I just finished reading Snuff, Terry Pratchett's latest Watch novel. It's a Vimes story, very much a Vimes story, and Vimes gets to be a super-special snowflake in it, and I DO NOT CARE because I love Sam Vimes and think he should always be super-special and also Young Sam is adorable.
‘Blackboard Monitor Vimes; one who can erase the writings, somebody who can rub out what is there. That’s you, Sam, and if you were killed the chanceries of the world would be in uproar [...] if you were ever murdered, dread the thought and indeed I do every time you go out on duty, not only Ankh-Morpork but the world would hear about it instantly. Wars might start and I suspect that Vetinari’s position might become a little dangerous.’
- p. 18
I have loved the Watch for twenty years now, alomst as long as Pterry's been writing them, and I've watched Vimes go from ineffectual drunk to magic-wielding Duke with unadulterated glee. Admittedly some books are better than others -- I don't much care for Jingo or Thud -- but even the bad Watch books are better than most good fantasy books.
But Old Stoneface was just a point in time, a kind of true myth. There wasn’t a line between him and Sam Vimes, only an aching gulf.
- p. 26
Snuff is the story of a Family Holiday gone horribly awry, or possibly the best holiday ever, depending on your point of view. Vimes, Sybil, and Young Sam, now aged about six, have gone to the Ramkin family estate in the country. Vimes doesn't get on well with the country, but he gets on even less with the idea of someone being murdered on his land and under his nose.
Young Sam, meanwhile, is mostly interested in the study of various kinds of poo, ever since he read a children's book on the subject by a local celebrity.
Why not take Young Sam along to see her tomorrow? After all, she’s the one that got him on to this poo business, and she is a writer, so I expect she’ll be quite glad of the interruption.
- p. 94
COULD SAM BE MORE ADORABLE.
Young Sam wandered over to the goblin girl and took hold of her hand, which was something he tended to do to any female that he met for the first time, a habit which his father considered would quite possibly open doors for him in later life.
- p. 184
YES HE COULD.
I did kind of feel like there was a lot of walking around and talking to people and being suspicious, which is, admittedly, the very definition of Commander Vimes' job. On the other hand, it doesn't always make for great reading, so there were sections of the book I felt might have been cut without too much issue.
The heavens held their breath while the concept of a dowry was explained to Sam Vimes, and ice formed on the windows as he sat in strangulated thought.
- p. 35
I really enjoyed the very brief moments when Vimes wandered by accident into an Austen novel, and kind of would have liked more of that, but it was mostly worth it for the punchline to the story, so I don't mind that there wasn't as much as there could have been.
It's hard to read a Discworld novel and not think about the fact that Pterry is living with and managing progressive early-onset Alzheimer's as he writes. I found myself wondering if this narrative tic or that odd phrase are the result of it, and then firmly telling myself not to.
I tell you what he hasn't had a single problem writing, and that's Vetinari. Whom I also adore, especially now that he's obsessed with crossword puzzles.
Uncharacteristically for him, Lord Vetinari laughed out loud. He very nearly gloated at the downfall of his enemy and slammed his copy of the Ankh-Morpork Times, open at the crossword page, on to his desk. ‘Cucumiform, shaped like a cucumber or a variety of squash! I thumb my nose at you, madam!’
- p. 6
Vimes and Vetinari are forever my heroes and role models. Even when they shouldn't be.
‘Ah, your grace, it is good to see you back at last. How went your holidays, apart from lawless actions, ad hoc activities, fights, chases on both land and sea and indeed fresh water, unauthorized expenditure and, of course, farting in the halls of the mighty?’
Vimes’s gaze was steady and just above the Patrician’s eye line. ‘Point of detail, my lord: didn’t fart, may have picked nose inadvertently.’
‘The exigencies of the service, I assume?’
- p. 203
Final Verdict: I can never be objective about the Discworld novels because I love Pterry too much, but there are some that are better than others. This one may have had some flaws but I enjoyed it thoroughly nonetheless.
Whenever I post about Discworld I always get at least one question about how to read them, so here's a pre-emptive link. If you don't know where to start, or if you started with The Colour Of Magic and couldn't go on (I wouldn't blame you; Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic are probably his worst books, and I don't even like them) here is a slightly-out-of-date but nonetheless useful Guide for Reading Discworld.