Discworld

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„Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

–   Terry Pratchett: Hogfather

It is the kind of book that is impossible to describe; simply because there are no words for that. At least not in this world.

When someone asks me what the book I am reading is about, I can respond in two ways, depending on what that particular person is like. My answer, if the person wants facts: It is about a flat planet called Discworld balanced on the backs of four elephants which are standing on the back of a giant turtle, the Great A’Tuin, who is slowly swimming through the Universe. In other words, it is about magicians who study at the Unseen University, witches who hate magicians, about gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, the Reaper, dragons, and all kinds of other imaginable and unimaginable entities. However, my answer, if the person wants the truth: It is about philosophy, politics, moral values, humanity and ordinary people. Also, it is a bit about nothing.

God save me from a second question such as „what is it like?”!  The same duality applies regarding its style as its content. It is nail-bitingly interesting, full of action with complex characters, spiced with great humor at more levels (from the simplest word-plays with the names of characters and places, to the most complex philosophical humor). At the same time, it is a very symbolic philosophical discourse full of endlessly curling raveled metaphors. This duality, however, is organized in a way that none of these features is overbalanced, and the story and back-story are both enjoyable. You will at least LOL, if not literally LYAO, I can promise.

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Some dry facts: Discworld is a comedic fantasy book series of about 40 volumes written by the English author, Sir Terry Pratchett. He was the UK’s bestselling author of the 1990s and has sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. Even the Queen was a big fan. Then came Harry Potter. The first Discworld novel was published in 1983, and Pratchett has written around two books per year since then.

He has always been interested in astronomy, computers, natural history and Orangutans. You can see that in his books. Also, he used to love playing video games. He even wrote the script for and coordinated in the production of the video games of the Discworld series. That is highly personal, but in my opinion, he is an awfully nice guy. Unfortunately, in 2007 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease. He immediately made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust  saying  he had spoken to at least three brain tumour survivers yet he had spoken to no survivors of Alzheimer. He also filmed a program chronicling his experience with the disease for the BBC.

ImageThere are re-emerging characters in each book of the Discworld series. One of them is Death itself, who is a kind of conventionally looking death-character; a skeletion with a black hood and a reap. Except that his steed is milky white and is called Binky; and that he sometimes gets depressed that no one likes him and takes work off to go on a vacation. By the way, he “talks” with CAPSLOCK. He has a co-worker, namely the death of rats, although, his vocabulary drains off after „EEK”. Another funny and re-emerging character is the Librarian at the Unseen University, who used to be a magician but due to an unfortunate accident is now an Orangutan. Although, they offered him to reverse the curse but he said “UUk” (his only word) because his life was much less stressful with full of banana. Of course, this was just a tiny foretaste from this disk-shape world.

“What would have happened if you hadn’t saved him? (Hogfather Imageaka Santa Claus) The sun would have risen just the same, yes?”
NO
Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.
THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.

Really? Then what would have happened, pray?
A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.”
Terry Pratchett: Hogfather

by Eszter Farkas

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One comment

  1. Josefine

    Hi there,

    can you tell me from whom the artwork is, that you used on the top of your article? The one with great A’tuin. I would really appreciate an answer. Thank you.

    Btw. I really enjoyed reading your article, eventhough I just found it because of the Picture. Your description of the books is so accourate. I feel exactly the same every time I try to explain what the books are about.

    Regards

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