Saturday, November 03, 2007

What I like about Discworld novels

I stumbled over the "Discworld" novels by Terry Pratchett (one of which I'm reading this weekend) by accident. Being a student and having to make a trip from my hometown to the next city with a university every workday, I was reading a lot and one day I found the German edition of "Witches Abroad" in the bookshop at the train station. It was but the beginning of a real obsession in some ways.

"Witches Abroad" deals with three witches that have featured in various novels by now (and did in one [two in the case of Esme Weatherwachs] before). But while I like Esme and her headology (psychology is not known on the Discworld, but judging from Esme's form of magic, she surely knows all about it), I've come to like other recurring characters more. There's Commander Vimes and the Night Watch (by now, he's a nobleman, both through marriage and promotion, somewhere along the way the Patrician ran out of noble ranks, and commands all watchmen), there's the wizards from the Unseen University, there's Death (and his granddaughter Susan). But among my favourite novels are also some featuring non-recurring characters.

Those are the novels I like most (not in any logical order, though):

  • Night Watch
  • Hogfather
  • The Truth
  • Going Postal
  • Thief of Time
  • Carpe Jugulum
  • Maskerade

Why those? I can explain that.

In "Night Watch" Commander Vimes finds himself in the past after yet another magical accident at the Unseen University. Through strange coincidences he becomes the mentor of his younger self who has just become a watchman. All the time he tries to find the killer he was after before, while at the same time not trying to unsettle too much of the 'true' history. Of course, on the Discworld 'true' can have several given values.

"Hogfather" deals with an attempt of the Auditors (beings who control and measure the universe and can't stand life, because it always gets in the way) to wipe out belief and imagination. Death himself can't go up against them, as they have made use of a rather unsettled human to make children stop believing in the Hogfather (who is the "Discworld"-equivalent of Santa Claus). They are working from the only place Death can't go to: the Tooth Fairy's realm (strangely enough the Tooth Fairy of the Discworld is the first Bogeyman).

In "The Truth" both journalism and moving letters enter the Discworld at the same time a secret group tries to get rid of the Patrician by having him found guilty of a crime he didn't commit. Young nobleman (and chief editor of the new "Ankh-Morpork Times") William de Worde finds himself in the uncomfortable spot of telling the world the truth, even if it means having to deal with people who say "-ing" a lot and have no qualms about killing.

"Going Postal" features con-man Moist von Lipwig who gets given a second chance in his life (after being hanged, but not to death). As new postmaster of Ankh-Morpork he has to deal with really ancient postmen, dogs, huge green things with teeth and a fellow con-man who doesn't want the city to have a working post system which could take money from his own business. (Actually, Moist also is the main character of one of the books I'm reading this weekend, "Making Money"). Moist invents stamps and turns the once forgotten post office into a well-running business.

"Thief of Time" tells the story of two young men with extraordinary abilities, one a clockmaker, one a thief and later on apprentice of the most dangerous monk the Discworld has ever seen. They are one and the same person, actually, because they are the son of Time herself. Susan, Death's granddaughter, has to go up against the Auditors once again (and even they are not immune against the siren song of chocolate).

In "Carpe Jugulum" Esme and her fellow witches go up against vampires. While the vampires invade the small kingdom of Lancre, Esme invades their brains and the youngest of the resident witches learns to live with the second persona that has developed inside her - fooling the vampires who can't control two minds in one body. It's also the first novel presenting the large and long-living family of the Igors.

"Maskerade" also is a novel about Esme and her coven. With the formerly youngest witch Magrat married and pregnant, Esme and Nanny want to bring a new witch into the coven, but the girl in question has left for Ankh-Morpork to become an opera-singer. But there is a phantom in the opera house...

That's a whole host of different stories, isn't it? But I like them all - and the ones I haven't mentioned here, but like, too, just not as much.


Laila said...

Have you seen the Hogfather film? It came out in the UK last year, I think. They're also making another one based on the Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, and from the casting so far, it looks excellent.

Anonymous said...

Love the Discworld books! My favs are The Wee Free Men and anything with Vimes in it...I'm partial to him.

Cay Reet... said...

To Iaila: I've actually both seen it and wrote a post about it. You'll find it in the archive under August and the title "Hogfather". It even features some pictures taken from the movie.

To Kate: I'm very partial to Vimes, too.