Friday, February 15, 2013

Appreciation: Terry Pratchett


Following on from today’s two other posts about Terry Pratchett, I reached out on Twitter to a few bloggers to get their thoughts on Sir Terry’s work. Here is what they had to say, as well as some of my own thoughts on one of the greatest, most-beloved fantasy series.


“Wyrd Sisters/The Witches” by Doug Smith

I originally came to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld through the old point-‘n’-click adventure games on PC. A friend of mine at the time got the first two for Christmas and I had to have them. So eventually, somewhere down the line, that brought me to starting the Discworld novels in earnest. I read them in as strange an order as you’d expect from a true Discworld fan and enjoyed them all immensely. But when I eventually came to Wyrd Sisters – that increased tenfold.


I’m not too sure what it is about the Witches novels which speak to me more than the rest. I love Rincewind and the rest of the Unseen University, Death and his “family” and, of course, the ever put-upon Samuel Vimes and the City Watch.

Pratchett-WyrdSistersBut the Witches novels have kings and evil tyrants. Fairies and elves. Swords, crowns and Headology. They have witches on heaths and psychotic black cats. The Witches novels are where Pratchett takes on literature itself – fantasy itself, and shows us what lies behind the curtain. What do the characters from tales of yesteryear really think? Who would be the Discworld’s answer to Macbeth? To Hamlet? And just who lives out in that cottage in the woods, scaring children at night, talking to animals and flying broomsticks?

Wyrd Sisters was the first novels in the Witches sub-series and it epitomises everything I love about the Discworld. Sir Terry takes on witches, ghosts, tyrants and kings. He takes on the Bard himself, and wins. What else is there to say?

Doug Smith blogs at Wilder’s Book Review


The Tiffany Aching Series, by Susan Voss

Pratchett-WeeFreeMenThey are small, lewd, blue, and crude. Sometimes they border on the unintelligible, and when they do, they usually make their point with a well-practiced head bashing. I speak of the Wee Free Men, and not lightly. No, utmost seriousness is required to deal with these wee warriors. And cheese. Sometimes a frying pan helps get the point across too. The Tiffany Aching books are some of the best humorous fiction produced by Terry Pratchett, mixing in the right amount of seriousness. While set in the Discworld, one does not need prior knowledge of the series to enjoy these books and Tiffany's adventures from girlhood to that of a young lady. Raised on the Chalk, granddaughter of an indefatigable shepherdess, maker of cheese, and a latent witch, Tiffany opened my heart and brought forth laughter. Indeed, the pages capturing her adventures are filled with mighty deeds, questionable humor, a wee amount of Free Men cussing (Crivens!), and a lead character I long to grow up to be. As you can tell, I am a fan of Ms. Aching and I wish wholeheartedly that Mr. Pratchett will go back on his word and write yet another volume in the Tiffany Aching saga. I hope you find the time to enjoy them too.

If you want to experience the first book with a group of fun-loving idiots, uh, cultured readers, feel free to join our read along of The Wee Free Men, Book 1 of the Tiffany Aching saga, hosted by Dab of Darkness and The Little Red Reviewer. Drop a comment at either site to join in.


Snuff & Others, by KJ Mulder

Pratchett-SnuffK.J. Mulder offers his opinion of Snuff, Pratchett’s 39th Discworld novel…

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever to have been published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder. He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment. They say that in the end all sins are forgiven. But not quite all...

Overall I really enjoyed Snuff. It’s not a light, easy read like most of the other Discworld novels, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The issues Snuff deals with and the social commentary it provides is very apt and relevant in today’s society. It’s best to keep this one aside for the times when you are ready for something a little more serious, with just a dash of humor thrown in for good measure. If you are in the mood for a light, funny read, I’d recommend you look to the earlier Discworld novels.

And some thoughts on Discworld as a whole…

I discovered Discworld rather late in life, which is one of the most unfathomable and regrettable things in the entire world. To say I adore the Discworld would be an understatement. Last year, I literally overdosed on Discworld, reading 21 of the novels in a single month. I can’t choose a favourite, as each one I’ve read has had a special kind of magic. I would say that The City Watch arc holds a slight lead in my affections (approximately scythe blade’s width if I had to be specific). I only have one more novel to go before I’ve read the entire the series. My only regret is that you only ever get one chance to read them for the first time. While they are my go-to books when I’m feeling blue, or in a reading slump, a re-read just isn’t quite the same as that very first encounter.


