Thief of Time, Terry Pratchett

     

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels:

Thief of Time
Thief of Time,
Terry Pratchett

Thief of Time Book Review:

Terry Pratchett’s 2001 novel Thief of Time is one of the more action-filled and fast-paced novels in the Discworld series, which is an interesting coincidence, seeing as how it is a book about the quantum physical nature of time.

Just precisely who is the titular “Thief of Time” is not entirely clear until just five pages from the end of the book. Not because the epithet lacks candidates but because the book is full of them.

The thief-of-time could be the elementary school teacher Susan Sto Helit, granddaughter of Death, who is able to stop time and walk through the world while everyone else remains frozen in place.

Or it could be any one of the History Monks, managers of the smooth and continuous flow of time throughout the Discworld, including the apprentice Lobsang.

The “thief of time” could most definitely be Jeremy the clockmaker, who creates a glass clock operating by way counting the pulsation of crystals (sounds familiar?).

Only, the side effect of this perfect clock turns out to be that it also imprisons time itself so that it ceases to exist for the rest of the world, outside of the confines of the glass clock.

However, the prime candidates to be labeled “thieves of time” are definitely the auditors, spirit entities with nothing but contempt for the messy disorderliness of human life and the physical plane of existence.

While Jeremy the clockmaker is asked to create the glass clock, the auditors are the ones who assign him the task, knowing full well what it will do, whereas Jeremy has no clue of the unintended consequences of his creation.

The main story line in Thief of Time follows Lobsang the History Monk novice as discovers his many hidden talents for manipulating time under the tutelage of the legendary Lu-Tze, who officially is merely part of the maintenance staff at the monastery of Oi Dong, carrying the title of “sweeper.”

At one point when Jeremy the clock maker makes his first attempt to start the glass clock, time goes wild across the Discworld, something that does not pass unnoticed by the History Monks at Oi Dong. They maintain a type of machinery known as procrastinators, which control the smooth and coordinated flow of time in different parts of the world. When Jeremy first attempts to start his clock, the procrastinators go wild.

The senior History Monks are at a loss about what to do to stop the mayhem and get the procrastinators to re-balance themselves. That is when the novice Lobsang first steps in to fully demonstrate his prodigy nature. When all the other monks panic or flee for their lives, Lobsang manages to get the procrastinators back under control and the time of the world back on track.

After that incident, Lobsang and his teacher Lu-Tze set off toward the city of Ankh-Morpork to find the origins of this disturbance in Time. On the way, they encounter a yeti that they save. In return for the favor, the yeti carries them a long distance cradled comfortably under its arms while they sleeps, and after that it obligingly lets them cut off its head. (Naturally!)

Upon arriving in Ankh-Morpork, Lobsang and Lu-Tze become engaged in a desperate fight the auditors to save time (literally). They are joined by aforementioned Susan Sto Helit and a rogue auditor named Lady LeJean who has switched sides and joined forces with humanity.

It all climaxes in the war of chocolates. Due to the fact that the auditors have only just taken on human bodies for the first time in their existence, they are totally unprepared for the shock that sensory input can present. And to have a gourmet chocolate praline melt in your mouth becomes a sensory overload that they simply cannot survive.

And so, armed with pockets full of savory chocolates, the small army of four goes up against hundreds of newly incarnate auditors in a war of chocolate gustatory overwhelm. After that, it’s only the small matter left of restoring Time. But really, who cares, after all those chocolates?

     

 

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