Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

I wish my lilac was blooming already. I would put a sprig of it in my hair.

Rest in peace, Sir Terry. And thank you for introducing me to Vimes, and Death and the rest of your marvelous motley crew.

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Verbage

Book Meme 2012

Question 7: Favorite words and phrases, or lines and literary allusions that would win your heart.

What a broad topic! If I get onto “favorite words” in literature I will never have done, so scratch that. The same goes for favorite phrases. In fact, I am determined to warp this question beyond all reason.  What follows aren’t really lines or allusions, but some of my favorite clips of prose. For your sake, I will categorize them a little. I will begin with faith, move on to humor, continue to awesome, shamefully admit romantic sentiment,  and end with a passage that is utterly dear to me. I have restrained my impulse to flood this post with quotes. It has been painful to leave out so many, so dear, but I must resist! As it is, this post is atrociously long.

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“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.'”

-Isaiah 9:1-2 N.I.V.

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“The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one of those that look as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more staircases than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter.
The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass;
A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.”

Guards! Guards! byTerry Pratchett

~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~

“I never heard tell that it’s against the law for a citizen to do his utmost to prevent a crime from being committed, which is exactly what he did, but maybe you’ll say it’s my duty to tell the town all about it and not hush it up. Know what’d happen? All the ladies in Maycomb includin’ my wife’d be knocking on his door bringing angel food cakes. To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight- to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch.”

Mr. Tate was trying to dig a hole in the floor with the toe of his boot. He pulled his nose, then massaged his left arm. “I may not be much, Mr. Finch, but I’m still sheriff of Maycomb County and Bob Ewell fell on his knife. Good night, sir.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death.  I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant.”

Persuasion by Jane Austen

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“The Mountain

Curdie was the son of Peter the miner. He lived with his father and mother in a cottage built on a mountain, and he worked with his father inside the mountain.

A mountain is a strange and awful thing. In old times, without knowing so much of their strangeness and awfulness as we do, people were yet more afraid of mountains. But then somehow they had not come to see how beautiful they are as well as awful, and they hated them — and what people hate, they must fear. Now that we have learned to look at them with admiration, perhaps we do not feel quite awe enough of them. To me, they are beautiful terrors.

I will try to tell you what they are. They are portions of the heart of the earth that have escaped from the dungeon down below, and rushed up and out. For the heart of the earth is a great wallowing mass, not of blood, as in the hearts of men and animals, but of glowing hot, melted metals and stones. And as our hearts keep us alive, so that great lump of heat keeps the earth alive: it is a huge power of buried sunlight–that is what it is.

Now think: out of that cauldron, where all the bubbles would be as big as the Alps if it could get room for its boiling, certain bubbles have bubbled out and escaped–up and away, and there they stand in the cool, cold sky–mountains. Think of the change, and you will no more wonder that there should be something awful about the very look of a mountain: from the darkness–for where the light has nothing to shine upon, much the same as darkness–from the heat, from the endless tumult of boiling unrest–up, with a sudden heavenward shoot, into the wind, and the cold, and the starshine, and a cloak of snow that lies like ermine above the blue-green mail of the glaciers; and the great sun, their grandfather, up there in the sky; and their little old cold aunt, the moon, that comes wandering about the house at night; and everlasting stillness, except for the wind that turns the rocks and caverns into a roaring organ for the young archangels that are studying how to let out the pent-up praises of their hearts, and the molten music of the streams, rushing ever from the bosoms of the glaciers fresh born.

Think, too, of the change in their own substance–no longer molten and soft, heaving and glowing, but hard and shining and cold. Think of the creatures scampering over and burrowing in it, and the birds building their nests upon it, and the trees growing out of its sides, like hair to clothe it, and the lovely grass in the valleys, and the gracious flowers even at the very edge of its armour of ice, like the rich embroidery of the garment below, and the rivers galloping down the valleys in a tumult of white and green! And along with all these, think of the terrible precipices down which the traveler may fall and be lost, and the frightful gulfs of blue air cracked in the glaciers, and the dark profound lakes, covered like little arctic oceans with floating lumps of ice.

