Discworld marathon blog...

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Postby Quatermass » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:10 am

Tonyblack wrote:Surprising as it might be - tying yourself down to reading a whole batch of Discworld books can be very time consuming and too much of even a great thing like DW can be a bit frustrating.

By all means take a break. Sometimes a break is good for the soul. :wink:


Time is not at issue, given my current state of employment, but I have a desire for variety, even for an Aspie. :)
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:12 am

I just dug this out from the start of this thread:

Tonyblack wrote:Reading through a series in chronological order is always a good idea. I've done it myself with DW books as well as Bernard Cornwell ones.

It's an excellent way to see, not only character development, but the development of the writer as well.

Just make sure you end up enjoying the experience and not feeling it to be a 'task'. There were times on my marathon read throughs that I wished I'd never started. :roll:
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Postby Quatermass » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:35 am

REVIEW: Soul Music


If I recall correctly, my first introduction to the Discworld was through Cosgrove Hall's adaptation of Soul Music. It was also one of the first, if not the first, Discworld books I ever read. So, coming back to it after all these years, is the fire still there? Does Music with Rocks In have the same impact?

Susan Sto Helit, teenage heiress to the Duchy of Sto Helit, has some very strange abilities. Especially so for a girl who strongly believes in logic over the supernatural. But when a certain skeletal rat and a familiar white horse turn up, she finds out that having a Death in the family can be more than a metaphor. Meanwhile, musician Imp y Celyn is trying to make his fortune in Ankh-Morpork, but the Musicians' Guild and an encounter with a strange shop leads him, and his new friends, to create a new type of music. While Music with Rocks In sweeps the Discworld, Susan must cope with the duty of being Death, and when her attempt to save Imp from death is rendered moot by the music he is playing, she must find out why. Death, meanwhile, is trying to forget, and unfortunately, he has chosen the wrong time for it. Can Imp, calling himself Buddy, and his friends survive their new career? Or will they live fast, and die young? Can Susan save them? And what is the true nature of the music?

Soul Music is not really original. It basically takes the plots of two novels, Mort and Moving Pictures, and combines them. It could also be seen as a repeat of Reaper Man in a few respects. Is this a bad thing? Well, it certainly improves on many elements of both Mort and Moving Pictures, although many of the musical references needed looking up (like the significance of 'Buddy', and Sioni Bod Da), as I am not much of a music fan.

The characters are pretty well done. Susan has a fairly good, if not excellent, introduction, and she is a good foil for her grandfather. Despite being logical, she still clearly has feelings. Imp/Buddy, Cliff, and Glod are also good new characters, though I feel that they could have done with just a touch more. Mr Clete is not exactly an excellent villain, being rather singular, but he has enough quirks to be entertaining. Of the regulars, Death, while not appearing as often as he should, is done well, and both Ridcully and Ponder are maturing as characters.

One thing that worries me is that the two sides of the story don't quite mesh. There is less of a sense of urgency about Death being away (unlike in Reaper Man), and less is given over to his rather inspired quest to try and forget than it should have been. Of course, he had less prominence in his storyline in Reaper Man, but the relevancy of the living music to Death doesn't seem that high.

Overall, it was tough to decide what rating to give Soul Music. It was above average, but it was a lower above average than usual. Therefore, I am erring on the side of a larger score. It's a good introduction to Susan, it explores the ephemeral nature of musical culture, and there's some decent jokes if you know some musical trivia.



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Postby Quatermass » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:37 am

Tonyblack wrote:I just dug this out from the start of this thread:

Tonyblack wrote:Reading through a series in chronological order is always a good idea. I've done it myself with DW books as well as Bernard Cornwell ones.

It's an excellent way to see, not only character development, but the development of the writer as well.

Just make sure you end up enjoying the experience and not feeling it to be a 'task'. There were times on my marathon read throughs that I wished I'd never started. :roll:


Thanks, Tony. I know that too well. It is becoming onerous, a little, but I want to stop when I want, and I want to end with either The Last Continent, or Carpe Jugulum, as both are good 'ending' books. The end of Rincewind's travels, or the end of the Lancre coven books.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:42 am

Well there is less urgency with Death going missing - that's because Susan is there to take his place. The same thing happened with Mort when Death went missing.

Reaper Man was a different kettle of fish as there was no one to take his place.

I do think the Soul Music is a much better book than Moving Pictures, although for a long time I tended to lump the two together as being similar. I now think that Soul Music has far greater depth and rereadability. :)
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Postby The Mad Collector » Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:46 am

For me Soul Music suffers, like Moving Pictures, from appearing to have started out as a means of packing as many puns or jokes about the industry being parodied and then having to have plot or two pushed in around them. I feel that neither actually work and they are probably the books I have read least.

I had forgotten however that this was the development of Susan and for that alone I could forgive the awful music shop sections which are just trying too hard to be funny. I might have to give it another go
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Postby ChristianBecker » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:03 pm

I agree with Qatermass's analysis. But I didn't find SM and MP so similar. And indeed I liked MP more, which seems to be quite rare. Perhaps I'm more of a comedy type.

Still, I enjoyed reading SM and the introduction of Susan was well done.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:07 pm

ChristianBecker wrote:I agree with Qatermass's analysis. But I didn't find SM and MP so similar. And indeed I liked MP more, which seems to be quite rare. Perhaps I'm more of a comedy type.

Still, I enjoyed reading SM and the introduction of Susan was well done.
MP used to be my favourite DW book. But it loses its attraction once you've worked out all the references and got all the jokes. It's a bit like soling a crossword puzzle and then rubbing out the answers and doing the crossword again and again.

