Terry Pratchett - Shastrix Books

Terry Pratchett

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The Truth

The Truth

Terry Pratchett

22nd June 2019

My first read through of the Discworld series was in strict publication order. Now that I’m revisiting them I’m just dipping in wherever I’m inspired, and this time I picked up The Truth after hearing Brandon Sanderson (another of my favourite authors) talking about it on a podcast.

The Truth is the tale of William de Worde, a young Lordling who has moved to the city after falling out with his father, who makes a living by writing letters to update other country gentry about what’s happening in town. That is, until a printing press forces its way into his life and he becomes the Disc’s first newspaper editor.

This to me is Pratchett’s peak era - the comedy and the parody are rich, deep and constant, and he continues to make references to the real world, while also providing a compelling and complete story. It’s entertaining on so many layers and draws the reader to keep on consuming.

Absolutely fantastic to revisit, and I’m glad I did.

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The Carpet People

The Carpet People

Terry Pratchett

22nd June 2019

One of Terry Pratchett’s earliest novels, which has lived on my shelf for many years before I’ve got around to reading it. It’s the tale of a tiny world of peoples who inhabit a carpet, and much fun is had describing the various aspects of their landscape.

While I didn’t think it had the full richness of Pratchett at his peak, its an entertaining read containing some of his usual wit and observation, and some excellent world building that leaves the reader wanting to know just a little bit more.

The plot follows a group of characters as they attempt to escape from a natural disaster that’s terrifying the populace, and they travel the carpet visiting other unusual civilisations.

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Guards! Guards!

Guards! Guards!

Terry Pratchett

21st January 2018

The first of the City Watch stories in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series introduces readers to Ankh-Morpork's police force led by Captain Vimes. This is the first time that I've re-read a Discworld novel, and so I wasn’t sure how I'd feel. My memories of the early Watch stories are patchy, mainly because of when in my life I first read them, so I couldn't remember in any great detail what was going to happen.

The plot focusses on an obscure cult that's arisen in the city, with a number of motivations, who are plotting to overthrow the Patrician with a fairly complex plan that relies on tradition, magic and a fair amount of obfuscation. Meanwhile Carrot, a human raised by dwarves, has arrived in the city to join what he thinks of as the honourable profession of watchman.

As with all Discworld novels, it's full of cultural references and humorous moments that poke fun, but it definitively has the feeling of one of the earlier Discworld novels - a lot of the lore that later books rely on has yet to be in place, and some of the characterisations don't quite match with what we see in the later watch novels. The humour relies a lot on a satirical approach to the genre rather than being in the storytelling, and feels much more likely to elicit a knowing nod than a laugh out loud.

I enjoyed re-reading this and certainly expect to remember more of the plot in another ten years than I did this time, but I suspect I will enjoy the later Watch novels more when I return to re-read those.

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The Long Cosmos

The Long Cosmos

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

18th August 2016

The final novel with Terry Pratchett's name on the cover, this is also the fifth and final story in the Long Earth series. The other author, Stephen Baxter, explains in the introduction that the pair wrote the book several years ago and so Baxter has only had to shepherd it through the publishing process by himself.

Joshua, the original step-day explorer, is heading off on one final time expedition into the many parallel worlds that he discovered, and the whole of the Long Earth is reacting to a strange message from the skies.

It's a great conclusion to a series which looking back on my notes I've enjoyed very much. The story does well to build upon and wrap up a number of the story points raised in the earlier novels without feeling like everything is coming to an end. The narrative is full of the wit and humorous references that are expected in a Pratchett story, and it certainly serves as a fitting end to his fantastic literary output.

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The Shepherd's Crown

The Shepherd's Crown

Terry Pratchett

22nd September 2015

The final Discworld novel takes us back to the Chalk and the world of recently graduated witch Tiffany Aching. There's a big change on the disc, and Tiffany will need to deal with the repercussions.

It's a satisfying if sad way to end the series. A number that of cameos allow us to say goodbye to various favourite characters, and the story in general acts as a metaphor for the way things are moving on in the real world following Pratchett's death.

There are places where it feels rough or slightly under-polished, but there are many moments where the author's comic genius shines through the narrative and you can't help but laugh.

Bittersweet at the end of the day, to know that there will be no more new literary trips to this fantastical world - but there's always the prospect of a full re-read of the entire series, and other adventures in other media that may be to come.

Thanks Pterry.

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The Long Utopia

The Long Utopia

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

27th June 2015

The fourth (and possibly final) book in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's Long Earth series gripped me in a way that the first four failed to. In fact, I'd almost given up on reading the series after the third book, but given recent events wanted to grab the final pages of Pratchett, and was pleasantly surprised.

The story follows the main characters from previous books as they are aging and (in some cases) settling down after a life of adventure, until they discover something uncomfortably wrong with one of the worlds.

There's plenty to follow up from events of previous books, and I particularly enjoyed the different take on one aspect. The plot actually felt linear and fairly self contained, which I appreciated, although I thought that there was a lot of set up first before getting to the most engaging chapters.

There are touches of humour that I hadn't noticed as much in previous novels - places where (what I assume is) Pratchett's wit shines through the cracks - especially in the dialogue between characters, and this I particularly enjoyed.

I felt that this book rounded things off well (though I have read on one website that there is a fifth book coming - but this may have been an error), and left things in a fit state to leave the series. It's been a mixed bag throughout, but I definitely enjoyed this epic conclusion.

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The Long Mars

The Long Mars

Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

4th July 2014

The third entry in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's 'Long' series is pretty similar to the first two - the narrative is split into quite distinct chapters leaping around between a group of main characters each on an unrelated adventure.

I felt though that the story didn't really live up to my expectations. There was a significant conclusion to the previous book that I had felt would become the focus this time, but although it sticks in the background, it felt like the repercussions had mostly been brushed aside in favour of a more 'sci-fi' plot that felt less engaging to me, and a little more like an ethical manifesto. There are two other areas of the story that felt a lot like repetition of a theme that's used throughout the first two books.

Having said that, once I had got through the first few chapters, I was surprised by how easily readable I found the book and was disappointed each day when the end of my commute meant I had to put the book away. Having glanced back now at my reviews of the previous books in the series I realise that I may have been misremembering as I seem to have felt similarly then.

Ultimately though it's a book about the plot, exploring scientific concepts of parallel worlds and some moral and ethical questions, and it felt it suffered from not making the characters more engaging. I also felt that the wittiness had dropped off in this book, making it a more serious read despite the continuation of classic movie references.

So overall, it's worth reading if you enjoyed the first two books, but I don't think it serves as a particularly enticing entry point to the series. It feels like it might be the final book, and if not I'd probably think twice a about whether I want to continue.

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Other reviewed books

Raising Steam
The Long War
Judgement Day
The Long Earth
The World of Poo
I Shall Wear Midnight
Unseen Academicals

Unreviewed books

A Hat Full of Sky
Carpe Jugulum
City Watch Trilogy
Darwin's Watch
Equal Rites
Feet of Clay
Going Postal
Good Omens
Interesting Times
Johnny and the Bomb
Johnny and the Dead
Lords and Ladies
Lu Tze's Yearbook of Enlightenment 2008
Making Money
Monstrous Regiment
Moving Pictures
Night Watch
Reaper Man
Small Gods
Soul Music
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
The Colour of Magic
The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide
The Fifth Elephant
The Folklore of Discworld
The Globe
The Last Continent
The Last Hero
The Light Fantastic
The New Discworld Companion
The Science of Discworld
The Wee Free Men
The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
Thief of Time
Witches Abroad
Wyrd Sisters

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