This is space. It’s sometimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can’t have a final frontier, because there’ld be nothing for it to be a frontier to, but as frontiers go, it’s pretty penultimate…)
…Great A’Tuin, star turtle, swims onward through the void.
On its back, four giant elephants. On their shoulders, rimmed with water, glittering under its tiny orbiting sunlet, spinning majestically around the mountains at its frozen Hub, lies the Discworld, world and mirror of worlds.
Welcome to Discworld. That is my favourite opening paragraph out of Terry Pratchett’s masterpiece(s). No, it’s not a preview or a review. It’s a shameless plug for one of my favourite series. I guess now is when I warn you that you are entering fan territory.
For the uninitiated, DiscWorld is a series of 35 (at last count online count, 23 according the last book I possess) novels by Terry Pratchett.
They are all placed on this world that is shaped like a disc – unsurprisingly called Discworld. It has a tiny sun orbiting it, its single polar icecap is called the Hub and the sea is incessantly throwing itself off the Rim of the World. But greater wonder awaits those who look over and below the Rim of the World (which I think only Rincewind, an inept wizard and his company have seen. Rincewind, by the way, is an absolutely unbelievably inept wizard who misses dying by a hair’s width several times – and literally).
Now, as I was telling you, this world rests on the shoulder of four giant elephants (which I always imagined were white) and which in turn stand upon the broad back of a Giant Turtle (sex unknown) which is swimming through space with its beady eye fixed on the destination – a point only it knows. The Gods, definitely, do not have a clue, being too busy playing (ahem, gambling) to know things like that.
As you can imagine, magical things happen on this world, although most stories are about ordinary people (read wizards, witches, trolls, dwarfs, zombies, werewolves, vampires) doing ordinary things on an extraordinary world…
It started out as a parody of the fantasy that surged in the 1980s (The Colour of Magic was published in 1983, I think, and since then Pratchett’s life has been made.) So, you safely expect satire. There are “themes” running in the series, but if you pick up any random book, you ought to be able to make sense of it. For instance, my favourite are the stories that revolve around Death or Magic. Death is the skeleton with the scythe and the black robes – riding a white horse called Binky because a horse made of skeletons is quite uncomfortable…
Carpe Jugulum is a latin phrase that means seize the throat. It’s about a bunch of ‘modernised’ vampyres who decide to take over the world as they have grown “smart”. Expect different humour here, and the strangest thing I have noticed is that while Terry Pratchett has one of the highest number of laughs per page his jokes are rarely repeated.
If you liked the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you’ll love this. If you ahve a taste fro Wodehouse, you’ll probably enjoy it too. Like fantasy, can enjoy.
If you are about to begin now, go for “Mort”. Mort is the assistant that Death hires.
The Colour of Magic
are also highly recommended. Look for a witch or Death in blurb, becuase frankly, those are the best.
For old fans – have you seen the annotated pratchett file? The jokes fans spotted have been compiled and explained. 😀