Toy Soldiers – Jingo

jingo-2Never mind who started it, never mind how it was fought, they’d want to know how to deal with things now. They represented what people called the ‘international community’. And like all uses of the word ‘community’, you were never quite sure what or who it is.

For an author so set on exploring humanity, what makes us tick and why, it is somewhat curious it took Terry Pratchett more than 20 Discworld books to tackle war. Jingo was published in 1997; four years shy of 9/11 and all that followed, but close enough to the British Army’s involvement in both Northern Ireland and what was Yugoslavia that an experience of his nation at conflict would have been easy to recall.

Two years ago, Pratchett was interviewed by Cory Doctorow. It’s a splendid Q&A and well worth the time spent reading. In it, Pratchett talks about his thoughts about authority, an area where he is curiously conservative. Speaking about Vetinari, he says: “I don’t mind authority, but not authoritarian authority. After all, the bus driver is allowed to be the boss of the bus. But if he’s bad at driving, he’s not going to be a bus driver anymore.” Continue reading →

The Opera House – Maskerade

maskerade-2‘A catastrophe curve, Mr Bucket, is what opera runs along. Opera happens because of a large number of things amazingly fails to go wrong, Mr Bucket. It works because of hatred and love and nerves. All the time. This isn’t cheese. This is opera. If you wanted a quiet retirement, Mr Bucket, you shouldn’t have bought the Opera House. You should have done something peaceful, like alligator dentistry.’

Something struck me part of the way through Maskerade that perhaps answers the slightly inconsistent nature of the past few Discworld novels. In Maskerade, Granny is bored, agitated and in need of a change. And it hit me that every novel since Lords and Ladies has been similar. Each has featured characters seeking a break from their old routines. Carrot wants to turn the Watch into something worthwhile in Men at Arms. Buddy wishes to save his soul by rock and roll in Soul Music. And Cohen is tired of raping and pillaging and wishes to settle down by running his own empire in Interesting Times. Continue reading →