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Snuff: A Novel of Discworld (Discworld…

Snuff: A Novel of Discworld (Discworld Novels) (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Terry Pratchett

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Title:Snuff: A Novel of Discworld (Discworld Novels)
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Harper (2011), Edition: Book Club (BCE/BOMC), Hardcover, 416 pages
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Snuff by Terry Pratchett (2011)

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English (106)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
On reread, Snuff wasn’t as bad as I remembered, although that’s not saying a whole lot. Its the 39th Discworld novel, and the series has definitely descended in quality for various reasons. If you’re interested in the Discworld series, try earlier novels such as Going Postal, Guards! Guards!, Monstrous Regiment, or The Wee Free Men.

In Snuff, Vimes is forced to take a holiday to the country. Of course, where ever a policeman goes, he will inevitably discover a crime.

Unfortunately, it takes over a hundred pages for the body to turn up and the first goblins to be introduced. For a novel that’s largely about the treatment of goblins on the Disc, that’s a very slow start.

My biggest problem with Snuff is that the writing isn’t as good. The voice feels off in a way that’s hard to explain. Normally when reading a Discworld novel I find myself savoring lines. This time, I found myself skimming. The writing’s less snappy and multiple scenes fall flat.

That being said, there were some interesting ideas at work. Goblins are treated as vermin by most of the other sentient races, but they’re shown to have their own culture and to create exquisitely beautiful art that humans steal, even as they deride the creators as inferior. What’s more, there’s this a subtle underlying idea about holding on to your cultural heritage. To be respected by the other species on the Disc, will the goblins have to lose all parts of their culture?

“Billy Slick doesn’t sound much like a goblin name?”

“Billy made a face. “Too right! Granny calls me Of the Wind Regretfully Blown. What kind of name is that, I ask you? Who’s going to take you seriously with a name like that? This is modern times, right?” He looked at her defiantly, and she thought: and so one at a time we all become human – human werewolves, human dwarfs, human trolls… the melting pot melts in one direction only, and so we make progress.”

I was also sad that Snuff took Vimes away from his supporting cast of the Ankh-Morpork watch. Vimes by himself can work wonderfully, as in Night Watch, but it just didn’t work as well here. Possibly because there wasn’t a tightly woven plot to make up for it?

At heart, Snuff is a sweet, earnest book. While it’s far from the best of Discworld novels, I wouldn’t say it’s the worst either. Still, I would recommend this one only for people who are already fans of the series.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Aug 27, 2015 |
Snuff is a very funny book. On the one hand this should come as no surprise, given that it’s part of the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which is chock full of funny books. On the other hand it is kind of surprising because it is book 39 in the series (released only four years ago) and, at that point, one wouldn’t be surprised if Pratchett had shifted into coasting mode, resting on his laurels. Most long book series start off with a bang and slowly peter out. That Discworld didn’t is one of Pratchett’s many achievements.

Additionally, by this point Pratchett knew how not to play by the rules, if it suited his purpose. “Rules” tell writers that the inciting incident – the thing that drives the plot – should happen as early as possible in the book. It grabs the reader and focuses attention on what’s going on. But Snuff takes its leisurely time before things really get rolling, which allows Pratchett to do a lot of fun scene setting as his hero is transplanted from his familiar environment to something totally alien.

In this case, the hero is uber-cop Sam Vimes, head of the Ankh-Morpork city watch. Being a child of the Ankh-Morpork streets and a self-made man, Vimes is thrown into completely foreign territory when he and his family relocates to his wife’s family’s country home for a holiday. Awash in a world of rural oddities, rigid class barriers with matching rules of behavior, and the potential of not being a cop for a while, Vimes is completely, utterly, and hilariously at sea. In fact, I think I’d read a whole book of Vimes navigating this high society minefield.

