Review: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.

Welcome back to the Discworld everyone and here we are again at Unseen University and the realm of Death. Wizards meet death personally when they die don’t they? Don’t they??

DEATH IS MISSING – PRESUMED . . . ER . . . GONE.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall, dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There’s a harvest to be gathered in…

I think at this stage it would be easier to give me a non Death centric book from the Discworld series to see if I would like it. I really started out not enjoying this as much as I expected but I was very quickly reminded that this was a Death book and therefore my heart was about to be broken.

Starting with the world building, we are right back at the familiar haunts of Ankh Morpork, Unseen University and a mild stop in Death’s realm. As usual, the city is consistently chaotic and brutal. One thing that I was pushed to understand at first was what exactly the disaster was or might be that was coming to mess up the city this time and how exactly it tied in to what was happening between death and the Wizard story line (i’ll get t that in a sec).

I know that a mystery is obviously necessary for the plot and we aren’t supposed to know everything or that would kill the reveal. But I think anyone who has read this will know what I mean here. It was hard to tie how this thing represented itself and how it could possibly tie in with the other chaos where in the last few books it was becoming clear after a bit where these events are linked to each other.

That being said however, this is a character book more than anything. There are two main perspectives here, Death of course but also Windle Poons the old wizard that I have often pointed out has the perfect name for a cat. That was something that I wasn’t set up for so I felt very much like I was lacking on the Death content when I first started reading.

However old Poons does grow on you very quickly and by the end of the book I was VERY attached to him and his heroics and struggles. There is a definite question and reality of getting old and how that takes away from your own capabilities. Also how it really causes people to treat you and even Poons himself really sees how the other Wizards just considered him a chore or a object really. I can name on one hand the amount of SFF books that do things like this with aging and one is a short story, the other a book by Stephen King. This was a welcome plot and Poons really got his moment to shine.

Death of course. This isn’t a review of a Discworld novel without and the tears. This book really confronts Death with mortality and how he is changing as a result of humanity. There is a distinct feel of him becoming more in touch with humans and our needs and feelings when he is presented with his own possibility of living and dying after that life is gone. Pratchett really went to lengths here to make this story as powerful as it is heartbreaking. Death’s relationship with Miss Flitworth is definitely the best part and had me crying a lot. His relationship all be in brief on the page with Sal, the little girl who can see him, as well was wonderful.

This story is excellent with some very deep questions and characters that are hard not to become closer to.Again, I would only draw criticism to the confusing delivery of the entity that is causing chaos here and the fact this should be marketed as both Windle Poons’ story and Death’s so at least expectations don’t cause someone to give up on this very great story.

Thank you so much to anyone who is following along my Discwild jurney at this point. After a year I thought I would be way further into this series but then I realise there are 40 books and I had life, blog tours and other related phenomena along the way. I might do a wee check in post to track my current progress and see how I am doing. As usual from me, happy reading to you all!

★★★★/5

Review: Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Believe it. That was the way. Never stop believing. Fool the eye, fool the brain.

Welcome back to the Discworld Project. Prepare yourself for the new marvel of the Disc! Lights! Imps! Red carpets and banged grains. Today fellow readers, in the town of Holy Wood, film has come to the Disc.

The alchemists of the Discworld have discovered the magic of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill?

It’s up to Victor Tugelbend (‘Can’t sing. Can’t dance. Can handle a sword a little’) and Theda Withel (‘I come from a little town you’ve probably never heard of’) to find out…

This was a surprising turn for the series that resulted in a fun story while also being very enjoyable. This is book 10 in the series publishing continuity and continues to add more characters to the world but is definitely better at connecting the ones we have already met.

I think the main reason I enjoyed this was the weird unusual thread of the story. It follows the usual Discworld formula in places, being based in Ankh Morpork and the introduction of some new characters being pulled into some ridiculous amount of mayhem usually linked to something magical or otherworldly. This one, felt a little the story was far more solid and that the world is better established in this book. I still can’t be quite sure if that is due to the fact that I am invested in the series now but something felt unusual.