Up to Snuff… but not Including

I had intended on writing a review of Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld novel, Snuff. Sadly, however, I haven’t had the chance to finish it. Instead, in keeping with the general Appreciation-theme, here are my thoughts on Pratchett’s work and legacy. (I’ve tried to mix up the titles I mention, to create some variation with those above).

Pratchett’s Discworld series is one of my comfort reads. There is no other author who comes close to guaranteeing a read that I can sink into with little difficulty and enjoy as much each time I read it. Every times I return to a Discworld novel, I discover or recognise a new reference or joke, one that slipped by me on previous reads. Pratchett is an author whose work has brightened my life for a decade and a half – I started reading his novels properly at 14yrs old – and despite my general feeling that the first few were a little over-the-top (things improved incredibly post-Pyramids), they remain excellent reads.

Discworld Nanny and Greebo

Pratchett’s novels have almost all been delightful, the ones I’ve read (there are still a few I haven’t managed to get to, for some reason). I find them entertaining, funny, gripping, touching, and sometimes sad. They are populated by some of the most interesting and colourful characters I’ve ever come across. I love them all, and like all great fictional series, I’ve come to love them like family. Actually, much more than some of my actual family. That’s including characters like Creosote (troll crime lord), Cut-My-Own-Throat Dibbler (eternally optimistic, dodgy tradesman), and even Greebo (Granny Weatherwax’s psychotic cat)…

Pratchett-1-GuardsGuardsI’ve re-read the City Watch and Death novels multiple times, and perhaps more than any other novels. Hell, I’ve even bought at least five copies of Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms and Feet of Clay – which includes a replacement copy for myself, and gifts for four others. Which reminds me, I should get them (and a few others) for my Kindle, too, so I have them to hand whenever I need. I love reading about Sam Vimes and his struggles against society, crime, and an ever-stoic Lard Vetinari; the earnest Captain Carrot and not-to-be-messed-with Sergeant Angua; the inseparable, sketchy Corporal Nobbs and somewhat lazy Sergeant Colon. And how could anyone forget Death? With his fascination in people, in life, in farming (Reaper Man) and “music with rocks in” (Soul Music), I think Death and the Librarian (below) are my favourite characters, and I love how much they crop up in other Discworld novels.


Ain’t nothing better than a monkey ape for a goalie… (Unseen Academicals)

The Witches series I’ve read a couple times, but I don’t love these as much as many other people – probably because I don’t know the referenced material as well as I should. Even the Rincewind novels, which includes some of Pratchett’s earliest novels (which were a little bit crazy with gags and puns), I’ve read at least twice.

And the stand alone Discworld novels? Moving Pictures, three times. Small Gods, twice. Thief of Time, three times. The latest new series-within-a-series, featuring the fabulously-named con-man, Moist van Lipwig? I’ve read Going Postal and Making Money twice each.

Pratchett-TheTruthAnd, finally: The Truth! As someone who has long-aspired to be a journalist, has studied media and journalism… It’s pure genius. Because of Pratchett, I shall never be able to see a sign for the company ING Direct and not smile (see Mr. Pin). This is probably my favourite of all of Pratchett’s novels.

Even The Carpet People, what would now be classified as a YA novel, by Terry Pratchett aged 14 and 40: I wish I could write such endearing, imaginative, and amusing light, fantastical comedy.

If you have never read a Discworld novel, then you are absolutely missing out. Start with Guards! Guards!, and you will be introduced to a world that keeps on giving. They will become the most-read books in your collection. You will read them all. And you will love them. Pratchett is a genius, and his novels have given me so much joy, and they will continue to do so right up until I finally perish. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the last book I read is a Pratchett…) It will truly be a sad day when he can no longer write.

(Terry Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna, has officially been designated as the author to continue the Discworld series after Terry steps back. It’ll be interesting to see how she handles the characters, and also new characters she will create.)


Anyone else have fond Pratchett-memories they’d like to share?


  1. Thanks for inviting me to share my fondness for the Tiffany Aching series. I enjoyed reading everyone else's favorite memories. I too enjoy the Death and Wyrd Sisters books. I haven't gotten into the Night Watch books yet, but my man really enjoys them. Luckily, there are so many Discworld books, that I won't be lacking for entertainment any time soon.

    1. Definitely give the City Watch series a read - it's brilliant, in my opinion. Guards Guards isn't the best, but Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jungo, Night Watch and Thud are superb.

    2. When you start the Night Watch novels, watch for Sybil. She is not onscreen all the time, but she is always important.