Published by Corgi on February 13th 2014
Another brilliant novel in the record-breaking Discworld series.
VOTED AS READERS' FAVOURITE DISCWORLD NOVEL IN THE DISCWORLD CUP 2010!
'Some people would be asking: whose side are you on? If you're not for us, you're against us. Huh. If you're not an apple, you're a banana.'
When it comes to racial hatred and sectarian violence, the phrase 'vive la difference' is usually one of the furthest from the tip of the mob's tongue. When a whole city is poised on the very brink of anarchy, it only requires one thing to pitch it over the edge. Like the murder of one of the key participants for example.
Here I am, in my poetry class listening to my lecturer talking about the final assignment. I’m happily panicking about it until she says something about getting more marks for being creative. The options are to either write a 1,600 word critical essay or an 800 word poem with an 800 word exegesis. Creativity is much more my forté and my brain instantly went into overdrive picking up and discarding ideas faster than you can swallow a glass of water. The last two topics in this unit are war and terrorism. Such lovely topics but they brought to mind Thud! That’s about war I thought and after mentioning it on Facebook I picked it up with pen and post its to hand and read it. Three days later I realise I really can’t use it as it’s missing the key word from the question ‘contemporary’. But I finish it anyway because. And here are my thoughts.
There will be spoilers but as with all really good books, it’s about the journey and so spoilers don’t actually matter.
Anyway, this book is about a war. The dwarfs and the trolls always remember Koom Valley. The trolls are taken there when young, bashed over the head and told to ‘remember!’ but they’re not told what to remember. The dwarfs just remember and year after year the two races get together and fight it out. This year is no different except there’s politics in there and a number of leaders who want the war to stop. Commander Vimes gets in the middle and deals with things in his own fashion.
This book is more about how a long standing war came to finish and how the participants get to plan for a future without war. And although that’s a spoiler it’s really about the journey, how everything unfolds and the connections Pratchett makes rather than about the ending.
Remember my post its? Let me take a journey through some of them.
Koom Valley is a state of mind. That’s what I’ve written down. That’s the problem with many places where a big fight has taken place, it gets into the psyches of the nations in the fight and it doesn’t matter where they are in the world or how long ago it was the people will rise up against each other.
Then there’s this quote ‘but your mate Dave says the government always hushes things up’. How many times have we heard this? Conspiracy theorists are always around and Pratchett highlights them right on the page. Just for your information, it’s P 59 of the Corgi Books 2006 paperback edition.
And another quote to show the futility of war ‘I’ve seen men die valiantly. There’s no future in it.’ I couldn’t help laughing at this. It’s not just my black sense of humour it’s the second sentence, it has that double meaning in it. Pratchett does this sort of thing all the time.
And then there’s this character sent in to help Commander Vimes with the Watch…actually to audit the paperwork and figure out why they spend so much money. The character is A.E. Pessimal. That’s his name. He’s been initialed. We get to groan here, another thing Pratchett does well is to make us laugh or groan in the middle of high tension.
Anyway. I’ve got a lot more post its in this book. Some of them are labelled ‘religion’, others say ‘politics’, ‘spies’ and more than one says ‘othering’. Pratchett has illustrated the concept of ‘othering’ very nicely in several of his books. If you’ve never heard of it then you need to learn more. It’s where you dehumanise someone in order to oppress them. When you call someone a savage, that’s othering them, it makes them less than they really are and makes it that much easier to take away their privileges. I’d like to say it’s not happening but it is, everywhere.
And another anyway. If you don’t have this book and you like fantasy or you like war books or you just like books of this kind then here’s the affiliate link so you can buy and send a few cents my way.