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Read: Pyramids

Terry Pratchett’s novels are all just hilariously funny (at least the ones I have read so far). That is why I like to read them; especially on long trips or on the train to the office. They brighten my mood and sometimes they may even be instructive in one way or another. Pyramids definitely has instructive elements. It is a blend of physics, philosophy, politics, and ancient history. There are references to ancient Egypt (obviously), Greek, and Rome sprinkled with references to modern culture.

The references are so plentiful that – I have to admit – I most certainly did not “get” everything. Luckily, others already (ok, the book is some twenty years old) provide some annotations

Read: Wyrd Sisters

Holidays. Vacation time is also the time for me to read some relatively short novels during all the travelling around. Wyrd sisters, Terry Pratchett’s sixth Discworld novel suits my reading needs during my travels perfectly. It’s short. It’s funny. It’s easy to read.

Pratchett borrows from several Shakespeare plays for Wyrd Sister’s plot and from several fairy tales for it’s characters, that is their conversations. Thus, everything is more or less conversant. The familiar plot and characters make it easy to follow the story even in an environment that is full of distractions like a busy train or the airport lounge. Pratchett’s witty style results here in an absorbing little novel. Time just flies by. (Though not as fast as in the novel where a whole kingdom travels through time 15 years into the future.)


Read: Sourcery

Pratchett’s Discworld novel number five – Sourcery – features again Rincewind and (my favorite) Death, together with his three fellow horse-riders of the Apocralypse, the apocryphal apocalypse.

The story is nice and everything. It’s just apt to kill some time on a train trip. The most remarkable thing about this novel, however, is Pratchett’s extensive use of footnotes. There are 25 footnotes in total. There were some footnotes in his earlier novels, too. Yet, here he really establishes the footnote in his work as a literary device that provides a departure from the main narrative, tells a different story altogether, and provides meta-commentaries on the plot – a comic relief from an already comic novel.

Read: Mort

Pratchett created a wonderful character: Death. You just have to love every encounter with this guy. Each dialog sparkles with this unique dry sense of humor that is one of the reasons I like Pratchett’s work.

Death appears in almost all Discworld novels. Mort, however, is the first book in which Death is one of the main characters and has more “page time” than otherwise.

Mort is definitely one of my favorite Discworld novels.

Read: Equal Rites

Pratchett’s third Discworld novel, Equal Rites, is delightfully distinct from the first two novels, especially from the second that tried a little too hard to be funny.

First, it’s plot is driven by a completely new cast, introducing the magical professions. Second, it addresses – in its own particular way – a pressing societal problem, gender differences and discrimination in the professional world starting with vocational choice and training. Third, the rhetoric changed. It is now more subtle, inducing every once in a while a quiet chuckle. Even the pace and structure changed. The story line is more linear, different plot elements build on each other and are more interwoven than before.

I consider this the real take-off of the Discworld series. From now on, Pratchett successfully published most years two or even more Discworld novels. Only recently he slowed down a bit.

Read: The Light Fantastic

The second Discworld novel is remarkably different from the first. While The Colour of Magic was almost chaotic, the plot a collection of seemingly random episodes of a Discworld-wide journey mixed with some clever puns and references to modern culture, The Light Fantastic is characterized by an almost linear plot, a few running gags, and barely any references to our modern world. Instead Pratchett includes relatively more allusions to ‘standard’ Fantasy novels. By doing so he tries very hard to (re-)define a genre: Comedic Fantasy Fiction.

The Light Fantastic follows the Law of Sequels. It does not achieve the entertainment value, the originality, and the appeal of its predecessor. The attempt to introduce a running gag is too stilted, it fails miserably. If it was not for Pratchett’s skillful writing the Discworld series [c|sh|w]ould have ended here. Mercifully, there are still a few rather funny lines that made me laugh out loud and saved the day.