But, this being a book about a cop on vacation, there is criminality afoot and it arrives in the form of the murder and mistreatment of goblins. Goblins are treated as vermin, killed or enslaved without thought, which rubs Vimes’s general egalitarian ideals the wrong way (in much the same way attitudes toward other non-humans did in Men At Arms). Vimes eventually gets his man, in rip snorting adventuring fashion, of course.

A large part of Vimes is that, regardless of where he is, mentally he’s always a cop. Similarly, just about wherever I am, I’m a public defender. That means that I can’t help but be troubled by Vimes as a cop. He’s given several chances to expound on law enforcement because he takes a young local constable under his wing and educates him. In particular, he excoriates the young constable for swearing allegiance to the local coven of magistrates who run the rural area rather than “the law.” It’s kind of inspiring, shot through with the idea that the law isn’t what men make it out of convenience and that all men are subject to it.

But Vimes then goes forth and makes the law whatever he wants it to be in order to get the bad guy. Most obviously, Vimes is a cop from Ankh-Morpork and has no jurisdiction outside the city walls. Several people mention this, but it doesn’t stop Vimes, who gets wishy washy about how some crimes are so horrible that jurisdiction is a technical issue to be dealt with later. He repeatedly uses threats of private violence (at the hands of his butler) to coerce information from people. He approves of vigilantes, noting that the law tends to deal with the lightly, if at all. He also shows no qualms about enforcing laws that aren’t even laws yet (involving goblin rights) – so much for ex post facto! To be fair, Lord Vetinari calls Vimes on this eventually, but it’s clear from the context that he’s throwing up a technical legalism (he cops to being the “local tyrant”) that the powerful hide behind.

To be fair, Vimes worries a bit about all this. Not a lot, but enough to recognize that his playing fast and loose with the law is something other people could do, too, and that might make it bad. But his wife shuts down those thoughts pretty quickly, countering that that it’s not so bad so long as it’s a good man doing it for a noble purpose.

Of course, that’s the problem. As I’ve noted before our culture loves stories about cops who work outside the confines of the law to get the bad guy. But bad cops do the same and – guess what? – they mostly think they’re doing it for the right reasons. Law places limits on behavior to prevent that from happening. Benevolent despots might not be that bad, but most despots aren’t benevolent, so that kind of unchecked power isn’t a good thing.

None of that should take away from the fact that Snuff is a fun, quick read. Pratchett was a master of language, puns, and quick jokes that land when you least expect them, yet manages deep sympathy with his characters. And Vimes really is a good guy, which makes his squishy relationship with the law so troubling. I wonder if characters like him contribute to the general idea that anything is OK in pursuit of the bad guy, whatever that might entail.

www.jdbyrne.net ( )
  RaelWV | Aug 16, 2015 |
Snuff was my first Terry Pratchett book, and thus my introduction to the Discworld series which I had heard a lot about before. At first, I enjoyed Pratchett's eloquent writing and was happy that I didn't seem to need any prior knowledge about the characters in the book.

After a while though, the story failed to interest me and the second half of the book was a struggle to get through. Many new characters were added at a fast rate, and I had the feeling that I was supposed to know these characters (mainly Vimes' colleagues from the Ankh-Morpork city watch) and their history with commands Vimes.

I honestly skipped most of the last pages. The story just wouldn't end!

I don't think it's too bad a book, but I guess I should have started with an earlier issue of the Discworld series instead of this last one. Too bad! ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
They crunched onwards for a while, and Vimes said, ‘Tell me, Willikins. If a man had arranged to meet another man at midnight in a place with a name like Dead Man’s Copse, on Hangman’s Hill, what would you consider to be his most sensible course of action, given that his wife had forbidden him to bring weapons to his country house?’
Willikins nodded. ‘Why, sir, given your maxim that everything is a weapon if you choose to think of it as such, I would advise said man to see whether he has a compatriot what has, for example, acquired the keys to a cabinet that contains a number of superbly made carving knives, ideal for close fighting; and I personally would include a side order of cheesewire, sir, in conformance with my belief that the only important thing in a fight to the death is that the death should not be yours.’
‘Can’t carry cheesewire, man! Not the Commander of the Watch!’
‘Quite so, commander, and may I therefore advise your brass knuckles — the gentleman’s alternative? I know you never travel without them, sir. There’s some vicious people around and I know you have to be among them.'

