Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Book 18 of 2012: Night Watch

Still recovering from the op. You just don't realise how much you use your stomach muscles until every time you try to use them you get a stabby pain around your belly button. Showering yesterday wasn't much fun, I ended up a blubbering wreck in the shower (while trying to peel my dressings off).

I'm really not a squeamish person. I've dealt with broken bones (other people's) and bleeding bits (other people's) and projectile vomiting children (obviously, other people's). But when it's my own broken, bleeding or sicky bits, I'm less enthusiastic... and dissolve into tears. I managed to get the dressings off (and was disappointed to see the size of the lower incision, as I told a friend, I've had bigger zits). Then I came over all shivery and nauseous.

I was given two dressings to replace my original ones with, which I did yesterday, although the ones I was given by the hospital were about four times the size of the original ones. I figure I should save those for when I want to get the sympathy vote and make it look like I'm back on my feet after having 90% of my internal organs removed.

Unfortunately I can't remember the exact instructions regarding changing my dressings. When the nurse went through my discharge stuff I was still a bit whoozy and I was pretty much just desperate to see Mr. Click and my mind was on other things. So I wasn't really in the best frame of mind for taking things in. I know I was supposed to leave the dressings on for the rest of the day after the op, and change them because one of them had leaked right through. Now it looks like they've both leaked again since yesterday; the nurse said something about leaving them uncovered, but I can't remember when I was supposed to do that. I figure I'll keep them covered until they stop leaking because I'm petrified they're going to stick to whatever I'm wearing (and as I said, I'm terribly squeamish about things leaking out of my body).

Anyway, enough about that, you're here to read about books, not gooey belly buttons!

And book 18 of the year was Terry Pratchett's Night Watch which is the twenty-ninth Discworld book in my collection. This one was a reread; when I discovered the Watch series of books, I actively sought them out so I had come across Night Watch before. That's one of the great things about the Discworld books. You don't have to read them all in order (as I am doing right now), there's series within the main series; you can go for the Witches books (the first ones which I really got into, and thought there were only two of them until I read Lords and Ladies and discovered there were more of them!), you can read the Rincewind books, you can go for the Watch books. L-Space produced a wonderful little diagram which shows how they all link together and the order to read them in if you're just wanting to tackle one mini-series.
This one features Sam Vimes and a slight hiccough in time which results in his travelling back in time and assuming the identity of his own mentor. Oh, and there's a murderer who's gone back with him. It's a bit of a timey-wimey twisty plot.

This time around it made a bit more sense for me as previously I hadn't read Thief of Time (which introduces the History Monks who play an important part in smoothing out the time problems affecting Vimes). Of course, you don't have to have read Thief of Time to get what's going on here, it's all made perfectly clear, but Sweeper and Qu crop up again and it certainly helps knowing exactly what they're there to do.

I think that the time travel thing was a really good way to go back and explore an earlier period of Discworld's history. I'm not really a fan of authors going back and revisiting earlier periods of their works which results in books being published out of sequence (I'm looking at you, Bernard Cornwell). I'm one of those anal people who likes to read books in sequence, where possible, and there's nothing worse that starting a series, getting about five books into it and then discovering that there's a new book been released which slots nicely in between books two and three. Then you come up against a dilemma; do you go back and read book 2a? carry on with the series and then go back when you've finished and read it at the end? not bother reading it until your next read-through of the series and then read it where it belongs?

Obviously, not all series allow the writer to go back in time. But Discworld is one of those lucky ones where it's a perfectly acceptable option and it works really well. Terry Pratchett could probably have started the book with a two sentence prologue explaining that Vimes went to Unseen University and got transported back in time and I would have happily accepted that (it wouldn't be anywhere as eloquent or as engaging as what he really wrote though so I'm glad he did it the way he did).

And it was really good to look at the characters before we got to know them; CMOT-Dibbler, Mrs. Palm, Vetinari. And I liked the way that John Keel/Vimes influenced them. It was all very clever and there were little nods to other books (and who the characters would go on to become). The only downside is that now that it's been done, it can't really be done again unless it was with a different character and in a different way, which is a shame because I'd like to know more about the young Ventinari, the young CMOT-Dibbler and the young Sam Vimes.

As I said, I love the Watch books. I especially like the later Watch books, like this one, as they were the ones I became familiar with first. This one wasn't really like the other Watch books, because it featured the Watch before they became The Watch. But there are often moments in the other Watch books when Vimes thinks back about the way that things used to be done, it's good to actually see that up close.

The one thing that I sometimes find with the Discworld books is that I occasionally get confused with the action. It's almost always around the same point in every book; about three-quarters of the way through when the various plot strands have come together and the action is starting to come to some sort of resolution. I think this is partly my own fault, mainly because I either end up reading when I should be sleeping and so struggle to follow things because I'm trying to keep my eyes open; or because I'm desperately trying to read in between other things (working, housework, catching up online, whatever) and so I have to keep stopping and starting.

Terry Pratchett has this way of not quite explaining everything until it's absolutely necessary to bring the whole story together (I'm not sure that's the best way of phrasing things). There's always a little bit that's withheld until it all comes together at the very end. And I guess sometimes I get a bit confused before it's all revealled at the end. But it never spoils the story in any way and I think most of the time it's definitely me, rather than any fault in the story.

One thing that does make me very sad, is that I'm slowly getting nearer the end of the Discworld series. I've only got two more left to actually buy now (the two most recent ones) and about nine more still to read (is it nine? It might be eight now, I've lost count). At least when I get to the end of those, I'll still have some non-Discworld books to read. I just wish there were more hours in the day to get through all of my reading material!

Oh yeah, and quotes! I've managed to narrow it down to just two favourite ones (funnily enough, neither of them actually feature Sam Vimes, all of my favourite quotes for Vimes would've required me to copy out at least half a page of the book and my book journal just wouldn't have enough room for that). Both of these ones feature a character called Mr. Swing and (slight spoiler if you haven't read the book) DEATH.
"He sought, as he always did, to learn more about the new person by carefully examining their features.
'Um, your eyes are... er... your nose is... your chin...' He gave up.
Page 339
"'Not even time to finish my cake?'
Page 441

I would love that last one on a T-shirt or something. :-)

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