Friday, 29 July 2011

Nightwatch (Discworld Book Twenty Eight)

Night WatchTitle: Nightwatch
Author: Terry Pratchett
Superseries: Discworld
Series: The Watch Books
Preceded By: Thief of Tme
Succeeded By: Monstrous Regiment


Score: 10/10
Chart Entry Point: 1
How likely I am to read the next in the Series: Bought them on Pre-Order


A friend of mine was looking at my blog for the first time this week, and the first thing she said about it was "How come there's nothing by Terry Pratchett?". My first response was along the lines of "Surely everyone knows how good a writer he is..." but then I remembered a conversation a month or two ago with several people who hadn't heard of him. Hence this review. Nightwatch is not necessary my favourite of his books, but it's the one I know best. And it is a fantastic book...

But before I go into detail on that particular book, I'd like to discuss some of the aspects of his main series - discworld. That name pretty much dewcribes the setting of the book, it's a giant disc, supported by four elephants in turn supported by a giant turtle that swims through space. Now at first that might seem a silly idea - until you realise that it's based on a real, and once widespread belief. On top of that disc is the world that the series is set, many of the places are partial satires of real regions. but it's all beautifully described across the series.

Then there's recurring characters, such as the wizards - apparently the only ones learned enough to be avoid magic as much as possible, Vetinari - the most effective politician I've ever read about (and ex assassin), and the Watch, the mismatched gang of night policemen, who are generally forced to solve mysteries and are probably the best written group of authority characters in Fantasy.

But the character that most stands out perhaps, is Death. Tye only one of the four horsemen to appear in every book (sometimes only for a moment), death is one of the most loved characters by fans with good reason. He's hard to describe without experiencing his character, but he's probably the most loveable personification of death ever written. He's curious about life, breaks the rules sometimes if he thinks it's right to do so, and guards earth against the Auditors of Reality. So he's a good guy, in a generally negative job.

As with all long series, some books are better than others. His early books, particularly the first two, have characters that are slightly different people than they appear later on, so I read them less often. And they aren't quite as good anyway. And the same is true of the last couple
Of books, which aren't quite as funny (Don't read Nation), possibly due to the authors Alziehmers, although they are remarkably coherent books if that is the case.

And that's what the books are known for. Their Humour. Most fantasy humour books are full of crude or slapstick jokes. Pratchett is different. He's a master of subtle jokes and little clever sentences. While there is some of the slapstick jokes of other humour books, it is generally much better done, and is only used when it actually works with the story.

I'm running out of review space, so I should probably get on with reviewing Nightwatch. The reason that I know it best is because it's the only one I have on my iPod as an audiobook. It's read by Tony Robinson, and although it's abridged, I would recommend listening to it. Robinson's voice perfectly fits the spirit of Discworld - although some of the female voices are odd, as he does them himself.

The book concerns Sam Vimes, a man who at the beginning of the series was the drunk captain of the guard, and had become a high-ranking official, which he hates. In this book we see him get the chance to return to a lower rank, and we see him more like we did when we first met him (in Guards!Guards!). Since that's when most people start to like him, it's a nice idea.

In this book we meet some seamstresses, I thick for the first time. But it's clear that that title is a front for prostitution except that at one point the character, Sam Vimes actually meets a real seamstress, and doesn't really know how to handle her.

However, it's one of the books in the series that does draw on prior knowledge, so it's not a great one to start with. In retrospect, I should have reviewed on that was good to start with, although most of the review has been about the series rather than the book itself. There are few books in the series that I'm not a big fan of, and I would recommend nearly every one of Terry Pratchett's books to anyone who likes fantasy. He's the only Humour Author I've ever really enjoyed, and has an almost unique way of making people laugh. As I mentioned a moment ago, don't start with Nightwatch. Start with one of the earlier books - Mort, is the one I started on. But DO start. If you have never read the Discworld, you are truly missing out.

More Information

Main Protagonist(s): 1 male
Main Antagonist(s): 1 male
Main Relationships: Heterosexual
Genre:Fantasy / Humour
Brief Synopsis:

A freak accident hurls Commander Sam Vines back into his own past, where he must assume a new identity and watch his younger self struggle to rise in the ranks of the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork while tracking down a dangerous criminal and finding a way to return to his own time. The 28th addition to Pratchett's "Discworld" series explores time travel and historical inevitability with cleverness and humor.

Amazon Link: UK | US
Pages: 473
Published: 2002
Publisher: Corgi Book

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