DISCWORLD FOOLS' GUILD YEARBOOK AND DIARY 2000
by Terry Pratchett &Stephen Briggs
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
When called upon to review a book, the book will generally be either a novel or a collection of short stories. Occasionally something else turns up, which causes the reviewer to consider the best way to write a review. The series of day planners published by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs and Paul Kidby fall into the latter category. More than just a listing of the days of the week and a few holidays, these books provide background material to Pratchett’s Discworld which isn’t available anywhere else. The 2001 entry in the series focuses attention on the underutilized Fools’ Guild.
The opening pages of the diary are filled with information about the Fools’ Guild. Written as an introduction to the guild for potential fools, the book opens with a tour of the guild’s physical layout. Located next to the Ankh-Morpork Assassins’ Guild (discussed in the 2000 diary), the Fools’ Guild is a grim place dedicated to turning people into serious satirists and less savory occupations.
The short introduction also includes information on the structure of the Fools’ Guild and the schedule set forth for Fools to learn. Missing from this year’s diary, however, are the character sketches of famous fools throughout the ages. Although the head of the Fools’ Guild, Dr. Whiteface, is discussed, other Fools are ignored, including the only fool really spotlighted in the Discworld novels, Verence, currently King of Lancre.
The fact that the Fools’ Guild has appeared so rarely in the Discworld series means that Pratchett and Briggs had a nearly completely empty slate for creating the background of this organization. However, they do manage to contradict statements about the Fools’ Guild in The Discworld Companion. In the earlier work, the Guild was founded by Charles Nixon. In the current work, his role has been usurped by Jean-Paul Pune. Although not a major flaw (and not noticeable to many readers), it is a strange inclusion.
Once past the introduction about the Fools’ Guild, the book settles down to providing the user with a standard calendar of dates and holidays. In the manner set forth in three previous Discworld Diaries, the book lists eight days a week, with the extra day, Octeday, used to provide additional insight into the Fools’ Guild. These blurbs take the form of memoranda sent out by Dr. Whiteface, sample questions from the various Fools’ exams and a few moments in history. Again, few individual Fools are introduced in this section.
One of the reasons for a nearly complete lack of information on individuals is provided in the introduction when the authors completely and categorically deny the rumors that there is more to the Fools’ Guild than initially meets the eye. There is no doubt about the truth to the idea that the Fools’ Guild may cover up spying activities.
The information in the Discworld Fools’ Guild Yearbook and Diary 2001 is not as complete as in last year’s entry in the series, but it still in an entertaining diary and eminently usable, should the owner decide to use it as a diary rather than as a source of additional information about the Discworld.