I was surprised to realise that I’ve been blogging for over two years now, and yet, I’ve never once blogged about Terry Pratchett. That is astoundingly bad form, form I plan on correcting right now. I can trace my reading history through author loyalty. There was Enid, there was Morris, and then, Terry. Sure, I’ve had fleeting dalliances with J.K. and Chuck, but I always come running back to Terry. Maybe it’s because he’s the only one with a normal name (okay, so J.K. isn’t that strange when you expand it…). Or maybe it’s the innuendo.
Definitely the innuendo.
In the seventh grade, at my best friend’s insistence, I read my first Pratchett. Equal Rites. If you haven’t read Pratchett, his Discworld series is an interconnected maze of books published since 1983, and Equal Rites is the best place to start. It’s Book #3, sharp, funny, wise, breath-taking. For so long, I’d wanted to write books – but it wasn’t until I’d finished with Equal Rites that I’d decided what kind of author I was going to be.
This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn’t pretend to answer all or any of these questions.
It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.
However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.
A bass note sounds. It is a deep, vibrating chord that hints that the brass section may break in at any moment with a fanfare for the cosmos, because the scene is the blackness of deep space with a few stars glittering like the dandruff on the shoulders of God.
The thing about Pratchett was, when I revisited Equal Rites and its related sequels the following year, it was better. Sure, the pratfalls still made me laugh, but I noticed something else: sex. Every second line meant something else. A character had written a cookbook called The Joye of Snacks, and I never quite understood why it was so frowned-upon. As I grew older, I discovered more and more and… well, the man has a gift. I feel his OBE is well deserved.
And now that the final book in his YA Discworld series has been released, I Shall Wear Midnight, I’m going to give you an introductory reading list. While you’re getting your NaNoWriMo on, devote the rest of your November to discovering Pratchett. And don’t scoff because it’s fantasy… it’s so much more. Read these, and in this order:
Witches Abroad (it did Shrek better… and 10+ years earlier)
Lords and Ladies (inside every fat girl, there is a thin girl… and a lot of chocolate)
Carpe Jugulum (dare you to read a vampire book after this and say this isn’t the best)
The sub-series then continues in the form of the young-adult books:
The Wee Free Men
A Hatful of Sky
I Shall Wear MidnightI’ve had enough of being depressed that with I Shall Wear Midnight over, I may never get to see these characters again. And I want someone to mourn with.
At least until I restart the series again and find another buried sex joke I didn’t catch the first 300 times.