Snuff Book Review, Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett is an author I’ve only come across fairly recently. The first book of his I read was Unseen Academicals. I picked it up rather on impulse, and I loved it (I may review it at some point). Snuff is the second Pratchett book I’ve read, and it hasn’t let me down. I believe Snuff is his second latest Discworld Novel, and it is the third fastest selling novel since UK records began.
In Snuff, His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (not least the Blackboard Monitor) is forced out of his comfort zone on a countryside holiday. It is of course his wife Lady Sybil whom has imposed this, and Vimes’ grasp of husbandry dictates acceptance (when doesn’t it?).
The countryside is, of course, Vimes’ own property as given to him in marrying Sybil. It does not come within his jurisdiction as a police officer though. So when a dead body (or lack of) is stumbled upon, Vimes is well out of his depth and in need of an ally (and a bacon sandwich, if possible).
Pratchett’s writing dictates a slower style of writing than many of the others I read, which is perhaps why his books often take me longer to read. The plot in Snuff is deep and detailed, as in all of Pratchett’s works. This book is not a light read, and I found that I really needed to pay attention as I read. Surprisingly, I really appreciate this. It’s really great to have a deeply engrossing read, and I found myself thinking about the book as I went about my business. Lots of things are going on simultaneously in Snuff, so make sure you’re paying attention. It’s not a book that you’d pick up to read at the train station whilst you’re concentrating on the departures board and keeping an eye on your bags (I tried), Snuff requires your full attention. This suited me fine, as I like to read in my room with door shut, with classical music breaking the silence (I find it distracting, is that strange?).
The plot of Snuff winds and twists just as much as Old Treachery itself (you’ll have to read the book), and every so often a Dam ‘Damn’ Slam. I have ultimate respect for Pratchett, being able to write such complex books with the nature of his condition is remarkable.
As anybody who reads Discworld will know, there is sort of ‘mini series’ within the Discworld set. We have the stories of the Unseen University, of Moist van Lipwig, of Sam Vimes and many other little sets. Of course, these books overlap and so forth; but my point is this: there are a great many characters in Pratchett’s Discworld. It really is very impressive, and with each book seemingly very focused on one single character, we can get to know that character very well. In this case, it is of course His.. Sir Sam Vimes, commander of the Ankh Morpork police. Pratchett clearly devotes a lot of time to creating his characters, they are the jewel of his books. Of course the plot is brilliant too, as it should be in all books, but it is the characters that truly stand out for me in all of Pratchett’s books. Vimes is brutally honest, forward-thinking and strong hearted. He is, as he so enjoys pointing out, the embodiment of the law (and justice when it so suits). His personality suits this view, although his Gentlemen’s Gentleman Willikins often has a blind eye turned this way. Willikins is a character we are clearly supposed to love, and he really is enjoyable to read about. The irony that this posh manservant is capable of killing anybody in almost any way is like a guilty secret, and he really does get his moment at the end of the book.
I’d just like to make a note of the messages in this book. There is a clear theme on racism in this book, the goblins being an oppressed society of sapient laterally thinking creatures whom are literally viewed as vermin and/or cargo. It’s really interesting how upstanding officer Vimes comes to thinking about them in a new light, and how one piece of music can bring many politicians and important ‘nobs’ together to change the world in one vitally important, insignificant way. A fact that is not lost on an incredibly irate Lord Vetinari. Both Pratchett books I have read have been related to a misunderstood species. Perhaps it’s something he feel strongly on.
I’ve really enjoyed reading Snuff, and I’m definitely going to make an effort to read more Pratchett books. It’s the words he uses too, like ‘affray’, ‘affidavit’ and ‘scatological’. Scatology being the ‘ology’ of poo, which leads me on to Sam “Young Sam” Vimes Jr; who reminds me very much of Artemis Fowl. Not in an interest in poo, but of his forensically accurate personality. Whether this was intentional or not escapes me. Snuff is a book I have taken great pleasure in reading, and I’m intensely glad I picked it up. I would suggest to anybody and everybody else to do so.
Snuff is an 8/10 from me, and very well deserved in my opinion. Terry Pratchett is a talented man.