A few weekends ago I was in the fantasy fiction section of a local independent bookstores when I chanced upon Thud! face-out on the shelf. It's a great cover, right? I think this is the first time I bought a book based purely on the cover design (well, it also helped that it was on a staff's recommendation shelf) Anyway, I'm glad I got it. Thud! is excellent. I wasn't aware of Terry Pratchett, but I have since discovered he is an immensely popular author. It turns out there are almost forty titles in his fantasy Discworld series.
In its essence Thud! is a humorous (definitely spelled with the British extra "u") fantasy world cop drama. The captain of the City Watch is the central character supported by his town guard of humans, dwarfs, a werewolf, and a vampire. Commander Sam Vimes must contend with dwarf-troll tensions within the citizenry, a murder mystery, out-of-town dwarfs flouting city laws, and rumors of an ancient demon. The compelling plot steers clear of typical fantasy story lines, and it has a satisfying ending.
Pratchett created thorough and convincing cultures for his dwarfs and trolls with compelling inter-species and intra-species politics. I have to admit, while I was reading the first couple chapters I thought the book might be too silly for me. Some of the vampires talk like The Count from Sesame street, and some of the dwarfs have goofy names. But, I'm glad a I kept going. Thud! is a smart fantasy, and I look forward to reading more of Pratchett's series.