30 July 2013

Thud! Terry Pratchett

Always witty, surreal and a very clever satirical comment, the Discworld (bar being flat and carried on the back of elephants, is not unlike our own). Oh, and it's peopled by wizards, dwarves, policemen, thieves, beggars and witches.


How does one introduce a Terry Pratchett book? On a light level, it's a very funny fantasy novel, this one set in the Discworld's main City Ankh-Morpork, a whodunit theme this time. Look a little deeper, and it's a political commentary on racial tensions, equality and height-ism.

Thud! is a boardgame of skill whereby dwarves and troll figures are placed on a octagonal board (for more info see here). It serves as a metaphor for the tensions brewing on Ankh-Morpork that only Sam Vimes and the watch can solve (hopefully in time for Sam to get home and read his son 'Where is My Cow').


 

Whenever I read a fantasy book, I think I'm always expecting a Pratchett level of detail and imagination. The characters springing from the authors mind to his pen and keyboard always seem to be really well-rounded. And eccentric.

“Little fussy Otto, in his red-lined black opera cloak with pockets for all his gear, his shiny black shoes, his carefully cut widow's peak and, not least, his ridiculous accent that grew thicker or thinner depending on who he was talking to, did not look like a threat. He looked funny, a joke, a music-hall vampire. It had never previously occurred to Vimes that, just possibly, the joke was on other people.”  

The jokes are quite intricate at times, for instance some trolls are made of sedimentary rock and trolls who have taken the forms of more solid minerals are sometimes prejudiced against their sedimentary kin. Brick, a drug dependant troll so named for the city bricks he resembles, is so down and out that even his lichen is fake.

"War, Nobby. Huh! What is it good for?" he (Fred Colon) said.
"Dunno, Sarge. Freeing slaves, maybe?"
"Absol--well, okay."


I think that if you're a new Pratchett reader, it's best to start with the Colour of Magic, Night Watch, Mort or Wyrd Sisters. All 35 (to date) books you can read out of order and stand alone, but to really be able to appreciate the subtle building of jokes it's best to read them in series, or at least in arcs. That said, they are all still very funny, and the footnotes, oh the footnotes! They are almost the gem in Terry Pratchets diadem.

“Vimes had got around to a Clean Desk policy. It was a Clean Floor strategy
that eluded him at the moment.”  

Tell me about it!


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