Book Review: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Generally, I’m not too fond of books that play with time travel. Maybe it is because of the story pretty much is fucked up right from the beginning. The whole time travel conundrum. Also, the character or characters will end back where the story began, and nothing really changed except their minds. And I hate that. I get frustrated, annoyed, and throw tantrums (okay, maybe not.) This isn’t/wasn’t/hadn’t been the case with Night Watch. It is one of those books that is the exception of the rule. And I don’t believe it is because the story is well written, the characters are likable, we get a glimpse of the past Ankh-Morpork. No, a lot of books/movies/tv-shows have been like that, good but of course without Ankh-Morpork. Maybe it is the fact that Pratchett doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the time travel bit, doesn’t make a fuss about it, but instead cares about Sam Vimes and the lives that matter. It is not a gimmick to be played with, just one part of the story, and that is it. Time travel in Night Watch doesn’t destroy the fabric of reality and storytelling.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can go on with the review. Night Watch is darker, it is like that early Sam Vimes in Guards! Guards!, who was a drunkard and destitute man, and he is back. Sober and wiser. And has a new side-kick, he himself. But that is not what caught my eye, partly because this was the second time around reading the book. What I got stuck with was the city, the revolution, and all the animals who have to die every day to feed the citizens. The last part mostly. Pratchett jokes around the bit, but it stopped my reading, and then I thought all the eggs (hardboiled or not) that go into turning the world around and around. Yet, Ankh-Morporkians and we have time to petty quarrels, be cruel to each other verbally and with light torture (or not so light), run around waving our swords for the fun of it or as Vimes does to police the nasty, and love, baby-making, sewing buttons in, and the rest. We don’t have to slave to get a bite (most of us, there are parts in the world where realities are not as lovely as I have it), we can fuss over our food, the quality of it, the ethicalness and healthiness of it. Animals die in many folds for us, fruits and berries are picked for our morning delight, and most of us don’t see it. Tons and tons of food in and out of the city, so it flows.

Okay, the previous part had no point, but that image is stuck with me because of Sir Terry Pratchett’s words. He still gets me, every time I read his book, there is a line that I have to stop to ponder, makes my head go thrum, thrum, thrum… Even with the old ideas. The bit about revolutions in Night Watch and how there is always another new bastard in the place of the old one. So it goes. In the hope of real-life benevolent, mastermind Patrician Dog-botherer. Or maybe not? Who knows how we should govern each other. Democracy is a nice old thing with huge problems. But it might be better than the alternatives or until we invent something new.

Thank you for reading this mess of a review! What I meant to write poorly was that Night Watch is a good book, go and re/read it. Shoo! This is a good day for a hardboiled egg.

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