Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Life on the Disc

The world lost one of the best recently when Terry Pratchett died. Our own LAF wrote this beautiful piece about it.

I have also written about Pratchett on this blog in the past.

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Fab pic of Terry Pratchett culled form a Google Image Search

Quite recently, the brilliant folks over at Book Riot published a piece by A. J. O’Connell about Pratchett’s daughter announcing that there will be no more Discworld books. She will not write any, and the series will end with the upcoming Tiffany Aching book The Shepherd’s Crown later this summer. In addition, The Long Utopia (co-written by Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) will round out the “Long Earth” series (that featured The Long Earth, The Long War and The Long Mars).

The Shepherd’s Crown marks the 41st Discworld book. That’s a lot. Maybe you’ve read all of them, or maybe you’ve never even heard of them. Might I propose, dear Eleventh Stack reader, that since we know there are not going to be any more, this is the perfect time to discover, or re-discover this excellent series. Starting at the beginning is never a bad idea, and The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic are the first two.

That said, one of my favorite things about the Discworld series is that you can pretty much start anywhere. Might I suggest Feet of Clay, Thud, or Unseen Academicals? They are all brilliant. The Fifth Elephant was the book that got me hooked. I also love Monstrous Regiment and Night Watch. Get into it! They are all wonderful.

Eric

-who is reading both The Long Mars and Raising Steam right now, and thinking about starting Lords and Ladies next!

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Ook

Sir Terry Pratchett has gone off arm in arm with his most interesting character. Sad librarians–and other fans–are sad.

meme generated by author

meme generated by author

Terry Pratchett is most famous for his Discworld novels, and with good reason, as there’s a great deal about them to love. One element that makes the Discworld series so darned appealing is that there’s no one right way to read them. While there’s technically a series order, groups of books can also be chunked into mini-series that follow particular characters. Also, there are so many different things going on in different parts of the Discworld, you can start anywhere and make your way around the planet at your leisure. Talk about a reader-friendly approach!

Another appeal factor is the fact that the Discworld is just plain ridiculous. The flat planet floats through space on the back of four elephants, who are themselves supported by a very large turtle. Its major city, Ankh-Morpork, is quite possibly the least livable place in the universe, and yet none of its citizens seem to mind…most likely because the majority of them are the most amoral, absurd characters in literature. The city’s ruler, Lord Vetinari, is the least likable leader you could imagine, and yet the city operates slightly better with him at the helm than it would without him (thanks largely to his own efforts to keep it that way).  Oh, and the head librarian at the local wizard school, Unseen University, is an orangutan whose vocabulary is limited to the words “Ook” and “Eek,” thanks to a wave of magic gone horribly wrong. Absolutely everyone and everything in Discworld is an object of potential ridicule, and often a satire/parody of our own world. Nothing is ever taken too seriously.

So, it’s kind of a zany place.

I’ve been reading Discworld novels since I was a kid, and while I haven’t pulled them off the shelf lately, there are a few I’d like to give another go, just for the sake of a proper farewell. These include:

Mort. Being Death is a pretty big job, so naturally he needs an apprentice. Mort likes the mortsound of Death’s recruitment pitch, and the benefits are terrific! But Mort is a bit of a bumbler, and so of course things go hilariously awry; also, dating becomes somewhat awkward. This was my first Discworld novel, and I found it highly amusing that Death ALWAYS SPOKE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Several years later, when A Prayer for Owen Meany came out, I honestly thought Irving swiped that trick from Pratchett to render Owen’s unique voice in text; I’m sure now that he didn’t, but considering how Owen Meany turns out, that’s a little too spooky for words. Recommended for readers into gallows humor.

guards Guards! Guards!. Everybody knows dragons are extinct, so it’s a bit of a surprise when one swoops into Ankh-Morpork, breathes fire all over the place, and declares itself king. Coincidentally enough, a rare book on dragon-summoning has disappeared from the library at Unseen University. Hm.

It’s up to Sam Vimes, long-suffering Captain of the Watch, and his rag-tag group of guards to figure out what the heck is going on and how to set it right without getting burned to a crisp, magicked into something awkward, or otherwise killed/humiliated. Vimes and his men are hysterically inept; luckily, so is just about everybody else in the novel. Guards! Guards! is the beginning of the Watch mini-series, including–but not limited to–Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, and The Fifth Elephant. Recommended for Three Stooges fans, and anyone else who likes wacky, madcap bumbling in their fiction.

Hogfather. T’was the night before Hogswatch, and all through the Discworld there are a whole mess of problems. For starters, the Hogfather has disappeared and is unable to deliver his toys this year, something Susan hogfather(Death’s granddaughter) is going to have to remedy. To do so, she’ll have to deal with an assassin named Teatime, who’s been hired to eliminate the Hogfather. An action-packed adventure that also manages to be a poignant comment on the nature of childhood beliefs in particular, as well as myth and ritual in general. The perfect remedy for those who no longer believe in childish things, and very comforting to those who never stopped.

Going Postal. When con artist Moist Von Lipwig (yes, really) is finally caught, he’s given a choice: be hanged from the neck until he is dead, or be put in charge of the Ankh-Morpork post office. It sounds like a no-brainer for postalMoist…at least, until he starts the job and finds out just how much of a mess he’s gotten himself into.

Hindered at all turns by assassins trying to kill him, a rival communication system that’s threatening to make the post office obsolete, and the tormented cries of countless undelivered letters, Moist is determined to get the post office back up and running if it’s the last thing he does…which it just might be. Snarky commentary on competing technologies, lots of physical comedy, and a little love story to boot (Pratchett’s characters are often hopelessly crushing on unattainable people), this is a good pick for a reader who wouldn’t care for some of the more magical aspects of the Discworld, but would still appreciate the comedy.

Rest in peace, Sir Terry, and thank you for the many fine laughs you’ve given us, both in Discworld and elsewhere. Or, as your librarian might say, “Ook, eek, eek ook ook.”

–Leigh Anne

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The Glorious Surprise (of something that sounds horrible but is fantastic)

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.

–Eric

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