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Thud!: (Discworld Novel 34) Hardcover – Dec 25 2018
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"Like reading Tolkien but with gags — and good gags too."
About the Author
TERRY PRATCHETT is one of the most popular authors writing today. He is the author of the phenomenally successful Discworld series. He was appointed OBE in 1998. His first Discworld novel for children, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents was awarded the 2001 Carnegie Medal.
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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.
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 !
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