Thief of Time (Discworld Series #26) by Terry Pratchett
In Discworld, Time is a resource managed by the highly capable Monks of History who store it and pump it from places where it is wasted, like underwater (how much time do fish really need?) to places, like cities, where there's never enough of it.
Ironically, the construction of the world's first truly accurate clock threaten to stop Time altogether. And so begins a literal race against Time for the monk Lu Tze and his apprentice. For if the perfect clock starts ticking, Time, as we know it, will stop. And then the trouble will really begin. Subtle, sly, thought-provoking, and hilarious, Thief of Time is Terry Pratchett at his best.
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels that have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world. He is the author of Small Gods, Soul Music, Men At Arms, Lords and Ladies and Feet of Clay.
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1948
Place of Birth:
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick
Read an Excerpt
According to the First Scroll of Wen the Eternally Surprised, Wen stepped out of the cave where he had received enlightenment and into the dawning light of the first day of the rest of his life. He stared at the rising sun for some time, because he had never seen it before.
He prodded with a sandal the dozing form of Clodpool the Apprentice, and said: “I have seen. Now I understand.”
Then he stopped and looked at the thing next to Clodpool.
“What is that amazing thing?” he said.
“Er...er...it's a tree, master,” said Clodpool, still not quite awake. “Remember? It was there yesterday.”
“There was no yesterday.”
“Er...er...I think there was, master,” said Clodpool, struggling to his feet. “Remember? We came up here, and I cooked a meal, and had the rind off your sklang because you didn't want it.”
“I remember yesterday,” said Wen, thoughtfully. “But the memory is in my head now. Was yesterday real? Or is it only the memory that is real? Truly, yesterday I was not born.”
Clodpool's face became a mask of agonized incomprehension.
“Dear stupid Clodpool, I have learned everything,” said Wen. “In the cup of the hand there is no past, no future. There is only now. There is no time but the present. We have a great deal to do.”
Clodpool hesitated. There was something new about his master. There was a glow in his eyes and, when he moved, there were strange silvery-blue lights in the air, like reflections from liquid mirrors.
“She has told me everything,” Wen went on. “I know that time was made for men, not the other way around. I have learned how to shape it and bend it. I know how to make amoment last forever, because it already has. And I can teach these skills even to you, Clodpool. I have heard the heartbeat of the universe. I know the answers to many questions. Ask me.”
The apprentice gave him a bleary look. It was too early in the morning for it to be early in the morning. That was the only thing that he currently knew for sure.“Er...what does master want for breakfast?” he said.
Wen looked down from their camp, and across the snowfields and purple mountains to the golden daylight creating the world, and mused upon certain aspects of humanity.
“Ah,” he said. “One of the difficult ones.”
For something to exist, it has to be observed.
For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.
And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.
Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.
Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.And if you want the story, then remember that a story does not unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space-time, which is the perfect moment.
Suppose an emperor was persuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose material was so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren't there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud clear voice...
Then you have The Story Of The Emperor Who Had No Clothes.
But if you knew a bit more, it would be The Story Of The Boy Who Got A Well-Deserved Thrashing From His Dad For Being Rude To Royalty, And Was Locked Up.
Or The Story Of The Whole Crowd That Was Rounded Up By The Guards And Told “This Didn't Happen, Okay? Does Anyone Want To Argue?”
Or it could be a story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefits of the “new clothes,” and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports in a lively and refreshing atmosphere that gets many new adherents every year, which led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.
It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.
It all depends on how much you know.
Suppose you'd watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you watched an iceberg drift out through the chilly waters, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham -- tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack...
...you'd want to know the whole story.
And this one starts with desks.
This is the desk of a professional. It is clear that their job is their life. There are...human touches, but they are the human touches that strict usage allows in a chilly world of duty and routine.
Mostly they're on the only piece of real color in this picture of blacks and grays. It's a coffee mug. Someone somewhere wanted to make it a jolly mug. It bears a rather unconvincing picture of a teddy bear, and the legend “To The World's Greatest Grandad,” and the slight change in the style of lettering on the word “Grandad” makes it clear that this has come from one of those stalls that have hundreds of mugs like these, declaring that they're for the world's greatest Grandad/Dad/Mum/Granny/Uncle/Aunt/Blank. Only...
“In a better world he would be acclaimed as a great writer rather than a merely successful one . . . This is the best Pratchett I’ve read . . . Ought to be a strong contender for the Booker Prize.” –Sunday Telegraph
“Terry Pratchett is one of the great inventors of secondary — or imaginative or alternative — worlds. He is not derivative. He is too strong . . . He has the real energy of the primary storyteller.” –A.S. Byatt, The Times
Thief of Time 4.4 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of the discworld series, and I should warn that if you do not like bizarre dark humor, mixed with philosophy and a good dose of political statements, you should not read this book. I love books where DEATH is one of the main characters and specially if Susan (his granddaughter) is there. This book is the third of Susan's series, and although my favorite is still Hogfather, it is one that helps defy humanity's unique invention - Boredom
More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I have ever read. Terry Pratchett does the best spin on the character of Death, making the book entertaining and hilarious. Not only is this book hilarious and well structured, it makes you look at reality in an entirely different way. Seriously read it!
More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite Discworld books, and it always makes me happy to see Susan Sto Helit in another adventure. With her usual practical attitude and her not-so-usual abilities, Susan must save the world - again.
More than 1 year ago
"Thief of Time", in my opinion, is Terry Pratchett's all-time best book. The characters and well-drawn, the plot complex, and at the end, it seems that everything kind of ties in...Plus he uses comical humor only the British can get full credit for...I especially like Lobsang and Lu-Tze, the two monks...er...SWEEPERS, that handle time and Time. Susan's cool too, though...THIS IS A TOTALLY AWESOME BOOK!! READ!!
More than 1 year ago
That doesn't mean that he won't out-do himself again. He does it all the time. His humor is subtle, but unparalelled in the world of satiracle fiction. Lu-Tze is probably one of Pratchett's most colourful characters, and he's got a huge part in this book. This is the first time you'll really get to know him as well. But Pratchett's best talent is the ability to poke fun out of context. After all, who else would think of Bonzaification of mountains, or exploding rice bowls? This book, in particular, likes to poke fun at the dicipline behind the martial arts, as the relationship between Lu-Tse and his pupil is one that could easily be drawn from that of any kung-foo movie. Definately worth a read. If you're new to Discworld, I would recommend reading something else first. Start with 'Color of Magic'.
More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett proves once again why he's been England's best-selling author in any category. Although 'Thief of Time' has fewer laughs than many of the previous Discworld books, it has one of the strongest stories and the most interesting characters. Death's granddaughter Susan, one of the best Discworld characters, races to stop the Auditors from bringing time to a halt. The Auditors, however, find themselves enjoying human life more than they expected. Pratchett introduces fascinating new characters, the Monks of Time, who are also trying to stop the creation of the glass clock that will freeze time on the Discworld. This one is big on ideas and gets the reader to thinking. It's a fast-paced adventure and all-around entertainment. Outstanding!
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