Thief of Time


Product Description
Time is of the essence in Terry Pratchett’s twenty-sixth Discworld novel. Time is a resource. Everyone knows it has to be managed. And on the Discworld that is the job of the Monks of History, who store it and pump it from the places where it’s wasted (like underwater — how much time does a codfish need?) to places like cities, where there’s never enough time.

But the construction of the world’s first truly accurate clock starts a race against, well, time for Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd. Because it will stop time. And that will only be the start of everyone’s problems.

Thief of Time comes complete with a full supporting cast of heroes, villains, yetis, martial artists and Ronnie, the fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (who left before they became famous).

From the Compact Disc edition. Review
If you were helpless with laughter over Shanghai Noon, enjoy satirical British humor and terrible puns, or just need your Pratchett fix, grab this book. Unfamiliar with Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series? It’s time to discover one of the funniest, most literate, and most thought-provoking authors writing today.

The Monks of History live in a Tibetan sort of area known as “enlightenment country.” Their job: “to see that tomorrow happens at all.” A mysterious Lady wants time-obsessed Jeremy Clockson to build a totally accurate glass clock. It will trap time and stop it, eliminating humanity’s irritating unpredictability. This would make the Auditors, who observe the universe and enforce the rules governing it, very happy. It would also put Death out of a job, which the Grim Reaper isn’t happy about. Fortunately, the History Monks have encountered this situation before; in fact, Lu Tze, the Sweeper, has personally dealt with it before. Even better, he has a new, gifted apprentice, Lobsang Ludd, the “thief of time.” This time, they’ll stop trouble before it can start! To add chaos to the mix, there’s the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse–the one who quit before they became famous.

Although there are 25 other Discworld novels and many of the characters appeared first in previous books, you don’t need to have read even one to enjoy The Thief of Time. (If you’re the sort of reader who hates to miss any references, you might want to track down a copy of The Discworld Companion.) As a bonus, this book is a painless introduction to what quantum physics says about the nature of time. –Nona Vero

Recent Comments
  1. James D. DeWitt @ 12:30 am

    I admit to enjoying Terry Pratchett very much. I’ve read all 26 Discworld books. I’ve got the juveniles and the early experiments like _Strata_. Perhaps the best part of reading so much of his work is that I can see how he has grown and evolved as a writer. _Thief of Time_ is an extremely sophisticated book and, while not his funniest, is plainly his best yet.

    Early Discworld books were comedy monologues strung together by a plot. Sometimes a pretty thin plot. As just one example, a whole page was required to set up the famous “felonious monk” pun in _Soul Music_. The early stories tended to be pretty much a structure to support the jokes. Sure, there was more, but it was mostly for laughs.

    Somewhere between _Hogfather_ and _Carpe Jugulum_, Pratchett brought his writing to a new level. It’s controversial among some of his fans, but the newer books raise deeper issues and work at multiple levels. There are still lots of laughs – you can’t read about a raven named “Quoth” without smiling – but there’s also a terrific, compelling story to be told. While the humor in _Color of Magic_ could be sophomoric – remember when the imp ran out of the color pink when Rincewind and Twoflower visited the Whore Pits? – there is nothing even slightly sophomoric about the plot or jokes in _Thief of Time_.

    This story involves the ongoing struggle between Death and the Auditors, the use and abuse of time, quantum physics, the Monks of Time (appearing for the first itme since _Small Gods_) and the peculiar and completely different aptitudes of two very different young men to manipulate time. As an unexpected bonus, you learn why there are those nagging inconsistencies across the Discworld novels; it turns out its not Terry’s fault at all… Oh, and the whole Kung Fu/Mystic Masters thing gets the Pratchett Treatment.

    On the Discworld, natural forces and even unnatural forces are personified. Death is a person. Well, maybe three persons, but I don’t want to spoil anything. The Auditors – roughly, the heat death of the universe – are more or less persons. Time, as it turns out, is a person. And each of those Personifications has most of the foibles of humans. After all, humans invented them.

    Trust me, it all makes perfect sense.

    This is a terrific book. Highly recommended. You don’t need to know anything about Terry Pratchett, the Discworld or Susan Sto Helit to appreciate this book. I disagree with other reviewers who say that we won’t read Pratchett 25 years from now. We will, for the same reason we read Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain and other great satirists: their skewed view of their times that they present helps us understand our past. They help us understand what it means to be human.

    The Discworld truly is a mirror of our world and, while it is mostly a fun house mirror, it’s still possible to know without doubt what it is you are seeing in that distorting mirror. And it makes you laugh.

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  2. Marc Ruby™ @ 12:56 am

    Rule 1: Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.< .

    Jeremy, a young clockmaker who has always managed to stay just this side of insanity (except for once) finds that he has been enlisted to build a clock that measures time perfectly. He and his assistant Igor attack the problem with zest, never realizing that this perfect clock will stop time forever. It is a plot by the Auditors to rid themselves of human beings.

    In a monastery far, far away, where the Monks of History live, young Lobsang, finds he has been apprenticed to the fearsome Lu-Tse, chief janitor, and master of the Way of Mrs. Cosmopilite. Lobsang is assign to Lu-Tse because he seems to be able to steal at the speed of light and always knows the answers to the wrong question. This remarkable pair soon discover that time is being meddled with. They set off to Ankh-Morpork (where everything happens) to put a stop to the putting a stop to time.

