Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading.

Good Omens as been in my TBR pile for far longer than it had any right to be there for. With the recent release of the TV adaptation on Amazon Prime recently I felt it was the perfect time to dive in to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s comic fantasy novel describing the events preceding the end of days. In the past, I’ve struggled with co-authored books where subtle differences in writing style became apparent throughout. This always broke my enjoyment. On this front I was pleasantly surprised as Pratchett and Gaiman weave a story with no break in the narrative.fantasy6I absolutely loved this book and cannot understand why or how I have waited so long to read what is now a firm favourite book for me. The story follows the prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a witch who has the unusual talent of being the only person to ever predict anything with something close to accuracy. Her prophecies foresaw the end of days and all of the events leading up to it and the coming of the Antichrist. The armies of Heaven and Hell are amassing ready for the ultimate war.

The demon Crowley and meek angel Aziraphale have been on Earth ever since Adam and Eve gave in to temptation and were expelled from the Gardens of Eden. The two have spent aeons on Earth sowing the seeds of evil and good mostly respectively, though occasionally each sowing both for efficiency. Their relationship is built throughout the book developing a millenia-long friendship of two figures who are polar opposites in character.

The cast of supporting characters – Anathema Device, Newton Pulsifer, The Them, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to name a few are wonderfully-well crafted. Good Omens has become one of my very favourite books and I cannot believe I waited so long to read it. The comic timing, the fantasy, the science-fiction, everything about this book has been put together with a deftness of touch the only two of the best fantasy authors could produce. And while I am here, five episodes into the six episode TV adaptation of the book, and what a wonderful adaptation it is too! Yes there are some things in the book not in the series, some things in the series not in the book but nothing story-critical in either camp: both make for fantastic pieces of art in their own rights.

My rating:
goodread

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Friday Face-Off – 31st May 2019

Friday Face-Off – 31st May 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is one I have been looking forward to sinking my teeth into. And as I have been thoroughly enjoying a comedy fantasy I’ve never read though wanted to for some time, this seemed the perfect time. The theme is a favourite fantasy novel cover of my choosing!

For this theme I picked Good Omens by Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A highly appropriate choice today given the release of Amazon Prime’s Good Omens series.

Cover A:

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Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

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Cover E:

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Cover F:

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Cover G:

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Cover H:

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And the winner is… A DRAW!

Cover F features as it is another Joe McLaren cover that I happen to own. Such a simplistic but stunning design, I love it. Cover A is my other winner for the week. I love the duality of the cover that features in the story: angel and demon, good and evil, Heaven and Hell, black and white.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that makes you think of summer: “One swallow does not make a summer.”

Friday Face-Off – 10th May 2019

Friday Face-Off – 10th May 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a party, celebration or festival: “As full of spirit as the month of May.”

This week I went with Maskerade by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Cover A:

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Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

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Cover E:

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Cover F:

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And the winner is… COVER E!

Another winner picked from a cover I own. It is one of a series of covers designed by Joe Mclaren, finished in a faux canvas material with embossed features inlaid with metallic foil details. This cover is absolutely stunning, as are all of the Joe Mclaren covers.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover featuring a fantasy beast: “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow!”

Friday Face-Off – 25th January 2019

Friday Face-Off – 25th January 2019

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s cover theme is a cover depicting a monk, priest or person of the cloth: ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible’.

For this theme I have gone with Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Cover A:

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Cover B:

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Cover C:

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Cover D:

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Cover E:

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And the winner is… COVER B!

Firstly, it’s the only cover that actually features a priest. Secondly, it’s a Josh Kirby classic. Kirby is one of two artists (alongside Paul Kidby) so inextricably tied to Discworld that their works are almost unparalleled. A Kirby cover is always a winner in my book. Cover E is a close second as the cover I own.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a comedy cover.

Father Christmas’s Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

Father Christmas’s  Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett

Have you ever wanted Christmas to be different?

Turkey and carols, presents and crackers – they all start to feel a bit . . . samey.

How about a huge exploding mince pie, a pet abominable snowman, or a very helpful partridge in a pear tree? What if Father Christmas went to work at a zoo, or caused chaos in a toy store or, was even, arrested for burglary!?

Dive into the fantastically funny world of Terry Pratchett, for a festive treat like no other. These ten stories will have you laughing, gasping and crying (with laughter) – you’ll never see Christmas in the same way again.

I purchased a copy of this book for my personal reading. 

As an avid fan of the works of Sir Terry Pratchett this book was a must order just as soon as I saw it come up for preorder. And because I am a sucker for a special edition, I went for the special version of this, complete with a nice red slipcase adorned with a gold-leaf effect design on it.
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Enough of that, though, on to the book. My main exposure to the works of Pratchett are his immense Discworld series, a personal favourite of mine. I love the fantasy elements, the humour and the slightly adult jokes and innuendo so subtly placed throughout. So how would I fare with my first try of Pratchett’s work predominantly for children.

Well personally I loved the book. It is filled with lots of fun, humorous short stories littered with Pratchett’s particular style of weaving magic and jokes together so well. This collection of tales is fantastic, ranging anywhere from the woes of a last-minute stand in shopping centre Santa, to a wannabe Arctic explorer making the most of the ice-melting milder weather.

The stories are well written, with a distinctly British flavour to them. Whether it be the style of the writing or the parodying of stereotypical English villages and small towns. Father Christmas’s Fake Beard is a wonderful collection of short stories, my only small gripe being that some of the stories aren’t Christmas themed, which you would easily be forgiven for expecting given the title. But don’t let that stop you reading this book either to your little ones or for yourself.

