Jamie Reviews: Terry Pratchett's - "Snuff"

As the sand pours through Sir Terry Pratchett’s gilded hourglass I find myself again honoured to be able to review his latest work of craft; Snuff.

The Discworld collection is comprised of several mini-series and several one-off novels; each has emotion and plot that comes together to make a meta-series that has allowed fantasy to become more than just swords and sorcery. In fact for the most part Pratchett’s works have been almost completely deprived of the traditional elements of the fantasy genre; sure it has dwarves and trolls, witches, wizards and the undead, but for the most part race has been more about background colour than overarching plot. Ankh-Morpork is home to any species with money in their pocket.

Over the last few years Pratchett has worked very hard to bring each of his mini-series to a satisfactory conclusion; not an easy task with a world as large as the Disc.

The Rincewind series, beginning in 1983 with The Colour of Magic, came to an end with Unseen Academicals, thirty-six Discworld books later.

The Witches series, beginning with Equal Rites in 1987, became the Tiffany Aching series, and was finally brought to a conclusion in 2010 with I shall Wear Midnight, encompassing a total of ten separate novels.

And in 2011 Pratchett brought his longest running, eleven novels, and probably best loved story arch to a conclusion that was both emotionally moving and extremely satisfying.

The City Watch series began in 1989 with Guards! Guards!; a film-noir style police drama full of intrigue and dragons. This book had everything you could want from a crime novel; hard-boiled cops, suspense, a little romance and even more dragons.

As the Discworld became more developed the stories became deeper, the characters more detailed and the context heavier.

Many of the City Watch books covered racial prejudice, corruption and the lengths and depths people will go to in order to survive. And while the subject matter itself was heavy the storytelling has always been light enough that the reader is not overwhelmed with what is occasionally Orwellian content.

Snuff is everything special about Discworld rolled into a novel that melts into your mind like the finest meringue and sits in your stomach like a concrete bowling ball.

As with most of the City Watch novels the protagonist is His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Anhk; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (Blackboard Monitor). The rest of the City Watch makes occasional appearances, providing necessary background to the main plot, but this is a Vimes story through and through.

Sam Vimes goes on holiday for the first time to his estate in the country with this wife and son. And while his wife would rather he leave his work back in Ankh-Morpork it doesn’t quite work out as planned.

Vimes quickly gets swept up in a conspiracy surrounding the genocide of a race deemed “vermin” by society, smuggling of both contraband and slaves, and a magistrate of wealthy land-owners taking the law into their own hands.

This book answers questions so far ingrained in the world of the Disc that it’s almost shocking to learn the truth; the biggest being ‘What exactly is Nobby Nobbs?’

Outside of that there is little to say without ruining one of the most carefully woven tales ever to come from Pratchett’s own word processor.

The writing is superb, the characters deep without being overly detailed, and the setting so colourful you could use it as a box of crayons.

To say that Snuff is a must have for every Discworld reader is an understatement. Get it, read it, read it again and then you can say your life is complete.

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062011847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062011848

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