Tag Archives: pratchett

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

I go for Terry Pratchett therapy when terrible things are happening in the news, so I eenie-meenie-miney-moed through Pratchett’s bibliography and pulled up Soul Music.

The events of Soul Music explain what makes Susan, Death’s granddaughter, into who she is by the time of The Hogfather. Susan is a student at a girl’s school and unaware of her powers at the start of the book. When Death abandons his post, Susan is forced to step in.

Meanwhile, Imp y Celyn arrives at Ankh-Morpork determined to make his name as a musician. He gets entwined with a supernatural guitar that is slowly killing him. Susan fights to change this.

Like many reviewers on Goodreads have said, this is a good read, but it’s not Terry Pratchett’s best work. It succeeds when Pratchett crams his ostensibly medieval world with rock & roll jokes. We get to see an early version of Hex, which is fun. And Pratchett manages to make the main antagonist the background radiation left over from the Big Bang, which almost makes sense.

Soul Music doesn’t work when it runs over plot holes. What did the Music want and what was it doing to Imp? What exactly did Susan and Death do about it at the end? This book left me wondering what it all added up to. It’s best read if you don’t concern yourself with the plot and enjoy Pratchett’s funny-as-ever one-off gags.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Discworld_PostalA great book, as is usual from Terry Pratchett, but I had some nagging issues with the plot.

Moist von Lipwing (yes, that’s his real name) is a con man who’s finally gotten caught. Lord Vetinari of Ankh-Morpork gives him a choice: execution, or a job as postmaster-general of a haunted post office. Lipwig takes the job.

From then on, the story has two major plots. The first is a Lovecraftian sort of thing. The post office is shut down, filled with piles of undelivered mail and pigeon guano. The only living beings inside are a creepy old man, his assistant, and a cat. Lipwig must get to the bottom of why all the previous postmasters-general died in this building, and what is the horrible thing that lurks under the floorboards and drives people mad.

And also, the letters are beginning to talk to him.

The other subplot features Reacher Gilt, who owns a vaguely steampunky monopoly on the semaphore lines. He’d like to see Lipwig put out of the way.

I love Moist. He’s a complex character and boy, he grows throughout this book. It’s a foregone conclusion that he hits the fast track from con man to reformed con man, but you totally believe it.

What bothered me about this story is that the Lovecraftian plot gets resolved about halfway through the book. Moist von Lipwig figures out what the abomination is and dispatches one of the major villains. After that, the book is all about the societal issues of technology and monopoly. It’s still good, but it’s a major shift in tone.

And the resolution of the other plot, the Reacher Gilt one, didn’t make much sense to me. But I read the last 1/3 of the book in one sitting, so maybe I missed something.

Recommended. Going Postal is a good standalone and it’s a good way to introduce yourself to the Discworld. And it does a better steampunk than most of the books that advertise themselves as such.

Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchett

618150Happy Boxing Day, everyone! Hope you had a great holiday.

If you pick up a Terry Pratchett book, there are certain things you can expect from it. First of all, you can expect it to be a good read. You can also expect multiple interweaving storylines without any real chapter breaks, very human characters with lovable foibles (even though many of the characters aren’t technically human), and satire. Pratchett’s Feet of Clay delivers on all these expectations.

As the third of Pratchett’s Night Watch books, ostensibly the plot of the book revolves a mystery: who is poisoning Lord Vetinari? But really, the mystery is just an excuse for all the cool Discworld stuff that Pratchett puts into his novels.

First of these is Cheery “Cheri” Littlebottom, the Watch’s first openly female dwarf. As Angua, another female cop, takes Cheery under her wing, expect lots of interesting reading about gender expression. And explosions. Cheery is the Watch’s new forensics guy and her tests tend to explode.

We also get to learn a lot more about Dorfl and Ankh-Morpork’s golem population. I love a good robot story, so I’m picky about how they’re portrayed, but Pratchett does not disappoint. Expect a lot of deep examination of the nature of freedom and slavery.

One of the storylines made me feel like an American in a strange land, though. The characters of Ankh-Morpork are obsessed with finding themselves a new king, but why? What is it with Discworld (and by extension, Great Britain) and hereditary nobility? Where I come from I guess we have movie stars and business tycoons, but it’s just not the same.

Pratchett draws all the plotlines to a satisfying conclusion, as usual, but you should check out this book for the wild ride.