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Terry Pratchett

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Maskerade

Maskerade

Terry Pratchett

3rd May 2020

Having recently watched Phantom of the Opera for the first time (thanks, Lockdown), and with plenty of time (thanks, Lockdown) on my hands, I decided that now would be an ideal time to re-read Maskerade, the Discworld novel based loosely on the musical.

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, in search of a third witch for their coven, head to the city of Ankh Morpork, where Perdita has enrolled in the chorus at the local Opera house. The plot is essentially similar to the musical - a masked man haunts the opera house, teaching his favourites to sing, demanding a box at the opening night, and killing off people he doesn't get on with. Except there's an extra layer too...

Knowing the source material a little better certainly helped with following the plot and some of the jokes - although I'm not entirely sure I really get all the jokes - either that or there just aren't quite as many little clever moments and lines as there were in Men At Arms, the other Discworld novel that I've recently re-read.

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Men At Arms

Men At Arms

Terry Pratchett

25th April 2020

My first readthrough of the Discworld series was in strict publication order. This time round it’s a bit more chaotic, leaping in wherever the mood takes me, and this time that’s the second Watch book, Men At Arms.

We find Vimes preparing for retirement and marriage, a slew of new recruits being trained up, and a mysterious death to investigate.

It’s classic Discworld - the humour is omnipresent, the tale exploring a number of real world concepts, turning them on their head, and following the standard speculative fiction approach of providing a mirror to our world while continuing to satirise fantasy stories.

The characters are richer than I remembered, the plot more intricate, and the world is possibly the only one in literature where even the smells are colourful. I really loved revisiting this novel and am totally inspired to keep picking more of the series back off my shelf.

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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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Other reviewed books

The Long Utopia
The Long Mars
Raising Steam
The Long War
Judgement Day
Dodger
The Long Earth
The World of Poo
Snuff
I Shall Wear Midnight
Unseen Academicals
Wintersmith

Unreviewed books

A Hat Full of Sky
Carpe Jugulum
Darwin's Watch
Diggers
Equal Rites
Eric
Feet of Clay
Going Postal
Good Omens
Hogfather
Interesting Times
Jingo
Johnny and the Bomb
Johnny and the Dead
Lords and Ladies
Lu Tze's Yearbook of Enlightenment 2008
Making Money
Monstrous Regiment
Mort
Moving Pictures
Nation
Night Watch
Pyramids
Reaper Man
Small Gods
Soul Music
Sourcery
Strata
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
The Art of Discworld
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
Thud!
Truckers
Witches Abroad
Wyrd Sisters

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