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(P)ISIS Publishing Ltd, 1995; Copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1989; Cover Illustration © Josh Kirby
Several years ago, when I was interviewing for a generalist literature professor position, one of the members of the hiring committee asked me whom I thought was the greatest living writer. There was a right answer, it turned out, and that answer was Terry Pratchett. And, from what I see of the web activity on him, there are at least a few others who thought so as well.
Setting aside people like Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Jonathan Lethem, and Toni Morrison, Pratchett isn’t (or, sad to say wasn’t) even among the best of the fantasy writers of our era. On the evidence of this, my first Pratchett, he’s simply not in the same league as Susanna Clark, Erin Morgenstern, or J.K. Rowling. He’s not even at the top of the narrower British, Monty-Python-inspired, fantasy-parody genre, where Douglas Adams is clearly better, and Neil Gaiman and Martin Miller (Martin Scott) are at least as good.
With all that as prologue, though, there’s no question this is a lot of fun. I seldom went long between laughs, and I did find myself enjoying the twists of the story as they underscored the stereotypes of the genre and then betrayed them. I admire the way Pratchett (here at least) goes against – and even mocks -- the convention of the fantasy hero, not just mocking that character but demonstrating there’s an entire world around him. Pratchett puts that hero in his place narratively, making him a relatively minor character, as well as comically.
Even as I enjoyed the book, though, I found myself thinking of Dr. Who. I have enjoyed that show the several times I’ve seen an episode or two, but I’ve never dived into it for the full experience. I suspect that Pratchett’s Discworld is the same way. It’s pretty good – a clever guy breaking all sorts of rules and having all sorts of fun – but it gets all the more pleasurable as one story accretes atop another. You can enjoy a Dr. Who episode, but I understand that you need to see a full story arc, then a full run of a particular Doctor, and then a healthy dose of older episodes in order to get the full effect.
The problem with that, as with Discworld, is that you have to take such a promise on faith. You have to commit to an awful lot in order to get the best of any part of it. I’m afraid I don’t see myself reading 39 more Discworld novels any time soon, even though I suspect I would enjoy this one all the more in retrospect.
So, bottom line, I didn’t take that job, and I am convinced Pratchett was not the greatest living writer of the early 2000s. He is fun, though, a slapstick mind with enough inventiveness to pull off amusing and potentially addicting stuff. I may indeed give the next one of these a shot, but Douglas Adams is safe on his perch, as, of course, is Philip Roth.
I love the intricacies of the different Discworld series and how they all play into the same time line but have a completely different time line of their own...
My first book in the disc world and I was very pleased. The recording itself has some odd glitches but it's doesn't ruin the experience.
I thought this was indeed an excellent Discworld story, but I don't think it was one of Nigel Planer's best narrations. There were a number of mispronounced words that bothered me a bit (synapse, baroque, ululation) that I don't think were merely a difference between British and American English, and there were the audio editing error and quality that other reviewers have mentioned. I DID like that the narration was not as frantic nor accents quite as hard to hear, as in the case with some of his Discworld narrations. I think I prefer the narrations by Stephen Briggs. This was my first listen/read of a story with Captain Vimes as a main character, and I'm eager to visit him again. I DO wish the Discworld audiobooks were not so pricey!
Terry Pratchett is my favorite author hands down. The humor in his books are, well, hilarious and his characters seem alive. The voice actor is the best i have ever heard in any book and he does the whole series just as well. Each character has a suitably funny voice and he brings you right into the story. You will not be disappointed with this book or any of the discworld novels now that i think of it.
This was at one time my least favorite books of the series, but after listening to it again, it has moved way up the list. Here we start "The Watch Cycle". Where we have most things set in the major city on the Disc, and have the author seams to have the most fun.
"Guards! Guards!" is thoroughly engaging, with characters you can root for while you're still prone on the floor with laughter. However, I do have two very minor quibbles with Nigel Planer's generally excellent reading. Orangutang is apparently not his best foreign language, as his rendering of the Librarian is less than riveting. Second, he completely ruined one jest by failing to read the sound effect properly. When Carrot charges the palace gate, it's supposed to sound like a European police siren, not a song by The Police. Those minor faults aside, I enjoyed this audiobook tremendously and will continue to select books read by Mr. Planer.
The recording was messy. At one point Planer says, "I'll do that over" and repeats the prior line. The sound quality was not consistent either. The editing and production quality are the problem here. The performance of the story was great and only hindered by bad production.
well Terry Pratchett is amazing as always, I am also glad they did not get another voice actor because the guy who usually does the disc world books does an amazing job!I would always recommend Pratchett's book to anyone who likes dry wit in there books.
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