Thief of Time (Discworld Series #26)

Thief of Time (Discworld Series #26)

by Terry Pratchett

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Time itself is threatened— and it's up to the History Monks to save it in Terry Pratchett's bestselling Discworld® series

Everybody wants more time. Which is why, on Discworld, only the experts can manage it—the venerable Monks of History who store it and pump it from where it's wasted, like underwater (how much time does a codfish really need?) to places like cities, where busy denizens lament never having enough of it.

While everyone talks about slowing down, one young horologist is about to do the unthinkable. He's going to stop. Well, stop time, that is, by building the world's first truly accurate clock. Which means esteemed History Monk Lu-Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd have to put on some speed to stop the timepiece before it starts. For if the Perfect Clock starts ticking, time—as we know it—will end. And then the trouble will really begin . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062307392
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/29/2014
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 91,314
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.97(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

According to the First Scroll of Wen the Eternally Surprised, Wen stepped out of the cave where he had received enlightenment and into the dawning light of the first day of the rest of his life. He stared at the rising sun for some time, because he had never seen it before.

He prodded with a sandal the dozing form of Clodpool the Apprentice, and said: “I have seen. Now I understand.”

Then he stopped and looked at the thing next to Clodpool.

“What is that amazing thing?” he said.

“'s a tree, master,” said Clodpool, still not quite awake. “Remember? It was there yesterday.”

“There was no yesterday.”

“ think there was, master,” said Clodpool, struggling to his feet. “Remember? We came up here, and I cooked a meal, and had the rind off your sklang because you didn't want it.”

“I remember yesterday,” said Wen, thoughtfully. “But the memory is in my head now. Was yesterday real? Or is it only the memory that is real? Truly, yesterday I was not born.”

Clodpool's face became a mask of agonized incomprehension.

“Dear stupid Clodpool, I have learned everything,” said Wen. “In the cup of the hand there is no past, no future. There is only now. There is no time but the present. We have a great deal to do.”

Clodpool hesitated. There was something new about his master. There was a glow in his eyes and, when he moved, there were strange silvery-blue lights in the air, like reflections from liquid mirrors.

“She has told me everything,” Wen went on. “I know that time was made for men, not the other way around. I have learned how to shape it and bend it. I know how to make amoment last forever, because it already has. And I can teach these skills even to you, Clodpool. I have heard the heartbeat of the universe. I know the answers to many questions. Ask me.”

The apprentice gave him a bleary look. It was too early in the morning for it to be early in the morning. That was the only thing that he currently knew for sure.“Er...what does master want for breakfast?” he said.

Wen looked down from their camp, and across the snowfields and purple mountains to the golden daylight creating the world, and mused upon certain aspects of humanity.

“Ah,” he said. “One of the difficult ones.”

For something to exist, it has to be observed.

For something to exist, it has to have a position in time and space.

And this explains why nine-tenths of the mass of the universe is unaccounted for.

Nine-tenths of the universe is the knowledge of the position and direction of everything in the other tenth. Every atom has its biography, every star its file, every chemical exchange its equivalent of the inspector with a clipboard. It is unaccounted for because it is doing the accounting for the rest of it, and you cannot see the back of your own head.

Nine-tenths of the universe, in fact, is the paperwork.And if you want the story, then remember that a story does not unwind. It weaves. Events that start in different places and different times all bear down on that one tiny point in space-time, which is the perfect moment.

Suppose an emperor was persuaded to wear a new suit of clothes whose material was so fine that, to the common eye, the clothes weren't there. And suppose a little boy pointed out this fact in a loud clear voice...

Then you have The Story Of The Emperor Who Had No Clothes.

But if you knew a bit more, it would be The Story Of The Boy Who Got A Well-Deserved Thrashing From His Dad For Being Rude To Royalty, And Was Locked Up.

Or The Story Of The Whole Crowd That Was Rounded Up By The Guards And Told “This Didn't Happen, Okay? Does Anyone Want To Argue?”

Or it could be a story of how a whole kingdom suddenly saw the benefits of the “new clothes,” and developed an enthusiasm for healthy sports in a lively and refreshing atmosphere that gets many new adherents every year, which led to a recession caused by the collapse of the conventional clothing industry.

It could even be a story about The Great Pneumonia Epidemic of '09.

It all depends on how much you know.

Suppose you'd watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you watched an iceberg drift out through the chilly waters, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham -- tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack...'d want to know the whole story.

And this one starts with desks.

This is the desk of a professional. It is clear that their job is their life. There are...human touches, but they are the human touches that strict usage allows in a chilly world of duty and routine.

