Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Terry Pratchett’s first book, The Carpet People. We know this was a lot of fans’ first trip into the world of Pratchett, so we’ve put together a list of reasons why The Carpet People is quintessential Terry Pratchett, and the start of an incredible journey for the master storyteller. And as it’s Easter soon, we’ve popped in a few Easter Eggs as well…!
While The Carpet People isn’t a part of the Discworld universe, you can already see the sprouts of Terry Pratchett’s genius growing in the world he has created. Here, Terry proves that the biggest of adventures can happen anywhere – not just on a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle, but also in a forest of hairs with a Chair Leg the size of a redwood tree, as its inhabitants battle against the great, unknown enemy, Fray.
EASTER EGG: We never actually discover what the great mysterious Fray is – it could be someone sweeping, a vacuum cleaner, or just someone walking on the Carpet. What do you think it is?
All of Terry Pratchett’s characters are brilliant and unique in their own way, and often revealed to be more than meets the eye. Take Rincewind, for example, the central character of a number of Discworld books. He goes against the grain of what’s expected of Wizards on many occasions – after all, it’s quite a skill to be able to solve a minor problem by turning it into a major disaster, especially given his limited magic capabilities!
In The Carpet People, Glurk, the leader of the Mungrung tribe, is your classic broad shouldered, thick necked, lift-a-horse-with-one-hand warrior type, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still feel fear of the unknown. Pismire, the wise Shaman, and advisor to the two protagonists, does things his own way, as well. “For one thing, he washed all the bits that showed at least once every month” (very strange) and uses real words like “meticulous deduction” and “precise visualization” instead of nonsensical, magical sounding ones, like “‘Hiiiiyahyahheya! Heyaheyayahyah! Hngh! Hngh!’” – like the other Shamans do!
EASTER EGG: In Eric, the ninth Discworld book, there are claims that tribes of liliputs inhabit the carpets of the demon president – could this be a link between The Carpet People and the Discworld universe?
It wouldn’t be a Terry Pratchett book without his incredible wit and humour sprinkled throughout the pages. Here are a few of our favourite (spoiler free!) funny moments from The Carpet People:
“On the fifth day the Governor of the town called all the tribal chieftains to an audience in the market square, to hear their grievances. He didn’t always do anything about them, but at least they got heard, and he nodded a lot; and everyone felt better about it at least until they got home. This is politics.”
“[Glurk’s] brain got there in the end. It just went the long way round.
‘He’s a man of few words, and he doesn’t know what either of them mean,’ people said, but not when he was within hearing.”
“‘Come on, come on. Protocol is very important. Bow down to the king!’
‘What’s a king?’ said Glurk, looking round blankly.”
Later, that same day
“When they were having the evening meal Glurk said to his wife: ‘I’ve met a king. He’s very important. He’s called Protocol, I think.’
‘Good name. Sounds royal,’ she said.”
Magic features throughout Terry Pratchett’s works, from powerful witches like Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax, alongside many other characters. The world of Carpet is filled with magical creatures, like the Wights and Mouls, and Snibril’s ability to predict an oncoming attack from Fray has a touch of magic to it, as well. It’s unclear where headology * comes into the world of Carpet, but we have a feeling Pismire and Granny Weatherwax would get along like a house on fire, if they ever met.
* For those who haven’t had any lessons with Granny Weatherwax, headology is the strand of magic that stems from one simple principle: what people believe is what is real. This way, witches can conjure up all kinds of magic, if they can simply convince people that what they’re experiencing is real.
Where would we be without an unlikely hero?! From Eskarina Smith in Equal Rites , the very first female wizard, to Twoflower in The Colour of Magic, Discworld’s first EVER tourist, Terry Pratchett constantly proves that there are many different ways to harness your powers and be a hero. Snibril in The Carpet People is no exception. He may be slight, unassuming, and book-ish, but he has great powers, uses his intelligence to save his people on more than one occasion, and has big dreams of adventure, like all good heroes do.
EASTER EGG: Did you know, Terry Pratchett wrote a letter to his publisher about the possibility of writing a sequel to the Carpet People? What do you think would happen in it?!
If you haven’t ticked The Carpet People off of your Terry to-read list yet, or maybe haven’t dived back into it in a long time, you can read an extract of it here to meet Snibril, Glurk, Pismire, and the whole gang!