April 28th would have been Sir Terry Pratchett’s birthday, so it was only natural that I would re-read one of his books. In fact I decided to listen to one on Audible, Interesting Times, read by Nigel Planer.
‘May You Live in Interesting Times’ is purported to be a Chinese Curse, although there is no real evidence of this. So, as you can imagine, Sir Terry Pratchett ran with this and this book is set mainly in Hung Hung in the Counterweight Continent. In this world we would be looking towards China and Hong Kong. Ok, I thought it would be an appropriate read for these Interesting times that originated in China.
MIGHTY BATTLES! REVOLUTION! DEATH! WAR! (AND HIS SONS TERROR AND PANIC, AND DAUGHTER CLANCY)
The oldest and most inscrutable empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes. Warlords are struggling for power. War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the ancient cities.
And all that stands in the way of terrible doom for everyone is:
Rincewind the Wizard, who can’t even spell the word ‘wizard’…
Cohen the barbarian hero, five foot tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime’s experience of not dying…
…and a very special butterfly.
As a huge fan I was already familiar with most of the characters. This would be an advantage as they are not introduced and just become part of the story without much back history. When you already know all the back history of the characters then the story takes on a different meaning.
You only have to read Terry’s first two books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic to know what the revolutionary treatise ‘What I Did On My Holidays’ would contain, which is probably a very different view to what actually happened. The Great Wizzard* sent to help the revolution is in fact a blundering idiot who just seems to get lucky sometimes. (when he’s not being very unlucky!)
*Wizzard – how Rincewind spells Wizard on his hat which makes him stand out from all the other Wizards.
The plot moves fast and can be a little confusing at times, but it’s also a great page turner and makes you laugh out loud. I remember when reading the book I got a little fed up of Mad Hamish (Who is deaf) saying ‘whaaaaat’ but being read by Nigel Planer it seemed a lot funnier. However, Nigel Planer also pronounced a few things not how I would have expected them to be pronounced, in particular place names. I have always pronounced Ankh Morpork as in Ank, not Arnk. This irritated me a little more than it should have done.
I would say that all of Terry Pratchett books are read alone, but there is a sequence in which the characters are introduced and they become like old friends when they pop up in new stories. If you are new to Terry then I’d consider starting more chronologically. You can find a complete chronological list of Discworld books here.
You can purchase the paperback version of Interesting Times from Waterstones for £8.99
Thanks for reading, do let me know if you have read any Terry Pratchett books and are familiar with the Discworld.
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