Mostly they're on the only piece of real color in this picture of blacks and grays. It's a coffee mug. Someone somewhere wanted to make it a jolly mug. It bears a rather unconvincing picture of a teddy bear, and the legend “To The World's Greatest Grandad,” and the slight change in the style of lettering on the word “Grandad” makes it clear that this has come from one of those stalls that have hundreds of mugs like these, declaring that they're for the world's greatest Grandad/Dad/Mum/Granny/Uncle/Aunt/Blank. Only...

Thief of Time. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“In a better world he would be acclaimed as a great writer rather than a merely successful one . . . This is the best Pratchett I’ve read . . . Ought to be a strong contender for the Booker Prize.”
Sunday Telegraph

“Terry Pratchett is one of the great inventors of secondary — or imaginative or alternative — worlds. He is not derivative. He is too strong . . . He has the real energy of the primary storyteller.”
–A.S. Byatt, The Times

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Thief of Time 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 86 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of the discworld series, and I should warn that if you do not like bizarre dark humor, mixed with philosophy and a good dose of political statements, you should not read this book. I love books where DEATH is one of the main characters and specially if Susan (his granddaughter) is there. This book is the third of Susan's series, and although my favorite is still Hogfather, it is one that helps defy humanity's unique invention - Boredom
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I have ever read. Terry Pratchett does the best spin on the character of Death, making the book entertaining and hilarious. Not only is this book hilarious and well structured, it makes you look at reality in an entirely different way. Seriously read it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite Discworld books, and it always makes me happy to see Susan Sto Helit in another adventure. With her usual practical attitude and her not-so-usual abilities, Susan must save the world - again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Thief of Time", in my opinion, is Terry Pratchett's all-time best book. The characters and well-drawn, the plot complex, and at the end, it seems that everything kind of ties in...Plus he uses comical humor only the British can get full credit for...I especially like Lobsang and Lu-Tze, the two, that handle time and Time. Susan's cool too, though...THIS IS A TOTALLY AWESOME BOOK!! READ!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
That doesn't mean that he won't out-do himself again. He does it all the time. His humor is subtle, but unparalelled in the world of satiracle fiction. Lu-Tze is probably one of Pratchett's most colourful characters, and he's got a huge part in this book. This is the first time you'll really get to know him as well. But Pratchett's best talent is the ability to poke fun out of context. After all, who else would think of Bonzaification of mountains, or exploding rice bowls? This book, in particular, likes to poke fun at the dicipline behind the martial arts, as the relationship between Lu-Tse and his pupil is one that could easily be drawn from that of any kung-foo movie. Definately worth a read.

If you're new to Discworld, I would recommend reading something else first. Start with 'Color of Magic'.

