The Creative Life

Welcome to the Discworld

  "Through the deeps of space swims the star turtle Great A'Tuin. It's ten thousand miles long, its shell is pocked with meteor craters and frosted with comet ice. On its back it's bearing the four giant elephants who carry on their shoulders the mass of the vast, glittering, waterfall-fringed circle of the Discworld.
A tiny sun and moon spin around the Discworld, and probably nowhere else in the multiverse it is sometimes necessary for an elephant to cock a leg to allow the sun to go past. Possibly the Creator of the Universe got bored with all the usual business of globes, axial inclinations and rotational velocities, and decided to have a bit of fun for once…" (Terry Pratchett, The Discworld Series Introduction)

The works of Terry Pratchett – what makes them so unique?
           Terry Pratchett is a brilliant story-teller with an ingenious sense of humour, a moralist, a philosopher and a humanist whose infectious fun completely engulfs you. His books are full of adventure, well-crafted and fast-paced crime or action stories, always with a mystery to solve and an unpredictable ending.
But that doesn't even come close to describing half of what his books are. On the very surface, they might be crime stories taking place in a fantasy world, but there's much more to them; they are a psychological study of humankind. No-one offers sharper and more unflattering insights into the absurdity of human nature and behaviour. He makes fun of politicians, religion, movie-making industry, police, traditions, mob behaviour, democracy, racism – he is merciless, his remarks uncanny and ingenious, which makes reading his books a unique experience.

The Discworld series and their characters
There are already about 30 books in the Discworld series, but it is not a "homogeneous" series. There are several sub-series, and a couple of stand-alone novels, which focus mainly on mocking one, chosen topic, but they are not so much fun as the sub-series are. What they have in common are the main characters and the place where the action takes place. Although these books also stand mainly by themselves, as complete stories, it does help to read them in some kind of order, to get to know the main characters better.

  The Death sub-series.
Death is one of the first characters Pratchett developed and it appears in every Discworld novel, in a way binding them together. Forget everything you know about death and meet the Discworld's Death. It's a he to start with, he speaks only in CAPITAL LETTERS and he rides a flesh-and-blood horse called Binky. He certainly has some surprising failings, as he picked up some habits from the millions of humans he "works with" everyday. Oh, and he has adopted a daughter and did the job of Santa Clause last Christmas.
The Three Witches sub-series.
The second sub-series – and the one I would recommend the most – is the one starring three witches. The first one is Granny Weatherwax, the most powerful witch on the whole Discworld, with a down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach to life (which means no men...), and the most handsome among witches as she still has all her own teeth. The second one is Nanny Ogg, a much-married ( she's had many husbands (and even was married to three of them) ), fun-loving, extremely sociable – if you catch my meaning – mother of at least 15 legitimate children. Likes a drink. Likes another drink. Likes a third drink. She probably never cooked something that wasn't an aphrodisiac as well, she is very knowledgeable on matters of the heart and associated organs. And finally the third one, called Magrat, the youngest one, soppy and romantic, with some stupid notions that magic has something to do with occult, candles, herbs and other such nonsense.

The Rincewind and the Luggage sub-series.
The third series starrs Rincewind, his Luggage and the whole faculty of the Unseen University, which is the most important university on the Discworld, and what they basically teach there is magic. Rincewind is the most inept wizard to ever exist in any universe, but he's extremely good at running away from anything and he perfected being a coward to such a degree that it almost became an art. Although he would like to have a peaceful, boring life, fate keeps forcing him to accidentally save the world every second week. The Luggage is his traveling companion, a wooden box made from sapient pear tree. It has hundreds of small legs, follows its master everywhere, eats his enemies and always has clean underwear for him inside.

The Watch sub-series.

            In this one we get to know the members of Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Ankh-Morpork is the biggest and the most infamous city on the entire Disc. The tourist guidebook says "Welcome to Ankh-Morpork, the city of 1000 surprises!!!" What it doesn't say is that 99,9% of these surprises are deadly... Sir Sammuel Vimes is the Head of Ankh-Morpork's City Watch, despite his best efforts to the contrary. A seemingly ordinary man, but an extremely intelligent one, who's got chasing murderers in his blood. Then, there's Captain Carrot Ironfoundersson, the Disc's tallest dwarf (by adoption). The other members include Angua, a sexy blonde who changes into a wolf every full moon – you can imagine how embarrassing that can be in some situations, Corporal Nobbs, whose species is impossible to determine, and a whole group of other crazy characters.

Welcome to the mirror of our world
The Discworld is a place that obviously cannot exist, it is impossible to place it in time and if I could give one advice to Pratchett's readers, it would be "forgetting what you know is the key". There is probably no rule typical for fantasy worlds that Pratchett doesn't break, e.g. elves are evil, witches are good, vampires are the aristocracy, zombies work as lawyers. And all of this has a purpose. The Discworld is not supposed to be a world in itself, it has an entirely other task – to mirror our world. Because that's what it really is; under the disguise of kings, witches, dwarfs and trolls, exists the ironic, complicated and incredibly accurate mirror of our world. Everything you see reminds you of home, but it's turned around and back to front so that you see it in a different light. All this makes reading the Discworld Series a real pleasure, as it is hilarious, capturing, ironic and simply amazing.