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As I have mentioned before, around the mid-late 1990s, Terry Pratchett hit a rich vein of form, turning out high quality book after high quality book. Inevitably, this couldn't last and after attempting to broaden the Discworld beyond his usual characters (with semi-successful titles such as Going Postal), Pratchett returned to fan favourites: Commander Vimes and the City Watch.
This was a Watch book with a twist, though. Following a magic-related accident, Vimes is transported back to a major event from his own past; to a time when Ankh Morpork was a nastier, more dangerous place and the City Watch was a joke. Worse still, Carcer, a hardened murderer from his own time is also transported back and is in his element in a city ruled by fear. Worse still, everyone thinks Vimes is Sergeant John Keel; Vimes' own mentor when he first joins the City Watch... and someone Vimes knows will soon be dead. Vimes must ensure the future unfolds correctly and get himself and Carcer back to their own time.
This is the point where the Discworld takes a much darker turn. From the oppressive dark coloured, static images on the dust jacket (as opposed to the colourful, vibrant ones that normally grace Discworld books) to the nastier characters; from the more sinister events and the edgier plot, it is clear that Pratchett is plunging his characters into much darker territory.
This shift in tone requires a shift in perception on the part of the reader. Night Watch is very different from other Discworld adventures and particularly from previous Watch books which have tended to be very light-hearted. If you go into this expecting standard Watch stuff, you are likely to be disappointed. Make the necessary mental adjustment, however, and the darker tone works well. It acts as a counter-point to earlier Watch books and helps to establish exactly why Sam Vimes has such a cynical outlook on life in his own time. It's also a book which improves on repeat reading. The first time I read it, I quite enjoyed it, but was slightly disappointed that it moved away from the Discworld I had grown to know and love over the course of 30+ books. On subsequent readings, I came to appreciate how Pratchett subtly subverts everything we know.
Whilst plenty of new faces are introduced, there are still some familiar ones that add some nice little touches. Paradoxes are always a big part of any time travel tale, and Pratchett uses them to good effect, accidentally having Vimes give CMOT Dibbler his catchphrase and nickname and recruiting Nobby Nobbs to the Watch. These are nice, humorous little touches that ensure that Nightwatch stays consistent with the version of Sam Vimes' future that we already know, whilst also paying homage to the conventions of science fiction and gently mocking them at the same time.
In particular, Sam Vimes comes across his younger self, a bright, keen and idealistic recruit to the Watch who has the survival instincts of a mayfly. Older Sam must take younger Sam under his wing and teach him how to be a copper to ensure that he survives - otherwise he will not have a future to which he can return. All this leads to lots of Back to the Future style confusion where Older Sam has far more knowledge of Ankh Morpork and young Sam's life than he should, and this proves a rich vein of humour.
The darker tone does, inevitably, have a slight impact on the pace of the book. Since this is not entirely the Ankh Morpork we know, Pratchett has to spend a bit of time building up the back-story, establishing the state of Ankh-Morpork politics and society in this timeline. He also needs to get across the version of these events that Future Sam remembers, so that we can see when the path starts to diverge as a result of his interference. All this background information is vital but it does slow things down, meaning that the book seems to take an age to get going.
This slightly slower pace also means that some of the madcap humour and insane events of previous Discworld books are lost. Jokes are scarcer and laced with a far darker cynicism and black humour than previous books. Some fans will not appreciate this, preferring instead the lunatic good cheer of "modern day" Ankh-Morpork. That said, it gives Pratchett a chance to return the character to his roots. When we first met Vimes in Guards! Guards! he was a bitter, twisted and deeply cynical loner, unable to trust anyone. Recent books have seen him become a far more contented figure, a family man and a respected and feared authority figure. Whilst this has allowed Pratchett to take the character in new directions, you sometimes feel that Vimes' edge has become slightly blunted by responsibility; jokes about paperwork and bureaucracy can only work for so long.
By throwing Sam Vimes back down to the bottom of the social ladder, he is much more like the character we first encountered in Guards! Guards! and contains the best both worlds. The Sam Vimes of Nightwatch is both the wiser(?), more experienced figure of later Discworld novels yet his new position in life also allows him to give full reign to that dark, cynical humour that has always been a popular part of the character.
The one thing the book does, perhaps, lack is a meaningful enemy. The Cable Street Secret Police (a sort of Ankh Morpork Gestapo) are not really developed sufficiently to make them a tangible threat and the promising Captain Swing is despatched far too early to make enough impact. The mad, despotic Patrician is too far removed to be a real threat and the dangerous Carcer disappears for too much of the plot (although he is excellent when he does feature.)
Nightwatch will divide Pratchett fans. If you prefer the madcap, zany plots and over-the-top humour of earlier books, then you will not appreciate the darker edge and more cynical humour of this one. On the other hand, if you miss the old, bitter Sam Vimes from Guards! Guards! then this is a rare opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the character we first met all those years ago. Read it and decide for yourself.
Corgi New Edition, 2003
© Copyright SWSt 2012
Night Watch is the 29th book in the Discworld series by author Terry Pratchett.
Night Watch features Ankh-Morpork City Watch. They are led by a man named Captain Sam Vimes who is the stories main focus.
