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Archive for the ‘Unfinished series’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 2022] Hogfather

I don’t know that I’d call many Discworld books “exciting.”  They’re funny, thoughtful, clever, interesting and so much more.  But usually not  “exciting. ” But there’s something about Hogfather that makes it an incredibly exciting read.

It starts with the Auditors.  We haven’t seen them in a while.  The last time we saw them, they basically fired Death because he was getting too involved with humanity.  The Auditors are gray spectral beings who exist to make the sure the world is running correctly.   If any of them acts even remotely like an individual, he is instantly zapped and replaced with a new even more neutral Auditor.

And what makes the world not run smoothly?  Humanity.  Really, the Auditors hate humanity.  And they think they have finally figured out a way to make things run more smoothly.  They decide to get rid of the Hogfather.

The Hogfather is more or less Santa Claus, but with a Discworld twist.  Yes, he grants children’s wishes on Hogswatchnight (December 32–which takes its name from the Scottish celebration for the last day of the calendar year–Hogmanay) and brings them presents, but his sleigh is pulled by four wild boars, Gouger, Rooter, Tusker and Snouter.  We don’t see much of the actual Hogfather because once Death learns that Hogfather is… incapacitated, Death decides to take over his duties for the night.  Why?  Because if Hogfather doesn’t exist then the Sun will not rise.  This is nonsense, of course. Isn’t it? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 2022] Maskerade

The Discworld Witches are back for another story.  But things are different, and I didn’t remember this happening at all.  Now that Magrat is firmly established with King Verence, she is no longer witching.

And everyone (even Granny Weatherwax) seems to now that Witches work better in trios than duos (although the duo of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg is pretty formidable).

So who would be best to be their new third?  Why, that nice Agnes (once Perdita) NItt had a lot of promise.

But Agnes has no intention of becoming a witch.  She knows what the life of a Witch is like.  Plus she has a VOICE!  (The description of her voice is wonderful).

Agnes has set out for Ankh-Morpork to be an opera singer.  Agnes is very fat and there’s rather a lot of jokes at her expense, which comes across as pretty mean, Terry.  There’s a very fat man as well (this being the opera and all) and there’s jokes at his expense too.  It’s surprisingly mean spirited.

But aside from that, the story is pretty great.  Terry opens his book with some jokes/comments about how he never expected the opera to be a fruitful subject.  Until he talked to his friend in the opera who said the opera was full of crazy stories and superstitions. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: November 2021] Soul Music

This book is about Music With Rocks In!  (With a timeless CD on the cover).  But it’s also about Death having (another) existential crisis.

The book opens with the explanation of why Death had a granddaughter.  For reasons all his own, Death rescued a baby girl, Ysabell, and took her home.  He allowed her to age for sixteen years and then she stopped aging.

He also hired an apprentice named Mort who best Death (which Death allowed, truth be told) in a fight.

So Mort and Ysabell fell in love and were sent back to the real world where they had a daughter, Susan.  Susan technically wasn’t related to Death, but Death was her grandfather so…..

Susan went to boarding school, where she had an uncanny ability to be unseen–even by her teachers.  She was also very smart  (Neither of these things made her teachers very happy).  Susan could also see things that others couldn’t.  And she found this upsetting.  Like when a rat that seemed to be more skeleton than anything else looked at her and said SQUEAK?  As the book opens we learn that her parents have just died in an accident. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 2021] A Natural History of Dragons

This book sounded interesting. I knew nothing about it (aside from the title) and had no idea it would unfold the way it did.

Turns out that Kate Reading, whom I didn’t know, was an outstanding reader. She did male voices so compellingly that I forgot it was just one reader.

The book is a memoir.  The book feels like a Victorian novel (where a woman is not allowed to have the kind of adventures she ultimately does).  Reading reads Lady Trent in a kind of slow, deliberate, older, upper class lady voice.  It felt a wee bit slow at first, although I couldn’t imagine her doing it any other way.

Lady Isabella Tent is the leading scholar on dragons.  Indeed, the book starts:

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth into the clear light of modern science.

Each chapter even has an olde-fashioned style in which the chapter heading summarizes what’s to be found within.  Lady Trent is an old woman now, finished with the excitement of her life and all that she has accomplished and she has decided that rather than answering all of the letters she gets all the time, that she would set the record straight and write her memoirs.

She starts from her early childhood and her tone is at one approving and occasionally disbelieving in the kind of person she was.

When Lady Trent was young Isabella, she had a unladylike desire to be scientific.  When she first captured a “sparkling” (this book is written as if we would know what she’s talking about since it is a memoir of a famous person’s exploits.  If you don’t know what a sparkling is, well, where have you been?).

Her mother was horrified by her behavior.  I mean what kind of girl dissects a bird to see how it can fly?  A scientific genius, that’s what kind. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: August 2021] Secrets of Camp Whatever

I’m not sure who brought this book home, my wife or my daughter, but I was pretty delighted to read it.

