Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad – Terry Pratchett

“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” – Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad is the third instalment in the miniseries following Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat, a trio of witches from the mountain kingdom of Lancre. And this book deals with stories, and their importance in the world. It also deals with good and bad, and travel.
2016-02-29 13.01.26Pratchett seems wholly-comfortable with his direction for the series by this stage, and his wit and humor shine through. While travelling the Disc, the witches discuss the possibility of witch airlines using giant broomsticks. They start coming up with names, and Pratchett’s wonderful wit shines through, as the suggestions are puns of real airlines such as Three Witches Airborne (TWA) and Broomsticks Airborne (BA). While the scene isn’t central to the main story it just shows the wit that has become synonymous with the Discworld series, and also shows the wonderful way in which Terry Pratchett merges aspects of the real world into his work.

The main thread of this fun little yarn is all about stories. And more importantly, the power of stories. While we, humans, create stories all the time, do we really control and shape them? Whether that story is the story that is life, or if it is a book we write, how much of them is shaped by us? Or as Pratchett alludes to – do they shape us? A sobering thought, especially for bookworms like myself. I have read many books, and a lot of them have left a mark in some way on me, Some good, some terrifying (thank you Stephen King).

Witches abroad is a wonderful tale, littered with references to classic stories and fairy tales. But the spin Pratchett adds to these is part of the charm. It looks deeper into the stories, adds a little back story to the characters that their original fairy tales never did. Stripped down to its core, this book is a classic good versus evil tale with a healthy dose of fairy tale whimsy. But then the author comes in with the heavy machinery to put his touch on. And in this sense, I don’t mean it in a negative way. He comes in firing on all cylinders with sarcasm, wit and humour that I love about the Discworld series.

In the two previous books featuring the witches, I was left feeling lukewarm. This outing, is very much third time’s a charm! I really enjoy this book – it’s great fun, and I love the injection of beloved fairy tales to the narrative. And on top of this, I am really warming to the three key characters. I felt like I wasn’t quite getting to know the trio of witches fully, but this time out we learn more about them and their lives, and more importantly their very different personalities.

The witches still don’t make for my favourite mini-series within the Discworld books, but compared to the first two books involving them, this is a world apart. At this stage, I am definitely beginning to like the witches more and more.

My rating:
goodread

Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett

“…no-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away… The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.” – Terry Pratchett 

Reaper Man is the next book in the Discworld series, and upfront I am going to give my opinion – I love this book. And that’s no exaggeration. Officially, this great little book sits within the Death series, but it has cameos from the wizards of Unseen University and a few appearances from Sergeant Fred Colon of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
wp-1453731647321.jpgThis book moves off in a different direction for Death as a main character, and that for me is a key part of why I really like this story. It brings up the idea of making the most of life. As Pratchett has shown in past appearances, Death has an interest in the human condition, and almost displays slight glimmers of humanity in himself. This, however, presents a problem – Death isn’t isn’t meant to show compassion, interest or any of the other features of the human condition. Death is the end. That’s it. So universal forces are brought in to strip him of his role, his purpose. And his immortality.

So what does the former reaper of souls do know he has time on his hands? He sets out to experience life. Death has always had a curiosity about humans, and their lives, but only when he has a finite amount of sand slowly trickling from the top bulb to the bottom of his life timer, only then does he truly start to live. Much as we tend to do in reality.

But why? Why do we so often wait until we have precious little time left, to make the most of it? Because we are, at the heart of it only human. But with His new found time, Death turns his hand to labour. He makes friends, he lives a life. All the while, the dead aren’t staying fully-dead. Without Death to shepherd them into the great beyond, they are forced to walk the world. And some of them prefer it this way.

This book rates highly for me, as I am a keen fan of the Death subset of stories from Terry Pratchett. He is a likeable character that only gets better the more we see him, and the more subtle human traits he picks up. Throw in the wizards as well and this is a fun travel around Ankh-Morpork and outlying settlements. Once again, the locations feel a bit richer, the characters a little deeper as Pratchett really gets to grips with the direction and future ideas for this epic series.