Captain's Vimes Wife is trying to have a baby. It is during this period that he starts to miss the old days in the watch where he actually got to chase the criminals.
Even Guild of assassins has given up on him and he no longer has a price on his head.
If this was not bad enough he and other members of the watch have to attend a remembrance of a former Watch member SGT John Keel.
It is after these events that Sam Vimes decides that he needs a change and misses his days out in the line of duty catching criminals.
Carcer a well-known criminal is at large. Carcer is one of those criminals who literary laughs in the face of justice and always manages to escape. It is while chasing Carcer that Vimes manages to get himself stuck In Ankh Morpork's past via the library.
I felt kind of sorry for Vimes as his life should be a lot happier than it is. He has all the things you would want in life a marriage and a good job. But life has changed for him and he wants more.
When the book goes into Vimes Past we find out that he was not a saint and he was born in a time where there was a lot of corruption. His life could have been different if he chosen corruption over being a good copper.
I had forgotten how corrupt the watch was when they had first started this book is a reminder of the first few books Terry did.
It was interesting to see how Captain Vimes played a role SGT John Keel to make sure his past self never became corrupt.
It just goes to show although sometimes we think life is hard everything happens for a reason.
I enjoyed the part of the book where Igor becomes part of the medical team and wish that part of the book could have been a bit longer as I enjoy Terry's version of Igor.
The book was overall very enjoyable and the best in the watch series.
This novel from the Discworld series focusses on the character of Sam Vimes commander of the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork, a regular recurring character and prominent in many Discworld novels, here we learn about his early days in the watch and basically how he became who he is.
The plot starts with the watch chasing down a dangerous criminal named Carcer. Sam Vimes bored with not being in on the action goes to catch him, but things don't work out and the two end up falling from the roof of a high building in a magical storm throwing them both back in time, to Vimes's early days.
When Carcer changes the timeline and kills Vimes's mentor, the older Vimes must take on the task of mentoring his younger self. It turns out Vimes gets exactly what he wants - being back on the frontline, keeping the peace and sorting out trouble.
Where all previous books on time travel have a sacred rule of never allowing you to meet yourself without disastrous consequences, here Pratchett does exactly that - big time! The result is a gripping action/ fantasy story with allusions to Les Miserables amongst other imfluences in the book and plenty of comedy and witty one liners to help it along.
As normal with Pratchett his taking of aspects from daily life and using them in his fantasy world fits in perfectly - with politics coming in for ridicule with this novel - so many paralells to our own system.
The novel does come across as slightly sentimental in places, but this really is a minor gripe in an otherwise excellent novel.
Although this book doesn't have one of Josh Kirby's very distintive covers, new artist Paul Kidby does a good job and taking over s cover artist with a parody of Rembrandt's Night Watch painting as the front cover.
Copies of the book are available widely in paperback throughout stores in the UK, with an RRP of £7.99 - look out for frequent offers (normally 3 for 2) on these novels though.
Night Watch is the twenty-somethingth book of the Discworld (26 or 26), the magical world set atop of the shoulders of four giant elephants, all riding on the shell of the gargantuan Star Turtle - Great A'Tuin.
This novel concerns Sam Vimes - head of the now respected and feared Ankh Morpork City Watch. While trying to catch a notorious criminal and murderer, Sam Vimes is caught up in a magical storm, and finds himself being sent back in time to when he was just a teenager and part of the Unmentionables - a secret police which worked for the then-Patrician Lord Winder.
He meets the History Monk Lu Tze (who we last saw in Thief of Time), who freezes time and tells him that due to some sort of magical rift he and Carcer were sent back in time. When Carcer murders John Keel - Vimes' mentor, Vimes must assume the identity, to keep history as it was, and teach a young Vimes much like Keel did.
Now Vimes must face an old, desolate and dangerous Ankh-Morpork again, but this time needs to catch a serial killer before any damage is done to history.
This is Pratchett's first real attempt at "time travel" in writing and it works pretty well, all things considered. When I read this, I always felt it had a much, much more mature tone to it, and there's less humour than there is in the other books, instead replacing it with a less funny Ankh-Morpork and some totally unsympathetic characters.
But it works, in a lot of ways, and really helps us identify with the character of Vimes, who, although having lived through this as a teen, has to go through it again and this time everything's a bit more alien to him, so he sees this strange, dark Ankh Morpork like we do.
Night Watch was a change in style, but the classic Discworld humour and wit is still there, just hidden between murders. It's a much more mature book, but it's an incredibly compelling read nonetheless. In a way, we are introduced to a whole new world with new characters, even though some of them we've all seen before (we get to see young versions of Nobbs and Vetinari and other common Ankh Morpork characters) they're all so different.
Overall, it's a great book and really fun and interesting to read. It gives us a new angle on the Discworld and on Vimes' life, all the while mixing in original plots and twists and turns at every corner.
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett is my absolute favourite book of all time. I have read this book so many times that I think I could recite it in my sleep.
Without giving too much away, Sam Vimes, commander of the watch, while remembering a revolution that happened 30 years before is called to the chase of a dangerous criminal, Carcer and transported back in time while in the Unseen University Library Building, Carcer is also transported back at the same time. He ends up back in the "olden times" 30 years ago, a few days before the Glorious 25th of May when he was a lad and a brand new watchman and just about to be involved in his first revolution. Vimes joins the watch under an alias and guides the old, corrupt, night watch in a better way of policing. He also has to protect the citizens of Ankh-Morpork, not only from the criminal classes but also from The Unmentionables, probably based on the Gestapo.
Pratchett has once again created a masterpiece stuffed with humour, historical inferences and nostalgia. Sam Vimes and the Night Watch books in general will appeal to those with a dry sense of humour, this is the best book of the lot.
It's a fantastic book with a distinct feeling of nostalgia. It's full of the old favourite Ankh-Morpork characters only most of them are younger than we've known them. We even see the beginnings of Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler. We get the history of Vetinari and how he became patrician, it gives more history to the already believable characters of the discworld.
I often think of the Discworld books organised into the protagonist, for example - "Wetherwax books" or "Vimes books" or "Death books". This particular story is a "Vimes book".
Commander Sam Vimes of The Watch is in persuit of a dangerous criminal (on the roof of the library of the unseen university), when he and said criminal are transported back in time - to a time when the city was darker and more dangerous - where Sam Vimes isn't the commander of the Watch any more, and he is forced into helping his past self become... his present self, as it were, in addition to attempting to get home.
I have a particular fondness for the Vimes stories, but this one in particular, because I feel as though the audience are given quite a lot of his backstory - we end up observing him as a young copper - fresh faced and eager, and as Vimes himself puts it: "Did I ever have that much Adam's apple?". We can see how he became the great leader that he eventually ends up being, and it gives us an interesting insight into how the city was before it was ruled over by Lord Vetinari - much, much worse.
In conclusion, an excellent read.
Whilst chasing down a murderous criminal, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ankh Morpork City Watch finds himself back in time. Just in time in fact to re-live one of the cities darkest moments. Can he keep himself / himselves alive long enough to prevent a disaster, or is the life he knew in the future long gone forever? Terry Pratchett has often mirrored popular culture to satirical effect in his novels, mining them for comedy gold (early Dwarf reference, there may be more). However, in Night Watch, he's gone in a slightly different direction. Often mirroring Les Miserables in parts, this is easily one of Pratchetts darker novels. Not to say that his usual dry wit, and keen observation of the absurdities of society aren't intact, but as far as Pratchett goes, this can get pretty bleak. By introducing new villains such as Carcer, this was always heading towards a heavier storyline. Exploring themes such as revolution, politics and touching on the events of the real life Battle of Cable Street, this book frequently points to what feels like an inevitable conclusion, no matter how hard Vimes tries to avert it. Pratchett is clearly exploring some themes close to his heart here, and finds a voice for the people in Vimes. This is a joy to read, affording the reader a good look at the City Watch's early days and the young careers of several classic Guardsmen. This really is a great book, and show's that Pratchett can gently weave his own style with weightier themes to great effect. Would recommend it to both fans of Pratchett and those who appreciate just how crazy this world can get sometimes.
Tery Pratchett - Night Watch
I've read a few of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels previously, I have found them to be page-turning hilarious flights of imagination. Published in 2002.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down, every page i read just got me deeper and deeper into the story and i loved it. This book features characters that have played major parts in other Discworld novels like Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
He gets struck by magical lightning which sends him back in time to a crucial period in his own youth. There he finds, thanks to the help of some rather peculiar "time monks", that he has to make sure things happen as they are supposed to, or his own timeline will cease and he won't be able to get back to his old life. This means he won't get back to his wife, Sybil, who is busy giving birth when the book starts.
All Pratchett's characters act as they should, given their personalities, abilities and environment, this is also used to subtle comic effect in the novels; which is a big part of his writing. The author has a very unique style and somehow everything he does just seems to fit together and work very well.
I'm not a huge fan of Terry Pratchett normally, but the more of his books i read the more captivating they become, it weird that i dont regard him to write brilliant novels but everytime i read one i cant put it down, which defininatly says something about his works. The discworld is amazing, and so are the stories.
Well as is often the case, I seem to be in the minority in that I hated this book and was the first Discworld novel I have ever given up on....I stuck with it till right near the end, determined it would get better but unfortunately I was wrong. Which is a shame as I normally like the Discworld novels, I really like the characters of The Watch especially Sam Vimes and have often defended Pratchett to those who say he is a 0ne-trick-pony!!
So whats it all about Sparky?
Well Sam Vimes is in pursuit of a serial offender across the roof-tops of The Unseen University, home to the Wizards and all sorts of dastardly magicks, when a powerful storm erupts overhead. Unfortunately this just happens to be a magically-charged storm (well, wouldn't you know?) and when lightning strikes both Vimes and the felon he is chasing are thrown back in time. Sam gets to mentor a younger version of himself whilst Carcer, the felon future Sam Vimes was in pursuit of, uses the opportunity to cause all manner of mischief after joining the Ank Morpork Secret Police!!