All this outside the mountain! But the inside, who shall tell what lies there? Caverns of awfullest solitude, their walls miles thick, sparkling with ores of gold or silver, copper or iron, tin or mercury, studded perhaps with precious stones–perhaps a brook, with eyeless fish in it, running, running ceaselessly, cold and babbling, through banks crusted with carbuncles and golden topazes, or over a gravel of which some of the stones are rubies and emeralds, perhaps diamonds and sapphires–who can tell?–and whoever can’t tell is free to think–all waiting to flash, waiting for millions of ages–ever since the earth flew off from the sun, a great blot of fire, and began to cool.

Then there are caverns full of water, numbingly cold, fiercely hot–hotter than any boiling water. From some of these the water cannot get out, and from others it runs in channels as the blood in the body: little veins bring it down from the ice above into the great caverns of the mountain’s heart, whence the arteries let it out again, gushing in pipes and clefts and ducts of all shapes and kinds, through and through its bulk, until it springs newborn to the light, and rushes down the Mountainside in torrents, and down the valleys in rivers–down, down, rejoicing, to the mighty lungs of the world, that is the sea, where it is tossed in storms and cyclones, heaved up in billows, twisted in waterspouts, dashed to mist upon rocks, beaten by millions of tails, and breathed by millions of gills, whence at last, melted into vapour by the sun, it is lifted up pure into the air, and borne by the servant winds back to the mountaintops and the snow, the solid ice, and the molten stream.

Well, when the heart of the earth has thus come rushing up among her children, bringing with it gifts of all that she possesses, then straightway into it rush her children to see what they can find there. With pickaxe and spade and crowbar, with boring chisel and blasting powder, they force their way back: is it to search for what toys they may have left in their long-forgotten nurseries? Hence the mountains that lift their heads into the clear air, and are dotted over with the dwellings of men, are tunneled and bored in the darkness of their bosoms by the dwellers in the houses which they hold up to the sun and air.

Curdie and his father were of these: their business was to bring to light hidden things; they sought silver in the rock and found it, and carried it out. Of the many other precious things in their mountain they knew little or nothing. Silver ore was what they were sent to find, and in darkness and danger they found it. But oh, how sweet was the air on the mountain face when they came out at sunset to go home to wife and mother! They did breathe deep then!”

The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald

On a personal note, the above chunk of MacDonald’s wandering is an example of what is often, if not always removed from his work when abridged. To many readers it might seem extraneous exposition, but to me this is the soul of MacDonald’s work. I am convinced that this is what a man writes when his heart is singing, and it echoes the songs in my heart.

I must quit now, while I am ahead. It is agony to leave so many quotes un-quoted! I may have to do a follow-up, or ten.

Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


Chridonalchett

 

Book Meme 2012

Week 6: The author by whom you own the most books

I may shock you all by NOT cheating in this blog-post. In my defense, there is not really a way to cheat here other than lying, and what is the point of a dishonest meme?

Though I have not cheated, I am still faced with a peculiar circumstance. Behold the three-way tie.

I own ten books by Agatha Christie, ten by Terry Pratchett, and ten by George MacDonald. Tolkien is the runner up with 9, but I won’t expound on him today.

One result of the literary exploration of my shelves is that I am ashamed not to own more P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve read many of his books, but I own few. This must be remedied. Unfortunately for my pocketbook, the delightful Pratchettean book store down the road from me has a lovely collection, but I digress. It is time, I suppose, to put in a word as to why I own ten books apiece from the above three authors.

Agatha Christie:

This author is my standby when I am in need of entertainment. I am fond of the mystery genre, especially when the author incorporates humor and gravity effectively, as Christie does. I enjoy attempting to unravel the puzzles she lays out, and I like watching her colorful characters waltz across the pages.

It may not be the first that I read, but And Then There Were None was the first work of Christie’s to make a deep impression on me. That book is an example of her skill, and while few of her books are up to that standard, the mind capable of creating such an intricate mystery created many more to perplex and delight.  Christie is one of those authors that I feel is well balanced. There is nothing about her writing that amazes me. She is no word-smith, but she her style is capable, and develops over time. She handles her characters and plots with skill. On the whole, if I can be as competent in writing as she, I will be very pleased.

