Sunday, 6 April 2014

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Somehow Terry Pratchett seems to go down particularly well when I'm not feeling at my best. I've read several that I've enjoyed but not been particularly grabbed by. In comparison, the times that I've read one of his books while sick or exhausted, I have liked them a whole lot more.

A few Christmases ago, the Christmas of the sick, when I ended up in the bathroom all night at my in-laws in absolute misery, I grabbed a couple of books from my mother-in-law's bookshelf. Let me tell you, sick and feverish at 3am is not the time to start Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. It was, however, the perfect time to read Feet of Clay. I read Guards, Guards when I was sleep-deprived and at an academic conference. Both of them were the most enjoyable Pratchetts I'd read so far.

I started Night Watch when I was healthy, and was liking it, but not feeling particularly invested. Well, the universe decided to enhance the experience by smiting me with the cold from hell, and what do you know? Suddenly, I was right into it again.

Terry Pratchett - he's good for what ails ya.

Night Watch takes Sam Vimes, Duke, and plunks him back in a pivotal moment in the past, where he has to make sure that his younger self turns into a competent copper, keep the peace during an uprising, and track down a bloodthirsty criminal who was thrown back with him.

It took me some time to get up to speed (I have only read about 6 or 7 Discworld books, and all out of order, so there may be things I'm missing), but once the story started to really get into a groove, I was sniffling, and along for the ride.

Night Watch allows Pratchett some interesting observations on the nature of the law, enforcement, protest, and protection, funneled through Sam's perceptions. I enjoyed the bits that were reminiscent of the barricades in Les Miserables particularly, as well as the young Nobby sticking his nose into everything that's going on.

It may be the sickness talking, but this is another Terry Pratchett that went beyond simple liking, and into something more.

Read as part of the BBC Big Read

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