Yes Yes it all sounds rather promising doesn't it but I am here to tell you that whilst in theory it may sound like a great concept, on paper it just doesn't work. An attempt to explain what is going on courtesy of The Monks Of Time just feels plain messy, goes round in circles and doesn't go anywhere and the whole future Vimes teaching past Vimes all he knows just stinks of temporal paradox!! Some things really shouldn't be possible and, despite the fact that this argument sounds rather silly when describing a theoretical or at the very least a totally science-fictional concept, kinda smacks to me of breaking the rules. Anyone who has seen TIMECOP knows same matter can't occupy same space; if you've seen BACK TO THE FUTURE, you know meddling with time can cause drastic consequences and although Vimes mentoring himself in the past is ultimately explained, or at the very least heavily hinted at, as how time is meant to go in order to create the present Discworld we all know and (sometimes) love that just doesn't ring true to me I'm sorry!!
I'm very, very fussy when it comes to my time travel and this novel is less the LIFE ON MARS it could've been and more like that failed attempt to recreate Dr.Who in CRIME TRAVELLER which aired on BBC1 and starred that guy from Eastenders. This is an awful inclusion into Pratchett's world- AVOID AVOID AVOID!!
In years to come, I wonder if the same debate will rage about Terry Pratchett as Shakespeare i.e., was he in fact several people? He writes with such authority on a huge number of subjects and in such a variety of styles that its quite incredible. Even just within the Discworld novels, though they are set on the same planet and can all be defined as fantasy humour, there is such variation in style and subject matter that its amazing.
Take Nightwatch, for instance. Starring Stan Vimes, Commander of the City Watch and also Duke, it is one of only two Discworld novels (the other is The Fifth Elephant, which also stars Vimes) that has such a good plot and is written with such pace and power that you could take the humour out and still end up with a great book. Others, like The Truth, Soul Music, and Moving Pictures, are great books that are masterpieces of parody and satire. The Light Fantastic is pure fantasy, The Last Continent and Pyramids feature cultural humour heavily, while Mort is just plain crazy. But the thing is, whatever subject Pratchett writes about, from the music trade in Soul Music to assassins and police techniques in the book Im about to review (honestly, I will get there eventually unlike some people I dont write reviews that are simply lists of related titles ), is written with detail, clarity, and above all accuracy. By the time youve read about 20 of the Discworld books, youll know exactly what I mean here. Its phenomenal.
So get on with reviewing the book, already
Okay, okay. Here it is. Nightwatch begins with Sam Vimes getting ready for the day, being annoyed that the political nature of his high office prevents him from doing the regular chasing of villains and pacing the beat any more, and getting ready to commemorate an event from the past, involving the Sergeant who taught him everything he knows about being a policeman, John Keal. When he pulls rank in order to personally close in on a notorious criminal named Carcer, a strange anomaly in the thaumalogical (magic) atmosphere in the area (well it is near Unseen University, where all the Wizards practice their art ) sends them both careering back in time. And then well, youll have to find out for yourself as Ive only just avoided this being a spoiler as it is!
Though I said you could take out the humour and still be left with a great book, the real beauty of Pratchetts writing here is the subtle combination of humour and tension. Its balanced absolutely perfectly, with the result being one of the most enjoyable reads of all the Discworld books, although not the funniest. The subject of time travel is dealt with in perhaps as logical a way as Ive seen anywhere, and while its impossible to avoid paradoxes, theres nothing here that seems obviously paradoxical. It also allows one of the best characters in the whole Discworld series to be brought in, Lu Tze (known to most as Sweeper). Lu Tze is a History Monk these go around trying to make sure that things happen. (Its hard to explain ) The interplay between Vimes and Lu Tze is superb, with each trying to out-think the other. Carcer the criminal is a good character smart, unscrupulous, and thoroughly dislikeable.
The one thing I would say is that you really would not want to read this as your first Discworld book. The reason I say this is that, as this is set in the past due to the time-travel thingy, you are introduced to young versions of many characters Vimes himself, Nobby, Vettinari, Fred Colon, etc. These will mean nothing to you if youve not got to know them in the present but are soooo good if you already know these characters well! There are several new characters as well, my favourites being the Aunts but youll have to find out for yourselves who they are and what they do as half the fun is in the surprise aspect when they first appear in the book.
Of course, Ankh-Morpork (the capital city, where the whole book is set) is described in its past state as well. The significance of the changes is described to a large extent, but again you really should have read some of the previous Discworld novels to see it in the present first. (Soul Music is pretty good to this, but The Truth may be the best one specifically for reading about Ankh-Morpork). The parallels with a certain city called London are clearly there for people whove lived in there / know about its history to see, but are not overtly called to your attention. So its a case of you either know it or you dont. Whichever way, the descriptive prose is wonderful without ever getting too bogged down in detail that it slows down the action.
This is a wonderful book, and I have no reservations whatsoever recommending it to anyone. However, I do recommend that you familiarise yourself with other Discworld novels first. In particular, reading The Fifth Elephant, The Truth, and Thief of Time will introduce you to all the main characters in Nightwatch.
The works of Pratchett are always difficult to describe especially when talking of his Discworld novels. The world is divided into people who think he is a literary genius and those who just don't get it. He seems to be an author you either love or hate. Fortunately, I fall into the former category. For those who don't know (where have you been!)the Discworld is a flat world carried on the back of four elephants which in turn are carried on the back of Great A'Tuin the sky turtle which swims through space (still with me), only in this strange land could wizards, dwarves and trolls live in a sprawling metropolis known as Ankh Morpork. Ankh Morpork is like a dirtier, smellier version of London were the river is so polluted people can walk on water and the fish have evolved into spade shapes to assist in swimming. Night Watch is the 27th Discworld novel and reflects Pratchett's evolution into a darker, more serious writer with a political edge. The Night Watch (Watchman= bent copper) have a long and largely undistinguished history originating as a rag tag bunch of thieves and layabouts whom found the Night Watch to be the only place they fitted in. The arrival of a reformed alcoholic by the name of Samuel Vimes who thought the Watch should actually be involved in catching criminals changed all this and led to the formation of the much feared, but seldom envied City Watch of today. To get an idea of how Commander Vimes mind works perhaps this quote sums his character up best "It wasn?t that [Vimes had] liked being shot at by hooded figures in the temporary employ of his many and varied enemies, but he?d always looked at it as some kind of vote of confidence. It showed that he was annoying the rich and arrogant people who ought to be annoyed." However, all is not well in Ankh Morpork, there is a killer on the loose and this killer kills coppers (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers). V
imes tracks him down into Unseen University and follows him into the Library were a lesson in history begins. Sounds serious doesn't it. Well for Pratchett it is, this book covers a lot of ground from police brutality to classism to revolution and the Monarchy and even racism ("Ankh Morporkians have no time to be prejudiced due to skin colour as there are so many other things to be prejudiced about!). Pratchett uses the Discworld to highlight the faults in our own flawed societies be it the inevitability of war due to differences or the class divide and this is my main reason for enjoying his books so. This is not to say this book isn't bloody funny because it is, interspersed with the more serious side are some cracking one liners and genuine situation comedy. My personal favourites are Vimes reciting the watchmen's oath word for word "I comma square bracket recruit's name square bracket comma do solemnly swear square bracket......." and Detritus the troll teaching the watchmen to march "Now we sing dis stupid song! Sing it as we run along! Why we sing it we don't know! We can't make the word rhyme properly!" For those new to Pratchett this is not perhaps the best starting novel as the bulk of the novel involving explaining the history of long established characters such as Nobby Nobbs ("I like the Sarge he gave me my I own spoon once") and Reginald Shoe. It is also good to see the continued development of newer characters such as the sweeper ( ?Y?know,? he said, ?it?s very hard to talk quantum in a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.?) This is great for us die hard fans who have been dying to know a bit of background about the watch characters we have come to love so dearly but perhaps not so great and even somewhat confusing for a Discworld virgin. I personally love this novel as it shows p
rogression for Pratchett from a largely humorous writer (with the exception of the also rather serious Small Gods) to a darker more serious edge. Those who have read earlier Pratchett and have found it to be childish at times may well enjoy this fresh approach. At a mere 364 pages this novel flies by and fits so much into it you can't help but feel like there could have been more but that is a small criticism of a fantastic novel. So, in case you hadn't guess I love this one. Recently released in paperback for £6.99 Price quoted from: www.booksattransworld.co.uk/terrypratchett
For many people, Discworld books that centre around the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are the most appealing. I think that this is for a variety of reasons, not least because they clearly deal with a subject that most people can relate to - that of police procedures. Essentially the books are exactly that - police procedure stories that just happen to be set in a fantastic and unlikely world that is governed by magic. Of the books so far that fulfil this criteria (Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms are two other examples), Night Watch is perhaps the best. Certainly it's one where the fantastic setting takes more of a back seat than usual. Well, once you get around the time travel and the history monks... Seasoned readers of Discworld will recognise many of the characters found in Night Watch, from Sam Vimes, Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs to Vetinari, CMOT Dibbler, Rosie Palm and Reg Shoe. However the writing is darker, the humour blacker, than we are used to. Other members of the Watch are barely given a mention - Detritus, Angua and Carrot, popular new additions, are definitely on the periphery here. Although Detritus almost steals the show with his view on firearms safety issues: "When Mister Safety Catch Is Not On, Mister Crossbow Is Not Your Friend." The plot centres on Sam Vimes, and relies quite heavily on the relationship the reader already has with him. If someone were new to the Discworld series, this is not a book I'd recommend to start with. It assumes a familiarity with the characters and their backgrounds. Or does it? The story begins in present day Ankh-Morpork. Sam Vimes, the poor boy from the back streets, has seen h
is star rise considerably and is now His Grace the Duke of Ankh Commander Sir Samuel Vimes. But he's still a copper at heart, a man of the street, and within a few pages he's forgotton the confines of his social status, the daft uniform that goes with it, and the fact that his wife is about to give birth to their first child, and is frantically giving chase to Carcer across the city rooftops. Carcer and Vimes crash through the roof of the High Energy Magic building at Unseen University and, rather than landingon the ground far beneath them, they land in the past. It's now 30 years ago, and Sam Vimes is up against it - he has to teach himself (the young Watch recruit) all he (the cynical old Watchman) knows. And quickly, before time runs out and something happens in the past that irrevecably changes the future - Vimes' future, that the old Vimes knows as his present. Most importantly, he has to keep himself alive - both old and young - so that he can make it back to the present time to see his firstborn. In a way, then, it doesn't matter that we aren't really introduced to the Watch characters before Vimes gets tossed back into his own past. We meet familiar names with unfamiliar faces, and see how they became what they are (if you know what I mean!). We see the pivotal moment of Reg Shoe's existance - I'm deliberately not saying life, you'll notice - and a young CMOT Dibbler, just beginning to feel his way into the sausage inna bun marketplace. More interestingly we see a young Vetinari, as student at the Assassin's Guild rather than feared Patrician of the city. Even then, however, he seems to easily be putting one over the his peers in their shortsighted attempts at bullying. In the past, Vimes be
comes Keel, someone who up until this point he has considered the guiding light of his career as a watchman. The Watch of the past is unformed, a group of misfits and dropouts, who don't really know what they're doing. Vimes as Keel enters as a breath of fresh air, brushing away the existing power structure and telling it to the recruits like it is: "And for close up fighting, as your senior sergeant I explicitly forbid you to investigate the range of coshes, blackjacks, and brass knuckles sold by Mrs. Goodbody at No. 8 Easy Street at a range of prices to suit all pockets, and should any of you approach me privately I absolutely will not demonstrate a variety of specialist blows suitable for these useful yet tricky instruments." Keel, however, is/was a well known figure in Ankh-Morpork, and Vimes knows the fate of the man whose identity he is using. He was one of the casualties of the brief and surprisingly unbloody People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road. And now Vimes is him, and he knows what's coming - the question just remains, how much of the future can he change? Enough so that he doesn't end up in an occasionally tended grave in modern day Ankh-Morpork? I enjoyed reading this book very much. Partly that was because it offered me, as a long-time fan of the Discworld series, a chance to see well-established characters in their youth. It echoes the TV popularity of "Before They Were Famous" type shows in that respect. Partly I enjoyed it because it was less slapstick in its humour than the early Discworld novels. They were very much a parody, and drew heavily on their source materials. There are some similarities to that here, but less striking. As ever, it's possible to read through and spot less than half of the re
ferences made to other works, from fiction to TV and other popular culture yet still enjoy the story. The basis of the plot was interesting - Pratchett has played with the Trousers of Time before (or Quantum theory, for those not in the know), and this is, along with Thief of Time, perhaps the most well thought out example of that. More than anything else, this book is not simply funny, as other works have been. Pratchett has moved into more serious themes, and doesn't shy away from social commentary on police procedures and the dangers of secret police forces, the problems of bureaucracy and why it can be a valuable thing, the force of a mob, corrupt politicians, and many more. Throughout the books, the Patrician is credited by making the city work. But in Night Watch, Vetinari is still only a student of the Assassin's Guild. This, then, is the Ankh-Morpork that Vimes has always talked about, the one that he remembers so well - the darker, messier city, without rules and little in the way of law and order. The book will, of course, appeal to fans of the Discworld series. But those who like a good police story could find it appealing too, if they can get round the fact that it's set in a fantasy world that spins through space on the backs of four elephants, themselves stood on the back of a giant turtle. I highly recommend it to you. ~~~~~ Details ~~~~~ Night Watch is out in paperback, and is available from Amazon for £5.59 at the time of writing. The cover art (at least of the hardback UK version) is a version of Rembrant's painting Nightwatch. It's fairly widely known that Rembrandt painted himself into the original picture, and if you look closely at the cover version, you will be able to see that, in the same spot
in the picture, is an image of Josh Kirby, famous cover artist for many of the Discworld books, who died recently.
Author - Terry Pratchett Published by - Doubleday Fantasy / Comedy 364 pages (h/b edition) ISBN 0385 602642 Night Watch is the 27th book in the Discworld series, and the second in a row to deal with the nicities of Time. As with many of the Discworld books, the story is based around characters and storylines introduced in previous books. For those not in the Discworld know, a review of the charcters and places of importance in the book is toward the bottom of this opinion. The books sees the return of Sam Vimes in the lead role. In fact the book features two Sam Vimeses as the 'present day' incarnation is thrust back in time to teach himself how to be a copper...... oh and to repair time and save the future and his as yet unborn child!!! The book opens with Vimes chasing the villainous Carcer through the streets of Ankh Morpork during a thunderstorm. The chase leads to Unseen University and a mix how high powered lightning and high powered magic throw Vimes and Carcer back in time by 30 years. Carcer is up to his villainous tricks straight away and kills a new member of the City Watch, John Keel. It just happens that Keel is the man that taught Vimes everything, so now -to save the future- Vimes must pretend to be John Keel and teach himself everything he knows. All very easy, but Ankh Morpork is a city in revolt, and its not just the peasants that are revolting! Can Vimes teach himself to be a good copper, capture the evil Carcer, save the people from revolutionary violence, get home .... and cope with the fact he is about to be a Dad??? Read the book to find out! Pratchett has an amazing imagination and his writing is packed with comic satire. He manages to parody history and fiction perfectly and puts across his messages - some moralistic and some as scarcely veiled political views - with great skill. There is definitely a 'Back to the Future' feel a
bout this book, and there is a welcome return for 'The Sweeper', Lu Tze (Thief of Time). The book also features members of the City Watch, in their younger days and Lord Vetinari - also find out where Dibbler got his catchphrase! This book is widely available from most bookshops. The cheapest I have seen it is at Tesco where it is £3.73. Now for the uninitiated...... Discworld is an flat world that rides through space carried by 4 elephants riding on the back of a giant turtle. It is much like a medieval Earth (except of course for the flatness) inhabited by a number of strange creatures such as trolls, dwarves, gnomes, golems, werewolves, vampires, zombies and of course humans! The book is set in Ankh Morpork, a city state ruled buy a Patrician. It is a wild city with an eclectic mix of citizens who require protecting from themselves! To do the protecting there is the City Watch, a police force. Sam Vimes, or Sir Samuel Vimes Duke of Ankh as he has become in this book, is Commander of the City Watch at Pseudipolis Yard. He has been in many of the books including 'Guards, Guards'and 'Men at Arms'. He has been in the Watch for 30 years and has always played it straight. Recently he married the Duchess, Sybil who is now ready to give birth at the beginning of the story. Lord Vetinari is Patrician of Ankh Morpork, and was once a member of the Assassins guild. Patricians are known for their ruthlessness and their ability to avoid assassination by their rivals. Lu-Tze is 'The Sweeper', a janitor / monk with the power to control time with devices called 'procrastinators'. He is the star of the book preceding this 'Thief of Time'. Dibbler is a seller of mysterious meat products, usually 'onnastick' to foolhardy hungry folk. The Guilds are controlling bodies of the various trades in the City. There an Assassins Guild, Thieves Guild and ev
en a Seamstresses Guild (although not a lot of sewing goes on!). That should be all you need to know for now - try the book - and then try the others - you will find that it is worth it!
The evolution of the Ankh Morpork City Watch has been synonymous with the progression of the Discworld series in general (27 or 28 books now, depending on how you count!). Regular readers of the series have seen the shambolic - and merely symbolic - policing system of the Disc’s greatest city expand to fulfil its intended purpose and more. Who would ever have thought that the entity in Guards! Guards! could ever become the effective, efficient Watch of recent instalments, not to mention a startlingly good role-model for inter-species harmony? The original coppers, like Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs (who perhaps is a model for inter-species harmony all in his own skin!) have become proper policemen these days and teachers to the unlikeliest of new recruits. From Carrot (the six-foot-plus ‘dwarf’) to Cuddy the (proper) dwarf, from Detritus the troll to Angua the... urm... female recruit (ahem) - over several volumes all are now solidly ensconced in both their jobs and in the fondness of Discworld fans. And then... well, more exotic 'species', from vampire photographers to... well, what exactly is an Igor? Never mind - they’re part of things now. The power of the Watch has grown considerably, and the Law is no longer an ass. So where, one wonders, is there left to go? The one character I haven’t mentioned so far is of course the embodiment of the City Watch, having mirrored the tumultuous change in his own life: Sam Vimes, from a struggling alcoholic, always one drink behind, to Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh-Morpork and Commander of the City Watch, struggling not to have to wear ceremonial tights in public. It’s pretty fair to say Vimes is now the second most powerful man in Ankh Morpork, and with a loving wife and a baby on the way - how could life be sweeter? And again - where is there to take this story? Having finally reached a Good Place to Be in his characters’ lives, where is Pte
rry possibly going to find a new story line? Confined by the shackles of all these familiar characters, Pratchett takes the one possible way out... a step backwards. *The Plot and other stuff* There is a feeling at the start that Samuel Vimes is perhaps not as happy as he should be. Worried about the impending birth of his first child, he should perhaps be more pleased to discover that the Guild of Assassins is no longer accepting contracts on him. His new position of power is feeling more like a noose, stopping him from doing his job. And that job certainly needs doing when a madman is running about the city killing coppers. And then there’s the significance of a sprig of lilac - if, of course, you have to ask ‘why’, then you weren’t there. But you might be soon... The tone set from the opening ‘chapter’ (Pratchett, of course, not using chapter format at all) is mixed: the usual Discworld humour is evident, starting with the assassin, sent to tackle Vimes’ booby traps as a training exercise. However, the overall tone seemed to me to me more... wistful? pensive? These and more. Something sad is being hinted at right from the beginning (with the lilac blooms - no, I’m not telling you!), which seems quite out of character for the Disc. I found the entire novel to be much darker than any previous visit to the Disc. The light-hearted, almost flippant nature of most of the Discworld stories has been replaced by something with a much more serious edge. I’ve been waiting for someone to say this is "Post-9/11 Pratchett", but they haven’t, and I don’t want to. Although let’s face it, any book poking fun at the futility of (civil) wars and the ridiculous ways in which they so often get started is going to seem rather topical right now. But... less of the politics! What do we have here? Vimes, after a freak accident while trying to
‘get Carcer’ (groan away, but everyone else has done it!), finds himself thrown back in time. That time happens to be when the ‘original’ version of himself is just starting out in the Watch - and I don’t mean the new and improved form I spent so long waffling about at the start! All of a sudden, Vimes remembers the corruption, the political incorrectness, the powerlessness... Like Marty McFly, Vimes finds himself trying to get back to the future but without wrecking history in the process. Of course, that might be a whole lot easier if things hadn’t gone horribly wrong before he even regains consciousness - unfortunately, Carcer has also landed in 1952 - I mean, oh, you know what I mean! - and chooses to bump off the person who might be considered to be the root cause of the ‘new’ Watch. Vimes, therefore, can no longer just attempt to get home without standing on any ants in the meantime. Instead he has to try to maintain history’s integrity - and with this kind of temporal shenanigans going on, you just know a History Monk (from Thief of Time) is going to show up, right? Still, it doesn’t look like they want to be much help, apart from spelling out the doom and gloom - that Vimes won’t have a future to go back to if he doesn’t sort things out. And thus he finds himself masquerading as John Keel, the one straight copper who stopped a young Samuel Vimes from turning out as bent as the rest of the Watch. All of this raises some interesting ideas: Vimes gets to see his younger self through an older pair of eyes - and wonder how on earth he ever survived being the naïve idiot he once was! We, the reader, also get to view several familiar Discworld characters in their ‘before they were famous’ guises - again, not something I want to spoil! And then there’s the question of how changing the past will affect the present - or the future - and just how much of
the past it’s really possible to change. As if dealing with himself and his own problems wasn’t enough, Ankh-Morpork’s infamous Treacle Mine Road revolution is just about to start. Vimes has lived through this once, he knows what’s going to happen. Can he use such knowledge for the greater good? More importantly, should he? What becomes more important: saving yourself, saving yourself (not a typo - there ARE two of him about, after all!) or saving history and the City you love? Because, although the past didn’t seem so bad when he was there, Vimes realises that it’s not a patch on what he’s left behind ahead of him. Urm. If you’re looking for the usual light-hearted Discworld, a book you can dip into for a few giggles, then you might be a little disappointed. Although much of Pratchett’s irreverence is still there, people ARE going to die in this one (and quite possibly not come back as zombies, either!). The jokes are for once not the main aim here, and whole pages can go past without a pun (shock!). But personally, I loved the change - I might not want it to stay on a permanent basis, but I found Night Watch a deeper, more engrossing story than I expected. On a side note, if you see this book, take a good look at the cover. The painting is a very good Discworld rendering of the famous painting, The Night Watch, which is on the back so you can compare the two. However, the book itself is perhaps the least ‘pastiche-y’ of the Discworld novels. Just a thought. *Details* Now available in paperback. ISBN: 0552148997 Price: ranging from £6.99 downwards (not including p+p if ordering online), but the cheapest is almost certain to be Asda at under £4.
Firstly I would like to explain something before I continue. I am 23, almost 24 and I am not a geek or such like, I do not like dungeons and dragons, not that there is much wrong with it as long as you are happy. I am an addict to Terry Pratchett novels however, they are written in a totally unique style of writing with a humour that makes me laugh out loud at a book, and yes it makes me laugh loudly at the book. I feel kind of strange admitting this but must let you know about it as I am sure that you would not want to miss a book that can cause this effect. Well, this book starts in the normal place of the disc world which is on top of four elephants standing on a giant turtle in some galaxy far away. To be more precise it is Ankh-Morpork one of the larger cities on the disc world and where most of Partchett?s stories take place. Now at this point you must be thinking one of two things, it is going to go geeky or for children but you would be wrong. This book is for any age, genuinely any age. The humour and language is simple enough for children to understand somewhat but more to the point Pratchett uses humour for adults only too. We are introduced to Commander Samuel Vimes of the City Watch who is waiting for Lady Sibble Ramkin to give birth to there first child while he is busy on his quest to capture a serial killer who has already killed a member of the Watch, so yes it is personal. He is chased onto the roof of the Unseen University, where the wizards hang out, and more importantly onto the roof of the library. One thing leads to another and the killer and Commander Vimes fall through the roof of the library when something weird happens that could only happen on the disc world, they are transported through time. Commander Vimes realises something has just been let loose on an unsuspecting and younger Ankh-Morpork which was a lot nastier than the one which he was used too, and he is the only one who is able to stop it.
He finds the body of the old Sergeant at Arms Keel, which taught him everything he knows today and has kept him safe to date. But before he knows what?s hit him he has been robbed and knocked out several times until he finally finds he is in jail. However he introduces himself as Keel and takes his place in the city watch helping form it into a watch that honours the people rather than the psychotically mad patrician. His job becomes more difficult as the city becomes more and more at the brink of destroying itself through hate for the way the people are treated by the ruling patrician. Commander Vimes becomes Keel and in Keel?s place takes the new man of the Watch, young Sam Vimes under his arm and shows him the ropes as what happened to him a long time ago, until finally the city erupts and they find themselves in the middle of saving the citizens against the patrician and the cable street unmentionables. He also wants to get home to see his beloved wife and possibly a new addition to his family. In my opinion only a fool would miss this book, young and old alike should read this and even if you are looking for a bed time story to read to the kids, this would be your perfect pick as both you and the kids will get enjoyment out of it
The 27th novel in the phenominally successful Discworld series. Commander Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork had it all. But now he's back in
his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing in when
the lighning struck.