Terry Pratchett:

Ah, Pratchett. The first book I read of his, Guards! Guards!, came early in his career, and you can tell. I have seen worse written books, certainly, but it is not up to my usual standards for fiction. And yet I ate it up, dived headlong into its sequel, and kept going.

That sort of thing had never happened to me before. My path is strewn with books that I abandoned after reading poor prose in the first chapter. What can I say? I was trained into literary snobbery from an early age. So what is it about Pratchett that overcame my reaction to his clumsy writing? His humor appeals to me, being dry and witty, but more than that, I fell in love with his characters almost immediately. I had to know what happened to Sam Vimes, Carrot, Sergeant Colon and Cecil Wormsborough St. John Nobbs. Lady Sybil Ramkin was of interest too, by the end of the book. I am still trying to absorb the lessons inherent in my reaction to Guards! Guards!. That a shoddily written book should be among my favorites tells me that my literary snobbery ought not to be the only measure by which I judge a book.

Thankfully, Pratchett’s style and skill have improved and he has been, for some time, a skillful writer. I do not agree with his worldview, but his insight into human nature is layered and often profound. I enjoy the human elements of his stories and the complex questions he raises. He makes me think and he makes me smile, sometimes simultaneously. Most of all, though, I am in love with his humor, and his characters.

Remember, “Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.” -Terry Pratchett from Guards! Guards!

George MacDonald:

MacDonald’s flaws as an author are quite obvious. He wanders off in strange and obscure bunny-trails, he hits his reader with great blocks of thick, purple prose, and the paths of his stories are often as winding and bewildering as the roads of Faerie. I am not surprised that he is not widely read. The irony is that even his failings delight me. I cannot think of a single author who captivates me as MacDonald does. The landscapes of his mind, heart and soul seem released on page, and they are simultaneously strange and familiar.

His tales for children are as whimsical and imaginative as those of Lewis Carrol without the aura of nightmare beneath the dream. By this I do not mean that MacDonald glosses over the dark aspects of existence. Rather he acknowledges the darkness and is unafraid, and this gives his reader courage. What is more, he reveals beauty in the most unlikely places. He teaches his reader to look and think rather than to assume.

His fiction for adults is more difficult to read, but I find it rewarding too. The darkness lies deeper and I can tell that the author has been troubled and afraid. But, as an author, he follows his characters through mundane and fey worlds undaunted and, again, I follow. I will quote a passage from Lilith in the hope that MacDonald will speak for himself better than I can.

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The moon at length approached the forest, and came slowly into it: with her first gleam the noises increased to a deafening uproar, and I began to see dim shapes about me. As she ascended and grew brighter, the noises became yet louder, and the shapes clearer. A furious battle was raging around me. Wild cries and roars of rage, shock of onset, struggle prolonged, all mingled with words articulate, surged in my ears. Curses and credos, snarls and sneers, laughter and mockery, sacred names and howls of hate, came huddling in chaotic interpenetration. Skeletons and phantoms fought in maddest confusion. Swords swept through the phantoms: they only shivered. Maces crashed on the skeletons, shattering them hideously: not one fell or ceased to fight, so long as a single joint held two bones together. Bones of men and horses lay scattered and heaped; grinding and crunching them under foot fought the skeletons. Everywhere charged the bone-gaunt white steeds; everywhere on foot or on wind-blown misty battle-horses, raged and ravened and raved the indestructible spectres; weapons and hoofs clashed and crushed; while skeleton jaws and phantom-throats swelled the deafening tumult with the war-cry of every opinion, bad or good, that had bred strife, injustice, cruelty in any world. The holiest words went with the most hating blow. Lie-distorted truths flew hurtling in the wind of javelins and bones. Every moment some one would turn against his comrades, and fight more wildly than before, THE TRUTH! THE TRUTH! still his cry. One I noted who wheeled ever in a circle, and smote on all sides. Wearied out, a pair would sit for a minute side by side, then rise and renew the fierce combat. None stooped to comfort the fallen, or stepped wide to spare him.

