Last night I finished a 32 year journey. When I began it I was newly married to my first wife and my children were not even a twinkle in my eye. Now I have another wife, 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren.
In 1983 I bought a book. Looking back now it was a basic parody of swords and sorcery and fantasy novels of the time. It might have ended there but the author, one Terence Pratchett, joyfully lampooned these novels in a style which meshed with my sense of humour perfectly. if a joke didn’t quite fit the story but was related he would happily add footnotes varying from a sentence to half a page. If it didn’t fit on one page it spilt on to another. Sometimes there was a second foot note to explain something in the first.
Further novels followed and they began to be less parody and more stories based in this Discworld and seen from the point of view of various groups of Characters. Some were set in cities, some in rural areas. This world had magic as we have science. It would take me a year or more to explain the Discworld series fully.
The humour got me through some dark years in my life and the books kept coming. Not many books make me laugh aloud but these did consistently.
Then, more recently, Terry Pratchett announced the sad news. He had Alzheimers. it didn’t slow him down but his books took on a darker note. They were still funny but there was a touch of darker, self exploratory humour. Discworld always had it’s Death (Modelled largely on the idea of the grim reaper.). Death tried to be more human and prided himself on his bespoke service. I think Terry began exploring his relationship with death (The event) through Death (The character.). Interestingly the character of Death is in every book. By this time the Discworld was undergoing it’s own industrial revolution. There had been a reformation mentioned in context with other stories. The main city Ankh-Morpork was similar to medieval London. Yet later books have a basic internet (The clacks.) and the railways.
It would really take too long to go into detail about all the storylines but suffice it to say that it is one giant story arc. the star is the Discworld itself. The stories of it’s inhabitants in each book merely add to the total.
Then, in March 2015, the inevitable happened. Sir Terry died of Alzheimers. Despite being a fan of assisted suicide his death was natural. Fans went into mourning. One journalist who belittled him was ripped apart by fans. His article had been high handed and elitist. Mr Pratchett wrote for the common people and they loved him for it. He was like a beloved father or grandfather figure, full of gentle wisdom and humour. He put into words experiences common to us all and threw in some humour. I cannot urge you enough to read these books. He also wrote books for younger people but they stand the test of an adult reader. He also wrote, with Neil Gaiman, a book called ‘Good Omens’. It was an apocalyptic novel (Based loosely on the film ‘The Omen’) it turned the Armageddon story on its head.
I can recommend any novel with Sir Terry’s name on it. I could not afford the last novel ‘The Shepherd’s crown’ but got it for Christmas. It was the last completed novel after Sir terry died and I have the feeling it wasn’t completely finished. However it tells a story which will satisfy fans and I enjoyed it as a basic fairy tale (Though Pratchett fans will know that this is far from childhood stories we grew up with. Elves are very nasty creatures in folklore! Discworld witches are respected and feared too.).
So my last journey with Terry finished last night and it is sad, having seen the Discworld grow over 30 odd years, that it will progress no further. There were ideas for new books on his computers but no one could do them justice. His daughter has stated that this was her father’s world and she would not want to disrespect him by taking it over. So he will no longer lead us by the hand into the Discworld to laugh at it’s denizens antics. It will exist in limbo but the fans will not let it die completely. Thank you for this glimpse into your wonderful and imaginative mind and RIP Sir Terry.
Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)