My rating:
goodread

Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett

Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett

“I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You’re wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people,but some of them are on opposite sides” – Lord Havelock Vetinari

Guards! Guards! is one of my favourite books in the wonderful Discworld series. What makes a fantasy story? Magic? Brave men? Dragons? “Damsels in distress”? Check, check and check in the case of this installment. And even better, it features even more of Terry Pratchett’s dry wit and real world parody. This book features healthy doses of fantasy, human greed, cynicism, idealism and dark humour to form a well rounded, laugh-out-loud adventure that introduces the haphazard group of mismatches, The Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
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Power is a major thread of the story once again, but in a slightly different light than in Sourcery. Such is the desire of a hooded wannabe-tyrant, he opts for a convoluted way of making a power grab. Using a group of dull-witted followers to help,  he summons a dragon that is to be “slain” by the long lost heir to the throne of the city. He will then, naturally, act as advisor, pulling the strings while hidden from sight. As is so often the case in reality, the greed of man and lust for power consumes all – promotion in a comfy career is not enough, and being all-powerful is all that will do.

Once again, very much like in reality people need to be careful what they wish for, as in this case, the dragon takes control of its’ own destiny, returning to overthrow the city. This book is for my money, the most like a true fantasy story in so far as it features the villainous dragon terrorising the city, and a group of brave men saving the day.

This book continues the trend of the early books in the Discworld series in introducing new characters and groups that have significant bearing in the future. We meet Lady Sybil Ramkin. Born to a noble family, she has a soft-spot for dragons, caring for them and learning all there is to know about them. Swamp dragons at least, not the enormous city-wrecking type. She brings an almost-permanent sense of optimism to things, and sees the best in almost anyone, including a couple of members of the Watch.

Which brings me back around to one of the aspects of this book that makes it one of my favourites – the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. As I’ve mentioned before,  the Discworld series is made up of 41 main books split into a range of mini-series. The City Watch compromise a whole mini-series of its own. The group starts off as a ragtag bunch of possibly the worst guards on the Disc. Their hearts are in the right place, but they are not the City’s finest. I love their leader, Commander Samuel Vimes, even if he is a bit of a downbeat man with a penchant for drink. This book introduces the group and sets the scene for what is a fantastic thread in the narrative of the Discworld series.

This is my second read through of this fantastic book, and if anything it just gets better. And it reminds me why I love the City Watch. I cannot wait to read more in the series, but next up for me is a book I haven’t yet read – Eric, part of the Rincewind series. Let’s see what this one has in store for me.

My rating:
goodread

Mort – Terry Pratchett

Mort – Terry Pratchett

“YOU MUST LEARN THE COMPASSION PROPER TO YOUR TRADE”
“And what’s that?”
“A SHARP EDGE.” – Death

Pratchett’s fourth book in the Discworld series sees us focus on another core character in the books – Death. Death is, as he describes himself, an anthropomorphic personification – the phenomenon of Death made real. Once again, real world issues and ideas are introduced into the series, and the expansion of locations continues.

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Death decides it is time to take on an apprentice. He heads to a small town in the Ramtops, to visit the annual hiring fair. Here, boys stand in a line, waiting for tradespeople of all kinds to select them for apprenticeship. Unfortunately for Mort, a tall lad described as being made of mostly knees and elbows, it is almost midnight. Nobody has picked him and the stallholders around are beginning to pack up. Until, of course, Death appears, and takes Mort on as apprentice.

A quick trip to the twin-city of Ankh-Morpork for a haircut and a hot meal, and Death takes the boy to his domain. Things aren’t the same in Death’s domain as they are on the Disc. It has features like a house and gardens, but they are all coloured in shades of black. Add to that, time stands still here. Mort meets Death’s surly, elderly helper, Albert and a sullen sixteen year old – Death’s adopted daughter, Ysabell. Here in Death’s Domain, Mort whiles away the days with menial chores, mostly tending to Death’s horse, Binky. Until one day, Mort is offered the chance to come out on THE DUTY, as Death refers to it. They head to Sto Lat, where Death reaps the soul of an assassinated king. Death, and by extension Mort, are unseen by all others except wizards and cats. It seems, however, that the king’s daughter can see Mort. And he cannot stop thinking about this.

Mort continues to work in Death’s Domain, yet he can’t shake the thought that the Princess saw him. He decides to do something about it, to pay her a visit, so asks Death for an afternoon off. While this seems a strange request, Death acquiesces, giving him until sunset. Mort arrives on the Disc, in Ankh-Morpork, where he attempts to procure a fast horse to get him to Sto Lat. Unfortunately, he finds himself in a less-than salubrious area known as The Shades. Here, he gets hassled by a group of thieves, determined to relieve him of his money. He attempts to flee, though ends up running through the wall of a bridge over the river in the process. It seems that Mort is becoming more like Death. He manages to source a fast steed, and rides for Sto Lat.

