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She is called Myra LeJean because she is the Auditors, who are Legion — and legion is the dame of demons, of course. But the sole Auditor in the single body begins to be troubled by emotions, by orifices, by the space in the cavity behind the mouth and eyes — by becoming human. She is tempted by chocolate and acquires a pet cat.

She begins to resemble Death. It is because he can stand outside that he renders an alternative version of our world with such imaginative solidity and density. You can briefly see what it was like for Nanny Ogg, as midwife, to deliver the children of Time, who kept spinning in and out of visibility in a kind of whirlwind. You can see the Auditors uprooting the paving stones of Ankh-Morpork and reducing them to molecules because complexity and chaos annoy them.

There is always a little bit more in the good scenes than you expect. It is typical of Pratchett that he gets attached even to characters he set out disliking or wanting to dislike. His villains become human and acquire fates we care about. Lady LeJean is a tragi-comic invention.

The reader has the feeling — which cannot be faked — that the writer is living in his imaginary world and enjoying it without effort, and that there is always more to be discovered where that came from. It is the opposite of entropy. Rowling or Philip Pullman. Rowling is derivative — part of the pleasure of reading her is the recognition of reworked motifs from fairy tale and school story. Pullman is ambitious and often beautiful, but like C.

Lewis whom he is writing against , he has designs on his readers. He is a romantic and forces spiritual importance on us. Pratchett, though he steals from everywhere and transfigures what he steals, is not derivative. He is too strong; and he is a realist. He is tough, like his own Miss Susan, who bashes bogey-men with pokers but knows that both bogeymen and Death exist. He understands courage and mendacity and terror and insignificance but he makes them into solid, pleasurable stories. What Pratchett writes is a kind of eclectic parody.

His world is pieced together from many other worlds, most of the secondary already — he uses, and twists, the conventions of the Tolkien and Earthsea quests, the martial arts mythology, Shakespeare and The Phantom of the Opera.

What he is doing is akin to the Post-Modern knowing fiction that says we are all made up of patches and quotations of other forms, other stories. But it is also the opposite of that papery rustling: he has the real energy of the primary storyteller. Byatt in The Times. In Thief of Time in the great stinking metropolis of Ankh Morpork, an obsessed clockmaker receives an unusual commission from an excessively beautiful woman whose feet do not touch the ground; strict school-teacher Susan finds herself summoned by her grandfather, Death, to do him a favour; the monks who manage the even distribution of Time find themselves with a recalcitrant novice; and dairyman Ronnie Soak muses on his glory days, when he was the Fifth Rider of the Apocalypse, the one who left before they got famous.

As always, the sometimes startlingly surrealistically original, sometimes comfortingly groan-worthy, jokes are underlain by some intensely complex ideas and tight plotting. There is an attractive darkness to much of the humour here — Pratchett is often at his best when at his darkest.

Roz Kaveney in Amazon. By now we all know that Terry Pratchett is capable of taking any theme or setting, transplanting it into his Discworld milieu, and producing another work of wit and substance for that long-running series that never palls, in its infinite variety. A Discworld novel never disappoints. But Thief of Time is a particular delight, ….

The Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories, by Guy de Maupassant

Faced with the grotesqueries of everyday life at the dawn of the 21st century, I sometimes think Terry Pratchett is a hidden Master of the Universe, on to all its tricksy ways. He just takes things a little farther, to come up with fiction even stranger than truth. Faren Miller, in Locus. This is the second Discworld novel in six months, but it shows no sign of being a rushed job.

If there are fewer laugh-aloud gags, he still maintains the rush of sheer delight that makes his work so addictive and keeps his fans so loyal.

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Many of his central characters are both resigned to and maddened by an intuitive affection for humankind, with its infuriating ability to dash the highest hopes and to confound the worst fears. A bit like new Labour, really. Peter Ingham in The Times. Here we go again!

NPR’s Book Concierge

In the newest appealing instalment of the Discworld series, Pratchett The Truth takes on religion, time and… kung-fu movies? When a mysterious lady asks Jeremy to make a clock that is perfectly timed even to the last tick , trouble begins: it seems that such a clock would have the power to stop time completely.

