Terry Pratchett. Ever since starting to read the lit blogs, it's a name I've heard over and over. For some time now I've needed a tutorial on this writer, and I know that others would appreciate it, too. I've asked Michele Fry, of Scholar's Blog in the UK, to write this guest column. Thanks, Michele!
Pratchett is the astonishingly popular author-creator of the Discworld™
series; reportedly 1% of every book sold in the UK is written by Pratchett—that’s
all books, not just fantasy ones. He has also written some non-Discworld books
as well, of which more later. First a brief explanation of Discworld for those
who are unfamiliar with it. As suggested by its name, this is a flat world
carried on the back of four large elephants, which are themselves standing upon
the back of the giant, space-faring world turtle, Great A’Tuin, which endlessly
swims through space.
readers new to Discworld, a good starting place is Pratchett’s marvellous
“Discworld for children” trilogy featuring the apprentice witch, Tiffany
Aching: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and the forthcoming Wintersmith.
is the kind of child who, reading in her book of stories that Jenny Greenteeth
has eyes the size of soup plates, measures a soup plate to check the size; she
knows the meanings of lots of words (no one has ever told her that you’re not
meant to read the dictionary like a novel); she’s the kind of child who,
hearing stories about the “wicked old witch”, wonders “Where’s the evidence?” In The Wee Free Men Tiffany encounters Jenny Greenteeth and this leads
her to taking on the Queen of the Faeries herself (and this being Terry
Pratchett, we’re not talking Tinkerbell fairies !); she also finds herself
temporarily the Kelda (leader) of the Wee Free Men (aka the Nac Mac Feegle), 4
inch high blue men with an over-aggressive attitude (they love fighting,
stealing and drinking, preferably all at once !), but astonishing loyalty. In
the sequel, A Hat Full of Sky,
Tiffany goes to stay with Miss Level to learn to be a witch. Unfortunately,
just before she leaves the Chalk (where she lives), she attracts the attention
of a “hiver” a bodiless creature that likes to inhabit minds until the minds’
owners go mad and die. The manner in which Tiffany chooses to deal with this
frightening and threatening creature is remarkably mature and unselfish, and
the book itself is a compelling look at the power of storytelling (something
which Pratchett discusses again and again in his books).
books by Terry Pratchett that are written for children but serve as a good
introduction to his books for readers of all ages is The Amazing Maurice
and His Educated Rodents, a Discworld parody of the tale of The Pied
Piper of Hamelin, and non-Discworld books that include the Bromeliad trilogy (Truckers,
Diggers and Wings) about a race of Nomes (beings akin to
Lilliputians, but with far more advanced technology, and the YA Johnny Maxwell
trilogy (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead and Johnny
and the Bomb), featuring the sensitive and thoughtful teen Johnny Maxwell
and his friends.
Michele is an independent scholar (i.e., not attached to a university) based in Oxford.
She writes and reads every day—sometimes she reads an entire book in one day,
sometimes she doesn't, but she rarely averages less than four books a week. She
did a degree in English and History in the late 90s as a mature student, but
has loved these subjects since her school days. She has been writing and
publishing articles about fantasy fiction (for children and for adults) ever
since completing her degree in 2001. She has been a fan of fantasy fiction
since the age of 8 when a teacher read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
to her class. Her favourite authors include J R R Tolkien, Terry Pratchett,
Juliet E McKenna, Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman and Geraldine McCaughrean.
find some of her thoughts and comments about Terry Pratchett’s books on her blog as follows:
Personal isn’t the same as important
The Matter of Elves
Dragons and Turtles: Myth and Fantasy