It was 1983 when Terry Pratchett introduced readers to the planet Discworld with THE COLOR OF MAGIC. For over a generation, Discworld has brought the whimsical, doppelganger universe to its fans. In its own way, it is a mirror image of the world we inhabit, and its residents may resemble us culturally, socially and temperamentally. But physically? Hardly. The humans on Discworld are a muddled group of mere mortals who just think they run the show.
Lord Samuel Vimes, Commander of the Watch, is a staunch supporter of equal employment opportunity. As the esteemed head of Discworld's Finest, the men (and women, dwarfs, trolls, a zombie and a werewolf) in blue, he seeks to protect and serve the good citizens of Ankh-Morpork. In its wisdom and duty to uphold the law, the Office of Equal Opportunity insists that he add a beautiful female vampire to the ranks. Not that he wouldn't hire a vampire, for that would be discriminatory, but it's a potential morale breaker for the lads. Watching your partner's back can turn into an uneasy test when the partner at your back is, um, thirsty. Mind you, the lovely recruit is a card-carrying member of the Black Ribbon Society, whose oath is "Not One Drop," but Black Ribboners have been known to fall off the wagon, and the results are not pleasant to contemplate, especially on a dark and stormy night.
Hiring a vampire is the least of the Commander's problems. An ancient feud between dwarfs and trolls threatens to bubble up from the bowels of the city as the anniversary reenactment of a historical battle approaches. A rabble-rousing dwarf is murdered, and circumstantial evidence points to a troll as the culprit. Deep underground lives a fanatical cult of dwarfs, referred to as the "deep downers," who find modern dwarfs to be too enlightened, too ready to throw over deeply held beliefs. There's nothing like a good, rousing war to rekindle smoldering prejudices and bring the young strays back to the fold.
Young Sam is the 14-month-old son of Lord and Lady Vimes. His mother, Lady Sybil, raises dragons and is a power with which to be reckoned, and Young Sam has powers of his own: he can reduce his adoring father to Jell-O with a smile. Like all parents of young children, Sam finds his allegiances divided when it comes to duty, especially when Young Sam's safety is threatened.
THUD! is the dull sound of a club smiting the head of a dwarf, or the sound of a dwarf's hatchet cleaving the skull of a troll.
THUD! is the terrifying reverberation of a thousand war clubs pounding the cobblestones in unison before battle.
THUD! is the name of a chess-like role-playing game played on a checkered board with pieces resembling dwarfs and trolls, where each player must assume the character of his opponent.
THUD! brings satire, wit, pathos and philosophy to events that mirror our modern world. If you're already a fan, kick back and enjoy. If you're a first time reader, be prepared for a treat.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 23, 2011