Rather than review one book like I normally do, I’d like to pay homage to one of the greats who recently passed away: Terry Pratchett.
I discovered his Discworld books quite by accident. Some years back I’d picked up a copy of Good Omens to read on a long flight to Europe. This book was a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and more than worth the price of a paperback.
The back cover indicated it would be a laugh out loud social commentary. A witch from 1655 made a prophecy - right before she exploded - on when the world would end. That date is fast approaching, next Saturday in fact, so the forces of evil and the forces of good are gathering and picking their battle lines. Except things don’t quite go as planned.
Good Omens made a long, boring flight much more pleasant, I didn’t even notice the poor, crying babies.
In talking with the friends I visited on that trip I learned of Pratchett’s Discworld series of books and I gradually started to collect and read them. I very much enjoy the humor, the social commentary and well-developed characters, some of which are so over the top that you have to wonder who or what inspired the author. The books are fantasy writing at its best, and no pesky chapters dividing the flow, or long drawn out descriptions, just page after page of enjoyable - and at times thought provoking - reading.
Two standouts for me are Mort and Equal Rites.
Mort because it makes the character of Death - a very misunderstood man - so human in his need for a break from it all. He finds a young man, named Mort and takes him on as an apprentice. The boy’s father is only too happy to get rid of him because he does not appear suited to anything. Mort seems to do well though as Death’s apprentice, which makes for interesting twists and turns in the story.
Equal Rites because the story is about a young girl who wants to enter the wizard’s college - which is only for men. She was chosen at birth; a dying wizard wished to pass on his powers to the eighth son of an eighth son at the moment of birth, however he discovers too late the baby born is a girl. The book makes a truly worthy and highly entertaining treatise on women’s rights.
Of course I also very much enjoyed Soul Music, Reaper Man and Witches Abroad.
And as luck would have it, I found one recently I had not read yet. I look forward to savoring Snuff and will try to read it slowly.
Mr. Pratchett and his awesome talent will be missed, but at least we have his books.