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REVIEW: Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

REVIEW SUMMARY: Pratchett’s clever wit and humor throughout a story of time manipulation.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Two Monks of History and the granddaughter of Death race to stop a young genius from completing the perfect clock – one that will halt time as we know it.


PROS: Pratchett’s humor is in typical form – a chortle, guffaw or snort on practically every page; some light philosophy.

CONS: A bit of re-used humor.

BOTTOM LINE: Good additon to the Discworld line.

A strange woman contracts the most gifted clockmaker in Ankh-Morpork, and perhaps all of Discworld, to create a Perfect Clock – a crystal clock like the crystal clock found in the Grim Fairy Tale, that will keep perfect time, and negate the need for any other clocks. It was a feat which had never been done, and was thought impossible. Supplied with his own Igor (from We R Igors – A Spare Hand When You Need It), Jeremy dives into the challenge with the zeal of a young man who finally has a fresh challenge worthy of his superior skill. Little does he know that if the clock is ever completed, that all time will stop!

In another part of Discworld, the Monks of History detect disturbances in the fabric of time – much like the disturbance that occurred hundreds of years ago when someone tried – and almost succeeded – to create a Perfect Clock. The monks send out the ancient Sweeper, Lu-Tze, and his able apprentice Lobsang to find the source of the disturbance, and put a stop to it.

And the Monks of History are not alone – Death has seen that the mysterious Auditors are back on Discworld. And his appointment book after next Wednesday suddenly becomes very empty. He sends his granddaughter, Susan out to with his pale horse (Binky) to find the cause of the problem.

I was pleased earlier this year to hear about the Pratchett reading project, as I still had a few unread Discworld books at home. A long-time fan of his work (especially Good Omens, which he wrote with Neil Gaiman), I’d read maybe 6-8 Pratchett works before Thief of Time.

While I don’t read Pratchett for the stories, but rather just for the humor, the stories almost never seem to let me down. Thief is no exception. It’s fast-paced and held a more than a couple surprises. There was even a bit of philosphy thrown in – discussions on the nature of humanity, and time.

And the job of the Monks of History was quite well thought out. Responsible for keeping time in check – they would take time out of places like the bottom of the ocean (where the fish surely wouldn’t miss it) and adding it to places it was needed more.

As mentioned above, though, the humor is what it’s about for me. As an example, okidoki, upsidazi, No-Kando, and Deja-fu were various forms of martial arts.

In all, a really fun read. If you’ve not read any of the Discworld books, you could start here. Like most (if not all) of the books in the series, Thief of Time is stand-alone. While there are some characters from previous books (Death, Nanny Ogg) there’s absolutely no back-knowledge required.

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