Friday, December 20, 2013

Review of Snuff by Terry Pratchett (Corgi 2011)

Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is a city man and workaholic and has little interest in a holiday in the countryside at the ancestral home of his aristocratic wife, Sybil.  Nevertheless, he’s been packed off for two weeks of rest and recuperation in the stately home and to introduce Sam junior to the delights of rural pursuits.  The staff and tenants of their vast estate are as happy with Vimes’ presence as he is himself and they become even hostile when he starts to pick away at their social norms and to investigate rumours of a terrible crime.  After finding the mutilated body of a goblin and being accused of murdering a local blacksmith he swings into full action, along with the local constable and Willikins his gentleman’s gentleman, despite the fact that he is out of his jurisdiction and operating in a culture very different to the streets of his native city.

Both Terry Pratchett and Commander Sam Vimes are in fine form in Snuff.  Pratchett uses Vimes’ visit to his wife’s ancestral home to parody rural high society and the novels of Jane Eyre and her contemporaries, as well as more recent productions such as Downton Abbey, as well as explore heavier issues such as racism, exploitation and slavery.  To this end, Vimes performs his usual role of flawed emancipator and mediator, who believes in fairness and justice, but is happy to bend a few rules to combat prejudice and discrimination.  The story lacks some of the light humour that pervades most of the Discworld series, instead relying on some fair obvious satire, but makes up for it in the fullness of the plot, the action sequences, and its thoughtful engagement with somewhat weighty themes.  The characterisation is very nicely done, as are the keen social observations.  Overall, a solid, entertaining edition to Vimes’ thread in the Discworld series.

No comments: