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Feet of Clay
Terry Pratchett
HarperPrism Books, 357 pages

Feet of Clay
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

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A review by Jim Greer

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There's really only one reason why I read Terry Pratchett novels. It's for those moments when I'm laughing so hard I almost roll off the couch.

And I am happy to report that Feet of Clay delivers.

The story, set in the wonderfully wacky Discworld, is a twisty enough mystery. On the same day, two elderly men a reclusive priest and a reclusive baker/museum keeper (Where else but Discworld would you find a reclusive baker/museum keeper?) are murdered and the Patriarch of Ankh-Morpork is found poisoned, although not fatally. It's up to Commander Sir Samuel Vimes and the other intrepid men (women, dwarves, trolls, werewolves) of the City Guard to work out the connections and catch the culprits.

But the point of the story is not so much the mystery, as the humour.

Pratchett has put together another wondrously funny novel. The humour stretches from out-and-out slapstick to groan-inducing puns.

The novel's pacing is excellent, giving the reader the occasional pause in the action to recuperate (and pick oneself up off the floor) before being hit with the next comic scene.

One of the best parts of Pratchett's writing is his characterization. The novel has a wide ranging cast, yet Pratchett manages to carefully delineate all the characters and still provide most of them with their own comic moments.

It is the mark of a good writer when the secondary characters have their own unique, and not stereotypical, personalities. Of course, writing out of the Discworld universe with familiar characters does help, but at the same time, the writer must be careful not to re-use old or stale jokes.

Pratchett doesn't.

As for being part of the series, Feet of Clay does stand on its own merits. There are no annoyingly obvious references to previous novels, nor do you need to have read an earlier novel to understand what is happening in this one. Past experience with the Discworld will, of course, help you pick up on the subtleties of Ankh-Morpork but if this is your introduction to the series, you will enjoy the novel.

Overall, Feet of Clay is a recommended read, especially if you are familiar with the Discworld series.

Copyright © 1998 by Jim Greer

Jim Greer has been a journalist for 12 years. He is currently doing free-lance work so he can spend more quality time chasing his 2 year old around.


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