Friday, December 5, 2014

Series Review - Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Well, that last post certainly got more attention than I expected!  To any new readers, welcome to my little corner of the internet.  I'm a writer who's working on making writing a bigger part of my life, and will someday have a book or short story published, be it by a publisher or by my own hand (thank you, self-publishing).

Being a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works, I read a lot of books in a series, and I've enjoyed seeing how different authors handle the overarching story lines.  My favorites are the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and the October Daye books by Seanan McGuire.  Conveniently, I'm involved with craft swaps on Ravelry for two of the three series, so I've been going through the books again and reminding myself why I love them so.

The Discworld books were the first series that hooked me from the start.  They're not a traditional book series, in that you don't necessarily need to read each book in order, but they contain several overarching plot lines, as well as a few threads that are seen in the entire series.  For those of you who don't know the books, the series is set on a fantasy world that is flat (a disc, one might even say), which is carried on the backs of four elephants who ride through the stars on the back of a giant turtle.  There is magic, obviously, as well as some technology that resembles more modern tech.  Don't let the fact that there are 40 books in the series scare you - you can start anywhere.

The first few books are more or less a take on the standard sword-and-sorcery tales of old, with a whole lot of humor thrown in.  Pratchett is wonderful at taking the status quo of fantasy and looking at it from a different perspective.  He creates some characters that start with a standard archetype (wizard, barbarian, witch) and gives them enough unique personality traits that they become something more than a stereotype.

Later books in the series take breadcrumbs that were dropped in the early books and fleshes them out, building on stories and characters that could really only exist on the Discworld.  For example, there's a passing reference in an early book about using semaphore flags to signal from one police officer to another.  By the more recent books, this system (now known as the clacks) has become incredibly important politically, as well as essentially mirroring modern mobile phone services.

Personally, I enjoy the books that are about the City Watch, and those about the character of Death.  The character development for the Watch (particularly the character of Sam Vimes) is a master class in how to create interesting, complex characters, and Death is just a great voice in the series.  He appears in many of the books, even if it's just a cameo, but there are a few in which he has a starring role.

I give the series as a whole five stars, and not only would I read it again, I do on a fairly regular basis.