Yesterday evening I was informed, via a friend’s Facebook status update, of the passing of the great Sir Terry Pratchett.. Like most of his fans, we knew this day would come inevitably given his fight against a rather nasty and tenacious form of Alzheimer’s. However, even the most prepared among us are never truly prepared for death.
It was while sneaking around in my older sister’s room as a teenager that I came across his fourth Discworld Novel “Mort”. Usually my nefarious raids in my sister’s room resulted in impromptu make up sessions or coming across a hidden stash of biltong (yum). This time it resulted in me falling in love.
The first line of Mort was like nothing I’d ever read before. It was the most descriptive, hilarious and brilliantly written line my awkward teenage self had ever read and there was no looking back after that. My love affair with Terry Pratchett and his Discworld Series would come to be one of those never-ending kind of loves.
With over 70 novels published in his name and his last book published at the end of last year, you can’t say that Terry Pratchett left this world unfulfilled, without making full use of his gift and talent.
As I sat sniffling on my couch last night, mourning this man whom I never met in person yet still had grown to know intimately through his words and books, I thought I really would like nothing better than to share why Terry Pratchett and his amazing body of work were just so brilliant.. :
If you’ve had the misfortune of never reading a Terry Pratchett novel you would be mistaken to think it was a ball of lighthearted, fantastical fluff. You’d be very wrong to make such an appalling assumption. .
Pratchett dealt with many hard hitting topics in every single one of his novels such as:.
Racism | Slavery | Gender Inequality | Classism
Poverty | Unemployment | Education | Government | Religion | War
You name it. He addressed it.
I am part of a book club that’s met every month for the last 4 years to discuss books we’ve read as a group and we are still looking for The Holy Grail of books – meaning a standalone book that is fiction, a best seller and funny. Most books we end up reading from bestseller lists are inevitably depressing.
Humour is by far the hardest characteristic to inject into a book for everyone’s sense of humour is quite subjective. Pratchett did the impossible not only by weaving laughter and humour into the most riveting and poignant storytelling. He wielded humour as a wonderful tool to remind us not to take ourselves so seriously.
Terry’s strongest characters, in my opinion, where by far his female characters namely The Witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg & Tiffany Aching). He emphasised the challenges and alienation that women faced in positions of power or when having to pick between a career or having a family.
His female characters were so ballsy, so empowering and super intelligent that I marvel looking back, at whether having only one child – a daughter – influenced him to write such extraordinary characters. .
His Disc World Series centred around characters living on a planet that is perched on the backs of 4 huge elephants that in turn reside on a giant sea turtle that makes its way around the galaxy.
AND that’s not strange in comparison to some of the characters we meet and some of the plots he conjures up in his books. His imagination knew no bounds and he challenged all his readers to push the boundaries of their own.
His many stories inspired strength, courage and wisdom in his many fans. Reminded us to stand up and stand out. To challenge the status quo and also to find the humour in world that is all around us.
I could go on. Really I could, but I’m threatening to launch into a fresh round of tears so let me end this now:
Go well, Sir.
You will be sorely missed.
PS The following beautifully written tribute for Sir Terry Pratchett was left by Nick Mogavero, on his Facebook fan page – I must warn you, keep the Kleenex very close by.
“I would like my pudding now nurse. And then I think I’d like to… write… something… I don’t remember what.”
Standing in the corner, he waits. The sand slowly flows, but it nears it’s end. The old man still glows, as thousands of threads spread away from him.
I AGREE. IT IS A SHAME TO SEE HIM THIS WAY.
NO. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN…. BUT I CANNOT WAIT TO ASK HIM HOW IT ALL ENDS.
The old man looks up, through them at first… and then he sees them. For once, the smile on the hooded figure’s skull is genuine.
“I… I remember you. The anth… ant…”
“Yes, that. We knew each other?”
ONCE. AND WILL AGAIN, SIR.
He so rarely said it, and these feelings… remembering his young apprentice, and beloved daughter. The beautiful child they have.
“There… is a girl, yes?”
SHE IS SPEAKING TO THE AUDITORS, SIR. THEY ARE UNWILLING TO LISTEN.
“Well then. You know what they say, two things you cannot avoid. Taxes and…” He looks into the firey blue eyes, and becomes aware.
“Quite right. Is it time already? I have so much left to do.”
YOU HAVE GIVEN ALL YOU CAN SIR.
“No, not cancer. Alzheimers.”
I AM AWARE.
“So, where is the boy? I remember a boy.”
“Ahh. Never much trusted cars. Or horses.”
THEY GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.
SOON. BUT WE MAY SIT HERE AWHILE.
DO YOU HAVE ANY BISCUITS?
“No. Shame really.”
“Is it truly turtles?”
ALL THE WAY DOWN. I HAVE SEEN THEM.
“Ahh. I would love to see it. Perhaps a small trip before?”
IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE.
“The light is slower there… and there’s a monkey….”
ORANGUTAN. SAME PRINCIPLE.
“Yes… will they remember me?”
“What was that? I could not hear you.”
HE SAYS WE WILL, SIR.
“I never much liked the trouble people had with you. You seem like a nice fellow.”
I HAVE MY DAYS.
“Don’t we all?”
SOME LESS THAN OTHERS.
“Is it quick?”
YES. AND I BROUGHT THE SWORD. CEREMONY DICTATES IT.
“Ahh. How about a cup of tea?”
I WOULD ENJOY IT. DO YOU PLAY CHESS?
“No. how about checkers?”
And so they sat, two old friends regaling each other, though the old man could not remember all of the details, the cloaked man and his rat filled him in, when it was needed.