Select one of the keywords
Thud!    by Terry Pratchett order for
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Thud!, one of thirty-something books in the famed Discworld series, stars Ankh-Morpork's City Watch Commander (who is also its Duke), Sam Vimes, and a mysterious entity, 'the Summoning Dark', that lurks throughout the fantasy but is very hard to spot. Vimes is a stalwart sort, a policing hero generally considered not the 'sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer', but also widely respected by all races for his integrity. He loves his wife and small son, the latter even more so since the time he 'looked directly at Vimes, with eyes that for his father outshone the lamps of the world, and fear had poured into Sam Vimes's life in a terrible wave', fear that such happiness might not last.

Tension is rising between the growing communities of dwarfs and trolls in - and under - Ankh-Morpork, fueled by Grags (dwarven fundamentalist clerics from the deep dark). As if this weren't enough to deal with, Vimes is pressed by the city's Patrician, Lord Vetinari, and by the Uberwald League of Temperance (who are not anti-booze but anti-blood) to accept a new Watch recruit, a lovely and very competent young vampire named Sally. The story continues with a murder mystery (who killed dwarf Grag Hamcrusher and why?) that includes a stolen circular painting with great historical significance (sound familiar?). There's an account of racial integration in the City Watch, where traditional enemies like trolls and dwarfs, werewolves and vampires work uneasily together. And there's an affecting tale of the incredible power of paternal love - don't miss the book's companion volume, Where's My Cow?, that shows Vimes reading the picture book of that title to small Sam - and getting a little off track.

Previous Discworld characters - like proper (ex-street gang) butler Willikins, werewolf Sergeant Anguna, and tall Captain Carrot who was raised by dwarfs and considers himself one - are joined by engaging new actors like the timid government inspector who morphs into a hero, and pole dancer Tawnee with the looks of a goddess and the brains and self-esteem of a pea (Anguna and Sally sort her out). I love the bonding between this odd couple, as when they demand clothing from under the floor of the Pink PussyCat Club, saying 'you've got a werewolf and a vampire down here, understand? I'm having a really bad hair day and she's got a toothache! We come up in ten minutes looking human or we come up anyway!' But my favorite new character has to be 'Dis-Organizer Mark Five, the Gooseberry' powered by a helpful (and ultimately very useful) small green imp in a cage, who's forced to call Vimes 'Insert Name Here' (since the Commander didn't).

Interestingly, Thud is also the name of a game in the book with dwarfs and trolls in opposition, one that reminds me of the Nepalese board game Goats and Tigers (Bagha Chal). Vimes solves the mystery and succeeds in his goal of preventing the cataclysmic war that would result from a live re-enactment of Koom Valley, 'where the dwarves had ambushed the trolls and/or the trolls had ambushed the dwarves, one ill-famed day under unkind stars.' He also keeps the most important appointment of his daily routine, reading Where's My Cow? to young Sam, in another splendidly satirical fantasy, steeped in irony and wit. More please!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews