le 5 octobre 2005
On June 28, 1389 a combined army of Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians and Romanians waged a fierce battle against an Ottoman army on the Plains of Kosovo. Although details of the battle are obscure and lost in the mists of time the animosity between the parties has lingered. It was no surprise therefore that on the 600th anniversary of the battle President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia launched his `ethnic cleansing' campaign in Kosovo. Sometimes the oldest animosities burn the brightest.
That is just about the scenario found in "THUD", Terry Pratchett's latest roller coaster ride through Discworld. The origin and outcome of the ancient Battle of Koom Valley between the Trolls and Dwarves has been obscured and the subject of much debate; but, the lingering and long-lasting hatred between them means they are always one spark away from renewed battle.
Grag Hamcrusher is what you might call a Dwarf extremist. Emerging from the depths he rails against those dwarves who have risen close to the surface. He intimates Dwarf residents of Ankh-Morpork who have made accommodations to a life lived above ground. Hamcrusher is a zealot who would like nothing better than to renew a holy war against the hated Trolls. As Thud opens Hamcrusher has just been murdered, thud "being the sound the heavy club made as it connected with the head". The initial evidence, a troll club found near the apparent murder scene, seems destined to bring their historic enmity to a boil. It is up to Commander Vimes and the Watch to find out who killed Hamcrusher and try to avoid a war that could destroy Ankh-Morpork.
The Patrician, not surprisingly, has complicated matters for Vimes. Bowing to pressure to increase the diversity of the Watch, Vimes is obligated to hire his first vampire, a very young, very attractive lady named Sally. This serves to increase the tension in the Watch most notably with Angua, the Watch's werewolf. Sparks fly and the claws are drawn as Angua senses that Sally is more than a bit interested in Captain Carrot. The Patrician has also seen fit to bring in a pencil pushing bureaucrat to audit the Watch's operations. This all serves to make Commander Vimes' own emotional fuse as short as the one keyed to the Trolls and Dwarves.
It is never a good idea to reveal too much of the plot in a review. This is particularly the case for the Discworld books where Pratchett has twists and turns on every page. Needless to say, events race from pillar to post. The furtive nature of the Dwarves, whose emotions are as submerged as the Dwarves themselves and the rather stoic nature of the Trolls (with the exception of Shine who appears to be one droll troll) has Vimes feeling as if he is trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle without any visual image of the puzzle he is trying to solve.
Two elements of Thud put Thud for me in the highest rank of Discworld books. First, we are given very full, textured look at Commander Vimes. The reader is exposed to the growing disconnect between his controlled, outward demeanor and his emotionally charged interior that seem to grow increasingly more uncontrolled as the plot develops. It is both compelling and more than a bit scary. It brought Vimes to life in a very realistic way. Second, I thought the ending was one of Pratchett's best conclusions.
Thud is a great addition to the Discworld series.
Ankh-Morpork, the Great City of Discworld, is proud of its "multiculturalism". Except here, it's "multi-speciesism". Trolls, dwarfs, golems, even a werewolf have been incorporated into city society. They are represented in the ranks of the City Watch, that bastion of law enforcement. Once scorned as ineffective, the Watch, under Commander Sam Vimes, the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, is now considered an exemplary force in the City. "All are just coppers" is one of Sam's litanies. Except when it comes to vampires. Yet, once again, Pratchett forces Vimes to confront his prejudices. And we readers to face up to ours.
Into the quietly seething mixture of Ankh-Morpork peoples there arrives a new element. For years, the dwarfs have scrambled up out of the deep dark of their mines to emigrate to Sam Vimes' city. They've become the city's largest "minority group". While boisterous, dwarfs are generally well behaved. Clashes with their ancient enemy, the trolls, have taken little real toll of either group. The deep dark of those mines, however, contain a secret. A secret treasured and sought by elements of dwarf society who consider themselves guardians of its value - the "grags". Nothing offends a grag as much as encountering someone who has "seen the light". These guardians scorn the "short humans" who have abandoned traditional dwarf values in Ankh-Morpork's materialist environment. One of those "traditional values" is the cause of the ancient clash in Koom Valley.
A Discworld legend in its own right, the Battle of Koom Valley is one of those "We won!" - "No, we won!" myths so many societies possess. Each side ambushed the other. Both sides shamefully ran away at its conclusion. Legends inspire spin-off myths and Koom Valley is no exception. There's even a massive painting depicting the confrontation. And a "sign" is supposedly hidden away in the daubs of paint. Or someplace. It's hard to tell, however, since the 50 feet of canvas has been taken from its frame. Vimes, who might be goaded into solving that crime, hasn't the time. He's busy investigating a murder that didn't happen. And learning to cope with a new recruit - one representing the last minority group entering his City's population.