In case you didn’t guess from the synopsis and my witty intro (ha), this sees the introduction of film to the Discworld and the disasters that would come from that. Something I really loved was that the way the alchemists develop how to make ‘clicks’ is a direct call back to The Colour of Magic. I know this is something small but I have often wondered about technology in Discworld and seeing it again is fun. The equivalent of popcorn is named appropriately too.

I think as well this is the first book where I felt the wealth of characters was explored really well. We don’t just get to see the witches, or just get to see the wizards. Holy Wood being what it is draws Trolls, talking dogs and would be wizards like our main character Victor. There is also the eventual return of a race of characters we have seen before towards the end, and of course the always welcome return of Death, the Librarian and a hilarious plot involving the wizards at the university.

I do think that Victor was a little weak, especially alongside Ginger and Throat. Seeing Throat reappear in a more vital role in the plot was brilliant and felt true to his constantly changing nature, but I still felt Victor was left a little underdeveloped compared to other main characters I’ve met so far. Gaspode the Wonder Dog is a true standout though.

I did still really enjoy this, I flew through it which is always great for immersion with a story like this and it is always a great experience reading any Pratchett book. The next book will be Reaper Man so that is one I am looking forward to. Happy reading folks!

★★★★/5

Review: Eric by Terry Pratchett

Welcome back to the Discworld Project! We have shorter distances between reviews this time around since I have wanted to throw myself head first into the project this month to make some progress. Today we will be reunited with an old character, learn why teenage boys shouldn’t summon demons and just how much everyone hates memos.

Here we meet Eric. He is the first teenage demonologist on the Disc! He isn’t very good at it however, since he manages to summon Rincewind instead. Rincewind, thrilled to be back in the right reality, is now subject to Eric and his whims. What follows is a journey across space, time, the Disc and three wishes that don’t exactly come true but do all the same.

This is definitely the shortest Discworld book I have read before. I have also managed to mix up my chronological continuity that I intended to do from the start. I am currently reading Guards! Guards! and Eric is actually after this. No matter, I still had a great time with this one.

The advantage here is definitely the fact this book is illustrated by Josh Kirby. His illustrations are a little bit dated and not fully to my own tastes (Paul Kidby would be for example, would be) but it really helped to supplement the story. I liked being able to follow the story and see some of the more of the more unusual characters and places within the plot.

Is it me or does anyone else love Rincewind for the utter disaster he is? I was thrilled to see him return! The Discworld characters are famously some of my favourites but Rincewind was the first I ever met reading these books. He does have a bit of a different arc here, looking after a young teen who he is kind of responsible for but overall the outcome is spectacular.

Illustration by Josh Kirby

The plot varies at times, between jumping into sporadic world building for places we haven’t seen before, back to the intense situation of the Faust like journey the characters are taking. It is slightly unnerving but it does overall work out very well and there are parts that are expanded upon slightly from previous locations. I love as well that the ‘hell’ location is made all the more insufferable with office jargon, memos and unnecessary potted plants.

So yeah, I screwed up my own reading order but it was still a great reading experience. I would highly recommend the illustrated edition of Eric, just to help enrich the experience. This is also great fun and a bonus if you are a fan of the disaster artist that is Rincewind.

Thank you for taking another trip across the Disc with me and I hope you will join me for the next leg of the journey! Happy reading folks!

★★★★/5

Review: Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

‘Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed any more.’

Welcome back to the Disc! Today we will be taking a journey through the Valley of the Djel in the country of Djelibeybi. A world of ancient pyramids, over zealous priests and the ever pressing question of what Handmaidens actually do awaits you as we follow a new character we have not yet met in the Discworld.

Pteppic has just graduated from the Guild of Assassins. With the ink still wet on his certificate, he feels himself drawn back to the kingdom of Djelibeybi after the death of his father, the Pharaoh. But Pteppic soon realises that running a kingdom isn’t always down to the king. Contested with the ancient attitudes of his High Priest Dios, Pteppic will soon realise why things haven’t changed around here for a while.

