Watt-Evans, Lawrence. The Turtle Moves! Discworld’s Story (Unauthorized).

Dallas: BenBella Books, 2008.

There are two groups of people who will benefit most from this overview volume: Dedicated fans of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels (of whom I am very much one) and those who are thinking about attempting one of them and are wondering where to start.

As his readers know, the thirty-odd books about the Discworld aren’t really a single series; they’re a collection of story arcs, each focusing (more or less) on a particular theme or group of characters — though individuals and locations and bits of history from any of the books are apt to appear in any of the others. Watt-Evans, himself a professional fantasist, has identified the arcs the books belong in, plus a couple of singletons or one-offs, too. And then he provides a brief discussion of each book (and, later, of each arc as a whole), noting how Pratchett’s work has become much more nuanced and sophisticated over time — which is why you probably don’t want to start with the actual first book published about the Discworld, because it’s far from being the best — and ferreting out his apparent philosophy of life, the universe, and everything. And Watt-Evans pretty much gets all of it right, in my opinion, especially in his theory that the overarching theme of the Discworld books is that they’re about stories. Not that they tell stories — they’re actually about stories. Storytelling, to Pratchett, is one of the things that defines humanity. Though Watt-Evans explicitly denies he’s committing literary criticism here, you will find a number of comments and points that will make you rethink your reactions to some of the books. In fact, for the fan, I recommend you read this book and then start the Discworld series all over again, in “proper” order, keeping in mind what you’ve read here. If only he hadn’t gotten so carried away with the footnotes.

Published in: on 26 November 2013 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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