“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
The Arms of our Knight
Moto translates as ‘Don’t fear the reaper’
Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett is one of the world’s legendary authors. He is famous for his hilarious comical books and writes, on average, two books a year despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007. He is one of the few authors to be awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Yep, he got knighted for writing fantasy and comedy. As he said, “You can’t ask a fantasy writer not to want a knighthood. You know, for two pins I’d get myself a horse and a sword.”
In 2009 he actually did end up making his own sword with the help of friends, “I dug out the iron ore from a field about 10 miles away – I was helped by interested friends. We lugged 80 kilos of iron ore, used clay from the garden and straw to make a kiln, and lit the kiln with wildfire by making it with a bow.” He went full-on fantasy by making the sword out of pieces of meteoric iron (also known as ‘thunderbolt iron’ to fantasy writers), “thunderbolt iron has a special place in magic and we put that in the smelt, and I remember when we sawed the iron apart it looked like silver. Everything about it I touched, handled and so forth … And everything was as it should have been, it seemed to me.”
He’s the second most read author in the UK. He’s best known for his Discworld series of 40 books. Overall he has written 50 best sellers – with sales standing at 70 million – and has won multiple awards and prizes including the Carnegie Medal, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Margaret A. Edwards Award and the NESFA Skylark Award.
“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
He’s one of my favourite authors and in the BBC Big Read – a attempt to find the UK’s most loved books – Terry Pratchett had the most books in the top 200 (15) and tied for most in the top 100 (5) with Charles Dickens.
“Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.”
How does one describe Discworld. At its most basic level it’s a humorous (nearly always satirical) group of stories set on the Discworld – a world in the shape of a disc, travelling through space on the backs of four elephants who stand on the shell of the giant turtle Great A’Tuin. The series contains a 7 main story arcs and a few stand-alone novels.
But that’s a bit simplistic – it doesn’t give credit to the 40 bestselling novels that make up the series. The books are incredibly popular (80 million copies sold) for the simple reason that they are incredibly funny. The books parody just about everything including authors, eg.Tolkien, Lovecraft and Shakespeare, mythology, current politics, business, fantasy/crime/science fiction books, music and major historical events. All of the books are well written and are normally fairly short (500-ish pages, soft-cover) and if you haven’t read any of them before be sure to read one soon. Reviewed on site is the first book of the series (and the start of the Rincewind arc – personally regarded as the best of them) and the first book of the Death Arc (Death is the main character and he is incredible).
“I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.”
In August 2007 Pratchett was misdiagnosed as having had a stroke that was believed to have damaged his brain. In December it was revealed that he was suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease which targets the back of the brain causing it to shrink and shrivel. This means that his symptoms relating to the condition are physical not mental.
In 2008, the BBC made a documentary series on his illness called Terry Pratchett: Living With Alzheimer’s which won a BAFTA award. Because of his disease Terry Pratchett cannot write books any more instead he dictates to his assistant or uses speech recognition software. In addition to this when he was selected to give the 2010 BBC Richard Dimbleby Lecture – Shaking Hands With Death, where he was to speak about assisted death and his decision about it- he could only introduce his lecture, with a friend reading the main part because the disease’s progression has made it harder to read.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
We were both living in England when we wrote it. At an educated guess, although neither of us ever counted, Terry probably wrote around 60,000 “raw” and I wrote 45,000 “raw” words of Good Omens, with, on the whole, Terry taking more of the plot with Adam and the Them in, and me doing more of the stuff that was slightly more tangential to the story … It was indeed plotted in long daily phone calls, and we would post floppy disks (and this was back in 1988 when floppy disks really were pretty darn floppy) back and forth. - Neil Gaiman
This is book is a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and, fellow legend, Neil Gaiman which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Locus Award. It is a comedy about the birth of the Antichrist (son of Satan) and the soon to come Apocalypse. Yes, a comedy. The End Times is coming and the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley are attempting to avert them having gotten comfortable in the world. Meanwhile the Antichrist, Adam, is growing up and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Famine Pollution (Pestilence retired after the discovery of penicillin) and Death begin to gather. This book is incredibly funny and was placed 68 on the list of the UK’s most liked books.
Initially, I did most of Adam and the Them and Neil did most of the Four Horsemen, and everything else kind of got done by whoever – by the end, large sections were being done by a composite creature called Terryandneil, whoever was actually hitting the keys. By agreement, I am allowed to say that Agnes Nutter, her life and death, was completely and utterly mine. And Neil proudly claims responsibility for the maggots. Neil’s had a major influence on the opening scenes, me on the ending. In the end, it was this book done by two guys, who shared the money equally and did it for fun and wouldn’t do it again for a big clock. – Sir Terry Pratchett
After 12 years of only writing Discworld books suddenly Terry Pratchett took his editors by surprise by writing Nation. The novel is set in an alternative history of our world in the 1860′s shortly after the publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. This book is unusual compared to Pratchett’s other books, although it is still a comedy the themes dealt in it not very ‘light’ themes. They are the movement from child to adult; the relationship between the individual and society; and the struggle between science and religion. This was his one of the first books published after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and he had obviously thought that these topics had to be addressed. It is a very good book and stands out amidst all his other works.
“It’s not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren’t doing it.”
Books Reviewed Here
Mort - first of the Death Arc
The Colour of Magic - first Discworld book
“A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.”