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Werthead

Book Review: The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

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Only Americans call it soccer, because they call their version of rugby football instead. 96% of the world's population calls it football, so that is the correct designation.

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Well Vetinari scenes are usually quite and I quite like Drumknott too. I think my favourite bit from any of the books is in The Fifth Elephant when Colon is left in charge and he freaks out over the sugar that he thinks is being stolen. I don't know why but I had tears rolling down my cheeks probably because I found it mirthful.

Nobbs [no relation]

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Only Americans call it soccer, because they call their version of rugby football instead. 96% of the world's population calls it football, so that is the correct designation.

 

Apparently Australians also has this inability to use proper words, though in their case I suspect it is just a lame attempt to piss off the English before the Ashes ;D

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Werty, we saved your butts in WWII, so you'll call it soccer and like it ;) :P

 

I can't beleive you called in the karmic debt to change the english version of a word... technically you own them, you coulda cashed in! :P

 

 

Unfortunately yes, the majority of the population here in Australia call the beautiful game Soccer. It sucks.

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Werty, we saved your butts in WWII, so you'll call it soccer and like it ;) :P

 

I can't beleive you called in the karmic debt to change the english version of a word... technically you own them, you coulda cashed in! :P

 

 

 

 

Running in to kick the bad guy when he is already down is not exactly "saving" anyone, except for maybe the own face. ;D

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Albeit true Maj, you Swedes don't actually get any say in this at all, since its based off of World War 2.

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Werty, we saved your butts in WWII

 

No, that was the Russians. And they call it something in Russian which translates more or less as 'football', so we're good cheers ;)

 

Anyway, amusing as this is, we must move on:

 

Lords and Ladies

 

Returning to their home kingdom of Lancre after various misadventures elsewhere, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are disconcerted to discover a new, younger and more hip coven of young witches has arisen in their absence. Whilst they deal with the situation with their traditional patience and thorough levels of understanding, Magrat finds that arrangements for her marriage to King Verence are steaming ahead and the invitations have been sent out already. One recipient is Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork who decides to attend on a whim (and the prospect of excellent fishing), dragging the terminally confused Bursar, the simian Librarian and the very keen young Ponder Stibbons (whose favourite word is 'quantum') along for the ride.

 

The wedding suffers a series of complications of the kind that are to be expected and some that are not, most notably a full-scale invasion by beings from another dimension. Naturally it is up to the witches of Lancre (plus an annoyed orang-utan, a legion of ninja morris dancers and a terminally frisky dwarf in a wig) to rise to the occasion...

 

Lords and Ladies is the fourteenth Discworld novel and the third featuring the Lancre witches' coven (and the fourth to feature Granny Weatherwax). Despite the novel working perfectly well as a stand-alone, Pratchett was sufficiently concerned about the book's continuity ties that he provides a thorough synopsis of Wyrd Sisters and a somewhat briefer one of Witches Abroad before cracking on with the tale, which is a nice touch but unnecessary.

 

One interesting device Pratchett starts employing in these middle-era Discworld books is taking a concept or idea mentioned very briefly earlier in the series and fleshing it out into a full-sized novel. For example, a running-gag in Reaper Man about a con artist and his trained mice eventually turned into The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents whilst the Hogfather was mentioned a few times before finally getting his own book. Similarly, Lords and Ladies builds on a very brief mention in The Light Fantastic where Twoflower starts dreamily talking about beautiful elves and Rincewind reacts the same way you would to someone saying, "Well, Hitler wasn't a completely bad person..." And of course, fans had been asking for a while where the Disc's elves were, since the dwarfs and trolls had been very much in evidence. With this book Pratchett delivered the answer.

 

It turns out that the Discworld's elves are a bunch of merciless and easily-amused homicidal maniacs with a perchance for toying with their prey before killing them. This leads to some of Pratchett's most effective horror and tension-filled sequences, not something he is renowned for but given how good he is at them it may be a style of writing he should have tried employing more often. Magrat's running battle with a bunch of elves in Lancre Castle stands out as one of the series' best action sequences, though still laced with some brilliant moments of humour (such as the introduction of the Schroedinger's Greebo paradox).

 

Granny Weatherwax, one of Pratchett's most complex and interesting characters, gets some very fine character development in this novel as we see some more of her past and also get a glimpse of the other lives she could have lived if things had turned out differently. Ridcully, hitherto one of Pratchett's more straightforward creations, also gets some much-needed depth to his character as well. The Bursar provides some amusing comic relief, but is thankfully not over-used. Some later books, most notably Interesting Times, are actually bogged down by his mindless babbling, but here it is more restrained. The return of Casanunda the permanently horny dwarf is also welcome and gives rise to several sequences which are among the funniest in the whole series (his lowwayman hold-up of Ridcully's coach is a classic scene).

 

After Small Gods, the best book in the series, Pratchett could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels and maybe bashing out a quickie Rincewind travelogue comedy or something. Instead, he cracked on and produced a book that is a strong candidate for the most relentlessly funny and entertaining book in the series, with a twisted dark side (possibly influenced by his then-recent collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens) and some great character development thrown in for good measure.

 

Lords and Ladies (*****) is available now in the UK and USA. Can Pratchett make it a five-star hat-trick with Men at Arms? We'll see soon (although I have a couple of other books to get through first).

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I am not as fond of the books focusing on the witches as I am of the other books. This however is the one exception, absolutely brilliant.

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Top Five Fave Discworld characters anyone?

 

No particular order - Ridcully, Colon, Conan, Nobbs and oh I suppose C.M.O.T. Dibbler' gotta love a tryer. There all comical cahracters really aren't they, ahwell.

 

Ya I do like that witches book but my fave would be Wryd Sisters, thats the one with the Mac Beth like character. Ain't it? God 'ain't it' sounds horrible.

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Top Five Fave Discworld characters anyone?

 

I say in no particular order: Sam Vimes (of course!), Carrot, Nobbs, Weatherwax, and all of the Wee Free Men.

 

Has anyone ever read the Wee Free Men books out loud? It is hilarious and the best way to do it.

 

 

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Top Five Fave Discworld characters anyone?

 

I say in no particular order: Sam Vimes (of course!), Carrot, Nobbs, Weatherwax, and all of the Wee Free Men.

 

Has anyone ever read the Wee Free Men books out loud? It is hilarious and the best way to do it.

 

 

 

Oh god forgot about them. Scratch Dibbler and insert them instead. Can I do that? Change my list alraedy, ahwell.

I tried to read it to my little bro before when I was trying to get him to read. Didn't work well, I was in stiches laughing so was he (still won't bloody read  little blighter).

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I also like Rincewind, Tiff, and my favorite character of all: Death.

 

I can't believe I left out Death! I love Death! But don't forget Binky, Death's horse.

 

;)

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I also like Rincewind, Tiff, and my favorite character of all: Death.

 

I can't believe I left out Death! I love Death! But don't forget Binky, Death's horse.

 

;)

 

Congrats on making my sig  ;D

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A double-bill today.

 

Men at Arms

 

Captain Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is retiring and getting married in a few days. But an explosion at the Assassins' Guild attracts his interest, and soon a trail of bodies is forming. The Guilds don't want his help, the Patrician has ordered him to lay off and his fellow Watch members seem more concerned about the new intake of ethnic minorities (Lance-Corporal Cuddy of the dwarfs and Lance-Corporal Detritus of the trolls) than the mystery. But somewhere in Ankh-Morpork a killer is on the loose with a very powerful new weapon...

 

Men at Arms is the second Discworld novel to focus on the City Watch, introduced in the classic Guards! Guards! As told in that volume, the City Watch saved the city from a marauding dragon and at the end of the book the Watch gained fresh resources from a grateful city government. However, it is still regarded as a joke, as Men at Arms makes clear.

 

Pratchett once again uses the cliches and ideas of police procedurals to generate humour and satire, although this volume is much more of a hard-bitten (in some cases, literally) mystery novel. Sam Vimes is portrayed as the cynical, weathered old cop doggedly pursuing his case in the face of all opposition, whilst Corporal Carrot is his enthusiastic young sidekick. Of course, that would be a bit too cheesy, so Pratchett subverts this idea earlier on and takes the story in a more interesting and original direction.

 

The city of Ankh-Morpork comes to life in this book more successfully than in any prior volume, to the extent that Pratchett's playwright and friend Stephen Briggs was able to use information in this book (and the prior ones) to map the city so everything tracked and made sense (the results can be found in the spin-off product, The Streets of Ankh-Morpork). The city's ethnic make-up, the political structure of the guilds and the office of the Patrician are all portrayed convincingly. In addition, Pratchett aims high with his characterisation, with the most affecting death of a Discworld character to date and some brilliant development for Carrot and Vimes. There is even a reasonably well-portrayed romance and some (tastefully off-screen) sex, a first for the series. Men at Arms is Discworld aimed at a slightly maturer level than arguably any of the previous books bar Small Gods.

 

Which isn't to say that Pratchett doesn't bring the funny. The Colon/Nobbs double-act is excellent, the return of Gaspode the Wonder Dog (from Moving Pictures, but much better-utilised here) is genuinely funny and there is some fantastic material to be mined from the Cuddy/Detritus relationship.

 

Men at Arms (*****) is Pratchett yet again firing on all cylinders, delivering a novel that is by turns brilliantly funny, genuinely thought-provoking and consistently entertaining. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.

 

 

Soul Music

 

Imp y Celyn, trained as a musician in a druid society, arrives in Ankh-Morpork ready to seek his fortune. Instead, the city rapidly deprives him of the few riches he already has. Teaming up with the dwarf horn-blower Glod and the troll drummer Lias, Imp braves the wrath of the Musicians' Guild by playing without a licence. When he acquires a special guitar from a back-alley shop, Imp learns that he and his band are meant for greatness, for sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In (well, one out of three isn't that bad).