It takes a split personality to appreciate Pratchett fully on a first reading. One side can inhale the wit and surprises Pratchett produces in all of his stories. The other side can take pause and note the graceful nuances that represent deeper human values. Are the grags just fantasy characters? Or are they mullahs, rabbis or even ministers from the Southron Baptist Convention? If dwarfs, golems and trolls in the City Watch are "all coppers", are the citizens of Ankh-Morpork just citizens? Should the distinctions and customs of various groups be allowed to set aside or modify the City's Law? How meaningful are "ethnic traditions" and who is allowed to decide what these shall be? Pratchett, with astonishing frankness, wraps these questions within his usual framework of wit and hilarity. But when you've recovered your breath from laughing, you will find the questions still there.
Those who are new to Pratchett may find this book a bit confusing. The characters, developed and portrayed over many volumes, have clearly depicted, individual personalities. The new reader, along with Mr A.E. Pessimal, may well ask "What is Corporal 'Nobby' Nobbs for?". Many of us are still wondering. But no Pratchett reader would give up the man who carries a certificate to prove he's human. And all will welcome this new, worldly, version of The Auditors. The new reader will meet Angua and may puzzle over her reaction to Sally. The established reader will gain an entirely new view of this officer - and be reminded that Gaspode forecast aspects of canine behaviour several books back. All these twists and arabesques demonstrate once more, if it needed buttressing, that Pratchett, even after so many Discworld books, remains a master of innovation and surprise. New and faithful readers of Pratchett will combine to applaude this outstanding work. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
le 23 mai 2010
My family had been reading Pratchett for years, but after not being able to finish The Colour of Magic when I was eleven or twelve, I had assumed he wasn't for me. I picked up Thud in the library soon after it came out, and, not having a library card, I sat in a comfy chair and read until closing time. I came back early the next day and finished it. It is probably one of the best books out there and, because it introduced me to Pratchett, is one of my favourites.
Like all Discworld novels, it's a stand-alone book. The only problem I had with reading it first was that it's got a few spoilers for earlier books (ie: Cheery. That's all I'm saying).
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, hates fantasy and/or is a fan of clever prose.
le 17 novembre 2007
"Thud" is thirty-fourth novel in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series, was first published in 2005 and is the seventh to focus on Sam Vimes and Ankh-Morpork's City Watch.
Sam is the Commander of the City Guard, and - having married Lady Ramkin - a member of the nobility. He's also recently become a father and has made reading "Where's My Cow" to his son every evening at six o'clock his top priority. Despite being a devoted father, however, he mightn't necessarily be considered a typical hero : he doesn't like Assassins (they keep trying to kill him), Kings (it's an old family traditions : even in chess, he supports the pawns) and the Undead (particularly vampires).
For the most part, Ankh-Morpork's ethnic groupings are already well-represented in the Watch. Sam's most capable officer is Captain Carrot - who was born human, although raised as a dwarf. Carrot is an incredibly innocent and very honest character and is widely believed to be Ankh-Morpork's rightful King. (Sam has - to date - refrained from beheading him). Carrot's girlfriend, Angua, is also a member of the City Guard - though, being a werewolf, she also shares Sam's misgivings about vampires. Sergeant Detritus, a troll who deals roughly with troll drug-dealers, seems a natural - not to mention likable - cop, though Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs (a confirmed slacker and probably human) are the most experienced officers. Cheery Littlebottom is an ex-alchemist dwarf, who more or less founded forensics department. (Cheery left the Guild of Alchemists after, accidentally, blowing up the Guild Council). However, for the first time, "Thud" sees a vampire apply to join the Watch. The vampire in question, Sally von Humpeding, is fortunately a Black Ribboner - meaning she abstains from drinking blood. However, her presence naturally makes a few people uncomfortable - most notably Sam and Angua.
The Battle of Koom Valley was fought many years ago between trolls and dwarves and is quite possibly unique - in that both sides were ambushed by the other. Although there is always a certain amount of tension between the two species throughout the year, things tend tend to become a little worse as the battle's anniversary comes around. Things have been even worse recently, though with the arrival of several Grags the previous month. A Grag is a deep-downer and a master of dwarfish lore - naturally, they are very influential in Ankhh-Morpork's dwarfish community. One of them - Grag Hamcrusher - has naturally been stirring up a great deal of trouble. Naturally, when Hamcrusher is murdered, Sam feels it's the City Watch's responsibility to investigate. The dwarves, who are quite happy to blame a troll, don't agree.
As is things weren't difficult enough, "The Battle of Koom Valley" by Methodia Rascal is also stolen from the Royal Art Museum. The (incredibly detailed) painting itself is priceless, despite the fact that Rascal was somewhat insane. (He believed he was being relentlessly pursued by a chicken). There are also rumours of a mysterious Mr Shine amongst the trolls - a diamond geezer, if the graffiti is to be believed. Worst of all, the Patrician has unleashed a government inspector - Mr A.E. Pessimal - on the Watch.
Another cracking book from Pratchett - as usual there's plenty of humour and with a great storyline `underneath' it all. Excellent stuff, highly recommended !
le 16 novembre 2005
It started with a painting and a codex...or did it? Whisper the words Koom Valley and see the average Watch Officer pale as they recollect the bloody battle between trolls and dwarfs. Once again it is up to Sam Vimes and the City Watch to save Ankh-Morpork, but this time the threat comes from below.
