Revisiting an old friend

The Colour of Magic

This week I revisited an old friend.

I was a bit surprised to realise that its been over 20 years since I first started reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I’ll credit my best friend Mark for introducing me to them. It was probably around 1989, we’d been out of school a year and he said “You gotta read this!”. I was working in the city at the time and I have a voracious appetite for books. Sitting for two hours a day on public transport will do that to you, a fact the bookshelves in my home will attest to.

Over the years I consumed everything that Terry Pratchett wrote. While The Colour of Magic came out in 1983, I didn’t read it until 1989 so I had 7 novels already to catch up! I recall after reading Wyrd Sisters waiting anxiously for the next Discworld instalment, Mark lent me a street press magazine with an excerpt from Pyramids and I could not wait to read that novel.

Working in the city, the Galaxy Bookstore was on the way home and I’d hop off the train to check for the latest books from Terry Pratchett. At the time he’d write about one a year, while an impressive feat that wasn’t enough for me. I tried reading other series, I briefly read some books by Robert Silverberg (I think?) which featured cover art by Josh Kirby, the same artist who illustrated the covers of the Discworld books but it just wasn’t the same.

I’ve even been fortunate enough to meet Terry Pratchett, sorry SIR Terry Pratchett twice at Galaxy book signings, and had him sign books and some of the collectibles that accompany the series such as maps of Ankh Morpork and Discworld. Back in the 90s when the Internet was shiny and new he even regularly answered email, and a thriving Discworld community built up. I have a degree of the Unseen University to this day that I am MOST proud of!

The Discworld series had a mix of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings mixed with Peter Pan, or just straight out comedy. The early books dealt mostly with the character Rincewind the failed wizard (who was, and remains my favourite) but later introduced so many wonderful characters such as Granny Weatherwax the witch and Captain Sam Vimes of the watch. And of course Death. Sorry, DEATH. Over the years I’ve been surprised at just how many people I know read them, I’d always assumed it was a geek thing but so many people have told me they read them too – some not even born when the first books came out!

Once I started working in IT, I found myself reading boring books on programming theory, and found it harder to keep up with more interesting books. I’m rather embarrassed to admit that there are now over a dozen Discworld books I haven’t read. Although, this mightn’t be a bad thing… What I have decided to do however is to reread them starting with The Colour of Magic, which I just finished today. Its been so long, it was an absolute joy to re-discover Discworld and I hope to catch up with them all soon.

What I do intend to do this time is not read them in chronological order. Discworld has a huge number of fans, and they have taken to devising a reading order that takes into account their theme and characters. There’s the Rincewind novels, the Witches novels, the Death novels and so on. I’ve just finished The Colour of Magic and tomorrow I’ll be starting on The Light Fantastic. Can’t wait.

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