Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thud, Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld novel to hit paperback continues pretty much where the last few have left off. Once again, we are in the city of Ankh Morpork, and once again, the city is under threat. This time, the threat isn't some tear in the fabric of reality, war or dragons, it's the very nature of the city itself.
Over the span of 35 discworld novels, the city of Ankh Morpork has grown (as well as being fleshed out). It's become a multi-cultural society, with Dwarfs, Trolls, Vampires and every other creature imaginable living (or existing) side by side. We see industry developing, new forms of entertainment, and most of all we see issues arising from the arrival of new people to the city.
How Ankh Morpork has dealt with the growing "ethnic" nature of the town previously has been a theme that Pratchett has returned to time and again. He is, of course echoing some of the debates that have been common recently in Britain. And he does poke fun at some of those who hold the views of the tabloid press.
In truth though, I think Pratchett tries too hard. The story here of bubbling tensions below the surface of Ankh Morporkian society works quite well - it's entirely believable in a world were senior goernment ministers are happy to scapegoat one particular section of society. Whether this makes for good Discworld entertainment is a different question.
I'd like to see less of Ankh Morpork for a while, and more of what made the earlier books so original - but the opening chapter of his next novel, helpfully included in my edition, seems to be a return to the Lancre - the land of the witches. A break from the problems of the city watch will do us all good.
Pratchett - Going Postal
Pratchett - Wintersmith