Category Archives: Discworld

My review of Terry Pratchett’s ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’…

This time I’m reviewing Terry Pratchett’s ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’, his book of collected non-fiction. I have been a fan of Mr. Pratchett’s for as long as I can remember, I read his and Neil Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ in my teens and every Discworld novel since then, along with most of the rest of Pratchett’s output. But before reading this book I hadn’t read much of his non-fiction output and so this collection was a joy to find and devour. I also think that it is fair to say that Pratchett, along with Gaiman, is a huge influence on my work and writings (who isn’t influenced by this pair, though) and reader reviews have even made that comparison more directly than I would ever dare (review here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z), which is lovely! Anyway, onto my review.

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So, ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’ includes all manner of articles Pratchett wrote from the 1970’s to almost current day where he talks about things ranging from what his life as a writer was really like both at home and on the road, to his thoughts on paying taxes or on education, to how much his life changed since he announced that he was suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s. The articles range from the absolutely hilarious to the heartbreakingly poignant and I don’t remember the last time I read or saw anything that made me laugh as much as this book. And it’s non-fiction! But Pratchett knows how to set up and deliver a joke and the speech’s that he gave must surely have been absolute barnstormers. I had to continuously pause when I was reading the book so that I could stop myself from laughing too loudly on the train to work. I think I might even be scaring the other passengers a little! Oh, well.

Pratchett also covered matters that he clearly felt strongly about including the need for regulated assisted suicide in the UK (or assisted death as Pratchett prefers to call it) so as to reduce the suffering of people with terminal illnesses to how poorly funded Alzheimer’s research is compared to things like cancer research. These articles obviously have a different feel that the openly comic ones that the book starts with but they are nevertheless a joy to read.  As with Gaiman’s ‘View from the Cheap Seats’ (review here: http://tinyurl.com/zklvpvp), there’s a strong sense when reading this book of the author talking directly to the reader and that is just wonderful! As a young, self-published author with no agent, publishing house or support network, I am yet to go on a book tour or do a signing but I’m hoping to get to that point someday and Pratchett’s words on what it is like and how to cope with the stresses of said life are invaluable. These articles are also incredibly entertaining too which always helps!

As a fan of his work, I’ve read the vast majority of Pratchett’s output (I still have to read ‘Nation’, his best book according to the author, so I shall definitely have to hunt that out) and this is one of the one’s that I have enjoyed the most. I expected to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as a I did. ‘A Slip of the Keyboard’ is a joy to read from start to finish, through the early articles and letters onto his life as an author to his fight against Alzheimer’s and how much his life changed when he announced he was suffering from the disease. I highly recommend this book to any and all writers out there as well as to fans of his work who simply want more of his writings to read, even if what we all really want is more Discworld novels.  Pratchett has left an incredible legacy and this is one part of said legacy that deserves to be read and enjoyed by as wide an audience as possible. So go out and read it people!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Ramblings: my thoughts and a (brief) review of the Shepherds’ Crown.

For my next blog post I’m going to try something new- I’m going to review a book. I think I’ll be doing this more frequently in the coming months, and I plan on reviewing several works by other self-published authors, but I’m going to start with the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. Now, I’m sure no introduction is needed for Terry Pratchett, the author of this remarkable series, except to say that I am a fan and that you should be too. And if you’re not then you need to go out and read his incredible back catalogue. It is seriously brilliant.

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As I’m also sure most people are aware, Mr. Pratchett died back in March after suffering from Alzheimers disease for many years. And I, like many people out there, was very moved by the news of his death. I learned about his passing through the medium of Twitter, having joined a short time before, and this was a novel experience for me. I saw reactions from many people whom I follow and respect as the news filtered around the network and I was genuinely moved, as were many, by this unfortunate news. I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears that day and, for the first time, I understood a little about what Twitter can do to help spread information and to create a shared experience.

Now, for anyone who’s read my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ or seen any of the excerpts that I post on Twitter, it is not hard to tell that I’m a big fan of Mr. Pratchett’s. I’ve been reading the Discworld novels for a very long time and, like many of his fans, I have read each and every one. The series is not without its ups and downs and some of the novels are, in my opinion, not that good (I’m looking at you, Monstrous Regiment!). But they are the exceptions and not the rule and the quality of the series in its entirety is very impressive. So, without any further ado, here is my (brief) review.

In short, I loved this novel, which I guess is unsurprising. It begins with a dramatic event which I am now going to describe so if you don’t want to know what it is then I suggest you stop reading. Seriously, I’m going to talk about it so don’t keep reading! So, the book begins with the death of Granny Weatherwax, one of the longest standing Discworld characters. Now, I knew this was going to happen because I had it spoiled for me by another review, but it happens so early in the book that it is not really a spoiler to say that it occurs. Her death is told with remarkable grace and care and I was very moved by its handling and by the reactions to her passing from the other characters. It is beautifully written with brilliant character work that is absolutely heartbreaking but then I would have expected nothing less.

Now, I do not wish to spoil the rest of the book so I’m not going to explain much more about the story, merely tease it. What I will say is that we follow Tiffany Aching as she becomes the ‘head witch’, not that witches have leaders as such, and then as she deals with the ups and downs of trying to do far too much. And the glorious Nac Mac Feegles are there causing mayhem as usual. Then Tiffany tangles with the dark elves that featured in her previous books and that is as much as I will say. As expected the book is filled with the typical Pratchett wit and humanity and I enjoyed the story and the themes that it explores including responsibility and how you deal with your enemies. Also unsurprisingly, I thoroughly recommend that you read it. I also can’t help but speculate as to whether Mr. Pratchett was preparing his readers for his impending death with the death of Granny Weatherwax. I don’t know when this book was finished but it was reported that there were other books in preparation when he died so maybe I am wrong. The way the death is handled makes me wonder, and I might be reading too much into it, but that is what occurred to me as I read it.

Now, it was known for some time that Mr. Pratchett was unwell and that this series would not continue forever but it was still heartbreaking to finish the final Discworld novel and to read the words ‘The End’ one last time. And unless someone else is given permission to continue his legacy I suspect that this book really is the last one. Besides his daughter, or maybe Neil Gaiman, I have no idea who else would dare to touch this incredible series and the uproar from fans should it fail to meet expectations, as it surely would, would be considerable. It is likely best left as it is, an incredible series and a remarkable legacy of one of our finest writers. And now I have only one more thing to say: Mr. Pratchett, you will be missed.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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