Saturday, 14 January 2012

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

I enjoyed Snuff, but was a little irritated here and there. Of his two uses of the word shit even the second is pretty dubious. I don't know what age group he thinks he is writing for, but it is rare for him to get sex or swearing right. I didn't think I was going to find a typo, but right at the end, page 375, I found away from the smoke and the grime and the terrible spells which I am fairly certain should be smells.

The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett

A delight, from both Pratchett and Kidby. Not a single foot wrong by either of them and not too long.

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

It has probably been four years since I last read this. I had forgotten most of the story, or at least enough to recognise but rarely anticipate the plot. I enjoyed, and nothing annoyed.

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Why The hobbit? Especially in the light of further hobbit heros in the Lord of the Rings. If you try to name this book you can see Tolkien's problem: "A hobbit's journey", whilst still maintaining the hook of a neologism in the title does not have the same ring. What would you expect of a book entitled "The Orang Utang" or "The Marsh Arab" or "The Lesser Spotted Howda"? Maybe the title should be compared to "The Liverpudlian" or "The Cockney" which captures both senses: a treatise on the type or the distinguished individual of the type. I don't think either expectation is met by "The Hobbit" and think that this is the start of an off balance feeling that crops up again when Tolkien talks directly to the reader in an over familiar way. "As I am sure you have already guessed" jerks you out of your view-point into being narrated at.

I did not find any type setting errors but there were some oddities of a more semantic type.

Smaug's body fell on the town but then was in deep water.

The escape from the Elfen King's hall in barrels just screams drowned dwarves: there is a suggestion that the barrels might have air holes, but the lids are banged down and the dwarfs are in them for twelve hours or more. Some of the barrels ship water. The dwarves are in a bad way after this but I think it more likely they would have asphyxiated and or drowned.

There is some very clumsy stuff at the very heart of the book, or at least the heart of the work composed of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", where Bilbo is riddling with Gollum.

Apparently Tolkien knew Welsh, which is probably why the reading is relatively easy, but oh my the howlers to my ears: its carven, carven, carven all the time with him.