NIGHT WATCH by Terry Pratchett

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
NIGHT WATCH was probably the 3rd or 4th of Terry Pratchett’s books that I read. Of his Discworld books, I much prefer his stories set in the rambling, chaotic city of Ankh-Morpork. Even though they’re set in a fantasy world, Pratchett’s books are delightful mishmash of tropes from other genres, with NIGHT WATCH being a gritty police tale.

Pratchett books–especially most recently–seem to take a single theme or subject matter, whether it’s the post office, the newspaper, even the internet, and explore that idea fully. What might it have been like to set up the first post office? That kind of thing. But by grounding it in a fantastical setting, Pratchett sidles up to its subject matter in such an oblique way, that I expect his younger readers don’t realize the kind of teaching that he’s doing.

If I recall, in NIGHT WATCH, this fellow, Vimes, is assigned to take over a police precinct, along with a strapping young lad raised by dwarves, name of Carrot. Together they solve crimes (or really, a crime), and begin to build the precinct up to a workable thing. Pretty soon (and I think some of this happens in later books) they have a troll, a vampire, a werewolf, among many others, on the police force.

When I was younger, I sequestered myself pretty heavily into the science fiction/fantasy genres–what people are calling speculative fiction these days, I guess. I had nothing against other types of books, but I just wasn’t inclined to read broadly. NIGHT WATCH provided a stealth introduction to the police procedural/crime genre. Something I didn’t realize until much later, when I actually read a book like that.

At this point, I think I’ve read more than twenty of Pratchett’s books, which is nowhere near all of them. It sometimes feels like he writes them faster than I can catch up reading them.

Pratchett is a warm, and likable author, and his authorial voice shines through his books like a beacon. Not only are his books funny and insightful, but they’re really just romping great yarns. If you haven’t read any Pratchett, you could do a lot worse than by picking up NIGHT WATCH.

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