Out of all the Discworld books I have read so far, this one has to be my least favourite. This is definitely one of the weaker books in the series. While it is still an enjoyable read with the usual wit and fantastic character moments from Pratchett, I kind of was feeling very meh until the final act really kicked off which I find I always enjoy in this series.

The plot is what is the biggest let down here definitely. We have the beginning which is really interesting since we finally get see some guild stuff up close, then Pteppic leaves Ankh Morpork and then it stops. For ages. Then it picks up again with a conflict arising at last, dies again for a while and then ends on a great climactic event. It does wrap up quite well but I can see why this one is very rarely talked about.

Pteppic on the other hand is a joyful addition to the cast of characters so far. Sent to Ankh to be trained and arriving back at his home an outsider once again. Something that Pratchett does achieve here is that struggle within Pteppic of where exactly he fits in with everything. There is a real sense of inner conflict here and we really get to see Pteppic grow into his own person while also accepting his own role in the Discworld and not just Djelibeybi.

I’m not sure in terms of the Discworld how often Pteppic will pop up again if he ever will. From the reading order I have looked over, this book exists with Small Gods within a smaller section of the ancient civilizations of the Disc overall. I did highly enjoy a little view into the Assassins Guild and Pteppic’s development overall but this wasn’t as much of an impact on me as Mort or any of the witches novels.

I think I am finally making some progress here. I have no blog tours over the coming months since i am still settling in at a new job and I’m trying to get back to exercise while also not getting infected. But this marks the seventh novel in the series publication order and I hope to get to at least tenth by the time this month is over.

★★★/5

Bookish Resolutions and 2019 in Review

Happy new year readers! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday period and you are all ready for the year ahead, reading happily and have summoned the strength to go back to work.

2019 as a year was a wonderful and wild year, life wise. Reading wise though, it was absolutely fantastic. I finally started this blog, I attended World Con, I made some wonderful friends, met many authors I loved, saw Amanda Palmer live and just so many more wonderful things. So I have some resolutions for my reading this year that I want to share with you. I have quite a few but I am super excited to start them, starting with;

  • Goodreads Goal: So for 2019 I set myself the goal of 100 books and I met that and beat it by 105%. This is my first time doing a proper goal of getting a quantity of books read and actually monitoring the books I am reading. This was hugely helpful and it is nice to track these things. For 2020 I am setting my goal for the same amount since I now have a commute to read on also.
  • Back to the Backlist: In 2019 I held back a bit from the previous year of picking up new and hyped books and this year, I’m actually making it my mission to do this. I have kind of had it with over hyping books, buying books on an impulse that they are new and just because I’ve seen tweets about it. I am not currently aware of the amount on my physical TBR or my Kindle TBR but just know it’s big. I’m going to focus on reading these this year and particularly backlisted SFF titles.
  • Continue with Tortall and the Discworld Project: As many of you know I discovered the fabulous world of Tortall this year and read the entire Immortals quartet. I have since bought the many more of the books that are set in Tortall and this year I intend to complete my journey, probably with The Protector of the Small or The Lioness series next.

    The same goes for my ongoing Discworld Project. As of the end of 2019 I have read 6 of the books, having read the first 5 in the publishing order. Next up is Wyrd Sisters so watch this space.
  • Using the library and owned TBR: I am not doing a book buying ban because they have been futile in the past. I am however going to focus on books I currently own (a lot) and also anything I have on Kindle (many) as a priority. I just renewed my library membership before Christmas and will be using this as my main source for reading books I hear about but may not want to own yet.
  • Weekly comics and comics in general: I have fallen SEVERELY behind on my weekly comics due to my old job. I am currently trying to fix this while also catch up and read the comics/trade paperbacks/ grpahic novels etc that I own. Comics are a big part of my life and I will be bringing more of them to this blog in 2020.

There you have it, some small but significant goals for the year ahead. I think these are very manageable and aren’t going to overwhelm me, especially with my new job and some other personal goals I need to work on also.

Have you guys any bookish resolutions? Are you going to make any changes to your reading for 2020? Do share them with me please. Happy reading you guys.