5.0 out of 5 stars Lilac and the Prime Directive
A comparison between a Discworld novel and the Star Trek TV series would not usually come to mind. However, in NIGHTWATCH, we are discovering something like the program's temporal prime directive. It is one thing to be transported 30 years back in time through some magical fluke. It something else to ensure that events there do/will not distort the present. What would...
Published on Dec 12 2002 by Friederike Knabe
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book poorly read.
While Night Watch is one of the best of the Terry Pratchett novels, this reading of the book is completely disappointing. Although I have read the book with enjoyment many times I can barely tolerate the audio version. The reader's voices and manners are deep and serious with a downturn to their phrasing which is in total contrast to the tone of the book. There appears...
Published on Feb. 21 2003 by S Pomeroy
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very character focused,
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This review is from: Night Watch (Paperback)This one is very focused on one character, luckily that character is Sam Vimes so it ends up being one of the better Discworld novels in my opinion.
5.0 out of 5 stars Lilac and the Prime Directive,
Sir Samuel Vimes, the Commander of the City Watch in Ankh Morpork, is catapulted out of the present at a sensitive and important moment in his personal life. Together with the criminal Carcer, who he was about to arrest, he is transported into an earlier, smaller and much less organized city. It would not be true to his character if he just laid low while waiting and hoping to get back to the present/future. Disguised as another copper, he involves himself in the city's business. He meets a number of well-known Discworld luminaries in their earlier selves, from Nobby Nobbs and Fred Colon to a smart young Havelock Vetinari and learns how Reg Shoe becomes a zombie. And, of course, we encounter the young Sam Vimes who is still very naïve and trusting. He is in need of a role model and hero and Vimes, the older and still disguised, has to step into the part. Suffice to say, that the events are unfolding in good Pratchett fashion. Sam Vimes is in the thick of it - a rebellion to be precise.
As a result of Vimes and Carcer's presence, events happen not quite as they were suppose to have happened. That is where the temporal prime directive becomes an important aspect leading us to a more reflective and pondering Sam. He knows how history will report the past that he is reliving, but not as himself. Will he jeopardize his own future if he tweaks reality in the past? Will there be his wife, Sybil, and the child yet to be born?... Those familiar with Pratchett's Discworld will remember time shifts and alignments and those who tinker with them in THIEF OF TIME. Not surprising therefore that the Sweeper has to make an appearance, this time accompanied by a character similar to one in Star Trek - playing with time and space. To find out about the importance of lilac, you have to read the book.
NIGHTWATCH is a great book - rich in the story and the reflections on politics, power, violence and teamwork. And of course, Pratchett's famous and unsurpassed one-liners, such as, when referring to the old Watch "in the sea of adventure, you're bottom-feeders". It is one of those P'Terry books you want to read in one go. On reflection, it is also recommended to newcomers to the Discworld. You don't have to read all 28 Discworld novels first... you will certainly read more of them after you started with this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars The future is past,
All Terry Pratchett's characters are fascinating in their own way. Rincewind, a spectacular coward, expresses a survivor's continuing agonies of fear and distrust. Esme Weatherwax dons a cape of firm self-assurance you could roof a shed with - until she's alone and surveying her frailties. In Sam Vimes, however, Pratchett produced someone special. In his own view Sam sometimes strides on feet of clay. Plagued by self-doubts, worrying about problems often not his, beset by hordes of enemies and unpredictable circumstances, Vimes manages to trot up to the finish line soiled but sturdy. We live in an era when "character" is a disreputable phrase. Still, Sam Vimes arrives at each finale by employing resolute self discipline, applying it to himself or imparting it to others. In this book, that example becomes bifurcated by Sam's knowledge that he's coaching his younger self. Maintaining his own standards while imparting them to young Lance-Constable Vimes is a challenging situation. He was pursuing a killer in his own time - he continues the pursuit in the past. He's also, once again, caught up in Ankh-Morpork politics.
Transported back in time, Vimes remains burdened with memories. Sybil, his wife, is about to produce their first born [promised in Fifth Elephant]. A Watch mainstay, Fred Colon, is an established Corporal, while Nobby Nobbs, a social stain, is a street urchin seeking the main chance. Sam encounters old friends and makes new ones. Some don't survive. Pratchett's ability to give life to each of his characters brings a sense of grief at their loss other authors fail to achieve. You cannot prevent a pause in your reading when you learn of their deaths. There is one character you're eager to see "pass on," but Pratchett denies you that comfort. Fantasy or no, reality is firmly established here. As always with Pratchett, the characters are your neighbours and family. You know them intimately, never mind their distance in time and place. You rejoice in their successes and mourn their losses. It's all part of Pratchett's ability to capture the reader - new or long- standing.
Back in an earlier Ankh-Morpork, Vimes assumes the identity of John Keel. In this role, he establishes new standards in the Watch - dress, behaviour, skills, attitudes. Those who can't conform are eased [at least] out. Inevitably, the role of the Watch in relation to the military arises. Pratchett has addressed this issue before, of course, and it remains unresolved. Especially in times of civil unrest and resentment over government and taxes. The old labour movement refrain "Which Side Are You On" might have replaced the tune running through this book.
