In the second post in the Terry Pratchett appreciation series, soon-to-be-debut author Django Wexler writes about his love of the Discworld series and Pratchett’s writing as a whole.
“On Pratchett” by Django Wexler
“Write a couple of paragraphs about your favorite Discworld books.” I should have seen the trap in that one. It’s hard for me to pick favorites at the best of times, but starting with the Discworld canon it’s an impossible task. For starters, there are so many of them, and almost all of them are so good! I have more Terry Pratchett books in my personal library than any other author. It’s not even close – there are at least two shelves-worth just for Discworld. I started reading them in high school and never stopped.
At his best, Pratchett does something for me that very few authors can. There are books that make me laugh, and there are books that give me goosebumps, but there are very, very few that manage to do both. Pratchett manages to work off-hand humor and clever references, parody and insight, and real, evolving characters all into the same story, in a way that (speaking as a writer) leaves me green with envy, and (speaking as a reader) leaves me in awe.
So this is, at best, a partial list, because I can find something to love in almost any of the Discworld books. I love the development of the character of Death, from Mort to Reaper Man to Hogfather. I love the parodies that get at something deep in the source material: Soul Music, Moving Pictures (my paperback of that one is mostly scotch tape by this point), and The Truth. I love narrative causality from Witches Abroad, and I love the meditation on the nature of the “gonne” in Men-at-Arms.
“Hold it in your hand, and you had power. More power than any bow or spear — they just stored up your own muscles’ power, when you thought about it. But the gonne gave you power from outside. You didn’t use it, it used you.”
- Men at Arms
I love Tiffany Aching getting older from The Wee Free Men through A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and onward. I love when he takes some minor detail, like the history monks from Small Gods, and expands them into something like Thief of Time.
And I guarantee, for every book I haven’t mentioned, there’s something I love about it. Even the early ones, when he was hesitantly finding his way, have bits and pieces that stick in the memory forever.
I also feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pratchett’s work beyond Discworld. There’s Good Omens co-written with Neil Gaiman – of course, a dream team like that only comes along once in a lifetime – but both the Johnny Maxwell books and the Bromeliad Trilogy have also really stayed with me. If you’ve never investigated them, have a look.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have some re-reading to do…
Django Wexler is the author of the upcoming The Thousand Names, the first in his Shadow Campaigns series, to be published by Roc (US) and Del Rey (UK) in July 2013. Learn more about his work on his Website, and be sure to follow him on Twitter.
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The Guards are my favorite, possibly because of Dibbler always cropping up now and again.
It's also the best gateway story arc. Everyone I know who's tried the Discworld, but started with THE COLOUR OF MAGIC has been pretty much disappointed. I always then suggest GUARDS! GUARDS! (Or, as I mention in the next post, buy it for them... As I did for Alyssa and many friends besides.)Delete