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The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld
Terry Pratchett, compiled by Stephen Briggs
Doubleday / HarperCollins, 304 / 360 pages

The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld
The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay
SF Site Review: Going Postal
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch
SF Site Review: The Art of Discworld
SF Site Review: Terry Pratchett's Discworld Collector's Edition 2005
SF Site Review: Going Postal
SF Site Review: Monstrous Regiment
SF Site Review: The Wee Free Men
SF Site Review: The New Discworld Companion
SF Site Review: Night Watch
SF Site Review: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
SF Site Review: Thief of Time
SF Site Review: Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
SF Site Reading List: Terry Pratchett
SF Site Review: The Truth
SF Site Review: City Watch Trilogy
SF Site Review: The Fifth Elephant
SF Site Review: The Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld
SF Site Review: The Last Continent
SF Site Review: Hogfather
SF Site Review: Jingo
SF Site Review: Feet of Clay
SF Site Review: Maskerade

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Charlene Brusso


"He came walking through the thunderstorm and you could tell he was a wizard, partly because of the long cloak and carven staff, but mainly because the raindrops were stopping several feet from his head, and steaming."
--Equal Rites
When an author has published "roughly four million words," as Stephen Briggs notes (in the introduction to this volume) Terry Pratchett has done, you certainly have reason to hope that some of them will be quotable. When the author is the inestimable satirist Terry Pratchett, you know for certain that many of those words are worth repeating, which is what this nicely constructed compilation does.
"It looked the sort of book described in library catalogues as 'slightly foxed', although it would be more honest to admit that that it looked as though it had been badgered, wolved, and possibly beared as well."
--The Light Fantastic
The passages quoted in The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld are not all the funny bits, but only the ones which "appealed" to Briggs. That said, there are many, many funny bits here. If you're the sort of person who delights in A) knowing Monty Python routines by heart, and B) you enjoy reading Pratchett (which is very, very likely, given A), you will want this book. If you want to get your friends hooked on Pratchett (so you'll have someone with whom to share the job of quoting the funny bits), you'll want to make sure your friends have this book, too.
"In most old libraries the books are chained to the shelves to prevent them from being damaged by people. In the Library of Unseen University, it's more or less the other way around."
The compilation takes you through thirty-six of Pratchett's books -- that's all the Discworld novels currently extant, from the beginning (The Color of Magic) to the most recent, Making Money, along with The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith. Of course, it's all good stuff. The Discworld itself is so stuffed with fun, fascinating characters and places, you could happily do all of your reading there and have a perfectly wonderful time. There are the usual denizens of fantasy worlds, high and low class, magickal and not -- and the things you most expect to be a particular way, won't be, but still, everything will make sense in a most earthbound and earthy way. Pratchett doesn't exactly leave fantasy genre conventions at the door, but he wisely doesn't suffer foolish tropes either, and will generally turn things upside down whenever possible.
" 'There is a knocking without,' the porter said.
'Without what?' said the Fool.
'Without the door, idiot."
The Fool gave him a worried look. 'A knocking without a door?' he said suspiciously. 'This isn't some kind of Zen, is it?' "
--Wyrd Sisters
Take Ankh-Morpork, for example. It's the largest city on the Circle Sea, a center for trade, religion, science, magic -- and all types of petty and organized crime which is generally looking to take advantage of the first four. A city that draws all kinds of people (except mimes, which, wisely, are outlawed), all kinds of races, a sort of Lankhmar-through-the-looking-glass, ruled by the wily Patrician, Lord Vetinari.
" 'Is he a fair and just ruler?'
'I would say that he is unfair and unjust, but scrupulously even-handed. He is unfair and unjust to everyone, without fear or favour.'
The amazing thing about Ankh-Morpork is the incredible infrastructure Pratchett has created over the years to maintain the place, from seamstresses (both kinds) and con men to shopkeepers and city guardsmen.
"It was the usual Ankh-Morpork mob in times of crisis; half of them were here to complain, a quarter of them were here to watch the other half, and the remainder were here to rob, importune, or sell hot dogs to the rest."
--Guards! Guards!
A final by-the-way: If you don't mind the price, the UK edition is an all-around more civilized version: slightly smaller (quite "compendium" sized, in fact), with marbled endpapers, a nicely printed-on cover (rather than the usual paper-dust-jacket-over-cloth cover), and a useful ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding. The print in the U.K. edition, while a slightly smaller size, is darker and easier to read (at least, for these tired eyes).In either edition, this book is a grand way to dip into Pratchett, if you've somehow missed him, or to revisit the Discworld for a short stay, if you unfortunately haven't time for a longer one.
"Mountains rise and fall, and under them the turtle swims onward. Men live and die, and the Turtle Moves. Empires grow and crumble, and the Turtle Moves. Gods come and go, and still the Turtle moves. The Turtle Moves...."
--Small Gods
Copyright © 2008 Charlene Brusso

Charlene's sixth grade teacher told her she would burn her eyes out before she was 30 if she kept reading and writing so much. Fortunately he was wrong. Her work has also appeared in Aboriginal SF, Amazing Stories, Dark Regions, MZB's Fantasy Magazine, and other genre magazines.

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