Two kids are heading to the town of Nowhere with their parents. They are moving into their father’s mother’s old house on the outskirts of town.  It’s a small town and when they pull into the local diner, the waitress tells them to turn around and go back home… that place is haunted.  But the local museum owner, Henry Person, tells them not to believe that nonsense.

He says that Nowhere is known for unusual things–monsters in the lakes, elves in the forest, even a bigfoot sighting.  But the fog is so thick no one can confirm anything.

Willow is going to summer camp and is not particularly pleased about it.  Her younger brother Gryphon is not going to camp, but he really wants to.  Where’s the justice?  When their mother hears about the fog and the creepiness around the camp she wonders whether they should even send WIllow.

But the kids’ dad when to Camp … Whatever like a million years ago and he is pretty excited for Willow to go.  He can’t wait for her to hear all about the camp at the opening campfire.  Even if a kid did go missing the year he was there… and was never heard from again.

But Mr Person says the camp hired a new camp director … Clarence Tooter, a big game hunter.  He’ll keep the place safe.

A nice touch is that Willow uses a hearing aid, but it’s not a big deal to the story.    Except that Mr Tooter believes she is deaf and so he yells at here whenever he sees her.  And that sign language is very important to the story (although the reader doesn’t need to know it). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Lords and Ladies

The Discworld Witches are back for another story.  (This is the fourth Witches story which puts them on equal footing with Rincewind at this point).

I have been reading all of the Discworld stories in order (obviously?) and I wasn’t looking forward to this one because of the lousy cover.  I mean, look at that.

But this book turns out to be great.  In addition to the enjoyable story, Sir Terry sets the record straight on elves.  They are nasty.  They are wicked.  They are not cute, they are cruel.  And they don’t appear in Discworld because generations ago they were locked out

The only way they can get back in is via the Dancers, a ring of magnetized iron stones.  Or technically they can’t get in there because the iron stones keep the elves away–elves can’t abide iron.  But when the time is right the worlds get close and the elves try to see if they can somehow get someone to magic away the iron.

And it turns out this is a time of convergence.  Crop circles begin appearing around Lancre and that can only mean that the universe of Elves is nearby.

So what is wrong with elves exactly?  They enter the minds of humans using glamour, to try to make them see the world differently.  Yes, Witches enter into human and animal minds, but only temporarily.

Here’s what they say about elves.  And what those words mean.

  • Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
  • Elves are marvelous.  They cause marvels.
  • Elves are fantastic.  They create fantasies.
  • Elves are glamourous.  They project glamour.
  • Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
  • Elves are terrific.  They beget terror
  • No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.

Granny and Nanny can remember the stories about the elves.  But Magrat is too young, to sweet to believe that elves are bad.  She would believe that the elves are magical and fantastic in a good way.  She would not understand why they must be kept out.

And so Granny and Nanny do not tell her.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Small Gods

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Small Gods satirizes religion.  On the Disc, it is common understanding that gods exist because people believe in them.  They come into existence when someone begins to believe and they grow more powerful the more people believe.  But some gods have few followers and they are known as the small gods.

One such god is Om.  Om once had a huge following, there was even a town named after him, Omnia.  But over the years, people started fearing the religious leaders who enforced the “rules of Om” or out of habit.

Om has been depicted in statues as a massive scary creature.  But when Om decided to manifest himself this time, he came as a turtle.

There’s a fascinating side bit about how eagles are the only animals that can kill turtles.  They bring a turtle very high in the air and drop it on a rock.  The eagle plagues Om throughout the book. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: October 2021] Witches Abroad

Our trio of Witches is back.  And they’re about to do something they never imagined.  They are going to “forn parts.”

A local older witch (yes, older than Granny and Nanny) Desiderata Hollow dies and she sends Magrat her wand.  Granny and Nanny are more than a little miffed that she gave it to Magrat.  I mean, really.  Not that Granny or Nanny needs a wand or wants a wand or wants anything to do with a wand, or anything.  But still.

Getting the wand means that Magrat is now the Fairy Godmother to a girl named Emberella.  But although she gave the wand, she also gave no instructions whatsoever.  So Magrat really doesn’t know what to do.  The only note that she gave to Magrat included the important information to not let Granny or Nanny get involved.  Which Granny and Nanny take to mean that they should really take over the whole proceedings.

But Magrat is determined to do this right.  She wields that wand with authority and turns anything she waves it at into a pumpkin (she can’t do anything else with it).

As fairy godmother, Magrat’s one duty is to ensure that Emberella does not marry the Duke (who has a seriously questionable past).

Everyone knows that Fairy Godmothers are supposed to get young girls to marry Princes or Dukes.  So they are working against Fairy Tales.