Mort meets a young wizard by the name of Igneous Cutwell. Mort hopes he can help explain these newfound abilities to walk through walls. Unfortunately for Mort, Cutwell cannot explain it and the time spent trying to work it out means it’s almost sunset. Death appears to take him back to Death’s Domain. Before long, Death decides the boy is ready to head out on his own, so sends him off to reap three souls. The first is that of a witch, who is very understanding of Mort’s inexperience and makes his first reaping easy. The second is that of an abbot of a group of monks. He is destined to be reincarnated for eternity, so is not surprised by the arrival of Mort. The third, however, is the Princess Keli.

Mort heads to Sto Lat, but instead of reaping the soul of the Princess, he kills the would-be assassin in the employ of the Duke – the man who had the King killed. As he leaves to head back, he feels something amiss. Fate and history are in a state of dismay – what was destined to happen, including the death of the Princess hasn’t happened. The problem is, fate is trying to move on as it thinks it should happen. Mort has changed destiny, but reality doesn’t know it.

The princess notices problems, too. People around her all wear black and seem highly emotional, though cannot seem to explain this. It seems as though they are all in mourning. In their hearts the people know the Princess is dead, even though their heads see her. She goes to see Cutwell, who proves the predicament she is in by reading Keli’s cards. She draws three Death cards – though a deck should only contain one. As a result she employs Cutwell in the role of Royal Recogniser, tasked with ensuring people remember Keli is alive.

Mort, meanwhile cannot face telling Death what he has done, so tells Ysabell instead. The resolve to tell Death, only to find he is gone, having left two jobs for Mort. Death is down on the Disc, experiencing human pleasures including gambling, drinking and fishing, before taking work as a cook. While Mort is becoming more like Death, Death is becoming ever more mortal.

In Death’s empty study, Mort finds two jobs waiting for him. He knows he must complete these, and does so in a hurry. He makes for Sto Lat, where he finds a troubling situation occurring – reality has worked out what Mort has done, and is taking steps to correct itself. Within in Sto Lat, reality is as Mort left it – with the princess alive. But a shimmery wall of sorts encapsulates the area, drawing in on the city at a walking pace, with Princess Keli at its heart. Everything outside the wall exists in the true reality – a reality where Keli is dead and the Duke is on the throne.

Mort lands ahead of the boundary of the two realities, presently unaware of what it is. He heads to a tavern, the Queen’s Head, where he enters through the wall and imbibes a pint of scumble. Scumble, made of apples (mostly), is immensely alcoholic and a pint would not be great for one’s’ sobriety, yet it doesn’t touch Mort. The boundary passes through the tavern, and Mort notices things are different – the clothes of the barman, and the name of the tavern, now the Duke’s Head.

He departs at speed through the wall, and strikes out for the city. Here, he tracks down Igneous Cutwell, and explains the situation. While looking through the wizard’s books for a solution, Mort spots a picture of the founder of Unseen University, Alberto Malich. He recognises the man in the image, it’s none other than Albert. He disappeared from UU two thousand years before while performing the Rite of AshkEnte in reverse, and has been living in Death’s Domain ever since.

He rushes back to Death’s Domain, where he tells Ysabell about Albert, and they go off in search of proof. They head to Death’s library, where the biographies of every person are kept. In the section for the oldest biographies, they find almost complete silence. Except for one volume of Albert’s that is still writing itself. The biography confirms things – Albert is Alberto. They confront him, and ask for help in stopping the reality heading for Keli. He refuses, so Mort is forced to use his new-found powers.

Under duress, Albert agrees to give them a spell that will hold back the advancing reality, as long as it is performed by midnight the next day. The following morning, with Death still enjoying, for want of a better word, life on the Disc, it falls to Mort and Ysabell to carry out The Duty. Unfortunately, the two jobs are in far flung parts of the Disc, nowhere near Sto Lat.

