When I call myself a reluctant Terry Pratchett fan, I feel I should explain my previous stance on the writer: I have never had anything against Pratchett and he’s been a prolific writer my whole life. My love of Rob Grant and other upbeat writers meant that I was eventually forwarded to his writing and, unfortunately, my first entry into the prestigious Discworld series was with The Wyrd Sisters, which I didn’t enjoy. I decided that this one read, which I didn’t even manage to finish, was more than enough to decide that I really wasn’t a fan of this particular author (and, to be fair, I think most people feel the same way if they don’t enjoy one book by an author) and left it alone.
Reading and loving Terry Pratchett if you’re a geek is like watching Dr Who: it’s just expected. More and more as I grew up, I found people assuming that my off-the-wall humour and desire to read anything that sat still for long enough had to result in an enjoyment of the Discworld novels. The more people insisted that I’d love them, the more I clung to my impression of The Wyrd Sisters and refused to read any others. To all those people who attempted to make me give Terry Pratchett another go: I apologise for being so stubborn!
For 2013 I have challenged myself to read 100 books and I happened to have a whole range of Terry Pratchett books in close proximity through a friend. It was then that I gave Mr Pratchett one more chance and – my goodness- he did not disappoint. In just over a month I had already digested seven more of his books and am now desperate to get my hands on the newest book he has released.
To be fair, my reluctant transition to the writings of Terry Pratchett hasn’t entirely been during my 100-book challenge for 2013, though this was how I discovered the Guards! Guards! series. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman and this naturally brought me to Good Omens, an exemplary novel writing between the two of them that features the dark humour that both writers are famous for having. After that I dabbled with the adventures on Moist Ludwvig, enjoying Going Postal and Making Money. But nothing has managed to sweep me up into the world of… Discworld like the Guards! Guards! series. In fact I’ve recently gobbled up the following novels:
• Guards! Guards!
• Men at Arms
• Feet of Clay
• Monstrous Regiment
So, What’s So Great About These Guards?
I think what particularly made me a fan of this Terry Pratchett series was the complete lack of magic. Just as my own personal taste, I don’t seem to enjoy the off-the-wall logic that the magic-centred series’ manage to posses. Whilst the guards’ stories do still feature some pretty ballsy uses of magic (Nightwatch being the obvious example as it features time travel) they also focus considerably more on parody and references. This makes the magic a device within a story, not the entire narrative. The adventures of the Ankh-Morpork Nightwatch often circle around mocking multiculturalism (the nightwatch is forced to hire a wereworlf, dwarf and a troll in the idea) politics (visiting the dwarves) and other topics that are usually so dull but all become great fun through the no-fuss eyes of Vimes, head of this rag-tag group. Monstrous Regiment also earns a special place in my heart for being an enjoyable book with an assortment of characters who are not as they seem, as well as frank and no-fuss look at what women are capable of. If you’ve tried the magic orientated Pratchett books and not loved them but you’re a fan of quirky writing with a British slant on the adult humour then check them out! You may still find that Terry Pratchett and Discworld itself isn’t for you but this series certainly made a reluctant convert of me!