Terry Pratchett, Night Watch, Doubleday, 2002.
Night Watch is the sixth novel (1) in the Watch series, itself comprised within the Discworld series written by Sir Terry Pratchett (speak his name).
Sir Samuel Vimes after many ups and downs (mostly downs) in his life has everything: a loving wife who expects their first child, a high social status though he comes from the gutter and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch (2) to which he dedicated his life is thriving. But while he is in hot pursuit of a psychopath killer, a magical incident sends him to the past, to be precise to his past...
Sam Vimes has to take a sergeant's identity and becomes the one who taught him everything, by teaching young Sam Vimes, well, everything.
But Sam (older Sam) knows that the moment in time to which he has been sent back to is just a few days before the Glorious 25th of May (3), a revolution that won't change Ankh-Morpork but that will change his life.
Why is Night Watch one of my all time's favourites? Rather than arguing for lines and lines, I'll juste quote the novel:
So Night Watch is the novel for all the persons who don't believe in revolutions and even less in the establishment, for all of those who look at humanity with a weary eye, but never a cynical eye, for all of those who like their fantasy better when it talks about us. And if it has humour in it, it's even better.
(1) Do you need to read the others before? I'd say yes, otherwise you may miss most of the in-jokes. But Night Watch is probably the best one in the series (probably because I think Thud! is just as good).
(2) Ankh-Morpork is the main city on the Discworld. When we meet the Night Watch in Guards! Guards! they are the dregs of the Day Watch.
(3) Many French readers draw a parallel between the Glorious 25th and the Paris Commune that took place at the end of the 19th century. To my knowledge, Sir Terry never acknowledged or denied the link.
The 25th of May is celebrated by Sir Terry's fans: you're supposed to wear lilac. So because the 25th of May is also Towel Day and that many Sir Terry's fans are also Douglas Adams fans, many have bought a lilac towel!
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