Angry that Death is still away, Albert heads for the University. He assembles the wizards, and begins to perform the Rite of AshkEnte. While on The Duty, though, Mort starts to be drawn in by the Rite. Ysabell punches him, the shock causing that which is Death within Mort to separate from the rest, and head into the vortex caused by the summoning. Back in Ankh-Morpork, a frying pan clatters to the floor in a restaurant kitchen as the real Death is summoned to Unseen University. Albert explains everything to Death, who flies into a rage and returns to his Domain.

Mort and Ysabell race for Sto Lat, arriving at the coronation of Keli. But as they arrive, so does the reality boundary. With only one option to save her, Mort takes her, and Cutwell, back to Death’s Domain, and outside of time and reality. Upon their return they are greeted by an enraged Death, who knows the gods will expect the sacrifice of Keli and Cutwell. Death and Mort enter into combat, fighting for the lives of the others.

The fight is long, energy-sapping and aggressive. It takes them through the room of life-timers, where a number are broken, killing their owners. As a happy coincidence, one of them belongs to the Duke. Eventually, Death wins. Ysabell tries to appeal to Death, declaring her love for Mort. Just when all seems lost, Death turns Morts almost-empty life-timer over, resetting time.

Death appeals to the Gods, who agree to allow Keli and Cutwell to live. Meanwhile, Ysabell and Mort marry, becoming the Duke and Duchess of Sto Helit. The Princess and wizard attend the ceremony. She has a big job on her hands, in unifying the cities of the Sto Plains, a role history had her uncle fulfilling. Death appears to Mort briefly. He hands him two gifts. One is an egg, really a small reality boundary that will expand into a new universe when this one dies. The second gift is a biography, Mort’s biography. It has a great many empty pages still waiting to be filled. And with that, Death says his goodbyes, and returns to his domain.

This book is one of my favourites. Well, one of many, anyway. The character of Death is really evolved here, along with his interest in humanity. He isn’t evil, or nasty, just very good at his job. We also see Terry Pratchett touching on wider Earth-like subjects. Chiefly, the idea that it would be a very bad thing to try and alter reality.

My rating:
goodread

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett

It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history. – Terry Pratchett

Equal Rites is the third of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld mega-series. This book takes a new direction, following a new character, the witch Esmerelda “Granny” Weatherwax. With this third book, Pratchett starts to build on the ideas of the Discworld, expanding its character base and developing the history and narrative that will flow through the series. We also see real world ideas and issues enter his writing, the first real sign of the roundworld parodies to come.

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We start by following a wizard, one who knows his time on the Disc is short. His name is Drum Billet. On a stormy evening he travels through the Ramtop Mountains to the place where a birth is taking place. It is known across the Disc that the eighth son of an eighth son will become a wizard. Billet intends to pass his wizard’s staff to the newborn, ensuring their path into wizardhood. As he walks in, Granny Weatherwax comes down the stairs carrying the newborn to the father. Without a further thought, Billet touches the staff to the baby’s small hand, against the protestations of the witch. Only then, does he realise what he has done. The eighth son of an eighth son is in fact a daughter – Eskarina “Esk” Smith. And so, the Disc gains its very first female wizard. But there’s a problem – women just cannot be wizards. Men are wizards, women are witches.

Billet, his duty done, passes from the world, leaving behind a large problem. Esk is raised as normally as possible, until strange things happen in her presence. Granny decides to mentor the girl in the ways of witching. She learns about herbs, headology and borrowing-entering the minds of other creatures. Head-strong as she is, Esk ignores warnings of the risks of borrowing, and tries to take over an eagle. She likes the feeling and flies far and high, not returning for days. Eventually, with the help of the wizard’s staff Granny Weatherwax tracks down the eagle, the girl almost gone within.

She manages to return to her body, but only just. As Esk’s magic becomes stronger and more unpredictable, she starts seeing things. The chittering, nightmarish demons of the Dungeon Dimensions, beings that feed upon magic.There is no other choice but to head to Ankh-Morpork, maybe if she can join the Unseen University Esk can control her magic. The witch and the girl head out on their journey, getting separated along the way. At one such time, Eskarina meets Simon, a stuttering young man, and a genius in the theory of magic.

She travels with him and his mentor to Ankh-Morpork, with a number of magical mishaps and departures to the Dungeon Dimensions along the way. On arrival, things don’t go as Esk had imagined at the University. The wizards refuse to allow her to join, as women cannot be wizards. Granny has another way in for her, as a maid at the university. After a while though, the girl becomes bored that she is not learning any more magic, merely using her staff to help with the tedious tasks at hand.

She heads to the library to try and learn magic from the books. Here she runs into Simon, who tells her all about the properties of magical books. But she sees the demons once again preparing to attack. The books begin to fly about in panic, and the staff rises up, striking Simon, knocking him unconscious. Wizards arrive, taking him away to be treated. Esk flees, heading to the river, casting the staff into its waters in anger at what it has done to Simon. The boy remains unconscious for a number of days. Granny explains to Esk that the Dungeon demons were drawn by Simon’s magical powers, so the staff hit him to stop them entering the real world. Unfortunately, Simon’s mind has entered the Dungeon Dimensions, leaving his empty body behind. To try to bring him back risks bringing a demon back instead.

The witch and the girl head to the Great Hall to speak with the Archchancellor. The uproar caused by women being in the Hall leads to a magical duel between the witch and Archchancellor. Esk, sensing the demons preparing to attack, runs to the Simon at the infirmary. Behind his door are strange sounds and lights, so she forces her way in. Once the sound and light stops, all that’s left is the empty bodies of Simon and Esk. In the Dungeon Dimensions, Esk finds Simon, possessed and surrounded by creatures. He appears to be playing with snow globes. But they contain small planets, the Disc included.

She snatches the globe containing the Disc as it starts to crack, and runs, the demons in pursuit. Deciding to fight, Esk discovers the creatures are fragile, managing to bring down a number of them. They release Simon, now threatening to attack him if she refuses to hand the Disc over.

Back at the University, the great duel ends in a stalemate. Archchancellor and witch resolve to work together. They head out in a huge storm that has developed during their duel, causing the river Ankh to burst its banks. The pair set off in a boat to try to retrieve the staff. Just as the begin to fear it might be lost, the boat strikes ice. The staff must be nearby. They retrieve it and hurry back to the University.

Granny and the Archchancellor find Esk and Simon now in the library, the only place safe from the storm. Archchancellor Cutangle declares Esk a wizard, so that she might unlock the full potential of her staff. In the Dungeon Dimensions, the staff appears in her hands. In terror, the demons flee from it. Simon wants her to use it upon them, but she explains they are attracted to magic, and the real power is in not using it. This idea excites Simon’s mind, what possibilities might it hold back on the Disc?

He takes the glass pyramid in which the Disc sits, and locates the University. In the library, the staff lifts into the air, swirling. A bright light fills the room, and as it abates, the pair sit up, returned to their bodies.

As things return to normal, Granny Weatherwax decides to return home, not before being offered a teaching position at the Unseen University. Esk and Simon remain, set on exploring a whole new branch of magic.

Almost a breath of fresh air, Equal Rites opens up so many more possibilities for the series. New characters and new locations are beginning to form in the mind of Pratchett, and this is only the beginning. While this is not the last time we see Esk, it will not be for many more books that she returns. Onwards to Mort, the fourth book in the series, and yet another new avenue of the world to explore.

My rating:
okaybook

The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett

“I just want to go home! I want to go back to where—’ a trace of moisture appeared in Rincewind’s eye—‘to where there’s cobbles under your feet and some of the beer isn’t too bad and you can get quite a good piece of fried fish of an evening, with maybe a couple of big green gherkins, and even an eel pie and a dish of whelks, and there’s always a warm stable somewhere to sleep in and in the morning you are always in the same place as you were the night before and there wasn’t all this weather all over the place. I mean, I don’t mind about the magic, I’m probably not, you know, the right sort of material for a wizard, I just want to go home!—” – Rincewind

The Light Fantastic is the second book in the Discworld series. In the first book – The Colour of Magic – the hapless pairing of Rincewind the failed wizard and Twoflower, the Disc’s first tourist, are left plunging over the rim of the Disc and out in to space.

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This is where we pick up the story – with our unlucky duo plunging over the edge. Rincewind can hardly believe his luck when he finds himself snagged by the branch of a tree growing out of the edge. An unpleasant conversation ensues when Death appears, waiting for him to fall to his mortal end. Unfortunately for Rincewind, the branch snaps. But more on this a little later.

In this book, Pratchett adds to some of the richness of this pairing of characters, while also introducing a few more locations and groups that feature heavily in the series. One such location is the Unseen University – an educational establishment for wizards in the city of Ankh-Morpork. We also get to meet a handful of its resident wizards. As you might expect in any other university, UU has a senior faculty member, in this case Archchancellor Galder Weatherwax. Beneath him sit the heads of the eight magical orders, and their orders of wizards beneath them. Unlike any other university, promotion is not earned on merit, but through acquisition of dead men’s pointy shoes. Or to put it another way, kill the wizard above you in the ranks, and take his place (and his shoes).

The ambitious, power-hungry and ordered young wizard works his way up through the levels capitalising on the turmoil currently gripping the inhabitants of the Disc. A large part of this turmoil is due to a rather large, red star that seems to be getting closer to the Disc. But there’s turmoil deep inside Unseen University, too. In the basement is a cell, designed to contain magic. And inside this cell is one of the most magic of all books – the Octavo. This book holds the eight great spells that helped create the world. Well, seven of them – the eighth spell resides inside the mind of Rincewind, who is currently falling off the Disc. Because of this, the Octavo is not happy.

Back to Rincewind, who is currently falling off of the Disc. He lands on solid ground, against all expectations, in the forest of Skund – back on the Discworld. In a bid to save the eighth spell, the Octavo casts a change spell, altering reality and causing Rincewind, Twoflower and the luggage to land back on the Disc. Unfortunately this causes other things to take place, chiefly a change in the state of the University’s librarian. Formerly of the human persuasion, the librarian now finds himself to be an orang-utan.

Now reunited, Rincewind and Twoflower set off out of the forest and in to an adventure filled with trolls, swords people and wizards all trying to get Rincewind back to the university, in the belief that when spoken, all eight spells will save the Disc from the ever-growing red star. Along the way they encounter a druid ritual, and along with the legendary barbarian, Cohen, manage to save the would-be sacrifice.

Along the way, Twoflower falls unconscious, and it falls to Rincewind to rescue him from the home of Death himself. All of this drama is too much for Rincewind, and for all its faults and his constant bemoaning of it, Rincewind becomes homesick for Ankh-Morpork.

Further adventure ensues as the band of not-so merry men, woman and luggage attempt to reach Ankh-Morpork. Along the way, in another town they encounter the deranged Star People – citizens who believe Magic to be the cause of the great star, and its now visible moons. They manage to escape, and return to Ankh-Morpork, where they break into the under-siege Unseen University. Here, Rincewind finds Trymon has ascended to the roll of Archchancellor, locked up the other heads of the eight magical orders, and taken the Octavo.

At the top of the Tower of Art, Trymon intends to speak the eight great spells and become all-powerful. He manages to recite seven, just as Rincewind reaches the top of the tower. After a scuffle and a trip to the dungeon dimensions, Rincewind defeats Trymon, throwing him down the tower. To save the Disc, he recites the eight spells. Having mispronounced one, nothing happens, until Twoflower stumbles upon the correct pronunciation.

This time something happens. The moons circling the star begin to fracture, revealing baby world turtles, with four elephant calves upon each of their shells, and a small, relatively unformed disc on their shoulders. With the last one hatched, Great A’Tuin turns away from the star, to lead its offspring out in to the depths of space. With the world saved, Twoflower decides it is time to return to his homeland, and bequeaths the luggage to his friend, Rincewind.

In this book, Pratchett really adds depth to some of the characters introduced in The Colour of Magic, such as Rincewind, Twoflower and Death. I like how more locations and characters that feature a lot more in the series are introduced, including Cohen and the Librarian. This book shows the development in ideas Pratchett has for the series, as well as giving more background on to the formation of the Discworld and how the Librarian came to be an orang-utan.

The next book in my run through of the series is Equal Rites. This is the first book in the series to leave Rincewind for now, and follow a new thread with all-new characters.

My rating:
okaybook

The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett

“If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!” – Rincewind

In 2011 I watched a two-part film in a fantasy world, not entirely unlike our own. It featured an intrepid traveller with an affinity for finding disaster and chaos, a cowardly wizard, a hero and a tribe of dragon-riding warriors. When you put it like that, it sounds like almost every other children’s fairy tale to a lesser or greater extent. But it wasn’t. Add in dry wit, sarcasm and a good serving of dark humour and it becomes something more. Further characters such as a murderous piece of luggage that will homicidally protect its’ master and the oft-despairing countenance of Death, and I was hooked.

