||A review by Charlene Brusso
Copyright © 2008 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."
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 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.
--The Light Fantastic
"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.
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.
'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?' "
" 'Is he a fair and just ruler?'
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.
'I would say that he is unfair and unjust, but scrupulously even-handed. He is unfair and unjust to everyone, without
fear or favour.'
"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."
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...."
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.