    Finally, young Miss Susan, instructor at the Frout Academy, and direct descendant of DEATH himself, receives an assignment from her grandfather. You guessed, if time stops, DEATH is out of business. Riding Binky the pale horse, accompanied by Quoth the raven and the Death of Rats (SQUEAK), she too heads for Ankh-Morpork to avert THE END.

    Suffice it to say, there is no way to adequately describe the plot of a novel that combines Taoism, a genuine apocalypse, and the fine art of chocolate making between two covers. Pratchett skates from profundity to sarcasm with the kind of facility that comes from writing 26 Discworld novels. Satirizing both the universe’s self appointed counters of beans and monastic cults without being offensive to either is another sign of Pratchett’s mastery. His plotting is tighter than ever, and he has succeeded in taking some of his oldest shticks and making them seem fresh and new. Even Nanny Ogg makes an appearance.

    I am tempted to call this his best yet. I only hesitate because he has written so many that I can no longer remember all of them. But I will never forget the twisted wisdom of Mrs. Cosmopilite, or the strange uses Lu-Tse puts it to. It is simple impossible to go wrong with “Thief of Time.” As with most of Pratchett’s Discworld series it stands on it’s own quite well. If you are a fan of dry wit and a bit of slapstick you will be unable to put it down.

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  3. Kurt A. Johnson @ 1:51 am

    This is the twenty-sixth book in Terry Pratchett’s series on the Discworld–a flat world, supported on the back of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle, anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does. In this book, the Auditors are out to tidy up that messy little loose end called “life” with the help of a very special clock. Death (capital “D”, he’s the man, or rather the anthropomorphic personification) is ever their enemy, and he recruits his granddaughter, Susan, to stop them. However, Susan isn’t alone; Lu-Tze (800-years-old and one of the greatest of all History Monks) and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd (whose command of time is astounding for one so young) are hot on the case, and some of the Auditors seem to have an agenda of their own.

    Once again, Terry Pratchett has pulled a great story out of the recesses of his fertile imagination. His command of the language, and his flair for clearly running concurrent storylines, is as strong as ever, and make this a gripping story. This is the fifth Death book, after Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music and Hogfather, and well worth the cost.

    I strong recommend this book. (By the way, in this book you find out that death by chocolate is indeed a possibility.)

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  4. Sheherazahde @ 2:04 am

    For the Perennial Pratchett Fans: This book is firmly in the Death series. Death and Susan have to save the world. Again. Is anyone keeping track of how many times the world has almost been destroyed?

    For the New readers: This book stands on it own well enough. Regular fans will already know Death, War, Famine, Pestilence, Susan, Nanny Ogg, Igor, Lu Tze, and the Way of Mrs.Cosmopilite they are old friends and we are happy to see them again. But Pterry gives enough information so new readers are not lost. Just know that if you like them you can read more about them without waiting for another book.

    So what is it about?

    The Auditors have hired Jeremy, a man with a perfect sense of time, to build a glass clock that will stop time.

    Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd of the History Monks are on a mission to stop the clock.

    Susan is working as a school teacher until Death puts her to work saving the world. (Nanny Ogg has a cameo as the world’s best Midwife)

    Death is having a hard time getting the other three Horsemen to Ride Out for the Apocalypse.

    And then there is the Fifth Horsemen, Ronnie, who left before they got famous.

    All the stuff about the History Monks is one continuous joke about Kung Fu movies.

    The Five Horsemen lend themselves to Beatles references but also to any rock band where some members are more famous than others.

    Susan seems to have developed a Chocolate dependency. It is nice to know that Pterry understands these things.

    The American edition cover is hideous, they could not have made it more ugly if they tried. Are they actually trying to lose business?

    The British cover is the usual Josh Kirby (in case your are wondering it depicts the History Monks’ time storage vault,. The little yellow figures are monks. They are getting buckets of water and yak butter out of storage wells to cool and grease the time spindles)

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  5. John Newman @ 2:47 am

    Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are staggeringly funny, yet contain an element of poignancy. This book is no exception, I had it read within 5 hours of receiving it. Fortunately Pratchett’s books are worth at least a couple of reads. I always define Discworld books in terms of the characters. This book fits into the Death category as Death and his Granddaughter Susan Sto Helit are among the main characters. Susan is a schoolteacher in this book and her conversation with the soppy headmistress of the Froud Academy and creator of the Froud Method of Learning by Fun is a riot. The Death of Rats (SQUEAK), the Raven (got any fresh eyeballs), Nanny Ogg and an Igor (yeth marthter) also figure in this story. Particularly prominent is the sweeper (no one notices the sweeper) monk Lu-Tze, who creates bansai mountains with small shovels and mirrors to focus the sun. As far as I know, this character only appeared in one other book, Small Gods, and its a pleasure to see him again. I also thouroughly enjoyed Susan’s classroom, Death’s Gentleman’s Club, Jeremy Clockson’s lab, Igor’s method of arrival, the Auditors’ corporeal confusion and the Five riders of the Apocalypse, Death, Famine, War, Pestilence and the fifth, who left before they got famous. In a typically Pratchettian description, back then Death was Death, of course, but Famine, War and Pestilence were only Localized Crop Failure, Scuffles and Spots. If you haven’t read a Discworld book, there is no need to read them in order, they all stand by themselves and this is as good of a one to start with as any of them. If you have read Discworld books before, you already know this one is another must read.

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