by Jerry Wright
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hardcover: 373 pages
Terry Pratchett is the second most popular writer in England. He used to be the most popular writer until he was eclipsed by somebody named Rowling, or something like that. Does he care? No not really, except when the estimable J.K. makes some silly comment like for example that she never thought she was writing fantasy. Pratchett wrote to the Sunday Times: "I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds... would have given her a clue?"
That's okay though. Terry (or PTerry as he occasionally called) has sold his 40 millionth book. He has enough money. He writes what he wants to write, and takes swipes at whatever seems appropriate. One of his venues is the DiscWorld series. And a series that started as a simple satire of various fantasy tropes has become much more than that, and DiscWorld allows Terry and his readers to look at our world through a lense that brings various weirdnesses of the modern day into closer view. Such is the book Thud!. (Yeah, exclamation point, period... The book's title ends with an exclamation point.)
Through the lense of Thud! and Sam Vimes we take a look at religious extremism, Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code, racism, and the overwhelming need to be true to oneself and one's child, and be home by six o'clock every evening to read to young Sam from his favorite book Where's My Cow?
The basic plots are that of potential conflict between dwarves and trolls because the 500th anniversary of "The Battle of Koom Valley" where the dwarves ambushed the trolls, or the trolls ambushed the dwarves (depending on who is telling the story) is fast approaching, and the potential for a battle in the streets of Ankh-Morpork is getting higher all the time.
Add to this the murder of "grag" (think Ayatollah) Hamcrusher of the Deep-Down Dwarves by what is obviously a trollish club, and the Watch has a terrible problem to solve.
The recent Muslim bombings in Great Britain bring the story of the Dwarves who've moved into Ankh-Morpork into detailed relief. Some dwarves have assimilated, like Cheery Longbottom of the Watch. These are looked at with disdain by those of the Deep-Down Dwarves who've been tunneling beneath the City and look askance at anyone who lives above ground and "embraced the light".
Then there is the theft of a painting from the museum. The insane painter is thought to have left clues to "the secret of Koom Valley" in his 50 foot long painting. (Enter the DaVinci Code.) But with Sargeant Colon and Nobby Nobs there to investigate, well hey, what can go wrong?
Then, on top of that, The Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has forced a vampire (although a Black Ribboner) on the Watch, and she's a girl! Salacia ("call me Sally") von Humpeding is a new probationary member of the Watch, and Sergeant Angua, being a werewolf, is not happy.
Then there is A.E. Pessimel, a government auditor, there to audit the Watch and find out why its costing so much more money to operate than it used to, and, and, and...
This is a wonderfully deep, well plotted book, and perhaps a little too deep for those readers who found it boring. But that's okay, even those who didn't like it, only didn't like it as much as, say, this Discworld book, or that Discworld book. And by the way, welcome, ye all, the return of the footnote to its rightful place!
Thud! is NOT a book to give to those unfamiliar with DiscWorld. Perhaps start them with Mort and then move them on to, say, Men At Arms or Guards! Guards!.
But for the rest of us, well, dive in and enjoy! Enjoy!
Copyright © 2005 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories