Skip to main content

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

I consider myself lucky that my parents and my brother like giving presents that people actually want and not ones that will surprise but might not be wanted. Which is how I came to get this book for Christmas. I gave them two titles (the other one was Just Kids by Patti Smith) and my brother chose the one he knew I would want the most (he also got a copy for himself). But on with the review:


Samuel Vimes reluctantly goes out to Ramkin Hall, the family country residence, for a long-overdue holiday with his wife and son. Sam junior is six and very interested in poo, so the visit to the country is a prime opportunity for him to indulge his interests. In the meantime his father notices that something is not well in the area: a goblin girl has been brutally murdered and no-one seems to care, and the goblins are not receiving fair treatment. Before he knows it he is neck deep in an informal investigation and at the same time he is busy training the local police constable and teaching him the Vimes way of policing.

This latest installation in the Watch sub-series of the Discworld books is more laugh-out-loud funny than several of the Discworld books before it, but its themes are just as dark. Sam Vimes is his old, slightly insecure and ornery self, Willikins the butler (on this country visit relegated to the role of Vimes’ batman - Vimes presumably being opposed to calling him anything as prissy as a 'valet') has blossomed into a full-fleshed character, Sam junior is a typical inquisitive six-year old, and Sybil, who is more visible here than in any book since her first appearance in Guards! Guards!, gets to show her merit. So far, so good.

The villain, or rather the evil henchman who stands in for the real villain who is only mentioned and never seen, is not fleshed out enough. He is a diluted Carcer (Night Watch) or possibly a speculation as to what Moist von Lipwig (Going Postal, Making Money) might have become had he become a killer instead of a con-man.

The story is the twisty narrative one can expect from Pratchett, but with somewhat fewer perspectives than in most of the other books. The goblins are strange and charmingly repulsive and the way they are treated really is shameful. Unfortunately some of the thrill is taken out of the story because Vimes handles everything (other than interactions with servants) with so little effort and so much panache that it takes away the uncertainty that a reader mush be given a chance to develop as to whether the hero will succeed in his mission or not. Vimes comes across as some kind of superhero, and it took away much of the suspense. For that reason I can only give it 3 stars.


I love Discworld books, but its a while since I read this one. It'll be coming around again soon though (hopefully), so it'll be interesting to see what I think this time round and if its different to your opinion.

Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

First book of 2020: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (reading notes)

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I loathe movie tie-in book covers because I feel they are (often) trying to tell me how I should see the characters in the book. The edition of Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Things that I read takes it one step further and changes the title of the book into the title of the film version as well as having photos of the ensemble cast on the cover. Fortunately it has been a long while since I watched the movie, so I couldn't even remember who played whom in the film, and I think it's perfectly understandable to try to cash in on the movie's success by rebranding the book. Even with a few years between watching the film and reading the book, I could see that the story had been altered, e.g. by having the Marigold Hotel's owner/manager be single and having a romance, instead being of unhappily married to an (understandably, I thought) shrewish wife. It also conflates Sonny, the wheeler dealer behind the retireme