My rating:
goodread

Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms – Terry Pratchett

“Murder was in fact a fairly uncommon event in Ankh-Morpork, but there were a lot of suicides. Walking in the night-time alleyways of The Shades was suicide. Asking for a short in a dwarf bar was suicide. Saying ‘Got rocks in your head?’ to a troll was suicide. You could commit suicide very easily, if you weren’t careful.” Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms


Men at arms brings things back to the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. And what a story to do it with. I am not going to bother beating about the bush or leaving it to the end to leave my overall opinions on this because. It’s pretty simple – I love it. This is the second or third time I have read this book, and yet somehow didn’t remember as much of it as I expected to. It’s great fun, it brings more of Sam Vimes’ character to the fore, alongside those of Nobby Nobbs, Fred Colon and Carrot the not-so dwarf. We also meet another City Watch regular in the making, werewolf Angua.
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So, to the story. The Night Watch has expanded and diversified at the instruction of Lord Vetinari to now include a dwarf, troll and a werewolf. A spate of mysterious crimes including theft of an unknown item and some grisly and hard-to-explain “suicides” (read: murders) spread throughout the city, all as Captain Vimes prepares to relinquish his position in the Night Watch as he prepares for his impending nuptials to Lady Sybil Ramkin.

Deceit, political wrangling and a nefarious criminal or two make for a good old fashioned whodunit story. I love the police procedural feel that it has alongside the now well-honed Pratchett humour. But it also brings in yet more connections to reality. Pressure from certain important members of society on the Patrician tried to divert the tenacious Vimes is not all that far fetched. History has shown too often that power, or money, greases the wheels of society, if not the palms. The inclusive, multicultural direction taken by the City Watch just feels so familiar with the direction the world has taken of late, as does, sadly the tensions between the trolls and dwarves.

There are no dragons, witches, or wizards here. And this book doesn’t need them. Yes, the Discworld is a fantasy series, but this story is so enjoyable, even without the stereotypical fantasy tropes. It does feature dwarves, trolls and a werewolf, but they aren’t what this story is about. To me, even less than the City Watch as a whole, this is the story of Sam Vimes. Who he is and how he works comes through in buckets. And running through it all, Men At Arms tells the story of how the topsy turvy city that is Ankh-Morpork works, where it’s come from, and a glimmer of where it might be headed.

I love the nods to the plethora of TV shows in the police and crime genre that Pratchett employs throughout the book. As a fan of crime and mystery, along with fantasy and comedy, the fusion of these normally very different themes is refreshing and funny. I love the growth of the City Watch characters, and the city itself seems to really come to life in the writing of this book. I think this is my favourite book in the Discworld series so far.

My rating:
goodread

Lords and Ladies – Sir Terry Pratchett

Lords and Ladies – Sir Terry Pratchett

“In fact, the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.” – Terry Pratchett

As has been mentioned in previous posts, the Witches series of books within the Discworld book series generally aren’t my favourites. So I, somewhat inevitably, read through it in a more stop-start manner. But, when I eventually turned the last page in this, the fourteenth book in the series, I realised I really enjoyed it. This time out, I felt the key characters of Granny, Nanny and Magrat were better developed, and we got to know them better this time out.
20160526_192150Pratchett uses some more fantasy world favourites in this book. Alongside the core group of witches that this book centres on, some of the wizards of Unseen University and a return of Casanunda, the pint-sized lothario first seen in Witches Abroad all make appearances. And then there’s the protagonists of this book – the elves.

All throughout literature of all forms, good and evil has been a major factor of tales, especially in the world of fantasy. In this work, however, the author takes a new spin on things. Glamour and beauty causes a whole lot of trouble throughout this story. Lords and Ladies also deals with the idea of alternate fates and multiple universes where versions of ourselves exist simultaneously, living variations of the same life.

Following on from events in Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies takes a slightly darker turn, while still retaining all of Terry Pratchett’s usual wit and humour. The witches find themselves going in different directions once they return to Lancre, Magrat moving to the castle ahead of her seemingly-sudden upcoming wedding to King Verence II. Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax are left to return to their lives in Lancre.

One theme of this story is the petulance of youth. It deals with the scenario of a gaggle of youngsters thinking they can do and know better than their elders. In this case, a group of girls attempt to become witches, thinking the Lancre coven are a group of silly old women, who know nothing of true witchcraft. They try to cast spells, and crucially, set into motion a sequence of actions, unleashing the elves on the world. With help from the Lancre locals, the trio of witches come together to defeat the elves, sending them packing back to their realm.

Another theme dealt with in this story is the past, and the question “what if…?”. What if things had been different? What if we hadn’t done or said that? Two key characters have history, and one of them wistfully reminisces and wonders about what might have been. It introduces an idea Pratchett uses again, that of the Trousers of Time. The idea here is that there are multiple ways the future can play out for us. It just depends on which leg of the trousers we head down. And in another life, in another world, every possibility that may happen will be happening.

This book did take me a while to read, probably setting myself up to enjoy it less than other books in the series. But I really did enjoy it, it was a fun read, with some fantastic character development. It also brings together figures from multiple of the miniseries within the Discworld. This was something different, helping to remind me that the whole series is interlinked, and shows how well written the books are.

My rating:
goodread