Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #33: Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Those of you who’ve read Pratchett don’t need me to tell you that this was a wonderful book. Those of you who haven’t yet discovered Pratchett’s wonderful books, go get started immediately. Don’t start with this one (well, you can, but you’ll miss a little bit of why Commander Vimes is so intense), but Vimes and the City Watch are definitely a good place to dive into Discworld.
Sam Vimes, the commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, is taken somewhat against his will on vacation with his wife and six-year-old son. They go to the countryside, where city-born Vimes is instructed to relax and stop being a policeman for a bit. Vimes, of course, finds this impossible. He quickly finds the few townsfolk who are a little too obviously nervous around him and goes on the hunt for crime.
The crime he finds isn’t exactly considered a crime by the folks in town, which makes it worse in Vimes’ eyes. A goblin girl was murdered in an attempt to frame Vimes (the perpetrators hoped to use her blood to cast suspicion about the disappearance of a local). The problem is, people see goblins as vermin, and the killing of one not a crime. Vimes, however, talks to the local goblins, meets the murdered girl’s husband, and quickly whips himself into a frenzy at the unfairness of it all.
Pratchett has focused before on the idea of personhood, putting the City Watch up against speciesism in Ankh-Morpork with dwarves, trolls, vampires, and even zombies. The lesson is always the same: if you’re sapient, people aren’t allowed to kill you (unless you’re trying to kill them first, of course). But the way the lesson is taught is always a wonderful ride, filled with great characters old and new, exciting adventures (including a chase scene on a riverboat this time), and Commander Vimes himself, who is one of my favorite Discworld denizens.
I just bought this – looking forward to reading it even more after your review. The focus on personhood is one of the things that most impresses me about his writing because so often in fantasy literature other species are basically either Mystic Beings of Light or EEEEVILLL. Something he says in Carpe Jugulum, I think (could be one of the Ankh Morpork ones as well) about treating people like things being the root of all evil (I’m completely paraphrasing) really resonates with me – so simple but so true… Also, Vimes is awesome. And I hope Corporal Nobby Nobs makes at least a cameo.
Oh yes, there are some familiar faces, and at least one new one I’d expect to see again. I wonder what Vimes would think of Middle Earth orcs? Would they still be EEEEVILLL?