There would be no yesterday, no tomorrow, no next minute; in fact, everything and everyone would stop in its tracks. We also find out that Lobsang has more in store for his future than to be an apprentice monk. The story includes a quick nod to James Bond flicks with Qu, the monk who supplies gadgets to Lu-Tze and Lobsang, and at the end of Time the four no, make that five horsemen of the Apocalypse get to ride out for a jaunt.

Publishers Weekly USA. And how can readers resist a book in which the world is saved by the awesome power of chocolate? They decided that they ought to combine, as it were, in their dignity as wives in face of this shameless hussy; for legitimized love always despises its easygoing brother. The three men, also, brought together by a certain conservative instinct awakened by the presence of Cornudet, spoke of money matters in a tone expressive of contempt for the poor.

Count Hubert related the losses he had sustained at the hands of the Prussians, spoke of the cattle which had been stolen from him, the crops which had been ruined, with the easy manner of a nobleman who was also a tenfold millionaire, and whom such reverses would scarcely inconvenience for a single year. Monsieur Carre-Lamadon, a man of wide experience in the cotton industry, had taken care to send six hundred thousand francs to England as provision against the rainy day he was always anticipating.

As for Loiseau, he had managed to sell to the French commissariat department all the wines he had in stock, so that the state now owed him a considerable sum, which he hoped to receive at Havre. And all three eyed one another in friendly, well-disposed fashion. Although of varying social status, they were united in the brotherhood of money—in that vast freemasonry made up of those who possess, who can jingle gold wherever they choose to put their hands into their breeches' pockets.


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The coach went along so slowly that at ten o'clock in the morning it had not covered twelve miles. Three times the men of the party got out and climbed the hills on foot. The passengers were becoming uneasy, for they had counted on lunching at Totes, and it seemed now as if they would hardly arrive there before nightfall. Every one was eagerly looking out for an inn by the roadside, when, suddenly, the coach foundered in a snowdrift, and it took two hours to extricate it.

As appetites increased, their spirits fell; no inn, no wine shop could be discovered, the approach of the Prussians and the transit of the starving French troops having frightened away all business. The men sought food in the farmhouses beside the road, but could not find so much as a crust of bread; for the suspicious peasant invariably hid his stores for fear of being pillaged by the soldiers, who, being entirely without food, would take violent possession of everything they found.

About one o'clock Loiseau announced that he positively had a big hollow in his stomach. They had all been suffering in the same way for some time, and the increasing gnawings of hunger had put an end to all conversation. Now and then some one yawned, another followed his example, and each in turn, according to his character, breeding and social position, yawned either quietly or noisily, placing his hand before the gaping void whence issued breath condensed into vapor.

Several times Boule de Suif stooped, as if searching for something under her petticoats.

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She would hesitate a moment, look at her neighbors, and then quietly sit upright again. All faces were pale and drawn.

Loiseau declared he would give a thousand francs for a knuckle of ham. His wife made an involuntary and quickly checked gesture of protest. It always hurt her to hear of money being squandered, and she could not even understand jokes on such a subject. Cornudet, however, had a bottle of rum, which he offered to his neighbors.

This indirect allusion to Boule de Suif shocked the respectable members of the party. No one replied; only Cornudet smiled. The two good sisters had ceased to mumble their rosary, and, with hands enfolded in their wide sleeves, sat motionless, their eyes steadfastly cast down, doubtless offering up as a sacrifice to Heaven the suffering it had sent them. At last, at three o'clock, as they were in the midst of an apparently limitless plain, with not a single village in sight, Boule de Suif stooped quickly, and drew from underneath the seat a large basket covered with a white napkin.

From this she extracted first of all a small earthenware plate and a silver drinking cup, then an enormous dish containing two whole chickens cut into joints and imbedded in jelly. The basket was seen to contain other good things: pies, fruit, dainties of all sorts-provisions, in fine, for a three days' journey, rendering their owner independent of wayside inns.

The necks of four bottles protruded from among the food. All looks were directed toward her. An odor of food filled the air, causing nostrils to dilate, mouths to water, and jaws to contract painfully. The scorn of the ladies for this disreputable female grew positively ferocious; they would have liked to kill her, or throw, her and her drinking cup, her basket, and her provisions, out of the coach into the snow of the road below. Some people think of everything. All is fair in war time, is it not, madame? He spread a newspaper over his knees to avoid soiling his trousers, and, with a pocketknife he always carried, helped himself to a chicken leg coated with jelly, which he thereupon proceeded to devour.


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