Guest More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett proves once again why he's been England's best-selling author in any category. Although 'Thief of Time' has fewer laughs than many of the previous Discworld books, it has one of the strongest stories and the most interesting characters. Death's granddaughter Susan, one of the best Discworld characters, races to stop the Auditors from bringing time to a halt. The Auditors, however, find themselves enjoying human life more than they expected. Pratchett introduces fascinating new characters, the Monks of Time, who are also trying to stop the creation of the glass clock that will freeze time on the Discworld. This one is big on ideas and gets the reader to thinking. It's a fast-paced adventure and all-around entertainment. Outstanding!
catherinestead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Monks of History make sure that there's enough time in the places where it's needed - and when Jeremy Clockson starts making a clock which will keep time with the universe (and thus stop time), it's down to Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd leave the monastery, find the clock and stop it before it starts.Incredibly funny and incredibly profound. Any description will barely scratch the surface of this book - but any novel that seamlessly mixes quantum mechanics, eastern philosophy and death by chocolate has to be a winner.
paulmorriss on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've just read this for a second time. The fact that I didn't realise I read it before says more about me than how good the book is. Terry Pratchett's books are of a consistently high quality. I think they are, at their heart, either about science or anthropology. This one is about science - and time in particular. With the idea that you can move time around - from places where it isn't needed much, like the middle of the sea, to where you want lots of it - you've got a lot of scope for adventure. This story also introduces the auditors who keep an eye on the universe. With several other great characters, and lots of cultural references thrown in, you've got a great read.
polarbear123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the more philosophical of the Pratchett books here. That will either make you want to read it or maybe you are the kind of person who pefers the more fast paced whocunnit style adventure plots which make up so many of Pratchett's output. I often prefer those books but I must say that out of all of the 'other' type of discworld books, this is probably the best (so far - I am reading them in order). Still not sure about Susan though.
ClicksClan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm currently onto my twelfth book of the year, so not doing too badly on my target to read fewer books. I clocked in a massive 145 last year, this year I'm taking my time and going a little steadier on them. Which is nice. Also about 100 of those books last year were pure fantasy, I'm trying to break away from that a little this year (slightly unsuccessfully, I think), but that didn't stop me from selecting Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time as my third book of the year.Before I started reading this, I was sure I'd already read it. Of course, I was mistaken, this one was entirely new for me. As I've been working through all the Discworld books (in order) I've been coming across lots that I've either read before (but largely forgotten the plots of) or had started but for whatever reason never finished. I've now hit a point where most of the books that I will be reading, will be rereads (because I read them as they came out), which makes me a little bit sad because there's really nothing like reading a Terry Pratchett book for the first time and was nice to know that there were loads that I was yet to discover.I'll admit that this one did get a little bit confusing in places. I invariably get confused at one point or another during a Discworld book, but if I relax and go with the flow, the little tangles work themselves out in the end. The fact that this one was dealing with time travel and [spoiler] two people who were actually one [end of spoiler] kind of meant that getting confused somewhere along the way was to be expected.I was thrilled to discover that this book featured Susan, Death's granddaughter. I'm a major fan of Susan and I love how she's progressed a little bit in each book (now she's a teacher, rather than a governness). I would have loved to have been in her class at school, I'm sure.I always find it amusing that the Sky adaptation of Hogfather as totally changed the way I picture her. Michelle Dockery is just how I see Susan now, I can't help it. I know when I read Soul Music for the first time I had a definitely mental picture of what Susan looked like. Unfortunately, I've now completely lost that in place of Michelle Dockery's version of Susan, not that it's a bad change, of course.It was also good to learn more about The History Monks. There have been mentions of them before, but it was good to finally learn more about them. In true Terry Pratchett style there's a lot of information about them. It helps to make it all seem that little bit more real, or at least, as real as things get on a world carried through space on the backs of four elephants standing on a turtle.At the beginning of the book, I was expecting to find the bits with The Auditors a bit tiresome. They always annoy me in Hogfather. I realise that it's kind of the point of them but I was hoping that I'd seen the last of them then. They actually grew on me in Thief of Time though, I kind of felt sorry for them in the end. But it does prove that chocolate is the solution to all of life's problems.One of the only problems I have when reading Terry Pratchett books is selecting the quotes to write up in my book journal. I allow myself five per book (unless I can make my writing teeny tiny enough to squeeze in a sixth) and sometimes I only manage four, especially if some of the quotes are a bit on the long side. With the Discworld books sometimes I end up with less purely because I can't decide between several different quotes and it seems fairly to not take any of them, rather than elevate one to a higher status than the others. So I decided to include all four of my favourite quotes in this entry, because it was too difficult to choose.
kaylol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Susan is totally...useful. And who would have guessed who the fifth horseman would be?
carlosemferreira on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can you ever give Pratchett less than 5/5? I am yet to find one of his books that isn't astonishing, startling, witty and impossible to put down. Another masterpiece.
