three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
56-Jan-Feb-2012
user_rating: 
0

A-SnuffTerry Pratchett has been a minor deity in SF/Fantasy for nearly three decades (in the UK, he's second only to J. K. Rowling in hardcover sales) since the appearance of The Colour of Magic in 1983. Snuff, the 39th installment in the wildly popular Discworld series, proves that the author hasn't lost his touch.

The Story: For the uninitiated, Discworld is a pancake-shaped realm that floats through space on the back of a giant cosmic tortoise. And one of the world's recurring--and most beloved--characters is Sam Vimes, commander of the City Watch in Ankh-Morpork. Vimes, who worked his way from the streets to a dukedom, isn't thrilled to be on two weeks' rest at the country estate of his wife, Sybil, who watches what her husband eats and whose social gatherings bore him to tears. Vimes finds himself back in his element, though, when--along with his mild-mannered butler Willikens--he hits the trail of drug-smuggling trolls and investigates the murder of a goblin girl. One body turns into more--many more--and the truth is never quite as simple as it first seems.
Harper. 416 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780062011848

Guardian (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"[Pratchett] 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 read his books at a gallop and then reread them every time I am ill or exhausted." A. S. Byatt

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Bounding between a wealth of settings and scenarios, Pratchett has forged a wicked roster of heroines and heroes. ... His first Discworld book may have been a frolic, but his magic has long since been set in strong moral mortar." Kerry Fried

Independent (UK) 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Discworld novels have always been among the most serious of comedies, the most relevant and real of fantasies; they are a neatly formulaic structure which enables Terry Pratchett to make editorial comments on moral, social and political issues from a more or less liberal standpoint. If they have a fault, it is that they are a little too self-consciously a Good Thing." Roz Kaveney

AV Club 3 of 5 Stars
"Snuff is the 39th installment; this incredibly long run is made more incredible by Pratchett's consistently high level of craftsmanship and creativity, especially his clear, warmly wise, sly prose style. One reason for Pratchett's immense popular success ... is that he's terrific at playing a very long game, keeping the series from becoming stale by switching perspective characters and settings from book to book, building a world with a rich history and a sense of constant evolution." Christopher Bahn

Critical Summary

Any book in the Discworld series would be a suitable point of entry for readers new to Terry Pratchett's work, and, in fact, Snuff is as entertaining a novel as the author has written in a while--which isn't to say that the quality has suffered over the years in this remarkably consistent and long-running series. It hasn't. Legions of fans were concerned when Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2007; fortunately, the author doesn't show any signs of slowing down. With his trademark wit, twisted characters, and sharp eye for social commentary, Pratchett (who must have derived great pleasure from poking hornets' nests with sticks as a child) plumbs the depths of depravity in his irresistible, inimitable way, revisiting old friends and developing story lines that we hope will continue to entertain readers in later volumes.