I’ve been horribly remiss in reading and replying to everyone’s blogs this past week, but I have an excellent excuse: Econo Man and I were finally off on our belated honeymoon!
We took a cruise around the Caribbean, stopping at Grand Cayman, Roatan, Cozumel, and the Bahamas. We went snorkeling off the second-largest coral reef in the world, took a Mexican cooking class, and of course, lay out in the sun on the beach.* The cruise ship part of the trip was a mixed bag. We chose the cruise because it was so low-maintenance, and because airfare to Florida was about half the price of airfare to anywhere interesting in the Caribbean. But Econo Man in particular chafed a bit at some of the goofier aspects of cruising, like being awakened at 7:30am by the ship’s loudspeaker giving us the week’s third set of instructions about how to get off the boat. (I am not making that up.) I think the next time we go for a beach trip, we’ll probably look for a beachfront hotel on Roatan, a small, relatively undeveloped island off the coast of Honduras with astonishingly good snorkeling.
The trip gave us both a chance to catch up on our fun reading, so this week, I’m going to be writing about the vacation books I read. First up:
Thud! by Terry Pratchett
If you aren’t familiar with Terry Pratchett, here’s some background. Pratchett’s popular Discworld series is part fantasy, part hilarious satire on our own world — think a combination of Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Swift. Pratchett is wildly talented, but personally, I find the Discworld books hit-or-miss. Pratchett is at his best when he’s writing political or economic satire; his stories tend to be chaotic and unmemorable when he moves away from satire and more towards pure goofy fantasy. My favorite Pratchett books are usually the ones set in the city of Ankh-Morpork, a combination of London, Budapest, and Oxford, where humans, dwarves, trolls, vampires, werewolves, the occasional dragon, and the wizards at the University all try to live in harmony … or at least not step on each others’ toes too much.
Thud! is indeed set in Ankh-Morpork, and centers on my favorite Pratchett character: Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. As the book opens, racial tensions between dwarves and trolls are on the rise, and the assassination of an anti-troll dwarf fundamentalist threatens to turn Ankh-Morpork into a war zone. It appears that a troll is behind the dwarf’s death, but Vimes suspects that the dwarves are hiding something. Can he solve the mystery before racial tensions tear his city apart … and still be home by 6pm every day to read Where’s My Cow? to fourteen-month-old Sam Jr.?
Thud! isn’t necessarily the best place to start if you’re a Pratchett virgin (I’d suggest an earlier Vimes book, Men at Arms), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s perfect beach reading, funny and smart and surprisingly sweet.
* On the last day, I got a little overambitious about sunning myself and ended up with a wicked sunburn on my upper shoulders. My skin is very fair. Econo Man describes it as “translucent.” My brother just points at me and says “You’re as white as a sheep. Baaaaaaaa.”