BOOK REVIEW: Snuff – Terry Pratchett

Snuff is the latest book from the pen of the mighty Sir Terry Pratchett.  It is a return to familiar territory for Discworld fans as Sam Vimes, the indomitable Commander of the City Watch takes centre stage once again.  He is reluctantly packed off on holiday to the family estate to endure the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Initially Vimes is out of his element having to play the role of lord of the manor, deal with belligerent locals and come to terms with some eccentric rural customs.  However, it doesn’t take long for his copper’s nose to sniff out that all is not as peaceful as it seems and he begins to uncover a conspiracy involving a secretive goblin community, a smuggling racket and a cold-blooded murder.

Like most Discworld books Snuff effortlessly mixes humour, satire and some seriously heavyweight issues and somehow manages to tell a rollicking good tale at the same time.  It’s not laugh-out-loud funny in that many places but there are plenty of chucklesome moments.  There is food-for-thought aplenty but it’s never forced down the reader’s throat, rather delivered in nutritional bite-sized chunks.

One minor criticism is that Sam Vimes, whilst always good company, may have become a slightly too powerful character to be a truly interesting protagonist.  There is never much of a sense that he is up-against-it as he was in some of the earlier City Watch books.  He is pretty much able to dominate any situation he walks into (except when it comes to getting his own way on the issue of bacon sandwiches).  His inner battle with his own dark side is touched on but has already been pretty thoroughly explored in Thud.

Overall Discworld fans should find Snuff like a comfortable old pair of hiking boots.  The terrain may vary but there are plenty of new areas to explore, the experience is always a pleasure and the quality is beyond doubt.  Newbies may find it a slightly more confusing proposition as there are numerable references back to previous books, cameos for established characters and the like, but they will still find plenty to enjoy.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett (ISBN: 9780385619264)


GS Reviewer: Clover Winton-Polak

You can hear Clover chatting about books on Scrolls, the podcast for literary geekdom, here on the Geek Syndicate Network.  (You won’t find her on Twitter yet, but I’ll keep pestering her.)

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  1. =Tamar /

    Vimes is up against the whole of society in this one, and there was a strong possibility that he wouldn’t win. At first he didn’t even have Sybil’s support. It was very interesting to see him using what he has learned from Vetinari.

  2. Vimes does keep getting powerful but I think Vimes is heading for a fall. Yes it’s awesome that the Summoning Dark has become subservient to his will but is that a good thing really? It does seem to be that Sam Vimes has gone from being a troubled but moral copper to being a monster forcing himself to abide by the law, even if it was a retcon and in Snuff we see Sam Vimes step outside the letter of the law for the first time, however justifiably.

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