 

Meanwhile, Susan, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sto Helit, is rather perturbed to learn that she is the granddaughter of Death, and when her grandfather decides to take some time off she has to step in and do the job. Which would be fine except that when it becomes time for her to collect the soul of a certain musician, she learns that music doesn't want him to die. At least, not until it decides the time is right...

 

Soul Music is the Discworld's take on rock music, essentially doing for music what Moving Pictures did for movies. In fact, Pratchett lampshades this a couple of times, with references to the events of that earlier book informing events (such as Ridcully becoming convinced horrible Things from the Dungeon Dimensions are about to break through the walls of reality at any second). The problem is that whilst he does this amusingly, Pratchett never really breaks away from the basic concept. He throws some great new ideas and characters into the mix, with the introduction of HEX (the Discworld's first AI-based computer), the Duck Man and the excellent character of Susan, who recurs in several future books, but overall it does feel like Pratchett is retreading old ground here. The Death storyline is also somewhat under-developed, with no real reason for Death suddenly taking a few weeks off being given. In fact, it feels very odd he would after the chaos this caused last time in Reaper Man (the events of which are also referenced several times, making Soul Music one of the most continuity-heavy books in the series).

 

Of course, as has been said in these reviews before, Pratchett on autopilot is still better than most writers at the very top of their game. Pratchett has a huge knowledge of music and lets the reader know it with references (both overt and subtle) to Buddy Holly, Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Meat Loaf, punk rock and The Blues Brothers roaring past the reader like bullets from a machine gun. The pace is fast, the narrative is tight and some of the cliches of rock 'n' roll are very cleverly used to set up and further the storyline.

 

The problem is that Soul Music is, whilst entertaining, lacks the spark of greatness that infused the three books that preceded it, and if read in close conjunction with the earlier volumes it does feel like a slight step down in quality. The new characters are not quite as memorable as those in the books which preceded it and the running gag with the Bursar's insanity and dried frog pills is starting to wear pretty thin by this point. Pratchett also has a slight problem with the cameos from the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, who in their own books get involved whenever something crazy happens in the city and eventually sort it out, but in other characters' volumes simply come across as useless and somewhat pointless, which seems a bit disrespectful of them after their fine achievements in Men at Arms.

 

Still, these are really minor problem. Soul Music (****) remains a very entertaining and readable novel, and is available now in the UK and USA. An animated movie based on the book is also available in the USA (in a double-pack with Wyrd Sisters) on DVD, although it is currently out-of-print in the UK.

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I was thinking of picking up this series but the sheer size of it almost turned me of.

 

Could someone please post a list of all the books in what order you should read them? Would be eternally grateful :D

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I was thinking of picking up this series but the sheer size of it almost turned me of.

 

Could someone please post a list of all the books in what order you should read them? Would be eternally grateful :D

All the books are essentially standalones, so you can just pick up and read any one of them without any problems. The following are all good places to start, though: Small Gods, Guards! Guards!, Mort, Reaper Man. Also, don't let the size of the series put you off. As they're all standalone, it doesn't matter if you just read one, or miss a few.

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While they are essentially stand alones, I would definitly recommend reading them in the order they are published, otherwise some references in later books might be confusing, or even spoilerish if one has not read the previous books. And if you do read them in order, you get to see the world expand as you go, instead of diving right in somewhere in the middle, where all, or at least most of the key places are already well established.

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Wholeheartedly agree. Especially the City Watch series, reading them out of order would really mess with your knowledge of the Discworld.

 

Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, the Fifth Elephant , Night Watch, and Thud I think are all the city watch. Wasn't Vimes in Hogfather also?

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Wholeheartedly agree. Especially the City Watch series, reading them out of order would really mess with your knowledge of the Discworld.

 

Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, the Fifth Elephant , Night Watch, and Thud I think are all the city watch. Wasn't Vimes in Hogfather also?

 

No (although Nobby and Colon are), but he was in Monstrous Regiment and Making Money in extended cameos. I think he was in Going Postal and The Truth as well in a cameo capacity.

 

To be honest, I think the best starting point is Small Gods which, among other things, is chronologically set about 100 years before the other books anyway. Jumping back to The Colour of Magic and then reading them straight through is a good idea, although the early books jump around in quality a lot.

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Wholeheartedly agree. Especially the City Watch series, reading them out of order would really mess with your knowledge of the Discworld.

 

Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, the Fifth Elephant , Night Watch, and Thud I think are all the city watch. Wasn't Vimes in Hogfather also?

No (although Nobby and Colon are), but he was in Monstrous Regiment and Making Money in extended cameos. I think he was in Going Postal and The Truth as well in a cameo capacity.
And Unseen Academicals.

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Is Unseen Academicals any good?

 

I thought for some reason that it was Sam Vimes who strangles werewolves in the water...in fact I'm still sure it is. I can't think of anyone else who it could be.

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