Reaper Man: Terry Pratchett

★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book 11

All is not well on the Discworld. As we’ve seen in earlier books, Death has a habit of being rather more interested in the lives of his…. clients… than he should be, and the Powers That Be are beginning to notice. When the Auditors decide that his attitude is jeopardising his professional detachment, they decide to take action. And so Death, to his surprise, is sacked. The Discworld, never the most stable place at the best of times, is about to face a whole new challenge…

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Moving Pictures: Terry Pratchett

★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book 10

This is the first case of a book that I’ve enjoyed less in the reread than I did originally. I’ve always thought that Moving Pictures was one of my favourites: when I first read it, I was tickled by Pratchett’s humorous reworking of Golden-Age Hollywood. Yet now, coming close on the heels of the earlier books in the series, I find that it doesn’t actually live up to the best of Discworld. And now my challenge is to figure out why that is…

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Eric: Terry Pratchett

★★

The Discworld Reread: Book IX

Technically speaking, Eric isn’t part of the Discworld series. Guards! Guards! calls itself the eighth book and Moving Pictures the ninth, but Eric is always listed in between them. It’s more of a novella than a novel and seems to be aimed at more of a young adult audience, as an inept teenage demonology hacker finds his summoning rite answered by the worst possible ‘demon’ in the world: the eternally inept wizard Rincewind.

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Guards! Guards!: Terry Pratchett

★★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book VIII

In the series so far, we haven’t seen much of the Ankh-Morpork City Guard. One or two guardsmen have had speaking roles, but essentially they’ve occupied the place that such figures occupy in traditional fantasy: bland figures, so expendable that they don’t even have names, whose function is to fight, pursue or be killed by the maverick hero. This novel goes a long way towards rectifying that, as the estimable men of the Night Watch have their moment in the sun (so to speak) at last – introducing some of my favourite characters along the way.

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Pyramids: Terry Pratchett

★★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book VII

The Old Kingdom of the Djel river valley has endured for millennia, governed by ancient rituals and overshadowed by its pyramids, the mighty tombs of former monarchs, which flare their power up into the night. It isn’t a place that accepts change easily. And yet, in a small act of defiance, King Teppicymon XXVII decides to send his son away to school. He’s heard that the Assassins’ Guild in Ankh-Morpork offers a fine modern education, and so young Teppic is bundled off for an improving course of etiquette, history, foreign languages and rudimentary chemistry. Oh, and learning how to ‘inhume’ people as well, of course, but it’s considered a bit vulgar to talk about that. The problem comes, however, when the King shuffles off this mortal coil mere hours after his son’s graduation exam, and Teppic is suddenly forced to confront a burning question: how on earth does one reconcile being a thoroughly modern assassin and a living god?

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Wyrd Sisters: Terry Pratchett

★★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book VI

All Magrat Garlick ever wanted was to be part of a proper coven. She’s new to witchcraft and takes it all very seriously, from the garlands of flowers to the moon-worship and the amulets, and it would have been nice to have fellow witches who appreciated the value of a proper sabbat. But instead she has steely Granny Weatherwax, who can’t be having with all this modern nonsense, and riotous Nanny Ogg, who’s usually to be found singing that classic Discworld drinking song, The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All. And Magrat has to prove to them that she’s a proper witch! And that isn’t all, because there is something dark afoot, something that the three of them must tackle. Something is rotten in the state of Lancre, and the witches may be the only ones who can save the day…

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Sourcery: Terry Pratchett

★★½

The Discworld Reread: Book V

Sourcery was never one of my favourite Discworld novels but, on rereading it, I was struck even more strongly by the sense that it’s a step backwards. Mort pioneered the formula that would make the series so successful: a close focus, a concept borrowed or inspired by those of our own world (for me, Mort has always been akin to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) and limited, wise deployment of fantasy tropes. Sourcery, by contrast, feels more like The Light Fantastic, linked not only by the presence of Rincewind and the Luggage, but also by barbarians, a wide-ranging quest, magical wars, ambitious wizards and, of course, the End of the World being Nigh once again.

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Mort: Terry Pratchett

★★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book IV

Mortimer, usually called Mort, is nice, well-meaning, but ultimately a bit hopeless. In an effort to make him into someone else’s problem, his father takes him down one Hogswatchnight to the hiring fair in the local town, but no one’s interested. It seems that the gangly boy can’t even be given away. Optimistic to the last, Mort insists on waiting until the last stroke of midnight, just in case a potential employer comes late to the fair. And, sure enough, as the bells strike out over the town, a strange figure appears, cowled and riding a white horse (whose name is Binky), to make Mort an offer that he can’t refuse. He always hoped he’d become an apprentice. He just didn’t think he’d be working for Death.

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Equal Rites: Terry Pratchett

★★★ ½

The Discworld Reread: Book III

Some more light reading was necessary after that brilliant, but thought-provoking last book and I returned with contentment to the Discworld. While the first two books dealt with one overarching storyline, this third novel breaks the mould and adopts the pattern that Pratchett would use in the rest of the series. Each book, while it features one or more of his recurring characters, is based around a particular theme or concept and can stand virtually alone. And so here, in Equal Rites, we turn our attentions away from Rincewind and the Luggage towards the distant Ramtop mountains, and one very special baby.

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The Light Fantastic: Terry Pratchett

★★★

The Discworld Reread: Book II

We left the hopeless wizard Rincewind in a situation where, quite frankly, things could only get better. To be precise, he was plunging off the edge of the world. As this new novel gets underway, he receives both good news and bad. The good news is that, quite improbably, he’s somehow managed to end up in a tree somewhere on the Disc and that he isn’t dead. Yet. The bad news is that the Discworld is in the path of a huge red star, which is approaching at alarming speed and is due to wipe out the entire world in two months’ time… and only Rincewind can save it. Under these circumstances, as you may imagine, it’s a toss-up whether Rincewind or the world at large is more worried about the prospect.

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