Snuff, by Terry Pratchett
14 Dec 2011
Snuff is part of a very long ongoing series—too long to review each individual book. So today's illustrated review comes bundled with an illustrated primer!
The Discworld is flat and highly magical. It rides through space on the back of 4 elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle.
There are 39 Discworld books (four of which are the Tiffany Aching series), not including picture books and other supplemental materials. Some of the books are once-off depictions of life on the Discworld, but more usually they follow particular sets of characters, and the books can be broken up into several series or story arcs. Snuff follows the continuing adventures of Sam Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, which is one of my favorite story arcs in the Discworld universe.
The following is an outline of the previous books in the City Watch series.
The Night Watch of Ankh-Morpork, the refuge of drunks, layabouts, and cowards, is greatly fallen from a once venerated position—but Carrot Ironfoundersson, a human raised by dwarves, doesn't know it. His arrival and sense of right and wrong turn the Night Watchmen into a tailspin, especially Captain Sam Vimes, whose own long-unsatisfied sense of justice is regularly drowned with heavy drinking. At the same time, a "noble" dragon—a creature thought not to exist—has appeared and is terrorizing the townsfolk...
Men at Arms
Intrique abounds in this novel about political machinations, and the Night Watch is caught in the middle. Someone claims to have found evidence that a member of the Royal Family is alive and well—and they can prove it. This could threaten the rule of mostly benevolent dictator-for-life Lord Vetinari—although it basically never works out for them, Ankh-Morporkians have a strong attraction to royalty. At the same time, people have begun dying, murdered with a strange new weapon...
Feet of Clay
Strange murders are happening, Golems are committing suicide, and Lord Vetenari has been poisoned. The City Watch is on the case, led by Sam Vimes—but first he must keep all his officers, a motley crew of humans, dwarves, trolls, and a werewolf, off each other's throats. This book about diversity, nobility (literally and figuratively), and the desire for freedom is one of Pratchett's best.
Ankh-Morpork is on the brink of war. The small island of Leshp has risen, like a buoy, from the Circle Sea. Although it's tiny and honestly not very useful to anyone, the citizens of Ankh-Morpork and their historical enemies the Klatchians each claim title to the land based on ancient (and pretty dubious) claims. Can Sam Vimes and the City Watch stop the seemingly unstoppable drums of war? Is everyone going completely mad? Where did this island come from, anyway?
The Fifth Elephant
When Lord Vetenari makes the Commander of the City Watch his official diplomat to lawless, distinctly human-unfriendly Uberwald, you can bet there are machinations afoot and mysteries to solve. Where is the fabled fifth elephant, absent from its spot holding up the Discworld? What is going on in the dwarf caves of Uberwald?
This installment in the City Watch is far more serious than usual Discworld fare. On the 30th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution of the Twenty-Fifth of May, Ankh-Morpork Watchmen pay homage to their brethren, fallen in the battle between soldiers and rebels. But Sam Vimes, chasing a criminal across a city rooftop, is about to do more than wear a flower. He's about to experience it all again...
The dwarves and trolls have been enemies almost as long as anyone can remember—at least, ever since the extremely bloody, constantly contested Battle of Koom Valley. As the anniversary of the battle looms, ethnic tensions threaten to engulf the city of Ankh-Morpork. But Commander Sam Vimes has much more important things to worry about—specifically, being home at precisely six p.m. to read Where's My Cow to his son, young Sam.
which brings us to...
Buy the book
Good for: The Discworld books are fantasy books, but really they use fantasy elements as a way to satirize things in real life. Plus they're really funny. If that sounds interesting to you, I bet you'll enjoy Discworld. If you like all that and detective stories, you'll enjoy the City Watch books. And, fans of the Discworld series and the City Watch books will enjoy Snuff.