Way to Blue – A Hatful of Sky

A_Hat_Full_of_Sky_Cover“We heard a song, it went ‘Twinkle twinkle little star…’ What power! What wondrous power! You can take a billion trillion tons of flaming matter, a furnace of unimaginable strength, and turn it into a little song for children! You build little worlds, little stories, little shells around your minds and that keeps infinity at bay and allows you to wake up in the morning without screaming!”

I was delighted to open another Tiffany novel so soon after finishing The Wee Free Men. Tiffany was an instant fully formed Pratchett character – proud, moral, headstrong, somewhat selfish and a bit full of herself. She was someone who could stand easily alongside Vimes or Weatherwax as great Pratchett characters.

In his two YA books to date, Pratchett has taken classic folk tales, dismantled them and fitted the constituent parts back together with a lot of darkness and not inconsiderable intelligence. They have been among Pratchett’s most neatly plotted and satisfying reads among the entire Discworld series, so I was anxious to see what came next. 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 →

Police Story – Men at Arms

men-at-arms-2Individuals aren’t naturally paid-up members of the human race, except biologically. They need to be bounced around by the Brownian notion of society; which is a mechanism by which human beings remind another that they are…well…human beings.

When you open Men at Arms, you are confronted with a hitherto unseen thing. Early Discworld books had the odd quote from science fiction and fantasy magazines lauding Pratchett as a comic and literary genius. With Men at Arms, there are the names of The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times. Even OK! Magazine. The Discworld author has gone all respectable. Granted this is a move long overdue because every book since Pyramids (bar Faust, Eric) has been a doozy. Continue reading →

Royals – Lords and Ladies

lords-and-ladies-2You call yourself some kind of goddess and you know nothing, madam, nothing. What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you.

This book is excellent. After the wonder and ambition of Small Gods, Lords and Ladies is the conclusion to a Discworld trilogy of witches stories – from Wyrd Sisters’ spin on Macbeth, through the dark fairytale of Witches Abroad to this, a take on A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. It’s immensely satisfying, with a plot that just races and some fantastic character moments. It also bravely brings its climax forward to halfway through the book, ratcheting up the tension of the closing scenes immeasurably. Continue reading →