But before they can even deal with Emberella, they need to cross the disc to Genua where Emberella lives.  This leads to a road-movie type story where the three naive travellers go to all manner of new places.

Nanny Ogg, who fancies herself a wise traveller also seems to know a lot of forn languages (or at least she knows a lot of rude words in other languages).  The Witches have some very amusing adventures.  There’s a Running of the Bulls type event which they find themselves right in the middle of, there’s a cave that they escape from in a giant pumpkin (thanks Magrat), and there’s a village where a giant house falls on Nanny Ogg to the delight of the locals.  Nanny is fine because the house fell on her willow-enhanced hat.

It turns out that the Duke is actually a puppet.  And the woman behind the diabolical plan to have Emberella marry the Duke is Lilith Weatherwax–Granny’s sister.  Nanny knows of Lilith because they grew up together, but no one else knew she had a sister.

Lilith has been using the power of mirrors to create more and more magic.  And she is quite powerful. She has been using the power of stories to impact the Witches travels and wants to use the Cinderella story to change the fates of Emberella and by extension, all of Genua.

Granny and Nanny are a little out of their element here (not that they are weak, they are just in an unfamiliar situation) and wind up getting help from a local witch.  Well, she doesn’t call herself a witch, but as the women talk they see that they have a lot in common.  Erzulie Gogol is a voodoo witch who lives in a swamp and has a zombie servant named Baron Saturday.  Pratchett has some good fun with stereotypes of the swamp–especially Granny not understanding alligators and the like.

Granny hypnotizes Magrat into attending the ball as if she were Emberella.  Magrat quite enjoys the experience. As does Greebo who is turned into a human.  Since Greebo is all impulse, he makes for a rakish human (who, unfortunately, doesn’t understand how his hands and arms work).

Another great rakish character introduced here is the dwarf Casanunda: “World’s 2nd Greatest Lover, swordsman, liar, soldier of fortune, stepladder repairer.”  Casanunda wins over women with his remarkably romantic courtship practices.   He is quite taken with Nanny Ogg who wouldn’t know romance if she sat on it.  He is fascinated that nothing he does impacts her an he finds her irresistible.

This book is a lot of fun because Pratchett is out and about, playing with and massaging sterotypes and just generally having a good time all over the Disc. And of course, it’s always fun seeing Granny and Nanny fight with each other even when they agree with each other.

Incidentally, Magrat and Verence were hot and heavy (well, luck warm and mildly chunky) at the end of the previous book, but things seem a little cooled down between them.  Witches aren’t supposed to marry, so who knows what will happen there….

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: October 2021] Reaper Man

This book opens unlike any other, with an amorphous group of beings called The Auditors of Reality.  (Well, it opens with a bit about Morris Dancing, which is pretty funny).  The Auditors have no individual personalities (in fact, when One says I (“I hate them”) it is immediately dispatched so a more neutral Auditor can take its place.

The Auditors want to make sure that everything is following the Rules. And what isn’t following the Rules?  Well, Death isn’t following the rules.  Death is developing a personality.  And that cannot happen.  So they fire him.  Yes indeed.

He goes off on his own trying to figure things out.  He winds up getting a job as a farm hand (his reaping skills are unparalleled).  The woman he works for is quite suspicious of him (and everyone in town is quite suspicious of her). Death is caught off guard and when she asks his name he comes up with unsuspicious name of Bill Door.

The woman is Miss Fitworth.  She is an elderly woman (rumored to have a large chest with a lot of money in it).  She had a fiancé who went on a business trip and never came back.  Rumor is that he left her, but she doesn’t believe it.

This is all well and good, but without Death, dead humans don’t know what to do–no one is there to guide them to the afterlife.  So they kind of just keep piling up.  Poltergeists run amok.  And then there is aged Wizard Windle Poons.  He was really looking forward to reincarnation.  But after he died, his spirit just returned to his body.  Of course, since he is dead, he doesn’t have any concern with old age–his sight and strength are better than they have been in years.  But everyone is more than a little freaked out by him. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: September 2021] Moving Pictures

For his tenth Discworld novel, Terry Pratchett decided to have fun with Hollywood.  Indeed, it is set on a hill called Holy Wood–an abandoned location that seems to suddenly have a magnetic attraction for Disc inhabitants.

This book also introduces Mustrum Ridcully as the new Archchancellor of Unseen University.  Ridcully will remain Archchancellor for the rest of the novels.  He proves to be unkillable (at least in practice) because he is unlike any Wizard around.  He had left the University nearly four decades earlier having become a Seventh Level Wizard at the young age of twenty-seven.  He left to look after his family’s land.  Over the last forty years he has become quite a fan of the outdoors, of exercise, of rising early and basically everything else that Wizards find revolting.  He loves hunting, owns several crossbows and is very hard to surprise–hence, no one has been able to usurp him as Archchancellor. (more…)

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