Thursday, November 15, 2012

Snuff - Terry Pratchett

    2011; 398 pages.  Book #39 of the DiscWorld series.  New Author? : Not by a long shot.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Poor, wretched Sam Vimes.  His wife Sibyl and Lord Vetinari have connived, and now he is forced to do that which he dreads the most in his career - take a vacation.  So he and Sibyl and Young Sam (who is 6 years old now) are off to their country manor for quality time and relaxation. 

    Sam tries his best to be the noble lord of Ramkin Hall, and not a policeman.  He casts a blind eye at suspicious activity as best he can.  But he can’t control his nose.  And when the unmistakable stench of a major crime wafts across his path, well, what’s a copper to do?  

What’s To Like...
    The theme of Snuff is a familiar one – bigotry.  But Terry Pratchett keeps it interesting via his wit, puns, footnotes, and delightful storytelling.  Anytime the Night Watch is involved in a DiscWorld book, I’m going to like it.  Even more so when Lord Vetinari also plays a part.  But there’s more to the cast than just a bunch of familiar characters.  We are introduced to a half-dozen new players; all of which are fascinating, and some of which appear likely to become regulars in the series.
    That being said, the mood is different here.  This is as grim and gritty of a Terry Pratchett offering as I’ve read.  And thanks to goblins taking center stage, it’s a lot stinkier too.

    The book starts slow, as we travel with the Vimes family to their palatial summer home.  Sam has his usual discomfort with the aristocracy, and for 100 pages or so, nothing much transpires.  But have patience, because once the plot unfolds, it’s fun and excitement the rest of the way.

Kewlest New Word...
    Substition : something that's real, but which people don't believe in. The opposite of 'superstition'.  (a made-up word, but way kewl)

    There was always paperwork.  It is well known that any drive to reduce paperwork only results in extra paperwork.
    Of course, he had people to do the paperwork, but sooner or later he had, at the very least, to sign it and, if no way of escape presented itself, even read it.  There was no getting away from it: ultimately, in all police work, there was a definite possibility that the manure would hit the windmill.  The initials of Sam Vimes were required to be on the paper to inform the world that it was his windmill, and therefore his manure.  (pg. 5 )

    Sometimes people asked Commander Vimes why Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs were still on the strength, such as it was, of modern Ankh-Morpork City Watch, given that Nobby occasionally had to be held upside down and shaken to reclaim small items belonging to other people, while Fred Colon had actually cultivated the ability to walk his beat with his eyes closed, and end up, still snoring, back at Pseudopolis Yard, sometimes with graffiti on his breastplate.  (pg. 132)

“Why the fruckle should anyone be proud of being a goblin?”   (pg. 239)
    It can’t be understated – we are a long way from a Rincewind or Granny Weatherwax tale.  The crimes are heinous and even the good guys have some cold-blooded and brutal moments.  Sam is more cynical than ever, and zaniness is rare, despite the wit being plentiful.  A lot of DiscWorld devotees are going to have trouble warming up to Snuff.

     I personally thought it was well-written despite its dark mood.  This may not be vintage DiscWorld, but neither is it some tired rehashing of past stories and characters.  Terry Pratchett might being taking a literary risk with this new tone, but at least he's not stagnating.

    In the end, it either floats your boat or it doesn’t.  For me, it did.  8 Stars.  And if your paddleboat gets dam-slammed, you can always hope the Book #40 will see The Luggage and/or The Librarian making a smashing return.  Ook.

No comments: