Thief of Time

I did a big circular walk yesterday, going to all sorts of new (interesting and/or beautiful) places. Not long after passing the apogee, I came across a second-hand shop.

And what do you think I did there…?

So, it’s another Terry Pratchett book that I picked up because I’m not sure my mum owns it yet. It’s hard to keep track, but I’m not too worried about it having been a waste of money if a copy does turn out to already be on the big shelf of Pratchett (it cost 99p)…

I bought it, then wandered my way further along my elliptical orbit until I came to the Riverside Bar, where the Portico Quartet (mercury-nominated, hang-wielding jazz afficionados) were playing a free gig. I was somewhat early so, having failed to convince my friends to join me there, I had to entertain myself. How fortunate that I just purchased a book!

My reading was interspersed only by sips of bitter (and a bout of open mic poetry), and I had got to page 150 by the time the band were due to play.

I thought that was pretty good going, but then, Pratchett’s books are so delightfully easy to read. I finished the rest this morning.

I’m pretty sure I’ve liked all of his Discworld stuff (all of his non-Discworld stuff too, actually), and this one was no exception. The protagonists of this one are a little bit more high-powered than usual, I think. In Ankh-Morpork, Death’s grand-daughter, Susan, is nudged by her skeletal forebear into investigating and sorting out a temporally-related problem — Someone is trying to make a clock that’s so accurate, it’ll cause the world to end (that sounds a bit silly now that I’m typing it [and some of the characters thought so too], but Pratchett sold it pretty well). Meanwhile, hubwards, Lu Tze (an old, wise, and ridiculously kick-ass monk) has picked up an apprentice who seems suspiciously good at the kind of time manipulation that novice monks are supposed to have to spend decades to be able to do.

Things race towards a suitably epic conclusion (Pratchett pulls out all the stops here, introducing us to two new and mighty anthropomorphic personifications – Time and Chaos); there’s a fan-service (but warranted) guest appearance from Nanny Ogg, and the reappearance of Igors; and there’s humour galore (some of it based on particularly deft and witty observations of the kung-fu genre).

I sometimes feel like there’s nothing new to be found in Pratchett’s novels. I don’t know if what I read here was new, but it definitely felt fresh. I don’t know how he does it, but this book was as much fun to read as the ones he wrote two decades ago. Long may he continue.

(Also, the gig was pretty good. I literally couldn’t lift my glass to my lips due to the crush of indie kids, but the band did some awesome asynchronous, discordant jazz odyssey shit. Approval.)

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