ravenwood0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jeremy Clockson is so keen about being accurate that he drives his fellow clock makers around the bend. One day, a woman comes to him with a challenge: to create the most accurate time piece ever conceived, what people call a "glass clock." As you can imagine, this draws the ire of The Monks of History, last seen in Small Gods. Toss in Lu Tze and Lobsang, martial arts flicks, rock bands and how teaching should be done according to Susan Sto-Helit running afoul of her school's principal, Madam Frout, and we're off. One small problem, as soon as the clock starts ticking, time officially stops for the Discworld and so too does life as the Disc understands it, which is just fine for the auditors. That is until one auditor finds out just how wrong they were to deny all the things the Disc offers.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thief of Time is the first Discworld novel I've read, and it did not disappoint. Going in, my fear was that the novel would be akin to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a parody which fell flat for me. Thankfully, Thief of Time is a satire on our society that is light-hearted and understandable.The plot is impossible to explain, as part of the entertainment value is how it unfolds in the story. Basically, a group of heroes are trying to stop time from stopping, if that makes any sense. The characters are diverse, from the granddaughter of Death (a schoolteacher) to a monk whose idea of zen teachings come from practical sayings (i.e. for is it not written "I wasn't born yesterday.") Like most Discworld novels from what I understand, you do not need to have read any Discworld book to get what's going on.Pratchett is a skilled writer, and even if you don't care for this style, I suspect he will overcome your skepticism as he did mine.
Neilsantos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a hoot of course. Don't need to buy it, A has this one.
benfulton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think this is one of Pratchett's best. He's come up with three really intriguing ideas in this one book.Item 1: The bad guys. When you get this deep into a fantasy series it's really hard to come up with some really original bad guys, but I think the Auditors really succeed, with their insistence that life stops things from being organized and should be snuffed out. This isn't the first time we've met these characters, but the twist here is that some of them get a more first-hand perspective on what life is, and have to cope with the demands of it.Item 2: The monk Lu-Tze. We learn more about Lu-Tze and his typically Pratchettean upside-down view on life than we have in any previous book. On the one hand we lose some of the fascinating mysteriousness of the monk, but it's worth it on the other to get a better idea of where he comes from and what he does.Item 3: Time slicing. Just an awesome description of the way Lu-Tze manages to move faster than just about anyone else, and the way a sort of analogy is drawn to finding the quiet space that happens right after breaking the sound barrier is really very elegant.Throw in what is basically the conclusion of the Susan Sto Helit saga and the usual assorted cast of interesting supporting characters, and you have a unique entry in the unfolding history of the Discworld, and a really enjoyable read.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is something so satisfying about completing a Terry Pratchett novel - he really takes you on a journey, and the ending is always spectacular and *perfect*. Thief of Time brings back several familiar favorites - Death, Susan and Nanny Ogg - and introduces new counterparts - Lobsang Ludd, Lu Tze (who we see briefly in Night Watch and Small Gods) and Myria LeJean. A very, very thoughtful and enjoyable addition to the Discworld.
geertwissink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again a very entertaining Disc World novel. My favorite character still stays Death, who's THUNDERING VOICE always enlightens the scene. With a special appearance of his sidekick the Death of Rats. The story about a two young men, a glass clock, highly powerful creatures in search for order, the granddaughter of Death and a funny monk unravels quickly to the end. And I even started to look different at Time after reading this book! Too bad the First Scroll of Wen the Eternally Surprised isn't available in our world. But fortunately some words survive through Pratchetts books: ' And they are told: 'Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. Therefore, he understood, there is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.'
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another plot I struggled to follow, but the jokes kept coming so I was happy. The book introduces clockmaker Jeremy who is stated to be a bit anti-social ('he wished he liked people more. If life was a party, he wasn't even in the kitchen'.) Now there's a man I can relate to!!
Hamburgerclan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I looked for Night Watch at the Friends of the Library Sale. Didn't find it. Picked up this instead. It's also a Discworld tale. It's also amusing. It's about the building of the perfect clock--which is a bad thing. The first time they built one, time stopped. Fortunately it wasn't exactly perfect, so it broke and time was restored. This latest perfect clock, however, threatens to be new and improved. It must be stopped. Well, more like not started, since you can hardly stop before you start. Unless you're a time traveller or something. But since there's no time traveller here, they need to prevent the startage from, er, starting. You see? Oh, just read the book, already.--J.
ronincats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The last in the series featuring Death and Susan, at least for the time being! This group of books is one of my favorite Discworld series, and TOT did not disappoint. The Auditors reappear with their usual intent of reducing the Universe to numbers and measuring and counting things and getting rid of that unpredictable squishy life stuff, especially humans. And this time it devolves to all-out war. Death has to go scare up Pestilence, Famine, and War out of their comfortable niches, and the Fifth Horseman even gets called up, while Susan is her usual no-nonsense self (the scenes of her actually teaching in her classroom are among the most hilarious in the book) and gets a love interest. Much fun, much action, great way to while away a couple of evenings!
gilag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even with nougat, you can have a perfect moment.
Kyniska on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My introduction to the Discworld universe and quite an entertaining one. I have a little trouble with Pratchett, since he can be tedious at times, but my persistence paid off in this case. After a slow start, the book was intelligent, engaging, unusual, and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious. An altogether rewarding venture.
Jack_Daw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was almost my last Pratchett book, I hated it, gave up on it as it was so boring. Felt for some time he had actually given up on the discworld books and was happy to just churn out anything knowing people would buy them, have since bought Monstrous Regiment and The Town Watch one and normal service has been restored - far better than Thief of Time on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A humorous fantasy novel set in the Discworld universe, which has over 30 novels in it by now. The is the first book by Prachett that I've read and it will probably be the last. While the book did have a few laugh-out-loud moments, most of the rest was rather bland, obvious, and sometimes forced. This sort of humour is not worty of likes of Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker series (my golden standard), but then few are.All in all, I'm not inclined to pick up any other books by Prachett.