The Thief of Time
A mysterious lady has comissioned the obsessive (but now safely medicated) Jeremy Clockson to build a perfectly accurate clock–which, just incidentally, could be used to stop time and destroy the world as we know it. Death is concerned, and so he dispatches his adopted granddaughter Susan Sto Helit to investigate the problem. The History Monks (whose job is “to see that tomorrow happens at all”) have also noticed that something is amiss, so the famous sweeper Lu Tze sets out to set things right, bringing along his strangely gifted new apprentice Lobsang Ludd.
This is a romp of a book. Prachett pokes good-natured fun at martial arts movies, the educational establishment, and rock bands, while spining a cheerful tale that features the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an unemployed angel, the lethal uses of chocolate, and the invaluable Rule One, “Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man.” If you don’t like Prachett’s self-aware prose then, well, you’re out of luck–but I found it easygoing and humorous. The characters are all colorful; they’re not deep, but a book of this type doesn’t really demand such.
Morally, there’s not a whole lot to say. There are random references to gods and reincarnation, as well as an angel who’s out of work after being declared allegorical–but the utter lack of seriousness in the book makes it completely unobjectionable. More problematic is a section where Susan thinks that, because of her supernatural heritage, some rules don’t apply to her–I am continually frustrated by the fantasy writers who think that performing a “Jedi mind trick” to mildly brainwash someone is in any way okay. And there’s a suicide of sorts, though the extent to which the character could be termed “alive” is debatable. Content-wise there’s not much beyond a couple mild swear words.