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The New Discworld Companion
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
Victor Gollancz, 280 pages

The New Discworld Companion
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.

SF Site Reading List: Terry Pratchett
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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 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
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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I imagine that anyone who picks up The New Discworld Companion by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, will be able to give a brief synopsis of the various major entities and places on the Discworld, whether it be Rincewind, Ankh-Morpork, or the Luggage. However, the purpose for a reference book such as this, which is essentially an encyclopedia of a fictional world, is less to provide details about things everyone knows, although it does that, but to provide details of the, well..., details of the world.

Flipping through the companion, which is probably the manner in which most fans will read the book, there are numerous fun essays on the varied aspects of the Discworld, although none of them are a substitute for the book(s) they describe. Intermingled are much shorter notes on minor characters or places which serve to whet the appetite of the reader who might like Pratchett to provide more information in future books.

In fact, the majority of The New Discworld Companion is comprised of entries such as Lio!rt, the dragonlord who made a brief appearance in The Colour of Magic, or Wahoonie, a vegetable that only grows in Howandaland. These obscure references are really what give the book its value since it provides the reader with a shorthand for the things which bring flavor to the Discworld when a reminder may be needed.

The New Discworld Companion references the thirty books, three short stories, diaries, cookbooks, and maps which now document the history of the Discworld. Interestingly, the authors have elected not to include anything from the plays which originally brought Briggs into the Discworld fold, the computer games which are based on Discworld, or the GURPS role-playing supplements.

Since the first edition was published in 1994, however, Pratchett has been busy adding to the mythos of his world. With thirty novels plus various ancillary writing, Discworld has grown too complex for any individual, even its greatest fan, to keep all the references, characters, places, etc. straight. The New Discworld Companion offers a means to keep the ever more complex world of Pratchett's imagination straight.

Readers who already own a copy of The Discworld Companion will find The New Discworld Companion has been updated enough to make its purchase worthwhile. Those who have read the books, but do not have a copy of The Discworld Companion should be grateful that there is an updated version that will provide extensive background for the vast number of books.

Copyright © 2003 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). 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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