Snuff by Terry Pratchett. ★★★1/2
On reread, Snuff wasn’t as bad as I remembered, although that’s not saying a whole lot. Its the 39th Discworld novel, and the series has definitely descended in quality for various reasons. If you’re interested in the Discworld series, try earlier novels such as Going Postal, Guards! Guards!, Monstrous Regiment, or The Wee Free Men.
In Snuff, Vimes is forced to take a holiday to the country. Of course, where ever a policeman goes, he will inevitably discover a crime.
Unfortunately, it takes over a hundred pages for the body to turn up and the first goblins to be introduced. For a novel that’s largely about the treatment of goblins on the Disc, that’s a very slow start.
My biggest problem with Snuff is that the writing isn’t as good. The voice feels off in a way that’s hard to explain. Normally when reading a Discworld novel I find myself savoring lines. This time, I found myself skimming. The writing’s less snappy and multiple scenes fall flat.
That being said, there were some interesting ideas at work. Goblins are treated as vermin by most of the other sentient races, but they’re shown to have their own culture and to create exquisitely beautiful art that humans steal, even as they deride the creators as inferior. What’s more, there’s this a subtle underlying idea about holding on to your cultural heritage. To be respected by the other species on the Disc, will the goblins have to lose all parts of their culture?
“Billy Slick doesn’t sound much like a goblin name?”
“Billy made a face. “Too right! Granny calls me Of the Wind Regretfully Blown. What kind of name is that, I ask you? Who’s going to take you seriously with a name like that? This is modern times, right?” He looked at her defiantly, and she thought: and so one at a time we all become human – human werewolves, human dwarfs, human trolls… the melting pot melts in one direction only, and so we make progress.”
I was also sad that Snuff took Vimes away from his supporting cast of the Ankh-Morpork watch. Vimes by himself can work wonderfully, as in Night Watch, but it just didn’t work as well here. Possibly because there wasn’t a tightly woven plot to make up for it?
At heart, Snuff is a sweet, earnest book. While it’s far from the best of Discworld novels, I wouldn’t say it’s the worst either. Still, I would recommend this one only for people who are already fans of the series.