One of the luminaries of fantasy fiction, Terry Pratchett is best known for cutting British wit, combined with liberal helpings of intelligence and imagination that infuse his Discworld series. To go back to the beginning, Discworld is what it sounds like, a disc-shaped world that is carried on the back of four giant elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space. It's a place of magic, thriving cities, and all the usual races you'd expect to find in a fantasy novel - and many you wouldn't.
At the best of times it is difficult to describe a Pratchett novel. The Disc is a confusing place and characters from the various sub-series don't tend to remain in their places, popping up in other plot lines for a cameo before moving off until the next book calling for a walk-on. The easiest thing to say is that if you like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you'll like these books.
Thud! is the 8th book in the City Watch sub-series, about the adventures of the police force of Ankh-Morpork, the largest (and most lawless?) city on the Disc. For the uninitiated, there is enough here that it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone work of comedic fantasy. To truly savour Thud!, grab a copy of Guards! Guards! and experience the City Watch in their first adventure before sinking your teeth into this one.
Pratchett mocks everything so it is not surprising to see yesterday's headlines showing up in his latest work. Some of his best Discworld books come from his gentle mockery of organized religion (Small Gods), politics (Jingo) and Death (Mort). Put them together into one book and it's bound to make all true Pratchett fans stand up and cheer. Add shades of the Da Vinci Code, orthodox religious traditions á la the Taliban, mandatory readings of the preschooler bestseller Where's My Cow and you know Pratchett's turned in some of his best work.
Really, should any series still be this good with the 30th book?
le 19 septembre 2005
Fans der Wache werden dieses Buch lieben (andere Scheibenweltleser bestimmt auch). Es geht nicht nur um die Hauptperson Samuel Vimes, sondern die gesamte Wache wird stark in die Geschichte mit eingebunden. Und nicht nur das: Dieser Roman ist fast so etwas wie eine eigenständige Fortsetzung alter Wachen-Romane. Er strotzt nur so von Querverweisen zu vorangegangenen Romanen. Diese werden wunderbar in Nebensätzen eingebunden. Während des Lesens habe ich mich oft zurückgelehnt und mich an „Guards! Guards!", „Jingo", „The Fifth Elephant"„The Truth" und „Night Watch" erinnert. So z.B. als Sybil, Sams Frau, ihn darauf anspricht, ob er sich überhaupt noch an ihren letzten Urlaub erinnern kann antwortet er, dass er das selbstverständlich kann! Immerhin wäre er damals fast von einem Werwolf verspeist worden! (siehe „The Fifth Elephant"). Sogar eine Parallele zu „A Hat Full of Sky" ist vorhanden, obwohl dieses kein Roman der eigentlichen Scheibenwelt-Reihe ist.
Für Neuleser wird es dadurch allerdings verwirrend. Es ist zwar eine eigenständige Geschichte, die ich auch neuen Interessenten empfehlen möchte, aber bei einigen Nebenpassagen könnte diesen der Zusammenhang fehlen. Neulesern sei daher die Empfehlung gegeben, mit den alten Romanen zu beginnen und sich dann in der Geschichte vorzuarbeiten. Es lohnt sich!
Der Roman erhält von mir die volle Punktzahl!
Als „Going Postal" erschien, war ich zwar sehr angetan von der Geschichte, aber mir fiel auf, dass die alten Charaktere immer stärker verschwammen und auf Nebenschauplätze verbannt wurden. Das war damals meine Kritik und so setzte ich meine Hoffnung auf „Thud!". Sie wurde nicht enttäuscht und ich Danke Terry Pratchett dafür! Die Wache hat in meinen Augen hier ihr Revival! Obwohl der Roman sehr ernst ist und von der Stimmung leicht an „Night Watch" anknüpft, findet man sehr viel Humor, manchmal sogar von der etwas unbeschwerteren Art der ersten Wachen-Romane.
Daher: Fünf Sterne!
The novel gets full five stars from me!
After reading 'Going Postal' (the previous discworld novel with a really good story) I was a bit afraid that the old characters are fading away somehow and that they were reduced to underparts. That was what I criticised at that time and I pinned my hopes on 'Thud!'. Now I have to say "Thank you!" to Terry Pratchett for this new book. In my eyes it's a kind of revival of the watch and, though it's a very serious book (comparable to 'Night Watch') you will find a lot of humour of the light-hearted kind.
And therefore: Five Stars!
le 23 septembre 2007
Always my favourite author, Terry Pratchett has outdone even himself with his latest reads. Thud! is one of the greatest mixtures of adventure, fantasy, moral and humour in literature.
le 19 décembre 2013
A standard Dsicwolrd novel, entertaining, a few laughs, a satire of our own world but not one of the best Discworld novels I've read so far. Still, can't go wrong with Sam Vimes.
le 28 septembre 2014
Another great adventure on the Discworld. A good read guaranteed to entertain followers of the series.