will supposedly have the power to stop time, bringing an end, or at least a permanent pause, to the Discworld.

Death didn’t actually get that much page time in
Katherine Furman
A small disclaimer for this review: I read this book mostly while I had a fever, so I can't be held accountable for accuracy.

This is the second Pratchett book I've read and though I enjoy him, it's hard for me to shake the thought that I'm reading Douglas Adams light, set in a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy land instead of sci-fi outer space. That's not altogether a bad thing though b/c I Adams is one of my very favorite authors and he did not leave this world with too many books.

Thief of Time, a
There wasn't enough Death in this, but then again, he's done all his growing already in other books, so that was probably the smart choice. I still really enjoyed it.

The actual main characters of this book are Death's granddaughter, Susan, who has reached the ultimate peak of her badassdom; a history monk named Lu-Tze; and his apprentice, Lobsang. The history monks are cool. They live in this place where Time doesn't really exist, and their job is to basically monitor history, and in a sense Ti
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
This is my first time reading this particular volume of Discworld. As usual it was a fun romp with some old friends and some inventive new characters and an innovative plot. However, I don't think it's going to be one of my favourites (there are so many to choose from) as it didn't seem as cohesive (if that is a world you can apply to a Discworld novel) as others in the series. It may not have helped that I read this slowly as my bedtime read. Maybe a re-read would help :)

Having said that, there
Wiebke (1book1review)
Loved this so much, all the ideas about time and the control a body has over humans. Highly recommend.
Juho Pohjalainen
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not easy to pick a favorite out of all the Discworld books, every single one of them being great in their own way... but if you were to twist my arm and force me to pick one, I'd have to go with Thief of Time.

This isn't one of those books carried by its heroes, though. Neither Lobsang Ludd nor Jeremy Clockson were all too memorable to me, and Susan Sto Helit was never a favorite of mine either. No, this book has stuck into my mind entirely because of its villains: occasionally scary, often
A tad bit more complicated in plots than the usual Death books but I quite enjoyed it still. The highlights would be the horseman of the apocalypse and baby abbot. Bikkit!
Marita Arvaniti
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might just be the best pratchett book ever im calling it
David Sarkies
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tempus Fugit
15 November 2017

It's funny because I was planning on making this the last of the Pratchett books that I would read only to discover that I really enjoyed it, which means that I might consider reading a few more just to continue to add them to the list of books that I have read. Okay, maybe I am going to be a little disappointed when I get the the next couple of books, but a part of me does want to read Going Postal because, well, a book with the title 'Going Postal' does grab my att
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastical
In many ways Thief of Time is the definitive work of the later Disc period, here is a book that blends pop culture, philosophy and the observation of society with humour, both dark and silly, to hold a mirror up to human behaviour, explaining why we do the things we do, pointing out how things can be done better and there's a stream of genuine goodness to counteract the inherent selfishness of the species that seems to provide cause for hope, at least in the mind of Pratchett, in the face of the ...more
Melissa McShane
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, humor, fantasy
This is one of my favorites because there's so much going on: Lobsang Ludd and Lu-Tze solving the mystery of the end of time; Susan Sto Helit being drawn back into her grandfather Death's world once more; the Auditors making another attempt to destroy humanity, but in so doing they come a little too close to being human themselves. There's even a romance, though Pratchett was frankly terrible at them, but this one is sweet--and happens entirely in the background.

A subtheme of this book is the id
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of discworld, chocolates & the five, eh, four horsemen of the apocalypse
Recommended to Sara J. by: "random" library pick
What I thoroughly enjoyed:
1. Death
2. Susan
3. Scenes with the other Horsemen of Apoc
4. Chocolates
5. The last third or quarter of the book

My favourite bits are Susan as kindergarten teacher, any exchange among any of the Horsemen (hilarious) and the bits with chocolate. HAHA.

The above more than made up for the meandering first half-ish part of the book. And I couldn't (in the beginning) care less about the monks or Lu Tze until at least half way past the book (did a fair bit of dragging my eyes ac
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Against one perfect moment, the centuries beat in vain."

If you're anything like me, you may have assumed that the title of this twenty-sixth Discworld installment referred to the character of Death—it is after all, the fifth and final volume of his sub-series, and what does Death do, if not steal (life)time? But Death isn't really concerned with time: It's humans who have this innate need to manage it. We spend it, waste it, save it, kill it, spare it—but what would happen if we were to sto
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been perhaps a whole year since I've last read Terry Pratchett. After 20-something books, you need to take a short rest from a certain universe, if you want to get anything done with your reading schedule.
It's easy to fall into the Discworld series and never surface again, especially as at this later part of the series there seems to exist a creative high that permeates every page and every line.

I've come to a point in reading this series in which it's hard to call favorites. I can call out
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Against one perfect moment, the centuries beat in vain."

This quote from the book says it all. There are Pratchett books where upon closing I feel grateful for having read them. The feeling I'm left with is one of utter satisfaction, of faith in humanity and awe for one of the best writers of all time. "Thief of Time" is one of them. It is witty, it is intelligent, it is thought-provoking, it has mind-bending details, it has perfect pacing and the love and respect of the author towards his own c
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terry Pratchett was probably the greatest philosopher to ever live. From Wen the Perpetually Surprised to the martial arts of sna-fu and okidokdi to the Auditors trying to understand Art through measurement, Pratchett entertains, bewilders and enlightens.
What to say, except that Mr. Pratchett took on an original subject for a story: time and building the ultimate clock, one that couldn't be more precise. But the downside is that once it's activated, it stops time. This has to be avoided at all costs, even if it means playing with different times / events / eras / ...

As is custom, there must also be humour, although on a whole I found a little less dominant compared to previous Discworld novels I've read, not in the least Reaper Man, for example,
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Excellent book. It's up there in my top 5 Discworld books. Lu-Tze is my second favorite character, after Sam Vimes. I first encountered him in "Night Watch", and I wasn't so sure he wasn't just a stereotypical characterization of a crazyish monk.. I should've known better, having read several of Pratchett's books by then. It's a very interesting plot that makes you laugh, smirk, and think along the way. As usual, the pacing of the story is excellent. There's no real lag, and though there are sev ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was more confusing for me than the usual Terry Pratchett books. The kaleidoscopic view was maybe executed differently, or maybe I am just very tired?

I loved Igor, his accent cracked me up. I read his speech in my head in a true Igor-ish way. Also Susan and Death are hilarious as usual. I found the monks funny, but their passages were the most confusing for me.

I did find a very nice quote:

Sometimes the gods have no taste at all. They allow sunrises and sunsets in ridiculous pink and blue hue
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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 41 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)
  • 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)

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