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Terry Pratchett

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Night Watch

Night Watch

Terry Pratchett

31st December 2023

Generally considered to be the best Discworld novel, Night Watch follows Samuel Vimes - a character we’ve watched grow for some years now - as he is transported back in time to encounter his much much younger self.

There’s a lot going on, and even on a second read I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface. At its most basic, it’s Back To The Future, and Vimes needs to make sure his future is waiting when he gets back. But it’s also a political thriller, it’s also Les Miserables, it’s also a commentary on society.

But it also feels long - longer than I feel is normal for Discworld novels and longer than I was expecting. I suppose really it’s only taken me four days to read but that feels like longer than it should have.

And while the jokes are there, I don’t think it feels as funny as other books in the series - there’s a lot of heavy, serious stuff, and that detracts from the humour. It’s certainly still very clever in the use of language and in its observation of the human condition, but I wasn’t laughing out loud.

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The Fifth Elephant

The Fifth Elephant

Terry Pratchett

22nd January 2023

In my gradual re-read of Discworld’s Watch novels I’ve reached The Fifth Elephant, which is one that I have the least memory of from my previous reading which must have been around 15 years ago.

It’s a tale of diplomacy, as Vimes is sent to Uberwald for the coronation of the Low King. As such, it does that classic Vimes thing of putting him in an awkward situation and letting his character flow.

I found it a bit harder to get going than some Discworld novels, and it wasn’t until around halfway that I properly started to accelerate through. I don’t think it has quite the relaxed readability of some of the novels - there’s a lot starting to go on at a deeper level in this part of the series, and fewer quick surface level jokes.

Overall though, it’s a solid mystery story, with a fantastic amount of world building and proper exploration of several of the favourite Discworld characters.

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Jingo

Jingo

Terry Pratchett

6th February 2022

My loosely focussed Discworld re-read has reached Jingo, a novel which I don’t think I was sure about the first time, but did enjoy on second reading.

Pratchett’s wit and insight into the human condition fill the pages, nothing here is more glorious than the character interactions, particularly between Colon and Nobbs, and it’s amazing how much is subtly communicated to the reader just in the dialogue.

I think where this one suffers a little is in the plot. It’s more complicated I think than many Discworld novels, with multiple layers of plot lasagne’d together in such a way that I’m not sure I really know what’s at the bottom.

But it does do well at holding up a mirror to roundworld, and pointing out the absurdities of war, property, and international relationships, while also condemning racism, a theme that runs throughout Pratchett’s work.

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Monstrous Regiment

Monstrous Regiment

Terry Pratchett

4th July 2021

Needing a break from heavier tomes, I returned to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, and re-read Monstrous Regiment. Mostly a stand-alone tale from the Disc, although a couple of the Watch characters do appear, this is the tale of the classic rag-tag group who sign up for the army near the end of the war, when hope is wavering, to escape a variety of elements of their lives.

As expected, it was an enjoyable return to the Disc. There’s so much going on in the story and with the characters, that reading these stories again is never disappointing. My memory of the story was limited to just the very broadest strokes, so while I wasn’t surprised by the main plot line, this gave me the ability to focus on and notice more of the little moments between the characters.

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Feet of Clay

Feet of Clay

Terry Pratchett

13th September 2020

After reading the Discworld series in order the first time, I’m now enjoying a more serendipitous trip through some of the novels, and have arrived at this, the third Watch novel, in which Vimes is challenged by a secret rebellion, as well as some suspicious deaths in Ankh Morpork.

Like many Pratchett novels, there is a lot going on. This book seems to challenge any number of different issues - sexism, racism, monarchy, reproductive rights. And all that wrapped up in a compelling story and an engaging narrative that one several occasions had me thinking “just until the end of the chapter” at bedtime (before of course remembering that Pratchett does not typically write in chapters).

And of course it almost goes without saying that it’s funny. Pratchett manages to write some of the most amusing sentences, and make the most profound yet laugh-out-loud observations using his characters.

I’m consistently delighted by my return trips to the Discworld, and look forward to finding out which one is going to leap off the shelf and demand to be read next.

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Maskerade

Maskerade

Terry Pratchett

3rd May 2020

Having recently watched Phantom of the Opera for the first time (thanks, Lockdown), and with plenty of time (thanks, Lockdown) on my hands, I decided that now would be an ideal time to re-read Maskerade, the Discworld novel based loosely on the musical.

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, in search of a third witch for their coven, head to the city of Ankh Morpork, where Perdita has enrolled in the chorus at the local Opera house. The plot is essentially similar to the musical - a masked man haunts the opera house, teaching his favourites to sing, demanding a box at the opening night, and killing off people he doesn't get on with. Except there's an extra layer too...

Knowing the source material a little better certainly helped with following the plot and some of the jokes - although I'm not entirely sure I really get all the jokes - either that or there just aren't quite as many little clever moments and lines as there were in Men At Arms, the other Discworld novel that I've recently re-read.

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Men At Arms

Men At Arms

Terry Pratchett

25th April 2020

My first readthrough of the Discworld series was in strict publication order. This time round it’s a bit more chaotic, leaping in wherever the mood takes me, and this time that’s the second Watch book, Men At Arms.

We find Vimes preparing for retirement and marriage, a slew of new recruits being trained up, and a mysterious death to investigate.

It’s classic Discworld - the humour is omnipresent, the tale exploring a number of real world concepts, turning them on their head, and following the standard speculative fiction approach of providing a mirror to our world while continuing to satirise fantasy stories.

The characters are richer than I remembered, the plot more intricate, and the world is possibly the only one in literature where even the smells are colourful. I really loved revisiting this novel and am totally inspired to keep picking more of the series back off my shelf.

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Other reviewed books

The Truth
The Carpet People
Guards! Guards!
The Long Cosmos
The Shepherd's Crown
The Long Utopia
The Long Mars
Raising Steam
The Long War
Judgement Day
Dodger
The Long Earth
The World of Poo
Snuff
I Shall Wear Midnight
Unseen Academicals
Wintersmith

Unreviewed books

A Hat Full of Sky
Carpe Jugulum
Darwin's Watch
Diggers
Discworld Role-Playing Game
Equal Rites
Eric
Going Postal
Good Omens
Hogfather
Interesting Times
Johnny and the Bomb
Johnny and the Dead
Lords and Ladies
Lu Tze's Yearbook of Enlightenment 2008
Making Money
Mort
Moving Pictures
Nation
Pyramids
Reaper Man
Small Gods
Soul Music
Sourcery
Strata
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
The Art of Discworld
The Colour of Magic
The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide
The Folklore of Discworld
The Globe
The Last Continent
The Last Hero
The Light Fantastic
The New Discworld Companion
The Science of Discworld
The Wee Free Men
The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
Thief of Time
Thud!
Truckers
Witches Abroad
Wyrd Sisters

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