Normally when I hear the words: ‘you have to read this, it’s hilarious’ I make a mental note to avoid whatever ‘this’ is like the plague. And so, naively, it was with Terry Pratchett for a while at least. But his books called to me and eventually I succumbed. Thank goodness.
Over the last 20 years Terry Pratchett has made me laugh. A lot. But that is only the start of it. Whether writing for adults, young adults or children his books are thought-provoking and deal with some very big themes through a range of colourful characters from the small but feisty Nac Mac Feegles to the world-weary but highly astute Commander Vimes.
Unbound by earthly limits his Discworld characters come in all shapes, sizes, races and classes, each person’s story as important as the next. Beneath the humour are stories of the underdog, the downtrodden, the misunderstood, stories of racism and prejudice and the yearning to be normal, to find a place in the world. In other words, holding a mirror up to the human race but adding a funny face so we could look at it and smile.
When I heard that Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease I was deeply shocked. How could such a brilliant, busy, productive mind fall victim to this destructive condition?
And still the books came. I don’t know if there was a darker tone to his writing after his diagnosis or if it was coming from my sadness as a reader but I certainly felt there was more of a sinister edge to some of the stories. For me this was most evident in Snuff – if you haven’t read it, then I would highly recommend it.
I’d be hard pushed to choose a favourite character or book, there are just so many. Vimes, Rincewind, Nanny Ogg, Tiffany Aching, Captain Carrot, Death, Susan and the many, many more wonderful characters, settings and stories he created. They will live on, and their creator will live on for as long as people continue to read Terry Pratchett’s books. I suspect that will be for a long time to come.
Well, Ok. I might have a favourite book. Here’s a clue: ‘The truth shall make you fret’
Sir Terry Pratchett, writer, conservationist, RIP