Mark Reads ‘Thief of Time’: Part 19

In the nineteenth and penultimate part of Thief of Time, Lobsang reveals his plan for the End, while Unity also comes to a decision. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

As I approached the ending to Thief of Time, I knew that I’d had a good time, but this book did not seem to have that extra oomph that I’ve gotten lately. From Feet of Clay up through The Truth, I’ve had an intense emotional connection to either the main theme of one of these books or one particular character’s journey. Susan is always a lot of fun, and I was thrilled by the opportunity to finally get to know Lu-Tze.

But while this book was good, I wondered if we’d get anything more than the story itself, and then Lady LaJean stopped being a mysterious possible antagonist, became Unity, and THEN I HAD FEELINGS. She is undoubtedly the best part of the ending of Thief of Time, and I am ready to get super emotional about her in the final section of this book. As it stands though, I liked the conclusion to the Glass Clock, but it doesn’t quite stand up to a lot of the recent resolutions I’ve read. It’s good, but not great, if that makes sense.

I know it’s partially due to the fact that I feel like a significant element of this is just hard for me to visualize. I loved Susan’s conversation with Lobsang about who and what he was throughout this, and it’s the one thing about him that feels concrete and certain. Once Lobsang shatters the Glass Clock, however, I felt a little lost, mostly due to the fact that we’re told what Lobsang does, but we don’t really see it. Shatters of history fly out into time, and Lobsang “repairs” them, and it uses a lot of powers, and the Procrastinators stop spinning for a bit? I don’t really get it, even if I understand the end result. Did he know where each shard went? Why doesn’t Pratchett give us an example of what this would like, much like he did as time was slowing down and stopping?

What I ended up latching on to, however, was the emotional resonance of this resolution. That included Unity (I’LL GET THERE) as well as Lobsang’s reunion with his parents: Time and Wen the Eternally Surprised. HIS LETTERS. OH MY GOD, I DIDN’T EVEN THINK TO GUESS THAT HE WAS LOBSANG’S FATHER. I am also realizing how eerie it is that I am basically Wen the Eternally Surprised? That’s basically my job description, isn’t it?

Anyway, there’s a lot left off the page here, which is probably why I’m having trouble getting into it as much as I’d hoped to. We’ve gotten so many POV sections focused on Lobsang, yet his reunion with his mother happens during Susan’s narration. That seems strange to me, especially since we also don’t get any POV scenes once Lobsang “merges” with Jeremy. What was that like? How did he think? I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING. Now that Lobsang is Time (WHAT A GREAT DEVELOPMENT!), how does he experience the world? We’re told (through his conversation with Susan) that it is very difficult for him to remain in the present, which is why the power drain he suffered while saving Time was such a big deal. Still, it was sad knowing that he “left” without a proper goodbye to Susan. Susan definitely didn’t expect to come to enjoy her time with Lobsang, and then he just disappears without any closure. Now, Susan is a tough person, and she’s not been one for sentimentality. But one of the things I have loved about this book is the fact that she finally got to spend time with someone like her. She got to relate to someone over something that she thought made her truly unique. It’s a lonely thing to feel like you’re the only like yourself, and I think it’s something a lot of us have struggled with, you know? But Susan got an experience that made her feel… shit, maybe a little less alone?

The same goes for Unity, though even saying that is a complicated thing. Unity didn’t even know what loneliness was before the events of this book. She doesn’t bullshit Susan either when she admits that her time in a human body has changed her entire outlook on what life is or what humanity means. Like, I get why Susan doubts her! Unity is still an Auditor, right? Yet in the infinitesimally small amount of time that Unity is human, she understands something about humanity:

“I found it most curious. How can words on a page have a power like that? There is no doubt that being human is incredibly difficult and cannot be mastered in one lifetime,” said Unity sadly.

And there it is, the thing I’ve been waiting for the whole book. It’s a profound truth, and it hurts to think about. It takes a lifetime to learn how to be human, and that’s all we get. Which is why I was shocked, but then understood why Unity asked to die. She was done being human, and she had to complete the cycle. I assume Death is about to arrive and take care of it, yes???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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