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Thank you so much for introducing me to Pratchett! I always bypassed the fantasy aisle because I didn't like the magic stories, and stuck to SF and historical mystery genres.

I stopped by one day and you had a bit from The Truth. I read it, and shockingly recognized myself, what a wonderful description. That would be me as Mr. Tulip, I'm afraid to say. ;-) This is what you quoted:

" Mr. Tulip was not, as he appeared to the rest of the world, just another nut job.  Some negative qualities can reach a pitch of perfection that changes their very nature, and Mr. Tulip had turned anger into an art. It was not anger at anything.  It was just pure, platonic anger from somewhere in the reptilian depths of the soul, a fountain of never-ending red-hot grudge; Mr. Tulip lived his life on that thin line most people occupy just before they haul off and hit someone repeatedly with a wrench.  For Mr. Tulip, anger was the ground state of being.  Pin had occasionally wondered what had happened to the man to make him as angry as that, but to Tulip the past was another country with very, very well guarded borders.  Sometimes Mr. Pin heard him screaming at night. "

I walked right out to the bookstore and bought it. Over time I bought the rest of that shelf. I turned my 29 year old son on to them, he is now a big fan as well. I gnashed my teeth thinking I could have been reading them all these years except that they misfiled them, ought to have been in humor and social commentary, not fantasy. I gave some to my nephew as well, he wasn't into them, but then he likes to do things in order and had to read them that way. I don't think starting with The Color of Magic is the way to go. Interesting to look back after getting to know the characters but that's about it. I really don't know how else he could fail to love these books!

Thanks again, Lance.

El Jefe

Many thanks, Lance; on top of it you picked out some of my favorite passages (in Sir Terry's honor that should probably be "favourite.") Some scattershot thoughts:

- I thought the Vimes-goblin mix worked better than you seem to, because the gear-shift towards derring-do felt more natural and goblin-driven. Agree about the pace and nature of the first part of the novel, though, and since Dickens is always a natural comparison with Pratchett it felt valedictory in a very Pickwickian way.

- Yes the Dwarves and Trolls play to the stereotypes you mention (particularly Dwarves-Welsh), but they go beyond that into a more modern and more thoroughly multiethnic Britain in the later books. The Dwarves are, all at once, strongly redolent of Orthodox Jewish and at the very same time orthodox Muslim (well, for mostly Pakistani values of 'orthodoxy') culture when you dip into the "fundamentalist" Dwarves. That comparison is a deliberate one, Pratchett's judgment that orthodoxy has more in common with itself across religious bounds than with many coreligionists. And with the Trolls, it's a chance to both turn over (in the sense of "playing with") and overturn some old standards of English racism towards black Britons and even the "black Irish."

- Maskerade? Really? I mean I like it, it's good and he does a delightful job skewering Andrew Lloyd Weber which is aces in my book. But Lords and Ladies is one of his three undisputable masterworks to date -- the others being Hogfather and Night's Watch (although Feet of Clay arguably works better as a novel within the ongoing Watch series) -- being both a better "Midsummer Night's Dream" in many places than the original and one of the best versions of the hero's journey for young girls ever put on the page. (Says me, the guy with a very non-zero number of daughters :) Of his earlier novels, judged on pure quality Small Gods is probably best though Guards! Guards! has its moments which surely contributed to both the quality and, in terms of mini-series output, the pull of the Guards arc. But I can see the appeal of Going Postal to writers in particular. It's a great book. And like The Truth only more so it is a master class in making a multi-layered comic-suspense-fantasy-satire not only work but crackle.

- Pratchett is our Dickens, even more than J.K. Rowling (who more obviously inherited two of Boz's best gifts: an uncanny ability to create the perfect name for each of her characters which has real power in both selling the story and shaping it to good effect, and managing a byzantine number of subplots to real and meaningful conclusions.) And Pratchett is our strongbox of English prose. Like so many "literary" successes of the 19th century (with a few exceptions like Thackeray), most of the Booker Prize winners can suck eggs twenty years from now, much less a hundred. People will be reading Terry and Jo, and know their worth.

- I think Vetinari's developed, rather quietly, one of the most interesting character arcs of the bunch. In the early novels, while he certainly has his opinions (not a good man to be a mime around :) he's a ruthless but deeply principled Pragmatist, in the old Jamesian sense. Not a good man, really, on account of the ruthless part, but driven by Pragmatism's commitment to a genuine greater good. Somewhere along the way -- perhaps there are touches with the Golems, certainly many more in Going Postal, and particularly at one point in Snuff -- where it seems that Vetinari, in his more advanced permanent middle-age, has become not just more radical in his pursuit of that common good (not in a bad way, in the way that used to get the left wing of 19th century liberalism classed as Radicals) but also, really, more good. Maybe the unmentioned loss of Mr. Wuffles had an effect? Or maybe Drumknott is a sleeper agent for the Monks and hides subliminal messages in his master's crossword?

Lance Mannion

El Jefe, I like Lords and Ladies and it would have been a better fit with this review---Granny Weatherwax taking on the Elves, Sam Vimes meeting the goblins. But I like Agnes Nitt and I'm not much of a Magrat fan.


I think Vetinari's turn towards good, such as it is, is mostly due to the fact that his most potent potential political rival pays attention to that sort of thing and, should he decide a change in leadership is needed, can call on someone with the appropriate pedigree to be an executioner willing to do what it takes to make sure Vetinari is dead.

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