If you have read/listened to *every* other Terry Pratchett book, then add this one to your library. Otherwise, don't be in too much of a rush...
There are several things I like about the book: an interesting mechanism to explore the multi-universe theme; a different angle on the origin of Pratchett's trolls and elves; a new incarnation of a Tibetan monk; two or three characters that you find yourself rooting for; etc...
There's less humor and slower pace than you'll find in most Pratchett books. The twists and turns are more externally driven and less character-based. There's more exposition than character development, which leaves me wanting some of the more interesting characters to interact more (and central characters to interact less). For what it was, it could have been half the length.
Of course, this is a joint work, and it may not be fair to bring a Pratchett-specific lens to the book. It may have merits that I missed because I was expecting something else. Still, whereas I would recommend *any* of Pratchett's solo work (or Agnes Nitt), I can't be enthusiastic about this book.
Only a small number of people will argue that this is a monumental piece of fiction. But it's lots of fun! Especially for those who enjoyed his earlier works.
Dan Brown's plotting and writing formula is *very* similar to his previous three books -- fast paced, simple good/bad dynamic, and a marvelous synthsis of conspiracy theory and fringe belief. Yes, it's more than a little anti-religious, at least in the way that most of the people in the world think of things. But there are some good points of thought, sporadically at least, that most religious folks (including me!) can agree with, especially if we don't get too caught up with the elements that are, well, simply fiction and modern-day story-telling. It will make another fun movie!
The treatment of the mystical traditions of major, mainstream religions -- especially Christian -- is pretty weak. If people take Brown's characterizations -- even those of the Mason's beliefs -- as factual, then they may be sadly misled. There is, of course, more depth and balance in *all* of them than what is presented in this book.
But... I have to admit that I had difficulty turning my iPod off. I always wanted to hear what the *next* chapter held. I figured out most of the main plot points and characters about half-way through the book, and *still* I couldn't wait to hear the next part of the story. There were enough surprises (i.e., I was wrong enough!) to keep things interesting throughout.
The narrator (familiar to those of us who listened to earlier Brown books) does an above-average job on this one, and he's already an above-average reader. I have minor complaints, but nothing major enough to cite.
Enjoy the book! Give your imagination some freedom; and give you rational mind a break! Have a hefty grain-of-salt handy! Find a few notions that seem inspirational to you! Remember that it's a work of fiction from a popular, modern author!
And again, enjoy! I did...
Do you find the idea of getting started on a series of nearly 30 books a little, well, overwhelming? I know I did. There's good news. There are *four* major sub-series within Discworld that allow you to start a number of different places other than #1:
* Book #2: Rincewind, a spectacularly cowardly and inept wizard, is the "hero" of six books. These are mostly adventure romps and cover the entire geography of Discworld. The Light Fantastic gets into its story faster and you give up only a little in character development.
* Books #15 or #8: If you prefer who-done-its, and policemen who are self-proclaimed "suspicious bastards," then start the 8-book "City Watch" sub-series with Guards! Guards! or Men at Arms. Either will do.
* Book #6: Granny Weatherwax leads a coven of witches through six books, where "headology" is as important as magic. (The wizards only care about their staffs!).
* Books #4 or 11: Death (yes, the guy with the scythe!) is the most life-affirming character on Discworld, and he and his adopted family's exploits take up five exceptional books. It's best to start with Mort, but you can read Reaper Man first if you go back and read Mort second.
I am obviously a great fan of this series. Pick any of seven starting points, and ENJOY!
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