Night Watch (Discworld #29)
By: Terry Pratchett
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; was a Christmas gift
Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch had it all.
But now he’s back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck…
Living in the past is hard. Dying in the past is incredibly easy. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down a murderer, teach his younger self how to be a good copper and change the outcome of a bloody rebellion.
There’s a problem: if he wins, he’s got no wife, no child, no future…
A Discworld Tale of One City, with a full chorus of street urchins, ladies of negotiable affection, rebels, secret policemen and other children of the revolution.
Truth! Justice! Freedom! And a Hard-boiled Egg!
Ahh, there’s always something comforting about picking up a Discworld novel and knowing that you’re in for a hilarious ride. I started keeping a lookout for more Sam Vimes books after enjoying Guards! Guards! (review), particularly this novel as I heard so many good things about it. It was gifted for me…last Christmas, I believe, so here I am, reading it now 🙂
I mentioned this on Litsy, but about 30 pages into this book, it struck me that this book was a lot more serious than other Discworld novels. That’s not to say that a) other Discworld novels didn’t have their serious moments as well and b) that this book didn’t have the signature Pratchett hilarity and satire (it did, plenty of it), but many of the themes that this book tackles are quite heavy and on a very serious note: that of revolutions, doing your duty even when the situation is bad, crime and corruption in the city. The opening with the commemoration of those who fell in the Night Watch after a revolutionary attempt was what particularly struck me as a sombre tone to the novel.
But there are delightful moments in this novel as well, from the ragtag group that made up the Night Watch early in Vimes’ career to Doctor Lawn, future!Vimes’ landlord in the meantime, to the reappearance of Sweeper and his temple dedicated to time travel (forgot their name at the moment but I loved those guys in Thief of Time). It’s also interesting to see where Vetinari was during those early days as well…heck, travelling back to that earlier time of Ankh-Morpork was pretty interesting, the city really felt like a different place then. And having future!Vimes train his younger self was interesting too and provides a lot of character self-reflection between where he was when he started in the Watch to where he was as we know him in the present. Made also for some interesting reading as sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was young or older Vimes talking xD
Overall Night Watch was another great Discworld novel I’ve read. I still say it feels like the most serious I’ve read to date, but it was still hilarious and wacky with a lot of fantastic quips here and there.