When Sam Vimes is persuaded to go on holiday with his family to Lady Sibyl's country estate, he soon finds himself embroiled in a case involving smuggling, murder, goblins and people who think that the law does not apply to them.

What I like best about the City Watch books is that the themes are as serious as the books are funny. ( )
  isabelx | May 23, 2015 |
A bit of a Curate's Egg. Parts of this book are very good. The real problem is that the pacing is all wrong. It's going great until the crime is solved and then it starts to feel like a massive epilogue that doesn't really fit with the rest of the story.
Also, the sub-lot with Fred Colon gets almost no coverage at all - and it could have been really interesting.
The high spot is probably young Sam and his interest in poo.
Every Discworld race has to have its personal redemption and recognition and this time it's the turn of Goblins - the trouble is that this theme, while a worthy one, has been a bit overdone in the Discworld books. ( )
  JudithProctor | Apr 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
Pratchett is a master storyteller. He is endlessly inventive, even when telling a routine kind of tale. He gives you more information and more story than you need, just because he can, and this is completely satisfying. He is a master of complex jokes, good bad jokes, good dreadful jokes and a kind of insidious wisdom about human nature (and other forms of alien nature). I think his mad footnotes are there because he can't stop his mind whirring, and our whirring minds go with him. I read his books at a gallop and then reread them every time I am ill or exhausted.
added by riverwillow | editThe Guardian, A.S Byatt (Oct 21, 2011)
With its blend of high fantasy, social commentary, and comedy, Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld novel, Snuff, is a worthy addition to the internationally bestselling series.


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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pratchett, Terryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kidby, PaulCover artistsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Rob... for in between his days off.

For Emma... for helping me understand goblins.

And for Lyn... for always.
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The goblin experience of the world is the cult or perhaps religion of Unggue.
Vimes never understood where those explosive 'What's came from. After all, he thought, what's the point of just barking out 'What!' for absolutely no discernible reason? And as for "What, what!?" well, what was that all about? What? 'What?' seemed to be tent pegs hammered into the conversation, but what the hell for? What?
Lady Sybil took the view that her darling husband's word was law for the City Watch while, in her own case, it was a polite suggestion to be graciously considered.
[said by Willikins] This is a stiletto I'm holding to your throat and it ain't no ladies' shoe, this is the real thing, the cutting edge, as it were. You are a little twit, and I ain't the commander and I will slice you to the bone if you make a move. Got that? Now don't nod your head! Good, we are learning, aren't we? Now, my lad, the commander here is trusted by Diamond King of Trolls and the Low King of the Dwarfs, who would only have to utter a word for your measly carcass to come under the caress of a large number of versatile axes, and by Lady Margolotta of Uberwald, who trusts very few people, and by Lord Veterinari of Ankh-Morpork, who doesn't trust anybody. Got that? Don't nod! And you, my little man, have the damn nerve to doubt his word. I'm an easygoing sort of fellow, but that sort of thing leaves me right out of sorts, I don't mind telling you. You understand? I said, do you understand? Oh, all right, you can nod now. [...]
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Book description
According to the writer of the best selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse.  

And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe, but many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.  

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, occasionally snookered and occasionally out of his mind, but not out of guile.  Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.   

They say that in the end all sins are forgiven.   But not quite all…
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No descriptions found.

Lady Sybil, wife of Sam Vimes, convinces him to travel to the countryside for a vacation. Out of his element, Sam soon finds various crimes to investigate. But he is out of his element and must rely on his instincts to bring the culprits to justice.

(summary from another edition)

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