All reviews copyright 1984-2013 Evelyn C. Leeper.
ERIC by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 03/08/2013]
ERIC by Terry Pratchett (ISBN 978-0-380-82121-1) is the latest book I have read in my "Discworld" odyssey. This is the ninth book in the series, and it is oddly shorter than all the others. ERIC is 197 pages; the rest are 250 pages or more, and all but one of the subsequent novels are at least 300 pages.) In fact, a quick word-count estimate suggests that be Hugo rules, ERIC is not a novel, but a novella. This is because it was originally published as a large-format book illustrated by Josh Kirby. Now it is issued as a regular paperback with no illustrations. (The title was originally rendered as "Faust" crossed out followed with the name "Eric" hand-printed. There are remnants of that but the title is basically considered to be "Eric".) Be that as it may, the shortness of ERIC means that the characters and the situation are not quite as thoroughly developed as in other novels. In particular, the title character has very little characterization and seems to exist solely to kick off the plot, which centers around Rincewind. Also, Pratchett relies on the reader's knowledge of the Trojan War to fill in the necessary back story rather than creating a new situation from scratch.
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MORT by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 08/10/2012]
I had read a few Discworld novels in somewhat random order, but for some reason I decided to read my way through the entire series (in the order they were written). Each one has a lot of lines that would end up in the "Quotes" section of the IMDb, but it is not until MORT by Terry Pratchett (ISBN 978-0-061-02068-1), the fourth in the series, that Pratchett seems to have hit his stride.
One memorable line here is reminiscent of the Japanese reaction to the eating habits of the first Westerners they encountered. The inn in Ankh-Morpok serves "conventional food like flightless bird embryos, minced organs in intestine skins, slices of hog flesh, and burnt ground grass seeds dipped in animal fats." Thinks about it. (What the Japanese were horrified by was the idea of taking cow secretions, congealing them, and spreading the result on bread.)
To order Mort from amazon.com, click here.
NATION by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 11/21/2008]
NATION by Terry Pratchett (ISBN-13 978-0-06-143301-6, ISBN-10 0-06-143301-2) is not a Discworld novel. It is an alternate history novel, though most of it is a pretty straightforward survival-after-disaster-and-shipwreck novel, and the alternate history is really only important to the final chapter or so. What is notable is that to some extent Pratchett is following in Philip Pullman's footsteps, and writing a young adult novel that has at its heart the questioning of established religion. (They are both, I will note, British.) Pratchett is more subtle, with most of the questioning being of a Polynesian belief system rather than any of the monotheistic religions--but with a heavy emphasis on the question of the meaning of suffering in a world supposedly controlled by a beneficent god, the application to the monotheistic faiths is obvious.
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PYRAMIDS by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 11/30/2012]
I'm gradually reading all of Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books (in the order in which they were written) and have just finished PYRAMIDS (ISBN 0-451-45044-2). My favorite line is from an argument between Xeno and another man, at the end of which Xeno says to the man, "The trouble with you, Ibid, is that you think you're the biggest bloody authority on everything."
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THE TRUTH by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 06/22/2007]
Completely coincidentally, the same week I read EYEWITNESS TO HISTORY and THE TIN MEN, I picked up THE TRUTH by Terry Pretchett (ISBN-10 0-380-81819-1, ISBN-13 978-0-380-81819-8), a book about the invention of the newspaper and the whole reporting industry in Ankh-Morpork. One suspects that Pratchett's opinions on the press is summed up by one character's statement: "People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortably when you tell them new things. New things . . . well, new things aren't what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don't want to know that a man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds."
But Pratchett also has a more philosophical turn occasionally, as when he muses on movable type :"The ban on movable type wasn't exactly a law. . . . [The] wizards and priests didn't like it because words were important. An engraved page was an engraved page, complete and unique. But if you took the leaden letters that had previously been used to set the words of a god, and then used them to set a cookery book, what did that do to the holy wisdom?"
To order The Truth from amazon.com, click here.
WYRD SISTERS by Terry Pratchett:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/14x/2012]
The book/film discussion group this month chose WYRD SISTERS by Terry Pratchett (ISBN 978-0-451-45012-8). This is the sixth of the Discworld books, and Pratchett is starting to focus on particular subjects. At one point, within the space of a half-dozen pages, Pratchett has the playwright of a traveling theatrical company referencing the Phantom of the Opera, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and William Shakespeare. A few pages earlier, Pratchett bemoaned the fact that it was easier to portray the rapid passage of time than to describe it, and then said, "[The] kingdom did not ... move through time in the normal flickering sky, high-speed photography sense of the word. It moved around it, which is much cleaner, considerably easier to achieve, and saves all that traveling around trying to find a laboratory opposite a dress shop that will keep the same dummy in the window for sixty years, which has traditionally be the most time-consuming and expensive bit of the business."
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