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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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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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White Night

White Night

Jim Butcher

16th August 2020

It’s been two years since I read the previous Dresden Files novel - they taunt me a little from a bookcase, because I’ve got the whole series but don’t feel I enjoy them enough that I constantly want to read them. The release of a new entry however prompted me to pick up this, the ninth novel.

There’s been some suspicious deaths in Chicago, and Harry Dresden is brought in on the quiet to have a look for anything that might be up his street - and surprise surprise that’s exactly what he finds.

Ultimately my struggle I think with this book was that it was about 100 pages longer than I wanted it to be. I’d had enough by three quarters of the way through, and that’s just about where the narrative really started to pick up some pace.

Part of my reluctance may be that I’ve read a number of comments online that Butcher’s characters have a slightly unhealthy attitude towards women - and actually it is quite noticeable once you are aware of it. While there might be an argument that it’s the character’s viewpoints, it seems to be a lot of the characters, particularly those we’re meant to like as readers, and it goes down without being addressed.

I think it’s likely to be a while again before I pick up the next novel, although I don’t doubt that I will eventually.

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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
Proven Guilty
The Way of Kings (part two)
The Way of Kings (part one)
Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians
Death Masks
Shaman's Crossing
Summer Knight
A Dance with Dragons (2: After the Feast)
Gardens of the Moon
The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince
A Dance with Dragons (1: Dreams and Dust)
Apocalypse Cow
Grave Peril
The Dirty Streets of Heaven
The Magicians' Guild
The Inheritance
The Emperor's Soul
Fool Moon
A Feast for Crows
Raising Steam
Blood of Dragons
Pulling Up Stakes (part 2)
Storm Front
A Storm of Swords (2: Blood and Gold)
The Amber Spyglass
City of Dragons
Guilty Pleasures
The Stuff of Dreams
A Storm of Swords (1: Steel and Snow)
The Subtle Knife
Dragon Haven
Pulling Up Stakes (part 1)
A Memory of Light
The Dragon Keeper
A Clash of Kings
The Woman Who Died a Lot
The Long Earth
Northern Lights
Fool's Fate
A Game of Thrones
The Golden Fool
Fool's Errand
Ship of Destiny
The Alloy of Law
The Hero of Ages
The Mad Ship
Ship of Magic
The Blade Itself
The Final Empire
Assassin's Quest
Royal Assassin
Assassin's Apprentice
Towers of Midnight
Anansi Boys
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Gathering Storm
In Your Dreams
Knife of Dreams
The Antipope
New Spring
The Portable Door
Crossroads of Twilight
Winter's Heart
The Path of Daggers
The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
A Crown of Swords
Unseen Academicals
Lord of Chaos
The Fires of Heaven
The Shadow Rising
The Dragon Reborn
The Great Hunt
The Eye of the World
American Gods

Unreviewed books

Carpe Jugulum
City of Golden Shadow
Cold Days
Equal Rites
Exile's Return
Forest Mage
Furies of Calderon
Going Postal
Good Omens
Interesting Times
Lords and Ladies
Making Money
Mountain of Black Glass
Moving Pictures
Orcs: Bodyguard of Lightning
Orcs: Legion of Thunder
Orcs: The Taking
Orcs: Warriors of the Tempest
Reaper Man
Renegade's Magic
River of Blue Fire
Sea of Silver Light
Small Favour
Small Gods
Soul Music
The Big Over Easy
The Colour of Magic
The Dragonbone Chair
The Eyre Affair
The Folklore of Discworld
The Fourth Bear
The Last Continent
The Last Hero
The Light Fantastic
The New Discworld Companion
The Silmarillion
The War of the Flowers
The Way of Shadows
Thief of Time
Witches Abroad
Wyrd Sisters

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