Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Diggers - Terry Pratchett

    1990; 224 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book #2 of the Bromeliad Trilogy.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    The Bromeliad saga continues.  The nomes have survived their Book 1 exodus from The Store, taking their God (“Arnold Bros., Est. 1905”) with them.  They have relocated in an abandoned quarry and are living happily there, with even the “Inside” nomes adjusting comfortably.

    But the quarry was created by humans.  And though they may be absent for now, humans never abandon things forever.  Sooner or later, they will return.  And judging from the activity and posting of signs on the quarry’s gate, it is going to be sooner.

What’s To Like...
    Although it’s the sequel to Truckers(reviewed here), Diggers has a markedly different tone.  Where they were once slow and benignly stupid, humans are now a relentless threat.  The nomes have changed as well.  If they resembled cuddly Ewoks in Book 1, they are now more akin to tenacious Ewok warriors.  They can and will fight back if their livelihood is threatened, and at one point even contemplate killing a captured human.

    Masklin, the hero of Book 1, along with Angalo, Abbot Gurder, and The Thing, are all gone for most of the book.  So different nomes step into the spotlight.  Dorcas and Grimma become the main characters, but there are several other new and fascinating ‘faces’ to meet – Nooty, Sacco, and even the rabble-rousing Nisodemus.  Oh yes, and Big John, the dragon in the hill.

    The target audience may be juvenile to YA, but again, Terry Pratchett laces the storyline with some ‘adult’ themes – blind faith, proving/disproving the existence of God, and weighing the options of fightng or fleeing.  So just about any reader is going to be entertained, regardless of his/her age.  And you will learn why Pratchett calls this series “The Bromeliad Trilogy”.  Hint : Wikipedia won’t be of any help, although the upper left image on the book cover will.

    The witty Footnotes and handled deftly – an easy link to it and then back to the story.  Unfortunately, they are only present at the very beginning.  I’m not sure if the Pratchett simply eschewed using them after adding a couple, or if the Kindle transcribers decided they were too much trouble.  Diggers starts with a synopsis of Book 1, but really, this isn’t a standalone novel.

    He stared at his feet.  “I’m still very ignorant,” he said, “but at least I’m ignorant about really important things.  Like what the sun is, and why it rains.  That’s what you’re talking about.”
    She sniffed and smiled a bit, but not too much, because if there is one thing worse than someone who doesn’t understand you, it’s someone who understands perfectly, before you’ve had a chance to have a good pout about not being understood.  (loc. 759)

    There was a fox looking down at them.
    It was one of those moments when Time itself freezes solid.  Grimma could see the yellow-green glow in the fox’s eyes and the cloud on its breath.  Its tongue lolled out.
    (. . .)
    The nomes stood rooted in terror.  There was no sense in trying to run away.  A fox had twice as many legs to run after you.  You’d end up dead anyway, but at least you wouldn’t end up dead and out of breath as well.  (loc. 1680)

Kindle Details...
    Diggers sells for $5.69 at Amazon, as does the third book in this trilogy, Wings.  But I borrowed this book through my local library for free.

”If you think everything’s going right, something’s going wrong that you haven’t heard about yet.”  (loc. 125)
    Whether the “darkening” of the plotline in Diggers is a plus or a minus is a matter of taste.  I preferred the lightheartedness of Book 1, but that’s just me.

    Less debatable is the abrupt and unsatisfying ending.  First of all, it’s a cliffhanger, which is most uncharacteristic of a Terry Pratchett novel.  Second, it involves a deus ex machina, and totally cops out on resolving the humans-vs-nomes dilemma.

    In a larger sense though, Diggers suffers from the inherent “middle book of a trilogy” malaise.  It neither starts the tale nor completes it.  If you’re intending to read all three books of the Bromeliad Series one right after the other, this is of small consequence.  But if, like me, you like a change in genre after completing any given book, then cliffhangers are a PITA, and forced endings are a literary letdown.

    8 Stars.  Hey, it’s still a Terry Pratchett book, and that means you will be entertained up until the very end.  And since all three Kindle books of this series seem to be available almost all the time from my library, it probably won’t be too long before I borrow Wings and finish things up.  I have no doubt that it will end on a much more satisfying note.

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