Terry Pratchett is a fantastic writer. I feel I have to put that out there before I say what kinds of books he writes. I guess they could be described as “comic fantasy” novels. Sounds dreadful, I know. And it COULD be! If it weren’t done WELL, it could be painful to read, but luckily for us, Pratchett is a really good writer. And the kind of stories he tells may have weird settings or characters (or “nomes,” trolls, orcs, elves and any number of other crazy fantasy creatures) but there is also some amazing humor, heart-touching humanity, something approaching a kind of theology, social and political critique, and – of course – really good stories.
Even though Pratchett is probably best known for his Discworld series of books (which are excellent, by the way) I’m interested in telling you, dear Eleventh Stack blog reader, about The Bromeliad Trilogy. These are three novels (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) that Pratchett wrote for a YA audience that are as accessible for older folks as they might be for younger folks. Yes, the book is about nomes, and yes, some of these nomes live in a department store for a time (see…describing it sounds kind of dreadful!) but the overarching ideas of discovery, of attempting to come to grips with the nature of belief and the evolution of those beliefs, and the conflicts of having to come to grips with all of this while dealing with other people are also present and are excellently discussed. In addition, it’s funny. It’s REALLY funny. And it’s a good story. It’s a REALLY good story.
Pratchett is one of our finest living authors. He’s willing to tell stories beautifully and include weird, crazy characters, but it’s no less interesting or readable for it. In fact, it’s probably more interesting and readable for it.