Pyramids! by Terry Pratchett
(This is the 7th in the series. This means I have read books 3, 8, 1, 2, and 7. 4, 5, and 6 are on the way to me.)
The Assassins’ Guild and its associated Academy (in Ahnk-Morpork) are the setting for the first part of this story. It looks like the Assassins’ Guild is the most fun and stylish of the Guilds, and its Academy is a bit like boot camp. So, into this environment we throw Teppic, a spoiled young adult from a royal family from a far-off River Kingdom with lots of pyramids and not much else but sand. You have a nice coming-of-age story mixed with a nice view of the “colorful night life” of our familiar but smelly city.
About the time he gets his passing grade, Teppic is summoned back home, as someone died and made him King. He is sort of pulled along by fate after this, and is mostly just a pawn at first, but starts to get some spine after a while. There are some Interesting Times after that.
This is another great work, and a great lot of fun to read. My only criticism is that I would have liked to have seen more of the Assassins in action – perhaps there will be some more in later installments. After the racing around the city, the tromping about in the desert (with a huge royal Palace but no Plumbing) got a bit boring, but then the Interesting Times happened and the pace picked up again. I always suspected there was something funny about camels…
I didn’t recognize any of the familiar characters from 1/2/3/8 so I would imagine it didn’t lose much from being read out of order.
Did I mention that Terry Pratchett is clever, as well as being funny? Here are some footnotes I enjoyed:
… he demanded, in a camel whisper.*
* Hoarse whispers are not suitable for a desert environment.
* Like many river valley cultures the Kingdom has no truck with such trivia as summer, springtime and winter, and bases its calendar squarely on the great heartbeat of the Djel; hence the three seasons. Seedtime, Inundation, and Sog. This is logical, straightforward and practical, and only disapproved of by barbershop quartets.**
** Because you feel an idiot singing “In the Good Old Inundation,” that’s why.
* This is of course a loose translation, since Ptaclusp did not know the words for “ice,” “windscreens” or “hotel bedrooms”; interestingly, however, Squiggle Eagle Eagle Vase Wavyline Duck translates directly as “a press for barbarian leg coverings.”
Of course, any attempt, any overt move which missed would atttract immediate failure and loss of privileges.*
* Breathing, for a start.