Friday, 13 March 2015

Terry Pratchett RIP



The world is a smaller place with the death of Terry Pratchett, whose Discworld books entertained and delighted us for so many years. If you look at comments on his death, you hear over and over again from young men who say that his books were the only ones that got them reading, the only ones they enjoyed, that they were the magic portal to the world of reading. Even if he had achieved only that, what a recommendation that would be. But his books were so much more than that.

In an entry on Men at Arms in May 2013 I said this:
We cannot be the only readers who assumed for a long time that Terry Pratchett books were not for us – some combination of sci-fi and Young Adult, aimed at a teenage boy’s sense of humour. Fortunately for some of us, we were forced to read them by the teenage boy, and found them to be funny, clever, endlessly inventive, satirical and often quite affecting.
That entry was about the Clowns’ Funeral and I was particularly proud of this picture:


Terry Pratchett 1





 
Maskerade was a three-way winner, featuring opera (‘Lohenshaak’ and ‘La Triviata’), and Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, and one of my all-time favourite Pratchett jokes: the two women are trying to hire a coach and ask the owner:
‘Have you got any special low terms for witches?’
‘Yeah, how about “meddling, interfering old baggages”?’
And in return we made Granny and Nanny look fabulous for their night at the opera.


Terry Pratchett 3Terry Pratchett 2


 
 
Monstrous Regiment is another favourite, and one that made CiB come over all political. The blogpost on it starts like this:

There’s a one-star review of this book on amazon which includes this:
anti patriotic, anti monarchist and very left wing. I don't think that the author should be attempting to indoctrinate the youth of today with such a clearly biased, left wing book.
One can only hope to buy a copy for every member of the youth of today: it's a political, satirical and quite stern book – very funny, but when it’s not being funny it’s sad, and it is indeed a brilliant anti-war document.

Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary says that an army is

a class of non-producers who defend the nation by devouring everything likely to tempt an enemy to invade.
Pratchett’s army is, on the whole, something like that.

Terry Pratchett 4


Leimomi Oakes of the Dreamstress website spent five years years recreating Polly Oliver’s uniform, as seen above.




All Pratchett fans know that DEATH is a recurring character in his books, and he always talks in capital letters. His family gave the news of Terry Pratchett’s death in two Tweets:
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.
 
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
Personally I think he’s dancing the Double Entry Polka, with that band of travelling accountants, round a campfire somewhere in the mountains.

















18 comments:

  1. Sad to say I have never read him....if you were to recommend just one......

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  2. Col - I'd suggest starting out with "Guards! Guards!" as the Night Watch are probably closest to your yen.

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    1. Daniel, thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out!

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    2. I would agree with Daniel, Col - the Nigth Watch books, starting with Guards! Guarrds! is exactly what I would have said.

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  3. I haven't read any either (though I did once hear him give a funny talk at the Society of Authors). I see I shall have to. Any more thoughts on where to start, Moira?

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    1. Give them a try - you might be as surprised as I was! Apart from the ones mentioned above and in the answer to Col, I would say The Truth, or the Witches books - I very much liked Wintersmith, about the young with Tiffany Aching. Very unusually for me, I don't make any attempt to read his books in order, or by series: I jump around all over the place, which I think is fine.

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  4. That's very, very sad news. I'm sorry to hear it, Moira, but do appreciate your passing it along.

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    1. Thanks Margot. It is sad, but those books will live forever....

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  5. Apparently - I need to read 6 before embarking on the Night Watch! http://www.poslarchive.com/math/misc/discworld.html

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    1. He (what is it that tells me it is a he?) is teasing you. As I (blasphemously) indicate above, I really don't worry about book order with Pratchett, And to anyone but the most careful series-follower, read-them-in-order, buy-them-all, don't-jump-the-line reader I would say, do the same. But I think the description above is actually you, so that won't work!

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  6. I don't think it makes too much of a difference - I jumped around the place with them too, but I actualy do want to read them in the right order at some point, see how they evolve. Guards! Guards! was where I started out.

    Actually, I think there are several starting points. "Pyramids" and "Small Gods" both pretty much stand alone. Then there is the Wizards series (starting with Colour of Magic/Light Fantastic), the Witches series (starting with Equal Rites), and the Death series (starting with Mort).

    So I would still say you should start with Guards! Guards! - if you don't like it, at least you'll have started out with a representative book, and I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the Wizards series (Librarian notwithstanding) and had I started with the first couple, I may not have been as drawn in.

    Even if you start at the beginning, you can safely skip "Pyramids" and "Eric" from the first eight as they're even more standalone than usual - Eric is technically a Wizards book but it was also written for the younger reader, so it's both separate and related.

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    1. Excellent advice Daniel, and I very much concur. I'm liking the idea of one day reading the whole lot through from the beginning - retirement project.

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  7. One of my favourite Pratchett jokes, fashion related:

    'Magrat Garlick, standin' there bifurcated," said Granny, sticking her nose in the air.

    “Just so long as she got the young man's name and address," said Nanny Ogg.

    This had me laughing on the floor for several minutes.

    My ABSOLUTE favourite, however, is the Maids of Honour line in Maskerade. I laughed my lungs inside out and back in again over that one for a hour and still snort at the remembered joke years later.

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    1. Tarts? Yes. It was the way the jokes were just thrown in, lavished on us, he didn't save up his ideas or ration them....

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  8. I was sad to read of Pratchett's death also. I have not read anything by him yet, although I did purchase Reaper Man at the book sale because it had such a wonderful cover. My son recommends that I read The Light Fantastic and then anything after that. I read the same suggestion just recently. And a friend who only recently became a Discworld fan suggested Guards! Guards and the rest of the Vimes books. (She reads really fast.)

    A lot of good suggestions here.

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    1. Yes, you should be able to do something out of that list of ideas. I just took a look at the cover of Reaper Man - right up your street!

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  9. Moira, I was sorry to read about the passing away of Terry Pratchett. I have not read the author but I believe he had a cult following. Hundreds of his fans, it seems, are petitioning Death to return the author back to them. What a legacy to leave behind!

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    1. Yes, Prashant, the outpouring of love and memorials and praise for his books is an amazing thing to see - but the nice thing is that he must have been aware of how much-loved he was before he died. That's not always the case, but definitely this time.

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