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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
After bringing investigative journalism to Discworld in The Truth, Terry Pratchett offers us another superb entertainment that merges headlong comedy with a mock-philosophical meditation on the nature of time, and on the End of Life as We Know It. Thief of Time, the 26th Discworld novel, finds the master farceur at the top of his considerable form.
The novel begins when the Auditors, a superhuman race of anal-retentive bookkeepers, decide to consummate their long-standing distaste for the messy assortment of living species who populate Discworld. They set in motion a plan to construct a perfect -- and perfectly accurate -- clock, a clock synchronized to the primal Tick of the universe itself. For various complex reasons, the success of this enterprise will bring time to a halt, freezing everything into a neat, eternal cosmic tableau.
The result is a very literal race against time that features a typically bizarre cast of Discworld characters, some familiar, some brand new. Included among them are the skeletal, anthropomorphic figure of Death, Death's semihuman granddaughter Susan (a uniquely gifted teacher of recalcitrant children), witch/midwife Nanny Ogg, and an unnaturally talented, socially backward clockmaker named Jeremy. Supplementing the cast are two crucial new players: the 800-year-old sage Lu-Tze, a member of the order of the Monks of History, and Lu-Tze's apprentice, Lobsang, a mysterious young man with an astonishing ability to control and manipulate time.
As in the best of his earlier books (The Fifth Elephant, Mort, Carpe Jugulum), Pratchett takes these idiosyncratic elements and constructs a supremely readable narrative that is provocative, original, and very, very funny. Discworld (which, for those new to the series, is a flat, disc-shaped planet carried through space by four elephants that are carried, in turn, by a giant turtle named Great A'Tuin) is one of science fiction's most memorable comic creations and is always worth a visit. Thief of Time, as endlessly inventive as any of its predecessors, carries the Discworld saga into previously unexplored territory, reaffirming Pratchett's position as the preeminent comic fantasist of the modern era. (Bill Sheehan)
Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).