After sticking my neck out by trying to place the Discworld series into some sort of order, it’s your turn. Well, kinda. I have been grateful to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read, share and comment on my articles. I have also been fascinated to see what you have been reading. It has given insight into which Discworld novels you rate, and which you are less keen.
I have put together a top 41 of the most popular posts about the Discworld books on Pratchett Job, which includes my clunky attempt to explain why I have been doing this thing in the first place. You can read it after the jump, along with my Peter Snow on Election Night style analysis. Continue reading →
We’ve hit gold this week. Every single book from here on is top tier Pratchett. From what I have learned since starting this project, Pratchett fans are split into two camps; those who favour the earlier, more fantastical Discworld, and those who prefer the marriage of magic with technology. I’m very much in the latter camp. Continue reading →
Last week I looked at the lesser Discworld novels. There were few stinkers there, but unsurprisingly the post-Embuggerance novels belonged at the lower end of Pratchett’s work.
This week, we are into much better territory. There is not a bad book among these. They may have flaws and some may work better than others but you could safely hand any of these to a Discworld newbie and they’d enjoy it. Continue reading →
Ranking is brilliant. I know there are high-falutin arguments about the subjectivity of art and how your opinion should be no more valid than anyone else’s because of the unique way each and every one of us sees the world etc etc etc.
‘[THIS] is better than [THAT]’ is at the heart of what we read, what we watch and what we listen to. Finding someone you agree with, and talking through what you loved about something is fun. Finding someone you disagree with, and finding out why they found joy in something you didn’t is arguably even more rewarding. Continue reading →
“Let me tell you, the world changes with every generation and if we don’t learn to surf on the tide then we will be smashed on the rocks.”
Bugsy Malone is a very strange film, and probably an odd one to start a post about a novel on the railway industry with. It’s that rare thing for me, a musical that is deeply enjoyable and a film I have watched more times than I can remember.
It also has a killer ending, where a shootout is abruptly halted so that everyone, good guys and bad guys alike, can make up and have a bit of a song and a dance. It’s sentimental, it kinda flies in the face of what you have just been watching and feels somewhat strange. But it works and that’s why it reminds me of Raising Steam. Continue reading →
“And now the world is a better place, commander. You have no understanding, Vimes, no understanding at all of the deals, stratagems and unseen expedients by which some of us make shift to see that it remains that way. Do not seek perfection. None exists.”
Since we first found him in the gutter, Samuel Vimes has been as important to the Discworld as one of the four elephants that supports it. Through him, Pratchett has taken us through the changing face of Ankh-Morpork, how it has dealt with race, power, rule of law and sexuality. The early days of the city facing a threat from a dragon are long ago. Now Ankh-Morpork has a working telegram and financial system, with its mixed species police force a paragon of harmony for the wider Disc. Continue reading →
“It’s like a disease,” Miss Proust said. “It sort of creeps up. It’s in the wind, as if it goes from person to person. Poison goes where poison’s welcome. And there’s always an excuse, isn’t there, to throw a stone at the old lady who looks funny. It’s always easier to blame somebody. And once you’ve called someone a witch, then you’d be amazed how many things you can blame her for.”
Terry Pratchett’s young adult fiction doesn’t spare the reader. His first, Amazing Maurice, was a maelstrom of horror, with cannibalism among that thrown at the reader. It was completely unflinching and quite brilliant for it. I Shall Wear Midnight opens with something equally horrific; a young girl has been beaten so severely by her father that she miscarries. Tiffany has to step in and save Mr Petty from brutal mob justice, before saving him a second time from hanging himself. Continue reading →
‘You use words, and I’m told you do it well, but words are soft and can be pummelled into different meanings by a skilled tongue. Numbers are hard. Oh, you can cheat with them but you cannot change their nature. Three is three. You cannot persuade it to be four, even if you give it a great big kiss.’
When I wrote about Going Postal a few weeks back, I was taken by how remarkably prescient it was in anticipating the financial crisis of 2008. To its credit, the novel wasn’t a strict ‘public = good, private = bad’ treatise. Under the auspices of Moist Von Lipwig, ‘confidence capitalism’, as I am dubbing any enterprise being led by a trickster, was the most responsible way of reinvigorating decrepit businesses.
The groundwork for Making Money was laid quite heavily in Going Postal, with the novel ending with the Patrician in dire need of someone to run Ankh-Morpork’s mint. That someone is Moist, whose ability to attract trouble is almost Rincewindian. Continue reading →
A witch didn’t do things because they seemed a good idea at the time! That was practically cackling! You had to deal every day with people who were foolish and lazy and untruthful and downright unpleasant, and you could certainly end up thinking that the world would be considerably improved if you gave them a slap. But you didn’t because, as Miss Tick had once explained: a) it would only make the world a better place for a very short time; b) it would then make the world a slightly worse place; and c) you’re not supposed to be as stupid as they are.
The Tiffany Aching novels have been an unexpected delight. Not for any idiotic snobbery about grown-ups reading YA fiction, as one of the Discworld’s endearing strengths is that of a deeply accessible series. I love how it is open and can be loved by anyone – comedy fans, fantasy fans, satire fans or, dare I say it, people who like those three genres and more. However, I felt this meant it was somewhat unnecessary for Pratchett to write a dedicated YA series.
I’m glad my unspoken, irrelevant old opinion was never listened to. Where recent “grown-up” Discworld books like Monstrous Regiment or Thud! have lacked that lightness of touch that features in Pratchett’s best, the morality tales of the Aching novels are a throwback to those early Discworld books that danced in the light fantastic. Continue reading →
“To win you must play both sides. You must, in fact, be able to think like your ancient enemy…To study the enemy you have to get under his skin. When you’re under his skin you start to see the world through his eyes…And thus we wear down mountains. Water dripping on a stone, dissolving and removing. Changing the shape of the world, one drop at a time. Water dripping on a stone, commander. Water flowing underground, bubbling up in unexpected places.”
One unfair criticism of Terry Pratchett is that he can lay his social commentary rather thickly. I found this particularly strange during my rereading because I had trouble finding any real evidence for it. The only thing that was hammered home repeatedly was the importance of thinking. This gave us the likes of Small Gods, where Pratchett angrily argued against fundamentalism while also examining the benefits of belief, or Men at Arms, which attacked racism but shone a light on all of our prejudices. Continue reading →