Now we come to my favorite “light” fantasy series: Terry Pratchett’s Discworld!
Let’s hear what F. A. Hyatt has to say about it.
(Over thirty titles to date, including The Color of Magic, Equal Rites, Guards! Guards!, Soul Music, Interesting Times, The Truth, Night Watch, Going Postal, Thud!, many others.) Harper Collins pub.
Author: Terry Pratchett
Very much in the vein of Douglas Adams, The Disc World series is pure British Humor set to fantasy. Three of his books have been produced as multipart films for English television, and at least one reinterpreted as a video game. A few drawing table graphic picture books are also marketed.
Having developed a flat earth carried through space on the backs of elephants and run by magic, Pratchett moves his cast of odd characters through a series of novels, each focused on some aspect of the discworld, as seen through one or two lead character’s perspective. The foibles of human nature, institutions, and beliefs are logically examined and ground fine under the acerbic and unstoppable wit of Pratchett. Known for his sub-text gags, colorful writing and thoughtful plots, his work in this series has been compared with Geoffrey Chaucer’s.
The books in this series need not, and benefit only little, by being read in any particular order. They are chronologically written, but all revolve around a stable of about seven major characters who walk in and out of the various stories, each of which tries to “star” one of his majors. There are several new character introductions during the progression of the series, but, once introduced, they remain to haunt future volumes as cast members.
Witty, well-crafted, belly-laugh-producing adventure-style fantasy, there is no attempt to “Cliff-Hang” or produce multi-volume-spanning plots. Each work in the series stands on its own.
Excellent, singular fantasy, and superb humor.
Agreed, on all counts, although Pratchett’s books have become less humorous and more “realistic”, like his most recent, SNUFF, in which The Dark in Sam Vimes casts a noir pall over everything, and the book’s running gag — and I use the word advisedly — is Young Sam’s devotion to the study of poo.
WRITING PROMPT: Someone known for being funny loses the comic view of life.
Bodie PMarch 12, 2012 at 10:50am
As a fellow Pratchett fan, I am always pleased to see how others respond to his stories. I was interested to see the reduction in humor presented as an example of the work declining. I’m not sure I necessarily agree. One of the things I love the most about Pratchett’s work in general is the mirror it holds up to readers. Sometimes what shows up in that mirror is not very funny. And, given what I’ve heard reliably Sir Terry is dealing with at the moment, I would say that I can forgive him a bit more introspection, and a few less funnies, particularly since what I love most about his books is how he plays with concepts and ideas. His examination of what constitutes witchcraft is, in my opinion, “must” reading for anyone considering Wicca or paganism as a spiritual path, not because he makes a joke of it, but because underneath all the funnies is a thoughtful, serious examination of what paganism and witchcraft have to offer the world–and how often that depth is lost in all the bells and whistles of “looking pagan.”
His Tiffany Aching series is amazing not only because of the Nac Mac Feegles, who are hilarious, but because of Tiffany, a young girl who, as the books progress, knowingly lays aside her dreams and becomes what “the Chaulk” needs her to be. Tiffany is the sort of strong, independent, heroine that children need, not only because of who she is, but because she’s human enough to mourn what she can never be, even as she chooses to become what she must.
I’ll stop now.
Marian AllenMarch 12, 2012 at 11:28am
I agree with everything you say except that nobody said the reduction in humor was an example of the work declining. I said the reduction in humor was a reduction in humor. Maybe you just read it as a statement of decline because you know me so well. While it’s true that I dislike noir and cherish the rubber-chicken-upside-the-head method of facing reality, I don’t confuse a deviation from my personal preference with a loss of quality. 🙂
Floyd HyattMarch 12, 2012 at 2:28pm
I did not make any statement about a decline of anything. My ending line was “Excellent, singular fantasy, and superb humor.” Since I am not reviewing individual volumes for this series, I have refrained from posting comment on individual volumes. Fans will have their favorites, of course. My purpose was to point up several light fantasy classic series I felt well worth the effort for new readers to take up, and to provide some direction into the sort of reading experience each offered.
Bodie PMarch 12, 2012 at 3:30pm
Well, maybe this was a case of ascribing to others what we see in ourselves! My apologies if I misread remarks–I absolutely agree that the series as a whole is well worth reading–and considering in terms beyond light fantasy.
Marian AllenMarch 12, 2012 at 4:06pm
I’m taking the bullet for this one. While I didn’t SAY the books aren’t as good now as they were in the past, Bodie is probably picking up on my vibrations, because I don’t like these later, darker, more realistic ones nearly as much as I did the ones closer to the middle (so far) of his series. REAPER MAN, LORDS AND LADIES, THE FIFTH ELEPHANT, THE LAST CONTINENT and THIEF OF TIME were just about perfect, to me.
Bodie PMarch 12, 2012 at 4:23pm
And my personal favorites are the Granny Weatherwax/Tiffany Aching books. There’s something about the strength of Granny Weatherwax, and her willingness to be misunderstood in a good cause, that I admire immensely (and I must say I adore Tiffany Aching’s first witch teacher–the blind woman who gets her witchy supplies at “Boffo’s” emporium of joke products, and whose skulls say the Discworld equivalent of “Made in Taiwan” on them.
Marian AllenMarch 12, 2012 at 5:11pm
Granny is THE BEST! Anything with Granny in it is wonderful! I love it when she rubs her hands together and says, “Let’s do some GOOD.” It’s enough to send you hiding under your bed. lol!
Bodie PMarch 12, 2012 at 5:41pm
And Nanny Ogg. Need I say more?
Marian AllenMarch 12, 2012 at 5:56pm
Only one word: Hedgehog.
Bodie PMarch 12, 2012 at 8:02pm
…and that says it all.
Nicholle OloresMarch 13, 2012 at 12:30am
Sounds interesting Marian. Granny is truly the best, I love her so much!
Marian AllenMarch 13, 2012 at 9:26am
Granny is wonderful! 🙂
Bodie PMarch 13, 2012 at 9:59am
Granny is a “high-riding beeyatch” if ever there was one! In the truest, bestest, sense of the phrase.
Marian AllenMarch 13, 2012 at 10:32am
LOL! I would love to see a scene between Granny and Vetinari. 🙂
Bodie PMarch 13, 2012 at 10:42am
I think a credible case could be made for their being secret childhood lovers, who put aside their deep devotion to each other to serve The Disc in their own separate ways.
Marian AllenMarch 13, 2012 at 11:38am
Granny was childhood sweethearts with Mustrum Ridcully. And his predecessor as Archchancellor was named Weatherwax.
Bodie PMarch 13, 2012 at 1:14pm
I still think she’s a better match for Vetinari–she’d eat Ridcully for breakfast. (If he didn’t eat her first.)
Marian AllenMarch 13, 2012 at 1:30pm
Yes, but Pratchett nevertheless made young Esme and young Mustrum sweethearts before she chose solitary headology and went off to the University. Don’t remember which book that was in. LORDS AND LADIES?
Bodie PMarch 13, 2012 at 1:39pm
I don’t remember, either. One of these days I’ll read through the entire oevre again, and then I’ll know these things.