Sunday, March 30, 2014

Truckers - Terry Pratchett

    1989; 292 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book #1 of the Bromeliad Trilogy.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The “Outside” nome clan is dwindling.  Once there had been 40 nomes; now there are just 10, and most of them are old, 4-inches high, and easy prey for foxes and rats.  It is time to move on.

    There was a truck – with the words Arnold Bros. (est. 1905)  emblazoned on its side.  Masklin has studied its movements; its coming, stopping, and going from a spot close by is very consistent.  With perfect timing, he could herd the whole clan on board and they could go to wherever it went.  Masklin has no idea where that is.

    But if they stay where they are now, they will surely perish.

What’s To Like...
    Truckers is a Terry Pratchett fantasy set in the present time and place, presumably England.  It is a world rife with nomes, who will remind Pratchett fans of the Nac Mac Feegle, but this is most definitely a non-Discworld setting.  The book was published in 1989, which makes it an early Pratchett work, coming out at roughly the same time as book #5 in the Discworld series.

    Personally, I think Pratchett was on the top of his game around this time.  Truckers had me laughing out loud with its madcap action, puns and wit, and the nomes’ complete misunderstanding of the world of humans.

    The pacing is good, and the characters (which are all nomes with one exception – a sacred, talking computer called simply “The Thing”) are delightful.  The main plotline is somewhat akin to Watership Down (reviewed here), but with a heavy dose of humor.

    The ending showcases Pratchett’s masterful writing skulls.  There is an exciting chase scene which leads to a satisfying resolution of the main storyline (What shall we do?  Where shall we go?).  But at the same time, it sets up the next book in the trilogy.  I like authors of literary series who can pull this off.

    The basic color for a practical nome’s clothes is mud.  That was common sense.  Grimma knew fifty ways of making dyes from wild plants, and they all yielded a color that was, when you came right down to it, basically muddy.  Sometimes yellow mud, sometimes brown mud, sometimes even greenish mud, but still, well, mud.  Because any nome who ventured out wearing jolly reds and blues would have a life expectancy of perhaps half an hour before something digestive happened to him.  (loc. 320)

    He’d had one glorious moment of feeling that, although they argued and bickered and got things wrong and tripped over themselves, nomes would come through in the end.  Because Dorcas had been watching the planes, too, clinging to the wire with a calculating look in his eyes.  And Masklin had said:
    “Just supposing – for the sake of argument, you understand – we need to steal one of those, do you think it could be done?”
    And Dorcas had rubbed his chin thoughtfully.
    “Shouldn’t be too hard to drive,” he said, and grinned.  “They’ve only got three wheels.”    (loc. 2887)

Kindle Details...
    Truckers sells for $6.64 at Amazon.  The second and third books in the trilogy, Diggers and Wings, both sell for $5.69.  But I borrowed this e-book through my local library for free, and the other two books are similarly electronically available via the Greater Phoenix Digital Library.

”It’s a small step for a man, but a giant step for nomekind.”  (loc. 1837)
    The primary target audience of Truckers is juveniles.  Amazon lists it as recommended for ages 10-and-up.  There is nothing even remotely R-rated in the book.

    Yet it is also an enjoyable read for adults, and there are subtle messages woven into the story about things such as Leadership and Faith.  It reminds me of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons which entertained adults and kids alike.

    9 StarsTruckers is a light, easy, subtle, thought-provoking read, and I’m hard-pressed to come up with even a quibble, save that it was over way too fast.

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