Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is an author that I have known of for many years as many friends told me how much they adore his work, so when a friend offered me the chance to read Pyramids I gave him a try. I read this seventh book in his fantasy parody Discworld series, which was recommended as a standalone novel that would be good for someone new to Discworld. Since the Eighties I have been a huge fan of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and so I assumed that I would be a more likely candidate for Discworld discipleship than some others might be. When I did not take to the style of humour in Pyramids my friend suggested reading another book in the series, but I declined because I suspected that it was Pratchett's style rather than the particular book that did not appeal. Therefore this is a review of a largely standalone novel in the Discworld series by a reviewer who has not read anything else in the series to compare it to the others.

Pyramids is the seventh Discworld book and was published in 1989 six years after the first one (The Colour of Magic). The humour is quirky and the plotline more than a little weird, but the comedic style did not appeal to me. I like my humour understated and weaved into the plot, whereas Pratchett's style feels like he is trying too hard to keep the quips flowing. I would have enjoyed the narrative more if he had spent more time on building the story and less on seeking to have at least one funny line each paragraph. There is no doubt that Pratchett looks like he had a whale of a time writing the novel and I can understand why his books have such a devoted following, but the style is not for me.

The story is set in a river kingdom dominated by pyramid building and ruled over my a magical king, who literally makes the sun shine. His son Teppic has been dispatched to the Assassin's school in the city of Ankh-Morpork and the early part of the novel focuses on his time in that school. When the king dies Teppic returns and finds himself gaining some of the magical status of his father, but there is conflict because he does not lose the trendy modern ways that he learnt in Ankh-Morpork. In particular he finds himself in conflict with the High Priest Dios, but out of that conflict comes his friendship with Ptraci, his father's former handmaiden, whose life he saves, and who goes on to become a main character in the book. The narrative goes through several crazy twists, but the full-on style of the humour was a turn-off for me.

© Mercia McMahon. All rights reserved.

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