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This film, of course, was the adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld-debut – The Colour of Magic. This started my love affair with the series, right through to the most recent, and penultimate book. Speaking to other Discworld fans, a great deal of them would argue against this book as a starting point for anyone who hasn’t read any of the series. Many posit that it isn’t Pratchett’s finest work. That may be true, but back in 1983 it is very likely the author had no idea this one book would become a forty-book series beloved by many, let alone having any fully-formed idea of how it would all look.

The Colour of Magic introduces the idea of The Discworld – a round, flat world perched on the sunburned shoulders of four enormous elephants, who in turn stand on the shell of a giant space turtle – Great A’Tuin. Sounds a little like the old-world view of a flat Earth (save for the elephants and giant turtle!). This isn’t the only Roundworld connection though, as the series does a fantastic job of parodying Earth.

The Colour of Magic introduces a couple of characters that feature heavily throughout the series – a skeletal figure of Death who tries to understand the human condition, and Rincewind – a failed wizard who tries to avoid danger at all costs. Rincewind inadvertently finds himself employed in the roll of guide to the Disc’s first tourist, Twoflower. The tourist is an inquisitive fellow that seems to attract trouble; mostly due to a valuable piece of luggage on legs and a large stash of gold coins he carries that is worth far less in his home than here in Ankh-Morpork.

As a result of this hitherto unseen wealth, the tourist does not go unnoticed in the largest city on the Disc. The ruler of Twoflower’s home land would rather he not return, lest others gain a sense of wanderlust and head out for pastures new. This leads to the Guild of Assassins being contracted to ensure he disappears. At the same time, the Guild of Thieves have become very aware of the newcomer, and naturally aren’t happy at the prospect of his possible demise. In a show of truly Earth-like entrepreneurial nous, a new guild is formed. The Guild of Merchants forms, seeing the benefits of keeping the wealthy wanderer alive so he might spend his gold in the twin city.

Amidst the chaos, and subsequent burning-down of Ankh-Morpork, the hapless duo makes haste in leaving the city. This leads to a trek around the Disc with plenty of misadventure and danger to boot. Run-ins with barbarian heroes, encounters with a tribe of dragon riders and escaping other-dimensional deities are just some of the troubles the pair face. And let’s not forget the culmination of their disasters – a plunge over the edge of the Disc.

In another nod to the real world, the Discworld is home to a great many Gods and Godesses. And religion, too, is not immune to Pratchett’s satire. In a very tongue-in-cheek manner, Rincewind, who is very much not religiously-minded, makes sure to make an offering from time to time to some of the numerous deities – after all, you never know when you might need one.

So maybe this particular book isn’t the strongest in Terry Pratchett’s series, but I cannot think of a better place to start. It is dark, witty, laugh-out-loud funny and if nothing else, it is where it all begins.

I think I will follow Rincewind and Twoflower over the edge of the Disc now, and set out on my next read in the series, The Light Fantastic.

My rating:
okaybook

Welcome to L-Space!

Welcome to L-Space!

Have you ever walked down the street, and spotted a dusty, dark, small bookshop? Yes? And have you ever walked inside, started walking down the aisle, around the corner, down another aisle, before becoming lost in its’ sheer enormity? Common sense and the basic principles of physics kick in to tell us there is no possible way the shop can be as large on the outside as it is on the inside. Well that, friends, is L-Space.

Terry Pratchett gave us the principle of L-Space, or Library Space. This concept states that all libraries and bookshops are linked across the multiverse. They all take on the appearance of the place you first entered so you won’t truly know you are moving between places, though! Basically, “a good book shop is just a genteel black hole that knows how to read”.

Now you know what L-Space is, welcome to L-Space Books!
libraryI love to read, and I love to talk to and share with others my thoughts on books, so that’s why I created this blog. I’ll enjoy a good book, sit down, and share my thoughts with you all on it, and engage in discussion. You can even recommend me books to read and review, and help make my blog more interactive over time.

So click that little follow button over there, up a bit, a little to the left, yep – that one on the side bar! That way you can keep up to date with my thoughts. I also have a Facebook page where you can engage with me and send me your book requests, and keep the discussion going.

Right, time for me to head back to my book – The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, in case you wondered.

Happy reading!