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Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

May 18, 2015

833428I decided to read this book in honor of the late and great Terry Pratchett. I’d read it described on TvTropes as one of his best books. How I felt about it? It’s good, but Going Postal is still my favorite.

Sam Vimes is chasing a cop-killer named Carcer across the rooftops of the High Energy Magic Building when a lightning strike sends them both thirty years back in time to the bad old days of Ankh-Morpork. Vimes has to figure out how to get home and keep Carcer from dooming history.

The book is unevenly good. The beginning didn’t do much for me, and it won’t make sense for people who haven’t read the other books about the Watch anyway. It picks up when the actual time travel happens. The Ankh-Morpork of Vimes’s youth is in much worse shape than it is in the present day – it drives home how much Vetinari has accomplished during his time in power. It helps to be familiar with Les Miserables to get the full enjoyment of the book.

And then there’s the scene where Vimes and the younger version of himself find Findthee Swing’s special basement. That scene blew me away. Very little is actually described. It’s a master example of leaving details out to make a story more scary.

We’re also treated to a view of Reg Shoe in life. And we get to witness his finest moment, the one at which he becomes a zombie. But then the action moves away from him. Inquiring minds want to know what his first few days as a zombie were like. Did he freak out? (I would.) How did he figure out how to keep himself from rotting? I like to imagine some kind undertaker took him under wing and explained the facts of undeath.

Night Watch manages to be both dark and funny. It’s just as worth reading as all of Terry Pratchett’s stuff.

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