Terry, You’ll Be Missed

220px-10.12.12TerryPratchettByLuigiNovi1One of my favorite authors has passed away. Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books have been among my go-to books whenever I needed a laugh or just wanted a good book to read. His fantasy books are a constant reminder of the glorious adventure of reading and the wonder that can be found in a well-built fictional world, even one teetering on four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle. These books never fail to make me laugh out loud. Many times, they’ve made me cry. Because of his skill, Pratchett’s books earned him the Carnegie Medal and other awards, honorary degrees, and a knighthood. The elegance of his prose and breadth of vision always challenge me to be a better writer.

I cried when I heard the news of his death. I couldn’t help thinking back to when I saw Sir Terry in person when he popped by Anderson Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois in 2006 to talk about his third Tiffany Aching book, Wintersmith. Believe it or not, the crowd was not as huge as I would have thought it would be with an internationally known author in the house. But the small crowd enabled me to talk with him and tell him how much his books meant to me. (And no, I don’t have a picture of that event, much to my regret.) I later learned, like many others did, that he had early onset Alzheimer’s. What a blow for him and for those of us who admire his rapier wit. It felt like the countdown had begun. Though he lost the ability to type, he continued to write with the help of dictating software and friends and family. And we’re all the richer for having those books.

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Pratchett wrote about witches, wizards, politics, police procedures, and many other subjects with equal skill. Among my favorite characters are Granny (Esme) Weatherwax, who considers herself the head witch in Lancre; Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training; and Commander Sam Vimes, the head of the City Watch in Ankh-Morpork, a huge city-state. I love Pratchett’s crackling dialogue, which sharply delineates every character.

Granny_Weatherwax

Granny Weatherwax

Last year he announced that his daughter Rhianna will take over the Discworld series. If you haven’t read any of the Discworld books, I recommend giving them a try. Though the first book is The Color of Magic, I didn’t start there. The first book I read was Equal Rites, about gender politics and wizardry. That’s all I’ll tell you about that hilarious book.

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386372I moved on to Mort, which made me want to read other books Pratchett wrote about another on my list of favorite characters: Death, a Grim Reaper who speaks in ALL CAPITALS. If you’re familiar this character, a recent tweet from Pratchett’s Twitter account with his assistant Rob Wilkins will seem all the more poignant if you imagine Death speaking:

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

I’ve read (and reread) most of his books—some more than five times. There is one book in his Discworld wizard miniseries that I haven’t yet read. I’ll get to that soon. There also are some picture books I haven’t yet read.

Terry, I’ll miss you. Thanks for being a mentor, though you didn’t suspect that you had that role in my life. At least I had the opportunity to tell you that when you visited my little neck of the woods. And I can still visit you whenever I open one of your books.

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A sweatshirt given to me by friends who also love the Discworld

Terry Pratchett photo from Wikipedia. Book covers from Goodreads. Granny Weatherwax from somewhere on the internet.

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31 thoughts on “Terry, You’ll Be Missed

  1. We woke up to this news here in Australia. I also cried, even though I think I have only read maybe 8 Discworld books? (I have a whole bunch of others on my shelf waiting). I started trying to read Discworld before I was old enough to appreciate it, so I didn’t get very far, and it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve returned to it in amongst other books. I started reading The Fifth Elephant today as a tribute.

    • Hilarious and sharp as a tack. And of course he had the black hat. He was full of stories! I asked him if he planned to write another Tiffany Aching book. That was when he announced that he would and the book would be called I Shall Wear Midnight. Four years later, there it was.
      My former pastor and Terry Pratchett share a resemblance. So I couldn’t help thinking of my pastor as I looked at Terry. 🙂

  2. What a lovely tribute, L. Marie! You know, I only “discovered” Pratchett last year when I downloaded one of his books as an audio book. I thought it was a police procedural, given the description, and had no clue what I was getting myself in for. It was Snuff. I was hooked. What an amazing man he was! So creative, so prolific, and so generous in soul and spirit. I’m so glad to hear that you actually met him and got to tell him what his work meant to you.

    • Thank you, Marie. I hope you’ll go back and read Guards! Guards! That’s the first book in the City Watch part of the series. They have a progression, especially in regard to Vimes. I reread that last week. I so love that book.

  3. “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” – Going Postal

    “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…” – Reaper Man

    RIP, Terry.

    • Those are two of my favorites in the series. You brought yet another tear to my eye, Nancy! A friend broke the news to me yesterday. Reaper Man is her favorite. There was no joy in both of our houses yesterday.

  4. It’s always so sad when we lose someone who’s had even a minor impact on our lives. I still have “The Colour of Magic” sitting in a drawer in my bedside end-table. Better late than never…I think that will be my next read. Thanks for the wonderful tribute, Linda.

    • Thank you, Phillip. If you’re into police procedurals, I recommend Guards! Guards! That’s the start of the City Watch segment of the Discworld series. I also recommend Going Postal.

  5. L. Marie — what a lovely tribute to an author that meant so much to you. How fortunate you are to have had the opportunity to speak to him in person. Thank you for sharing your love of Pratchett’s story world and for giving us wonderful book recommendations. I hope that the loss of this great voice will inspire you to continue with your own inventive story worlds.

    • Thanks, Laura! I hope it will too. My sister-in-law sent me an article about some people who petitioned Death to return Terry Pratchett. I know how they feel.

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