The moon shone till the sun rose, and all the night long I had glimpses of a woman moving at her will above the strife-tormented multitude, now on this front now on that, one outstretched arm urging the fight, the other pressed against her side. “Ye are men: slay one another!” she shouted. I saw her dead eyes and her dark spot, and recalled what I had seen the night before.

Such was the battle of the dead, which I saw and heard as I lay under the tree.

Just before sunrise, a breeze went through the forest, and a voice cried, “Let the dead bury their dead!” At the word the contending thousands dropped noiseless, and when the sun looked in, he saw never a bone, but here and there a withered branch.

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Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


Motley Crew

Book Meme 2012

Question 1: Book Crush(es)

And so we begin with a very personal question.

Though there are many characters I find attractive, I do not develop crushes easily. There are no Byronic Heroes here, for I would rather hit Mr. Rochester with a brick. Also absent are the characters who attract me by their interaction with another character. You will not find Mr. Darcy below (Addibus, if you read this, don’t disown me!), because as much as I find him attractive, it is in his context with Elizabeth. On his own, I like him, but he is not crush-inducing. There is also a dearth of the traditional “hero” types below. While I have respect for chivalry, and the heroes of legend, I find that for me there is such a thing as too high and noble to induce a crush.

So my parameter is simple: Do I have a crush on this character, and why? I will do my best to deconstruct. When I consider these “men” all together, I find it difficult to pinpoint my literary “type.” They do have some traits in common, but on the surface they are very different.

So, who does Jubilare swoon over? Let’s begin with four honorable mentions, and then we will come to the king of my literary heart.

Faramir, son of Denethor
“We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then preform or die in the attempt. Not if I found it on the highway would I take it, I said.” -Faramir

There are few heroes that can match Faramir’s quality, and he is a secondary character! Dear authors, never neglect the folk who walk on the edges of your central story. Faramir’s role in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is small, and yet his personality fills every corner of it. Son of a maddened ruler, brother to an ambition-corrupted man, Faramir is in a most difficult position. He loves his family, but cannot be blind to their flaws. He must stand in the gap for his people, honor his father, and bear up under the weight of growing despair. Often these three duties conflict. Reserved on the surface, warm-hearted beneath, he is brave and fierce at need, but has no love for war. He is humble, but also a leader, grave but with a sense of humor. For me, he outstrips all the elves and Aragorn as well. Faramir is an “old soul” with a “young heart,” while the elves are often young souls with old hearts, and Aragorn is an old soul with a heart that, while perhaps not yet old, has lost its youth. Faramir is vitality with a steady mind, and he sticks to his honor while taking full advantage of his liberty. In short, he is an excellent balance.

Samuel Vimes
‘Now I know what you’re thinking,’ Vimes went on, softly. “You’re wondering, after all this excitement, has it got enough flame left? And y’know, I ain’t so sure myself…’ He leaned forward, sighting between the dragon’s ears and his voice buzzed like a knife blade: :What you’ve got to ask yourself is: Am I feeling lucky?” -Sam Vimes

Here’s a mess. Faramir is one I would marry if he existed and were interested (both equally unlikely), but Sam Vimes? I am not so self-destructive as to think of him in that way, and yet he is definitely a crush. Is he handsome? No. Is he admirable? …that depends. Whatever he may be, he is NOT balanced. When the reader first encounters Sam (assuming the reader begins with Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett) the good captain is drunk in a gutter. The relevant question is, “why is Sam drunk in a gutter?” The answer is that he is a good man trapped in an impotent job. He is Captain of the City Watch, which has been hobbled in order to allow for a self-regulating ecosystem of crime in his city. Over the course of the aforementioned book and its sequels, Vimes is pulled out of the gutter (and eventually off the bottle) through the efforts of friends, the love of a great-hearted woman, and the shreds of his own determination and nobility. Under the stony face and sharp layers of sarcasm lies the heart of the ideal copper. Vimes is the policeman I want on my case (assuming I am not the malefactor). He cares about people, he cares about justice, and despite the fact that he is often underestimated, he is a very intelligent chap. Despite his rough edges, or maybe partly because of them, he earns a strong place in my heart. Hear the fangirl squeals at his one-liners? That would be me.

