In my ongoing reading of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, I have discovereda fine way to lift my spirits and get a good laugh as well. There's also plenty of satire, commentary on our modern world, and plenty of sharp jabs at how we behave.
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In the grand, rather corrupt city of Ankh-Morpork, the captain of the city's Night Watch has been coming off a bender after getting his heart broken again. Sam Vimes, stalwart, trustworthy, and with a spirit that just won't quit, knows that he's pretty much has gone as far as he can in his life. Unfortunately, this also carries with it a deep sense of depression and a tendency to drink. Heavily. There's also the problem that the city's Patrician, Lord Vetinari, has managed for most of the crime such as theivery and assassination to take care of itself by permitting a bit of crime, just not too much.
In the far off Rampart mountains, young Carrot Ironfoundersson, is finding out that he's only a dwarf by adoption. Perhaps it's the fact that he's a strapping six-six and built like a steamroller that makes it just fine for moving rocks and shoring up the occassional tunnel, but when he's starting to get really interesting in girls, well, it's time for poor Carrot to leave the mines and find his true purpose in life. Fortunately, Carrot has a book, with all of the laws of Ankh-Morpork and a very nice antique sword, and with these two objects, decides that Ankh-Morpork and the guards would be a fine career.
Finally, a secret society is meeting in a hidden location, with a book purloined from the Unseen University. With all of the correct procedure and rites, the Brothers decide to summon a very great creature to carry forth their unknown plans.
Soon, there are mysterious occurances and shadows in the city, and Sam Vimes has to figure it out, preferably before the city burns down. Along the way, he meets Lady Sybil Ramkin, a breeder of pet Swamp Dragons. Sure, she's in armour most of the time, and uses a variety of wigs to cover her singed off hair, but there's something about her that Vimes finds irresistable, and when she gifts him with a swamp dragon nicknamed Errol, things heat up right quickly...
Along the way, there's the reasoning behind monarchy, Carrot's letters home to mom and dad, also a hysterical scene in a dwarf bar, and my favourite, the Librarian proving why you shouldn't mess with him, and why you never, ever say the m-word anywhere around him. Ever. There's also a great bit about Lord Vetinari and his thinking, although I do wonder about his rats. And finally, there's all sorts of nifty bits about dragons.
One of the best parts of reading a Discworld novel is getting all of the little asides and in-jokes. This particular volume took the world of pet breeders, and took it to an all-new level -- and did it beautifully. I was so tickled by it that I had to read sections of it aloud to my partner, who bore with it all with great good grace.
Sam Vimes will make another appearance in The Fifth Elephant, and I do hope that somewhere in between this volume and that book, I hope that we will see the further courtship between Vimes and Lady Sybil.
Overall, this gets five stars and a very happy recommendation from me.
Discworld Novels that I have reviewed:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Guards! Guards! -- you are here
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
1989; HarperCollins Publishers
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