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The Compleat Ankh-Morpork
Terry Pratchett
Doubleday, 128 pages + fold-out map

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork
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: Miss Felicity Beedle's The World of Poo
SF Site Review: Snuff
SF Site Review: The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld
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 Steven H Silver

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"Fire roared through the bifurcated city of Ankh-Morpork." With those words, Terry Pratchett opened his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic in 1983. Ten years later, with fifteen Discworld novels published, Stephen Briggs published The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, an attempt to capture Pratchett's somewhat random descriptions of the twin city of the Discworld in a more static form. Pratchett noted his reluctance and skepticism that the city could be mapped when Briggs first approached him with the project, which turned out to be so successful that it spawned three additional maps and, twenty years on, The Compleat Ankh-Morpork, a collaboration between Pratchett and the Discworld Emporium.

While the earlier map was attached to a slim 24 page booklet that noted the names of streets and businesses keyed by number to the map, The Compleat Discworld builds on that map and key by including a 128 page book that offers specific details, some of them gleaned from Pratchett's novels, some from a series of diaries that were published a decade ago, and some that appear to have sprung from Pratchett's fertile imagination, but which failed to have enough potential to be included in one of the novels. The result is a guide to Ankh-Morpork that brings the city to life as never before.

The maps are essentially the same, although the new one is double sided and provides more detail. While only major streets were named two decades ago, now many streets in Ankh-Morpork has been named, such as Wind and Piss Alley. Furthermore, just like any living city, Ankh-Morpork has not stagnated, no matter how much the River Ankh may have. The ruins on top of the Tump have been replaced by the head office of the Grant Trunk Company which runs the Discworld's Clacks system.

The book itself provides a guide to the city, with discussions of the laws and governance of Ankh-Morpork, guides to the guilds, many of which are based on that long ago diary series, and details of some of the deities worshipped in Ankh-Morpork. The largest section of the book, however, is taken up by an alphabetical gazetteer which looks at the various businesses extant in Ankh-Morpork. Many are simply listings as one might find in a telephone directory, but often include jokes or tongue in cheek descriptions and others draw their humor from what is know about them from the books.

And the key places discussed in the books are all mentioned. C.M.O.T. Dibbler's entrepreneurial holdings are revealed as vaster than hinted at in the books while some of the known dives, such as the Mended Drum and the Shambles appear to have gone through a gentrification process, perhaps due to the number of times Pratchett has mentioned them in his works. In the case of the Mended Drum, the description even notes that the "true connoisseur of Ankh-Morpork life [should go] elsewhere."

There is one feature of the book that seemed strange at first, three "walking tours" of Ankh-Morpork are described. And, if the reader were only to read them, they would be strange. However, if the reader tracks the tour descriptions on the map, it suddenly adds a new dimension to the city, showing how neighborhoods and businesses are related to each other. Rather than reading the flat text in the book or looking at the lines drawn on the map, the two work in tandem to create the experience of a three-dimensional city.

Rather than causing a stagnation of the imagination, the process of mapping and describing Ankh-Morpork can lead to the creation of new storylines and the addition of even greater depth to the city as Pratchett has demonstrated with his recent novels about Moist von Lipwig, which have expanded the city beyond the views Pratchett was able to explore using the City Watch and the wizards of Unseen University, through whose eyes the city has mostly grown since the early Discworld novels. With luck, Pratchett will have many more opportunities to explore Ankh-Morpork and provide details to the city, which is Discworld's most enduring character.

Copyright © 2013 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a seven-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings. He is the publisher of ISFiC Press. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.


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