Snuff, read a couple of days after its date of publication, turned out to be a fun book to read but a difficult book to like. It’s a good story, well-plotted and contains Vimes. It makes me want to never read a Vimes story again. How does one put this rationally? The book is such an unabashed apology for aristocracy that it makes me angry. Makes my blood boil. Never before had I found a reason to disapprove of any of Sir Pterry’s ways of treating people (and he was the only author I could say that about and Discworld is a long series). I’m no longer quite so sure. I genuinely hope he’s done with Vimes, even though I’ll never be able to like Vimes as much as I used to anymore.
What I’ve always found admirable about Discworld was the incredibly democratic and considerate vision of the series. There are quite a few characters who are born to privilege but they nearly always dazzle you of their own accord — what can you say about people like Vetinari, Carrot, Angua, Verence or William de Worde? Even pre-Snuff Sybil. The genes, the breeding, the money are all implied once in a while but not beyond reasonable extent, they don’t overwhelm the characters. It’s still the people themselves who make the difference. In Snuff, for the first time, the aristocracy fills the sky and everyone else is greatly diminished by it. It’s a story that doesn’t work if Vimes and Sybil are not aristocrats, and I don’t care (that much) about Sybil but since when has Vimes required the power of social privilege to make a story work for him?
Snuff makes me want to run weeping to the arms of the non-YA witch stories — the likes of which Pratchett hasn’t written in a long time (Carpe Jugulum was thirteen years and sixteen books ago) — and never read another thing from Ankh-Morpork again. It breaks the tie between Vimes and Granny Weatherwax as my favourite Discworld character and sends Granny shooting to the top. How I absolutely admire the witches, those formidable third-sighted individuals who come out of complete peasantstock, picking up their lessons through years of hard labour and constant discouraging and fear and suspicion and dislike, and rising above all that to serve the same community that would burn them at stake if it could. Why hasn’t Pratchett written a proper witch novel in so long? (By ‘proper’ I mean those chillingly insightful accounts that take place from Granny Weatherwax’s perspective. The witch-in-the-making stories starring Tiffany Aching are all very cute, I can’t say I don’t enjoy them for what they are, but they can’t even hold a candle to the proper witch novels.) I do wish he writes a witch novel next, although I’m still holding out hope for the abandoned (?) Moist von Lipwig story.
I’m also just a little tired of the recurrence of the noble savage (or savage race, as the case may be) and the psycho killer, but these things demand rant posts of their own. This would be all for tonight.