Snuff - Terry Pratchett

~~Moved from GR~~


by Terry Pratchett


Before reading the book, my emotions were a perfect mix of trepidation and excitement. I love Vimes books. Love them. Night Watch is probably my favorite fantasy book ever written. At the same time, with the author's declining health, I was afraid a Vimes book might lose its quintessential Vimesness.

After reading, my feelings are mixed. It was wonderful to see the characters again, to see Sam with his little son, to again walk in Discworld. The book has heart. It fairly drips with earnestness. At the same time, it is practically festooned in platitudes and aphorisms.

I had the odd feeling that I was reading a fanfiction of Discworld rather than a canon book. Most surprising to me was the alteration in writing style. Pratchett has always been brilliant at using snappy, clever exchanges between his characters to convey unstated emotions and beliefs. However, in Snuff, conversations between characters devolve into monologues that continue uninterrupted for two to four pages at a time. Rather than intimation and complex dialogue, Vimes repeatedly explicitly questions his own character and role, and other characters directly answer his questions in a manner I found awkward and unnatural. I felt the characters fell into the "tell rather than show" paradigm, often explicitly stating opinions and beliefs that would have been left to reader inference in previous books. The book felt to me like a familiar song played by an overeager student who had the tempo just slightly wrong.

For all that, Snuff is worth a read for Discworld fans. It features the return of many familiar characters and is quite enjoyable; if it were not for the high standard that books like Night Watch have led me to expect of Pratchett, I would have found it fantastic. Even with my disappointed expectations, I found the story heartfelt and very sweet.