Atticus Finch
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” -Atticus Finch

A single father of two who is both firm and loving enough to bring them up well.  In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Atticus tries to uphold justice against the tide of popular “feeling” with a quiet but indisputable strength. I would give a great deal to sit with him on his porch, watch the fireflies and talk. To me, the best mark of a man is that he has no need to prove his manliness. This rural lawyer follows his moral convictions and when he opposes them, a lynch-mob stands down, less out of fear than out of the knowledge that he is in the right, and they in the wrong. I am not sure what more I can say. If I cannot have such a man for a husband, then God give me such a man for my friend.

Blackberry
“‘Frith and Inle!’ said Dandelion. “They’re sitting on the water! Why don’t they sink?’
‘They’re sitting on the wood and the wood floats, can’t you see?’ said Blackberry.”

This is a weird one simply because Blackberry is a hare. I find Leporids cute, but I do not find them physically attractive, so please call off the men in white coats. I would not have mentioned him here if it were not for a funny conversation between my housemate and I. D mentioned that she had a crush on one of the rabbits from Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and I laughed and said that I had a crush on Blackberry. It turns out that he was her crush as well. To be fair, we were both children when we first encountered this story. So, what is it about this hare that makes me wish he A. was not fictional, B. was my species, and C. liked me? Blackberry is the brains of Hazel’s  operation. If there is planning to be done, Blackberry is at the heart of it, and Thlayli owes the clever bunny his life. While others panic, Blackberry has a clarity of mind and a will for action. For all this, he is not a cold, calculating braniac, nor a powerful mind attached to a frail body. He may not have Thayli’s or Captain Holly’s raw power, but he is no pushover, and he is brave when there is need for bravery. His ties of friendship are strong, and he often shows compassion. Loyalty is another of his distinguishing traits, and, lets face it, he just has style! Blackberry proves that Smart is Sexy, even if one is the wrong species.

^^^ All Hail King Samwise ^^^

“‘What am I to do, then?’ he cried again, and now he seemed plainly to know the hard answer: see it through. Another lonely journey, and the worst.” -Samwise Gamgee

Yep. My #1 book crush is Samwise Gamgee. If any character manages to usurp his throne, I will be shocked.

Every time I read Lord of the Rings, Samwise amazes me. At first glance he might seem simple, or even timid. As the story progresses, his hidden facets begin to shine. Early on it is clear that Sam has a poetic soul; a deep appreciation for beauty, peace and simplicity that echos my own feelings.

Courage and determination overcome his natural fears and launch him into action against some of the most terrifying creatures and situations to be found in the books. Who, among us, would take up a short blade, elven or not, and stand alone against a GIGANTIC SPIDER? What diminutive farmer’s son would storm an orc-filled tower in the faint hope of rescuing a friend? Who would carry said friend up the slope of a fire-mountain in order to finish a task that cannot save their lives?

Sam.

His greatest flaw is the humility that makes him doubt his own abilities, but even that serves a purpose. If he were aware of his a worth, he might be intolerable. Samwise considers himself stupid. Hah! He is unlearned compared to his traveling companions, but that is no measure of his intelligence. When there is no one to direct him, when he must take charge, he proves himself quick and capable. Tolkien lets us see into the noble halfling’s mind and there we find him hard at work navigating the rough terrain of the world, as we all must do.

Sam is often credited with loyalty and tenderness. These, he has in abundance. If I had to choose only one fictional character to have at my back through a conflict, it would be Sam. He will not betray his friends, he will not shrink from the task that must be done, and he manages to hope when others around him fall into despair.

Finally, his love of peace, and home, and Rosie touch me sharply. My heart aches with Sam’s longing. I weep when he is sad, and rejoice in tears and smiles when he is happy. Despite not being human, he is staunchly human in his abilities, thoughts and feelings, managing to represent the best that is in us while not denying our weakness.

Therefore, if I have to choose just one fictional crush, one who, if he were my species, not fictional, and happened to like me, I would marry in a heartbeat, I would soon be a Gamgee.

I have made some interesting conclusions about my own heart after seeing these “men” juxtaposed. I will, however, let you draw your own conclusions on the matter.

Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


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