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Human Rights Law

: Never In Our Names

Tuesday Night at the Book Club--Terry Pratchett Edition

By possum

Last week's edition of Monday Night Book Club by blueness brought forth a discussion about Terry Pratchett (Sir Terence David John Pratchett) that deserves a bit of expansion and more consideration.  Pratchett is an English author of  fantasy tales that often present a comical twist.  Social and political satire are included as Pratchett introduces the reader to various combinations of characters and situations.

Terry Pratchett, Patrick Theiner, Flickr, Creative Commons

Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971.  In 1983 the first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, was published.  Since that time Pratchett has published about two novels a year.  In Discworld

The world travels through space on the backs of four elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle.

Discworld, CaZaTo, Flickr, Creative Commons

and the largest city with about one million residents is Ankh-Morpork.

svennevenn, Flickr, Creative Commons  

In Pratchett novels

Everything you see reminds you of home, but it's turned around and back to front so that you see it in a different light.

Pratchett himself sums up Discworld saying
On the Discworld we know There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.

A visit to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork offers one fine way to learn a bit of the essence of Terry Pratchett.  Let us start at the Mended Drum, the principle inn of Ankh Morpork.
The pub opens straight out into the street at the front (guarded by a troll), and its rear backs straight on to the river. You have to take the drum as you find it, which you do by following the noise of breaking glass. Its customers have a certain rough-hewn respectability - they might murder each other in an easy-going way, as between equals, but they don't do it vindictively. A young woman could spend an evening in the Drum without being molested, unless that was her intention.

Rincewind, jimd2007, Flickr, Creative Commons

Once in the Inn one may find a cast of most interesting characters including my favorite, the luggage

The luggage originally belonged to Twoflower on his visit to Ankh Morpork. This ownership did not last and the luggage decided it wanted Rincewind as its owner. This is a good thing in a way as the sound of hundreds of little feet running followed by the sight of a huge chest running at you at breakneck speed is enough to scare even the toughest of trolls. The luggage is very faithful to its owner and basically cannot be got rid of for want of trying. The luggage is a very useful piece of travelling accessory because one minute it might be brutally murdering and enemy and swallowing them whole and the next it could be doing the laundry. The luggage as has been said follows Rincewind. This may not sound that bad but the word everywhere should be taken literally as it will not give up in its pursuit of its owner. One use of the wood Sapient Pearwood which it is made from is to build graves that people defiantly want to take with them.

The Luggage, jimd2007, Flickr Creative Commons

Unseen University, Lamerie, Flickr, Creative Commons

The Unseen University

is basically the center of magic in Ankh Morpork and probably the whole Disc.
The university is huge. It takes up a lot of the city but stretches, through the library, into any thinkable dimension or place. the library has every book that has every been written or will ever be written. The Librarian used to be a wizard but a magical accident turned him into an ape. It is advisable for visiters to the university to know not to call the librarian a monkey unless you you want a huge ape intent on killing flying across the room towards you. Within the UU the only way a wizard can climb the ladder of power is if his superior dies. This causes most wizards to be very cautious or dead or simply a wisp of smoke coming from their boots.

The Librarian, jimd2007, Flickr, Creative Commons

Archchancellor Ridcully of Unseen University, jimd2007, Flickr, Creative Commons

In addition to the characters above there are dwarfs

Dwarf, steeljam, Flickr, Creative Commons

and a whole host of other wonderful beings.  There is also food of various sorts.  Dwarf bread has very unusual properties

Dwarf Bread, steeljam, Flickr, Creative Commons

and Dibbler Pie has contents which defy polite description.

Dibbler Pie, steeljam, Flickr, Creative Commons

This is a small sample of the wonders and wonderful characters to be found in Discworld and Pratchett's imaginary lands.  Feel free to browse and to make your own discoveries.  Then pass along your findings as we all wander about under the protection and care of The City Watch led by Captain Grimes and Constable Carrot.

Constable Carrot, jimd2007, Flickr, Creative Commons

Captain Grimes, jimd2007, Flickr, Creative Commons

Library of Pratchett Goodness, Glamhag, Flickr, Creative Commons


Full post as published by Never In Our Names on April 28, 2009 (boomark / email).

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