I’d been wondering what to take with me in addition to the first Lymond book, thinking of just loading the Christmas Kindle with Austen (there can never be too much Austen). But now I think that this is not the year to cut down on shoving a load of novels in the rucksack* after all. Along with the books on skiing, Animal Tracks and Signs
**, and a small dictionary, it feels like the thing to take is several Terry Pratchetts.
The first Pratchett I read, courtesy of the recommendation of an English teacher who had few merits, but did introduce me to both Pratchett and David Eddings, was Mort
, which I think is fairly typical of Prtachett fans of my generation. It’s not that I don’t enjoy its three predecessors, but Mort
didn’t actually expect the reader to know anything at all about fantasy to get the most out of it. Re-reading it last year I was struck by how different it was from even ‘early-mid period’ Pratchett, but if it’s a series of jokes strung together it is a series of really, really funny jokes. It is inventive, it's fun, it's tremendously engaging, and it is surprisingly serious beneath it all. Less surprising when one has read the later books.
I love Terry Pratchett’s novels. I haven’t actually read every single one – there’s a lot, and I’ve gone through periods of being less interested, or when his writing changed and I wasn’t up for that, and rediscovered them again later and found that I liked them after all. That’s to my benefit now, I suppose***. He is clever, and witty, and fun, and profound, and often extremely angry. I didn’t always get all the references; I wonder if Soul Music
might work beter for me now with an extra decade or so’s general knowledge. At least that experience makes me less annoyed when people completely miss the point of Unseen Academicals
, which I love.
I’m not sure that I have a favourite of all, but I always love Carpe Jugulum
, which for me stands poised between the more rollicking earlier work, and increasingly dark and serious later. So have a favourite bit of it. Incidentally, one of the pleasure of good writing is the new impression each time. On this occasion I find myself focussed on the full significance of the word “domestics”. Whilst retaining, of course, a due snigger for the final pun.( ‘Why, Miss Agnes Nitt,’ )
And then we cut to Granny's wrestling in the dark with Death - and something much worse. That's the other thing about Pratchett, he's not just fun of good ideas, vivid imagery, great characters, he's technically fantastic, too.
*Especially as I have a new rucksack. I have spared you the saga of picking a new skiing rucksack: be grateful.
***I have all
the Tiffany Aching books awaiting me.