Book review: Thud! by Terry Pratchett

Thud!Terry Pratchett is one of my favourite authors. In my opinion, he is up there with P.G. Wodehouse (who is my all time favourite). Today I will review the book Thud!, one of many that Terry Pratchett wrote, and one of many in the Sam Vimes series.

I recently celebrated my birthday and one of the books I received for my birthday was Snuff, the Sam Vimes book that comes after Thud!. I really enjoyed it, but I felt it was somewhat lacking, so I decided to read Thud! for comparison. And I was right, Thud! is definitely better.

In Thud! Sam Vimes has a murder on his hands. One of the more famous dwarfs is killed and the dwarfs claim it has been done by a troll. The anniversary of Koom Valley, the famous battle between trolls and dwarfs, is upon the city and tensions are running high. Vimes knows that there is more going on than the murder of one dwarf and he is determined to find out what it is. His search leads him into the bowels of the city and all the way to Koom Valley before he can find the truth. Meanwhile, the dark, the Summoning Dark, is following him and he has to resist it. And every night at six o’ clock on the dot, he has to be home to read to his little boy.

Thud! is a wonderful book. Terry Pratchett is very good at creating a world so different from our own, but with much the same problems. In Thud! Pratchett explores the theme of racial intolerance and astutely dissects the illogical reasons for one race feeling superior to another. The dwarfs and trolls want to remember the battle of Koom Valley, not as a lesson learned, but as an inspiration. They both think of it as the time they were ambushed by the other party and the grudge has been held over generations. When the truth of Koom Valley ultimately comes to light, it is a shock to both sides of the battle.

At the beginning of the story, when very traditional dwarfs arrive in Ankh-Morpork and start digging under the city, Vimes is determined to hold them to the law of Ankh-Morpork, no matter how deep under the ground the dwarfs live. And when the traditional, conservative, one might even say, extremist dwarfs try to tell Vimes that the law of Ankh-Morpork does not apply to them, as they are held to a different law, the dwarf law, Vimes will have none of that. It is all too reminiscent of our society, with a few people successfully fanning the fire of hatred against a group of people based on sheer ignorance and misunderstanding. And the sheep-like behaviour of the crowd just chanting what everyone chants and not thinking things through.

Pratchetts’s books all offer a sartorial comment on certain aspects of society. Vimes is often lost in a world which is rapidly changing around him, and of which he desperately tries to make sense. His keen sense of right and wrong enables him to stand up to men of power and he refuses to be bowled over by politics and power plays. Although I have found that Pratchett’s later works have become more serious and less laugh-out-loud, there are definitely very funny parts in the book. I would like to share one passage with you. It is where Vimes reads to his young son.

It was called Where’s My Cow? 

The unidentified complainant had lost their cow. That was the story, really.
It began promising:

Where is my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, ‘Baa!’
It is a sheep!
That’s not my cow!

 Then the author began to get to grips with their material:

Where is my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, ‘Neigh!’
It is a horse!
That is not my cow!

At this point the author had reached an agony of creation and was writing from the racked depths of their soul.

Where is  my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, ‘Hruuugh!’
It is a hippopotamus!
That is not my cow!

 

 Eventually the cow would be found. It was that much of a page turner.

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