They are similar in that there are a bunch of popular culture references hidden in the narrative, but the story that holds all these references together is somewhat weaker in MP than SM - in my opinion at least. :)
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Postby LilMaibe » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:39 pm

Quatermass wrote:
LilMaibe wrote:(I comment your stuff if you comment my fanfiction :D)


Liked the concept of Hex building himself an android body (actually, that whole thing with the lightning reminded me of A.I Love You), but in the story after that, is the world that Vetinari falls into a place you made up, or is this some sort of crossover fanfic between two different series?


Yes, it is. 'tween Discworld and my own novel (I am stupid like that :? )

Looking forward to the next review :D
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Postby Quatermass » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:18 am

Some interesting opinions. I reckon that what makes Soul Music better than Moving Pictures is that it has more plotlines than the 'new media taking over the Discworld and CMOT Dibbler is involved': that of Susan struggling to find herself, and Death's quest to forget. It took me a while to understand why Death wanted to forget as well, really. This was before I read it recently. And the reason why it was (somewhat) better than Mort was that Mort had very little secondary plotline, and what there was (the whole Keli trying to make herself recognised) was boring, compared to the other plotlines in Soul Music.

I reckon that it could have been much better if Mr Clete had been made a little more menacing.

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Postby Quatermass » Tue May 03, 2011 10:56 am

REVIEW: Interesting Times

While I like Rincewind the character, I'm not sure that I like as many of his books as I should. Rincewind, as far as his place in the stories is concerned, is an unwitting agent provocateur who makes things happen either by running away or getting cornered. And while he often gets dragged into adventures (and danger, as he never hesitates to point out) against his will, we haven't seen, until now, the consequences of his actions catching up with him...

The Agatean Empire is in turmoil, and someone from there is demanding that Lord Vetinari and Unseen University send them the 'Great Wizzard'. Determining this to be failed wizard Rincewind, Archchancellor Ridcully has him sent to the Counterweight Continent. After all, Rincewind has been calling himself a wizard all this time, and it's either that or suffer an ancient, cruel, and unusual punishment. But even that may pale in comparison to what is happening in the Agatean Empire. Five noble families are feuding. The Emperor is a sadistic child in an aged body. Cohen the Barbarian and his very experienced (not to mention ancient) group of barbarian heroes are in the Empire to steal something. And there are dissidents who have seized on a very unusual revolutionary text, What I Did On My Holidays, as their rallying point. What have Cohen and his Silver Horde come to steal? What does the machiavellian Lord Hong intend for the Red Army rebels? And who would even write such a text as What I Did On My Holidays so innocently? Rincewind is living in interesting times, and he may not keep all of his limbs...

Let's face it: Interesting Times is a callback to the first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. It shares, prominently, three of the main characters from those books, Rincewind, Twoflower, and Cohen the Barbarian. What could be an exercise in ridiculous nostalgia actually serves to create a surprisingly serious, if a little singular (despite the political machinations), storyline.

This is a book about the Orient, and specifically China, and Pratchett goes to town with commentaries on Chinese history. Some of the stereotypes and cliches lampooned are funny (especially the 'poetry qualifications' one), while some don't sit too well. However, the fact that it is a memoirs of holidays that sets off a (rather too polite) revolution in the otherwise strict society of the Agatean Empire is quite a hilarious one, and the fact that it is Twoflower who causes this quite innocently cements Rincewind's assessment of him as a sort of chaos-attractor.

Out of the characters involved, Rincewind, while still singular, is entertaining as always, and Twoflower gets a family, and some intriguing depth to his backstory. Cohen the Barbarian changes from a more one-joke character from The Light Fantastic into a much more rounded and complex character. His Silver Horde is a delight to read, as is their educated cohort, Ronald 'Teach' Saveloy.

The Agateans are a little more of a mixed bunch. Of the Red Army, only Pretty Butterfly has any real depth, and while her antagonism towards Rincewind is hard to read, it is also justified. I felt a little more could have been done with her, though. Six Beneficent Winds is also interesting, especially once he falls in with the Silver Horde. However, it is Lord Hong who is probably the best Agatean character. While not the best villain the series has seen, and certainly he could have appeared more, he is rather like Vetinari in many respects, albeit with more arrogance and virtually no brakes.

Like Soul Music, it was hard choosing a rating for Interesting Times. This time, I will have to go with average than above average, but it is very much a borderline case. This book is easily the best Rincewind book yet, and while not quite there in terms of storyline and some characterisation, it was so damned close.



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BTW, this may very well be the last review for this blog. I'm starting to get tired of it. I've made a start on Maskerade, but I'm not sure whether I'm going to make it. :?
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue May 03, 2011 11:04 am

This is actually my favourite Rincewind book. It's thoughtful and interesting and Rincewind isn't so one-dimensionally as he usually is. It was good to find out what became of Twoflower and I liked the idea that an innocent book could cause such an upheaval. I guess that idea is a little similar to the Turtle movement in Small Gods. :D

Thanks Q!
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Postby Willem » Tue May 03, 2011 11:20 am

I'm no Rincewind fan, but this is my favourite of his adventures.
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Postby The Mad Collector » Tue May 03, 2011 11:30 am

Good review Q and I would agree with all of it. The Silver Horde are very well done and it is a pity that the next time we see them is their last appearance, I thought Terry could have had some more fun with them.

Personally I could have done without the Gods sections as I don't think they helped the story but overall this is a book I enjoy coming back to.
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Postby ChristianBecker » Tue May 03, 2011 3:29 pm

Yes, good review. Pity you seem to be giving up on the marathon, though. Quite understandable on the other hand.

I actually agree with most of what you write - only I'd given this book a better rating than average. I really enjoyed reading it. It was funny and also had the satire I so much like in Pratchett.
While it is not perhaps as deep as some of Pterry's later works, or Small Gods, it still does make a point.
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