Thief of Time is the fifth and final(!) book in the Death subseries of Discworld. I’ve always been a little iffy on this subseries, but I think this was my favorite of the five books. The general story is that an Auditor has commissioned a clockmaker, Jeremy, to make a special clock. What the Auditor doesn’t tell Jeremy is that this clock will supposedly have the power to stop time, bringing an end, or at least a permanent pause, to the Discworld.
Death didn’t actually get that much page time in this book. Maybe that’s partly why I enjoyed it. I like Death in small doses, when he’s being funny or clever or profound, but he starts to grate on my nerves in larger doses. This was especially true in the first three books where he essentially shirked his responsibilities and let other people take up the slack for him. Meanwhile, he went off and had what would be considered a mid-life crisis if he were a human. Happily, Death has seemed better-grounded in these last two books, so I’ve started enjoying his character more.
In this book, we finally get a chance to learn more about the Auditors. Unsurprisingly, Susan shows up again. I enjoyed most of her sections, especially the ones at the beginning. I also really liked the characters of Lu-Tze and Lobsang who take up a large portion of the story. They’re mostly just your stereotypical well-respected and mysterious monk with his exceptionally clever but impatient apprentice, at least at first, but they were fun characters. The master/apprentice portrayal is a common plot device in fantasy, but it’s one that I tend to enjoy.
I expected this book to earn 4 stars up until maybe the last 25% or so, at which point I started to lose interest in the story. Somehow the climatic events were the most boring parts to me, I think because it went too far into “random chaos” territory at times. In the end, I decided on a rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.