Terry Pratchett’s City Watch is one of my comfort foods. I come back to this series every time I need a pallatte cleanser before/after I dive into a heavier book.
Thud gives us another episode in the thrilling life of Commander slash Duke Sam Vimes in the vibrant city of Ankh Morpork. This time around our man Vimes has managed to sire some offspring, aptly named Sam. To whom he reads, every evening at 6:00 on the dot from the classic book “Where’s my cow?”, with sounds and everything. It’s important to be there on time, because:
He’d be home in time. Would a minute have mattered? No, probably not, although his young son appeared to have a very accurate internal clock. Possibly even two minutes would be okay. Three minutes, even. You could go to five, perhaps. But that was just it. If you could go to five minutes, then you’d go to ten, then half an hour, a couple of hours…and not see your son all evening. So that was that. Six o’clock, prompt. Every day. Read to Young Sam. No excuses. He’d promised himself that. No excuses. No excuses at all. Once you had a good excuse, you opened the door to bad excuses.
As deep as that was, the reading itself is even better:
It was the same book, every day. The pages of said book were rounded and soft where Young Sam had chewed them, but to one person in this nursery this was the book of books, the greatest story ever told. Vimes didn’t need to read it anymore. He knew it by heart.
It was called “Where’s My Cow?”
The un-identified complainant has lost their cow. That was the story, really.
Page one started promisingly:
Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes baa! It is a sheep! No, that’s not my cow!
Then the author began to get to grips with their material:
Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes naaaay! It is a horse! No, that’s not my cow!
At this point, the author had reached an agony of creation and was writing from the racked depths of their soul.
Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes HRUUUGH! It is a hippopotamus! No, that’s not my cow!
This was a good evening. Young Sam was already grinning widely and crowing along with the plot.
Eventually, the cow would be found. It was that much of a page-turner. Of course, some suspense was lent by the fact that all other animals were presented in some way that could have confused a kitten who perhaps had been raised in a darkened room. The horse was standing in front of a hat stand, as they so often did, and the hippo was eating at a trough against which was an upturned pitchfork. Seen from the wrong direction, the tableau might look for just one second like a cow…
I absolutely loved how intertwined this seemingly random bit was with the rest of the plot. The last-but-one chapter absolutely cracked me up. I wish I could include the soundbites from the audiobook, because those were absolutely fantastic.
This book introduces a new member of the Watch, Sally the Vampire. As we know, vampires and werewolves don’t really mix and of course a crime has happened in the city that needs investigating. An investatigation that takes place deep underground, in the dark, where normal human senses no longer work. So who do we send in to check it out? Obviously it’s our dear Sergeant Angua and the new recruit Lance-Constable Sally van Humpeding. Hilarity ensues.
The main event is the upcoming anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley, a historic battle where trolls ambunshed dwarves and dwarves ambushed trolls and everyone slash no one actually one. This event has all the trolls and the dwarves in the city up in a tizzy and tensions run high. Apart from dealing with this, a murder investigation, a vampire in the watch, … he also gets.. an auditor hoisted unto him:
“I see. And how should I address you, Mr. Pessimal?” said Vimes. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a floorboard on the other side of the room lift almost imperceptibly.
“A. E. Pessimal will be quite acceptable, Your Grace,” said the inspector.
“The A standing for—?” Vimes said, taking his eyes off the board for a moment.
“Just A, Your Grace,” said A. E. Pessimal patiently. “A. E. Pessimal.”
“You mean you weren’t named, you were initialed?”
“Just so, Your Grace,” said the little man calmly.
“What do your friends call you?” A. E. Pessimal looked as though there was one major assumption in that sentence that he did not understand, so Vimes took a small amount of pity on him.
Despite a rocky start, our buddy A. E. did grow on me.
I feel like I’m rambling, so I’m gonna quickly list some things that made me laugh:
- Being a dwarf has nothing to do with who your parents are
- Nobby Nobbs gets involved with a pole-dancer
- Vimes gets used to a new generation of personal smart-device
- Sergeant Colon & Nobby Nobbs investigate a missing painting
- Troll grafitti
- Watch Girls Night Out
This book entertained me to no end and I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m happy that there are more books in the series so I will be back!