Review Blog

Jan 25 2012

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

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Doubleday, 2011. ISBN 9780385619264.
(Ages: 14+) Highly recommended. Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, Duke of Ankh-Morpork and Blackboard Monitor, is on an enforced holiday, with his adored wife and son, in the peaceful countryside. It is his idea of hell, and he finds trees, livestock and wildlife slightly disturbing, not to mention his young son's obsession with all things 'poo'. However, his supposedly quiet retreat is interrupted by a murder. The fact that it is a goblin that is murdered, and that most people consider them non-sentient beings and no better than animals, doesn't deter Vimes from investigating. He uncovers systematic corruption, vice and slavery and has to deal with the local aristocracy who believe the law doesn't apply to them. These poor fools have no idea what they are in for, and while Vimes is a cynical sceptic, he holds on to the law for dear life. To him, no one is above or beneath the law.
I am a self confessed Terry Pratchett fan, and I am always excited when a new book is released (this is the 39th Discworld book). I especially enjoy the City Watch books and have watched Sam Vimes evolve as a character over the series. It is always amusing and uplifting to see him overcome his prejudices against non-humans (and humans!) ie. vampires, trolls, golems, orcs, zombies, and now goblins. He has learnt to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and judges them by what they do, not what they are.
Terry Pratchett is a wonderful, witty and wise story-teller. His books are social commentary, interspersed with humour, farce and extremely funny footnotes.  One day he has Sam giving a gentle dressing down to a bunch of fluttering Jane Austenesque young ladies, the next he is chasing a killer on a steamboat on a raging river. He does rollicking adventure and crime mysteries extremely well. His stories are rich and multilayered, with a large cast of characters and locations. Whilst he is never strident, he pokes mild fun at people's frailties and foibles, but is happy to take a bigger stick to hypocrisy, discrimination and cruelty.
Alicia Papp

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