Saturday, June 10, 2006

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

(Book Review)
This is the fourth book that I've read in the discworld series. Given how few books I manage to get to the end of, I guess the fact that I've now read 4 discworld books might indicate I'm a big fan.

I wouldn't consider myself a huge fan (not yet anyway), but Terry Pratchett is a funny guy. The great thing about a discworld book is that if you see it in the bookstore, you know it's going to be a good investment. If nothing else you're bound to get a few laughs out of it.

Besides which, Terry Pratchett and I seem to share a number of similar interests. Free Market Capitalism versus Goverment regulations in "Going Postal", anti-war themes in "Monstrous Regiment", and the Chinese Communist revolution in "Interesting Times".

And now "Night Watch" is based on the European Revolutions of the 18th century, which have long been an interest of mine.
The basic plot is that Sam Vimes, head of the Discworld police, is chasing a dangerous psychopathic criminal, when both he and the criminal are accidentally transported 30 years back in time which, in Discworld, is the age of barricades and revolutions. While trying to track down the criminal, Sam Vimes finds himself thrown into the middle of the Revolutions.

The parallels to real history are of course loose, but I think a lot of parallels could be made to the Revolution of 1830. There is an event in the book that is very similar to the Peterloo Massacre in England, involving cavalry trampling civilians.
And there's a seamstress revolutionary who reminded me slightly of Madame Defarge from "A Tale of Two Cities."

Although the nature of the story is somewhat tragic, there's a lot of humor as well. As always with Pratchett can be very funny. There were a couple passages in particular where I was suppressing the urge to laugh out loud as I read. Also the plot is very tight and well constructed. The fact that Vimes is chasing a murderer at the same time he gets involved in the revolution makes for a suspenseful story. (The Washington Post, by the way, apparently compared Pratchett to Chaucer in their review of this book.)

And yet I wouldn't recommend this book to someone as their first introduction to Discworld. Because of the time travel in particular, the plot is a bit more complicated and there are more characters and story threads to keep track of. If you aren't already somewhat famalier with the Discworld universe, I imagine it could be pretty confusing.

Useless Wikipedia FactThe novel "The Phantom of the Opera" was originally inspired by the Paris Commune, or at least by a dead body in the Opera House discovered during the Paris Commune.
Link of the DayMedia Mouse has expanded its Military Recruitment Database to Facilitate Counter-Recruitment Organizing in Grand Rapids

1 comment:

Chris Powell said...

Great pictures Joel. The scenery look amazing. I see you havent lost the peace sign yet, but remember you arent in Japan anymore. hehehehe. I guess its hard to break the habit after 5 years.