"Thief of Time" is the 26th novel in the hugely successful Discworld series and Terry Pratchett once again delivers a story full of humor, wit and clocks.
Pratchett attempts to entwine no fewer than 5 separate tales into one exciting story and succeeds admirably. While being slow to get going - the first third of the book being a trifle lacklustre at times - the story soon picks up the pace, throwing in plot twists where you least expect it.
The story starts by introducing the History Monks, who insure that things that are supposed to happen actually happen. They manage time, taking it from places that have plenty, to places where there isn't enough. An 800 year old "sweeper" named Lu-Tze, a legend among the monks, is given an apprentice: a boy who his teachers cannot teach. Together they set out on a journey, one which will teach the apprentice the "Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite" and the Rules. Rule One of which is "Do not act incautiously when confronting the little bald wrinkly smiling old men", a rule which will prove rather important.
In the city of Ankh-Morpork, a clockmaker, known as Jeremy Clockson, is charged with making a clock that is truly accurate. To do this he is given an assistant, Igor, a character who is endlessly amusing. The beings who want the clock made are known as The Auditors: grey shapes who keep order in the universe, make the rules and do the filing. They want to stop time so everything is neat and they can finish the filing. Also, one Auditor has become human, and is starting to find out what being human is like.
Death, who takes a certain interest in humans, tells his grandaughter Susan (Death does have a grandaughter - it's a long story) to stop it from happening, as he has other matters to attend to - namely riding out with the other Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
So, Pratchett takes us on a journey through the mechanics of time, ot at least Time such as it is on Discworld. It is an exciting read and a must for any Discworld fan. For those Discworld virgins out there - of which there are a decreasing number - this is still a very good read, but the odd reference to earlier novels may confuse. This is by no means a bad book, but there are other Discworld novels that are better. However, contrary to some opinions, Terry Pratchett has not run out of steam, and seems to effortlessly be able to produce novel after novel of high quality literature.
Title: Thief of Time