Laughter and books make life a little easier

Posts tagged “terry pratchett

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Quote Saturday: Bird-watching

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Books read in August

August

Well, would you look at that, August is gone as well. Someone has definitely activated a magical science-y time-speed affecting device of some sort in my life. I’m mentally still stuck in July. Anyway, at least I still had time to read three books.

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Books read in July

July

I should never ever say when I intend to publish my next post. Because every time I do something happens like magic to prevent me from doing that. When I say nothing everything is fine and I can post whenever I want. So, here are the books that I read in July, almost a week later than I said it would be. Nothing come up until I have finished typing this. (more…)


Day 25 – A character whom you can relate to the most

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

Tiffany Aching, the main character of one of the subseries inside Discworld.

Tiffany Aching is nine years old at the start of the first book about her and she has decided that she wants to be a witch when she grows up. Tiffany has the abilities First Sight and Second Thoughts. First Sight, unlike second sight, is quite rare and allows one to see what is really there, not what your mind tells you ought to be there. Second Thoughts are thoughts about your first thoughts. Later in the novel, Tiffany finds out that she also has Third Thoughts (thoughts that watches the way that she thinks about thinking) and possibly even more Thoughts.

 

Tiffany is the kind of person who reads a fairy-tale and then starts to question the motives of the characters. She wonders whether the handsome prince was really that handsome, or if the people simply described him that way because he was a prince. She wonders about the princess who was the described to be “as beautiful as the day”, because winter days aren’t very pretty and rather drab, compared to, say, a spring day when all the plants are renewed and blossoming.

“The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you have no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch. If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince”… was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long”… well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories don’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told…”

– The Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett

Tiffany is the kind of person who goes and looks up words that she does not know in the dictionary.

Tiffany is described as (I’m paraphrasing here) “the person at the party who sits in the corner with a very small drink, unable to join in the party spirit, because she has a little piece inside of her that will not melt and flow with the rest”.

That last paragraph… that is basically how I spend my life. I can’t join in. There is a part of me that thinks too much and questions everything and that part will not let me abandon myself and join in whatever is going on.

 

It is the same part of me that struggles to really care about people and feel for people. In the last few years, I seem to have ended up at quite a few funerals. I don’t know why there are so many funerals in the family. Anyway, at all of the funerals, I have ended up simply standing there. I couldn’t join in. Everyone was crying and hugging each other and getting on with the normal business of a funeral, but something was stopping me from doing the same. I go completely numb inside and all that I can do is stand there, watching myself think. The same happens at parties, which is why I avoid the things. It’s anyway just a nuisance to me, so why should I go?

 

In The Wee Free Men, one of the things that Tiffany is accused of is that she didn’t cry when her grandmother died. It bothers her and she wonders why she couldn’t cry. I didn’t cry when my grandmother died either. I couldn’t: something was stopping me. My mother had dropped me off at extra lessons and when I came out of the school and walked to the car, the call had just come through. All I could do was awkwardly stand there… I didn’t know what to say or do. There was nothing that seemed natural to me to do in such a situation: not cry or say something sympathetic, which is not something that I am good at anyhow. I may have been a lot older than Tiffany when it happened to her (she was seven and I was only just seventeen), but I still identified with the way that she felt.

 

Like Tiffany, I tend to question everything. I’ve always wondered about the useless princesses in the fairy-tales. I’ve always wondered about the sweeping statements that they tend to make. I don’t like them and I don’t like stories that want to prevent people thinking for themselves, which is also something that Tiffany objects to. It may be unusual, but it is just the way that my mind works.

“Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!”

– Tiffany, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Tiffany is actually the character that I mentioned when I was writing about my favourite female character (the one that I said I would write about later). I love how self-assertive she is. I love how much she thinks. I love how she is armed only with a frying pan and Diseases of the Sheep (a book that belonged to her grandmother). It came quite slowly, how I realised how much I identify with her, but once I realised it, the connection was clear and she promptly became my favourite female Discworld character.

 

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

 

Tomorrow’s post is about a book that changed my opinion about something.

Sig3


Day 15 – Favourite male character: Part 2

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

 

I was actually tempted to split this post into more than two. I’m already splitting the favourite female character-post as well, so this is getting a bit much. So I’ll just make a list to say who else I would have liked to write about and then leave it at that.

 

If I had the chance, I would also have liked to write about Pippin from LotR; Lord Veternari, Moist von Lipwig from Discworld; Artemis Fowl and Christopher Chant.

But today I am going to write about His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes from the Discworld-series and then leave it at that.

Sam Vimes is the main character of the Watch-subseries of Discworld-books. He started off as the captain of the Night Watch in the first book that features him and eventually progressed to Commander of the Watch.