Clearly, Pratchett is far more interested in helping his readers confront the world than in carving himself a comfortable niche among escapist fantasy writers. Those who bemoan the loss of "humour" in his recent works [although the asides in this book are among his best], are ignoring the message. He's a serious thinker imparting his ideas using the methods at his command. To pigeonhole him is to ignore his message or reject it. He deserves better. The next "critic" who labels Pratchett as a "humorous fantacist" can meet me in Sator Square. Bring your own weapons, but be advised my chosen second is the Commander of the Ankh-Morpork Watch . . .
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth staying up all night to read,
Once Lse-Tsu, the Sweeper, has explained the science behind the events Vimes (now known as John Keel) finds he has four days in which to educate his younger self and locate and take Carcer back with him, all before the revolution. However, he has the major advantage of a)being intelligent, b)knowing all about what should happen. So he inveigles his way into becoming a Nightwatch sergeant-at-arms, promptly shakes up the accepted corruption within its ranks and then sets off on his mission. Fairly quickly he manages to upset the course of history by ensuring the Morphic Street Conspiracy didn't end in a massacre before realising that Captain Swing of the Unmentionables has now recruited Carcer as a sergeant.
We plung headfirst into his efforts to ensure that the Treacle Mine Watch House doesn't get burned in the general looting and his struggle to create a sphere of normality in the revolution to prevent the amount of historical deaths his future self knows happened. He manages to gain revenge on the Unmentionables down in Cable Street, all the whilst keeping his younger self by his side gaining valuable experience. Eventually it all resolves itself in a manner that is truly remarkable and we see a side of an older and more anarchic Ankh-Morpork in the process.
We get to see glorious cameos from younger selves throughout. The ones that stick in the memory are: Vetinari's unfazable younger self as an assassin in training, the street urchin, Nobby Nobbs, Fred Colon and a superb pre-'Cut-Me-Own'Throat' Dibbler. All of which lends itself to a Discworld novel back to its very best. The previous offering tended to flounder a little in the sheer volume of irony and satire at Pratchett's potential disposal and ended up being a trifle blunt, but this volume returns our author to the safe Night Watch which have such brilliant characters. Given the next two also focus on them, it means the latest installments are a must read.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Discworld's own "Back to the Future".,
This review is from: Night Watch (Paperback)This is the 27th Discworld novel (well, that is, if you don't count The Last Hero and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents).
It is springtime in Ankh-Morpork, the lilac is in bloom. As his wife Sybil is about to give birth to their first child, Commander Samuel Vimes of the City Watch heads to the cemetary of Small Gods, to commemorate the day Sergeant John Keel, his mentor, and six other coppers died some thirty yeas ago.
Later, arriving at the Patrician's Palace, he hears that Carcer, a serial killer who's been wreaking havoc around town lately, has just been cornered. This might be his only chance to arrest the murderer.
Outside, there's a storm brewing. After a chase in the streets of the city, Vimes and Carcer end up in the tower of the wizards' University, a highly magical place. And as the Commander is about to catch his prey, lighting strikes, and both are transported back in time, some thirty years earlier... Soon Carcer commits another crime and kills John Keel.
Night Watch has a strong "Back to the Future" theme, where changing events in the past... well, the now, of course affects those in the now... well, the future. Many things have changed in thirty years, and Vimes struggles to put his own past back on the track. It won't be long until he encounters his younger self. Passing himself off as Sergeant John Keel, not only will he have to teach young Sam to be a good copper, but he must also survive the oncoming Revolution.
True to form, Terry Pratchett gives us yet another witty, intelligent, hilarious Discworld novel of the City Watch, with its traditional footnotes and tongue-in-cheek humour, and some cameo appearances of Death... what more could we possibly ask for?
5.0 out of 5 stars more fun with the City Watch,
By A Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Great book poorly read.,
This review is from: Night Watch (Audio Cassette)While Night Watch is one of the best of the Terry Pratchett novels, this reading of the book is completely disappointing. Although I have read the book with enjoyment many times I can barely tolerate the audio version. The reader's voices and manners are deep and serious with a downturn to their phrasing which is in total contrast to the tone of the book. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to the timing of the changes between readers, attempts at british accents are weak and erratic, and the brilliantly written unique characters have no distinction as read. This is especially disappointing because of the excellence of Terry Pratchett novels read by Nigel Planer. I regret purchasing this item.
5.0 out of 5 stars possibly the best Discworld to date!,
This book is a perfect example of Pratchett's trademark combination of action, witt and philosophy. Old fans will adore meeting Nobby Nobbs as a street urchin, Havelock Vetinari as a student assassin, and Reg Shoe as a young (and very much alive) rebel-without-a-cause. As for new readers, just read the first sentence and see if you don't like it. Go on, I dare you. Here it is:
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't fall asleep over Night Watch,
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NIght Watch: (Discworld Novel 29) by Terry Pratchett (Audio CD - Nov. 5 2002)
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