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Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.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

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

‘ ‘And they do say the p-pen is mightier than the sss-
‘-sword,’ said Esk ‘All right, but which would you rather be hit with?’ ‘

Welcome back to the Discworld! This is part of my return to the Disc to finally finish the series so I am very excited to review this to begin the entire journey here on the blog.

The eighth son of an eighth son is a powerful thing living on the Disc. The eight son of an eighth son is destined to be a wizard, but what if that eighth son is not a son? Meet Eskarina Smith! She is going to be the first lady Wizard, but women can’t be wizards can they?

This book got off to a slower start than the previous two books in the series but has quickly become my favourite. In terms of worldbuilding, the groundwork has already been laid in the previous novels, namely A’tuin and the Disc but Esk’s (Eskarina) home is in a new part we have yet to see. Esk lives in the town of Badass (haw) in the Ramtops. The Ramtops are the mountains, 500 miles Hubwards of the city of Ankh-Morpork which is the main setting for many of the Discworld novels. It was very entertaining to see that small village mentality in action and under the hand of Pratchett.

The plot itself is pretty well contained and follows the journey of Esk and Granny Weatherwax as they make their way to Unseen University so Esk can be trained as a wizard. It does have a slower build up to the climax and it speeds up very suddenly when it does arrive. This didn’t really impact my enjoyment much but it did make it seem a bit like it was slogging in places but it still works perfectly for a Discworld novel.

At last, the characters are WONDERFUL. We meet our first witch on the Disc, Granny Weatherwax. Granny is honestly my favourite character in the story, I love Esk too but I really loved the way Granny was written. She is the resident witch of Bad Ass and when she takes Esk in she struggles with how to navigate dealing with someone Esk’s age (she is nine years old). Esk is the kind of little girl we all wished we could be, taken in by a witch with a big set of powers passed on to her and a bigger undertaking for being the first girl to enter the Unseen University. Granny and Esk develop a close bond as the novel progresses and its honestly heartwarming. We do meet other characters at the University but since this is a story focusing on feminism and women most of all I feel that Granny and Esk stand out in a way they are supposed to.

This is not a perfect book by any means but it still has all the elements of Discworld that I fell in love with in the first place and it further expands the world for us. The wit is razor sharp, the characters fall out of the book and on to your desk while you’re eating your lunch and we continue to learn more of the ways of this world. This was only the third book in the series aswell so I think it’s only fair to give Pratchett the benefit of the doubt on this one.

★★★★/5