After reading Hyperion, I decided it was time to read something lighter, so I picked up Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett. At this point, I’ve read most of the Discworld series, but there are a few of them I haven’t yet read and this one was next in publication order.
Thief of Time is definitely an enjoyable, humorous story. Other than Death and Susan and a couple of brief appearances by Nanny Ogg, it does not contain any of the usual Discworld characters but it does introduce several new ones. Somebody could pick up this book without having read any of the other Discworld books and still enjoy it, although it might be helpful to know some about Susan’s past just to see where she is coming from in the story (but that certainly is not necessary for reading this book).
In Thief of Time, a woman known as Lady LeJean visits a young clockmaker named Jeremy and gives him supplies (including an Igor) for building the world’s first truly accurate clock. Jeremy, who is very obsessed with time and clocks, is intrigued by this idea and begins work on the clock not knowing that it will cause time to stop once it has been completed.
Meanwhile, a sweeper/monk of the order of the Monks of History named Lu-Tze is training a new apprentice, Lobsang, who has a natural talent. Lu-Tze learns all about Lobsang’s mysterious abilities while Lobsang learns all about Rule 1 (“Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man”). Lu-Tze and Lobsang find out about the imminent destruction of the Discworld and travel to Ankh-Morpork to try to stop it.
Death begins preparing for the upcoming Apocalypse. He first tries to get his grand daughter Susan involved in trying to stop the end of the world, then rides off to attempt to gather the other 3 horsemen of the Apocalypse, which turns out to be harder than he thought – Pestilence is too frightened, Famine is too arrogant, and War is too hen-pecked by Mrs. War.
This was not my favorite Discworld book, but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either. (I tend to like the Watch books, Death books, and Small Gods – a great stand alone Discworld book – the best and the Witch books the least.)
Thief of Time is a fun book you can read pretty quickly, but while it could be considered light reading, it still contains deeper meaning. I’ve never seen anybody able to write humorous, non-verbose books that are still very philosophical like Pratchett does. He must be a genius to have that talent.
I would definitely read this book again.