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Summary and book reviews of Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Night Watch

by Terry Pratchett

Night Watch
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2002, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 432 pages

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Book Summary

Flung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force -- fast. Because he knows what's going to happen. It's part of history. And you can't change history...

This morning, Commander Vimes of the City Watch had it all. He was a Duke. He was rich. He was respected. He had a silver cigar case. He was about to become a father.

This morning he thought longingly about the good old days.

Tonight, he's in them.

Flung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must get a new name and a job, and there's only one job he's good at: cop in the Watch. He must track down a brutal murderer. He must find his younger self and teach him everything he knows. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force -- fast. Because Sam Vimes knows what's going to happen. He remembers it. He was there. It's part of history. And you can't change history . . .

But Sam is going to. He has no choice. Otherwise, a bloody revolution will start, and good men will die. Sam saw their names on old headstones just this morning -- but tonight they're young men who think they have a future. And rather than let them die, Sam will do anything -- turn traitor, burn buildings, take over a revolt, anything -- to snatch them from the jaws of history. He will do it even if victory will mean giving up the only future he knows.

For if he succeeds, he's got no wife, no child, no riches, no fame -- all that will simply vanish. But if he doesn't try, he wouldn't be Sam Vimes.

And so the battle is on. He knows how it's going to end; after all, he was there. His name is on one of those headstones. But that's just a minor detail ...

Chapter One


Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.

Then he put his jacket on and strolled out into the wonderful late spring morning. Birds sang in the trees, bees buzzed in the blossom. The sky was hazy though, and thunderheads on the horizon threatened rain later. But for now, the air was hot and heavy. And in the old cesspit behind the gardener's shed, a young man was treading water.

Well ... treading, anyway.

Vimes stood back a little way and lit a cigar. It probably wouldn't be a good idea to employ a naked flame any nearer to the pit. The fall from the shed roof had broken the crust.

"Good morning!" he said cheerfully.

"Good morning, Your Grace," said the industrious treadler.

The voice was higher pitched that Vimes expected and he realized that, most unusually, the young man in the pit was in fact a young woman. It wasn't entirely unexpected -- the Assassins' Guild was aware ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

British author Pratchett's storytelling, a clever blend of Monty Pythonesque humor and Big Questions about morality and the workings of the universe, is in top form in his 28th novel in the phenomenally bestselling Discworld series.

School Library Journal - Susan Salpini

This gripping novel is essential for fans of the series, and is also recommended for those who haven't had the pleasure of traveling there yet.

Booklist - Regina Schroeder

This time, though, the metropolis has a sense of its history and of the Right Thing to Do, which makes for something of a departure from the norm for many of the characters longtime Discworld readers know and love. Still, Pratchett has really developed the characters of the Watch, at least, since their early days in Guards! Guards! (1989), and it shows!

Kirkus Reviews

Not a side-splitter this time, though broadly amusing and bubbling with wit and wisdom both an excellent story and a tribute to beat cops everywhere, doing their hair-raising jobs with quiet courage and determination.

Reader Reviews

Chris Moorhead

Among my top 5 Pratchett novels of all time

Christopher Outen

"Night Watch" is probably the darkest and most contemplative of the Discworld books so far. Hardened copper Sam Vimes survives a magical storm only to find himself stranded in the past at the time of a terrible revolution; Carcer, a ...   Read More

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