THE NEW DISCWORLD
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
It has been more than ten years and ten volumes since Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs last updated the Discworld Companion (originally published in 1994, updated and expanded in 2003). The new edition notes on the cover that it is "up to Snuff," which, of course, means that while it covers the first thirty nine volumes, it is already out of date with the publication of Raising Steam. This is not, in fact, a bad thing, for it means that Pratchett continues to add to the vibrant and ever more complex Discworld.
The second edition, The New Discworld Companion, expanded on some of the entries, added new ones, and removed some. This third edition, continues the expansion, but has also added back in some of the dropped entries from the original volume. The Ephebian philosopher Abraxas, for instance, appears in the first and third editions, but failed to make the cut in the previous edition. This decision to be more inclusive and to unexpurgate those purged entries means that Turtle Recall is the only companion necessary to serve as a reminder of the various people who have populated the Discs and the events that have happened on it.
There are still some things missing. In the introduction, Briggs notes that the entries referring to The Science of Discworld series are mostly retained as legacy entries, with no real additional information because they are only "borderline canonical." This also means that the fourth Science volume as well as the Folklore of Discworld do not provide information for the Companion, although the various maps, diaries, and almanacs do provide the same sort of details offered by the various novels. While Nanny Ogg's Cookbook is included, Miss Felicity Beedle's The World of Poo and Where's My Cow? are nowhere to be seen. Turtle Recall is useful, however, in reminding the reader (and in this case the reviewer), that Harry King did not first appear in Miss Felicity Beedle's The World of Poo, but rather in The Truth.
While Turtle Recall doesn't take the place of reading a new Terry Pratchett novel, or re-reading a not-quite-so-new one, it does provide a taste of Pratchett's world and humor. It also provides excellent reminders of minor characters or events, such as Gern the Apprentice Embalmer, who only appeared in Pyramids, but which are as much a part of the Discworld tapestry as the more common characters like Rincewind, who has appeared frequently since The Colour of Magic.
As with the earlier volumes, Turtle Recall is, if not an essential addition to the Discworld fan's library, certainly a useful addition. Enough time has past since the first two editions were published (and more than enough written) to allow the owner of those editions to pick up the new edition without feeling like he is spending his money on only a slightly different product. And the new volume does replace the two prior books. The book also serves a useful purpose to those only now diving into the Discworld, in that they can use it to gain insight into some of the off-hand comments made in the books based on the long history Pratchett has with his characters and his world.
|Purchase this book from|