He is an extremely conflicted character, but, thank goodness, not one given to angsting. That is simply the way he is: he has the conflicting traits of cynicism and idealism. He expects the worse of people, but would like to believe the best. This is caused by him being born “knurd”, which is the opposite of being drunk. His body does not produce any “natural alcohol” and this means that he cannot have any illusions about life. In Guards! Guards! he kept trying to correct this mental state, that was sending him into a depression, by drinking, but he always got the dose wrong and ended up getting drunk. Later, after getting married, he gave up all alcohol and became a teetotaller, though he was always testing himself by keeping drink in his bottom drawer. He always passed the test.

Vimes fears the darkness inside himself. He knows that everyone is born with good and bad inside them and he fears that one day, his will gain advantage and take him over. This led to him creating a guard in his mind that contains the darkness. Vimes is an extremely moral person, someone who will never take a bribe and is always insistent that he has never killed anyone. Oh, there were victims of circumstance, but he never meant to. That is what counts, as he tells himself to keep his sanity.

His wife describes him as “not a gentleman, thank goodness, but a gentle man”. He is intensely, incredibly good, not because he’s written as a “good guy” and therefore everything he does must be right, but because he strives to be this way. Often, he ends up going into morally-uncertain waters, where the truth is basically the way you bend it, but he always strives to do the moral thing and to be fair.

Sam Vimes is a character you can learn a lot about as you follow his story, starting with Guards! Guards! and ending with Snuff. He changes somewhat as the story progresses, but mostly he is very stable and dependable. He can also teach you a lot about trying to be morally good in spite of everything that gets thrown at you and never losing sight of your good intentions.

Vimes has been a drunk and a hero, he turned into an ambassador and a preventer of wars. He started off hating nobility and social rank and with a touch of irony, became a noble himself through his marriage. That did not stop him from hating it and he became a reluctant class traitor.

Through all of it, the Vimes-character has remained mostly stable. He can be relied on to make a cynical remark at the least provocation and to never let go off his morals. He grows and is enriched by his marriage and the birth of his son, Young Sam, but he remains a character to be admired.

I love his character and I still think he is at his best in Thud! It is there where he refuses to give in to the darkness and commit murder that he stands the climax of his character development. There is something hard to describe about him at that moment, but I do know that it is this which makes him supreme as a character: it’s in the way he inspires others to also be supreme.

 

Tomorrow I will write about my favourite female character.

Sig3


Day 13 – Your favourite writer

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This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

 

Oh dear, now I’m stuck again. So many choices I’m quite overwhelmed. I think Terry Pratchett (yes, I know, again) is probably my favourite living writer, but I read dead people too. So what should I add here as well? I absolutely love J.R.R. Tolkien’s style and all his works (as far as I’ve progressed so far). I adore Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries. And of course Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is not to be left out of this list either. So how can I weigh such a diverse bunch of authors up against each other, every one (perhaps excepting the last two) from a different genre and style? Personally, I think it would be very unfair to try to compare any of them, because they are just too different from each other to find any matching points for comparison.

 

Agatha Christie wasn’t called the Queen of Crime for nothing. There’s no one who can compete with her ability to twist a story on the last page and blindside every single reader. Who else would have thought of making the criminal pretend to be the victim and so attempt to escape suspicion? Who else could have created a character such as Hercule Poirot, who is just in a class of his own? (Actually, I’m a Miss Marple fan. :P)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… well, no else created Sherlock Holmes. It is not the mysteries that make Conan Doyle’s stories, it is Holmes and Watson. Conan Doyle is not able to or does not want to keep the reader in the dark up to the last page in the same way that Agatha Christie does. In many of his stories I could see through the mystery before the end, which has never happened to me when reading Christie. The wonder lies in the way that Holmes tackles each case: his eccentricities and methods that you get to know so well after a couple of dozen of stories.

J.R.R. Tolkien is not any less deserving to be called the father of modern fantasy than Agatha Christie is to be called the Queen of Crime. To me, there is nothing to compare to the scope of Lord of the Rings, including the languages, mythology, songs, poems and appendices. He was an author with the ability to paint a picture in words: you can see it, smell it and feel it all around you. His charm lies not in his characters (which are still great), but in his imagined world: the landscapes, creatures and races, and history.

Sir Terry Pratchett… well, I don’t even what genre it is that he is king of. But I do know that no one can beat his wit. There have been more energetic authors (though I believe they are few and far between), there have been authors better at characterisation, but I have never before read an author that can make you laugh on every page like he does. And when you’re done laughing, he’ll make you cry from guilt, because you can suddenly recognise your own faults in the “bad guy” and suddenly you realise how presumptuous you are for judging him: you’re as bad as he is!

And of course… I think I’ll always admire J.K. Rowling‘s attentiveness to fine detail and her ability to give reasoning and a backstory to the most minor of characters.

 

I’m honestly still stuck, even after writing this. I don’t know who my favourite author is. Well, now you at least know my options, because I can get no further than this. To try to choose would just be… wrong…

 

Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite book by my favourite writer and will probably not be any more sensible than today’s was.

Sig3