A Matter of Lives and DEATH

dwjmonth-2017

Over at Kristen’s We Be Reading blog the annual March Magics celebration of the work of Diana Wynne Jones — to which was recently added the fiction of Sir Terry Pratchett — will be observed, starting tomorrow. Both authors, giants in their respected fantasy fields, are much missed by their legions of fans (a cliché, I know, but they are legion). As Kristen writes,

DWJ March began in March 2012 as a celebration of Diana Wynne Jones and last year I added Terry Pratchett as he had passed the year before. I changed the name to March Magics but a few of us didn’t want to let go of the DWJ March name so now it kind of has two names. I guess this is the 6th year of the event!

Kristen tells us she has for a while wanted to focus DWJ March on the figure of the enchanter Chrestomanci; of the seven books in the series she omits The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week and the short story collection Mixed Magics only because they’re not directly about nine-lived enchanters. (Like cats, since you were wondering.)

She will pair these up with four of Pratchett’s five DEATH books (omitting Hogfather since she will be featuring it on her blog in December). I’ve already read and reviewed the Chrestomanci novels, plus one of the Pratchett titles, so shall instead be concentrating on the three Discworld novels featuring DEATH I haven’t as yet tried, Reaper Man, Soul Music and The Thief of Time — if I can acquire them in time!

The schedule, should you wish to join in, will be as follows (I’ve added links to my reviews where applicable):

Friday 3rd: DWJ’s Charmed Life review

Monday 6th: STP’s Mort review

Friday 10th: DWJ’s The Lives of Christopher Chant review

Tuesday 14th: STP’s Reaper Man

Friday 17th: DWJ’s Conrad’s Fate review

Wednesday 22nd: STP’s Soul Music

Sunday 26th: DWJ’s The Pinhoe Egg review

Friday 31st: STP’s The Thief of Time

I’m being selfish here: I need excuses to read Pratchett’s work but the sheer volume of his oeuvre is so daunting. I’ve read a collection of his non-fiction pieces, the aforementioned Mort, Equal Rites, Johnny and the Dead and Good Omens (which he co-authored with Neil Gaiman) but would really like to get on with more Discworld novels. I have The Colour of Magic on my shelves but am loath to start this as I’ve been warned off it a couple of times. (In a nice way, not with a horse’s head in the bed or anything like that.) So the three March Magics titles noted above may be just up my Ankh.

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21 thoughts on “A Matter of Lives and DEATH

  1. inkbiotic

    Ah I did used to enjoy Pratchett, not that I hate him now or anything, just haven’t thought to read his books recently – but that’s why it’s great you’ll be reading and reviewing, I can have a rethink if I should return or not. It’ll be interesting to see his lighthearted style filtered through your analytical brain also. 🙂

    1. “Analytical brain”? Ha! I wish… Actually, the little TP I’ve read seems to suggest his ‘lighthearted’ style was largely fuelled by anger and indignation at injustice, and by fascination with the conundrums attached to the human condition. As it’s a worldview I generally hold, and we had a birth year, a city and a beard in common (!) I’m surprised I haven’t got into his stuff sooner. Maybe it was because he was so darned popular …

  2. Looks good. I will try to follow March Magics.

    As for Pratchett, I find I can only read some of the Discworlds – the ones that focus on the witches and DEATH. I recommend the Tiffany Aching books. She is whom I want to be when I grow up, with a dash of Dido Twite.

    1. Yes, Tiffany Aching sounds right up my street too! And you’re not the only one to recommend the books that feature her.

      Right, so it’s DEATH, Tiffany, Granny Weatherwax — that’s a start, anyway!

    1. I do love the gentle cynicism mixed with fondness that DWJ shows in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, but I can only manage short bursts of it, as it’s lifting a lid on all that lazy fantasy writing. Also love the Derkholm pair of books which play on those riffs.

  3. A busy schedule!
    After being highly diverted by the first DEATH novel, I found the rest were inclined to be flogging the theme to DEATH a bit! I tend to prefer the books featuring the Watch.
    I really must get round to The Long Utopia I got for Christmas.

    1. It would be busier if I’d got all eight to read, but three is just about manageable — I hope — in amongst the other regular stuff!
      Yet, so much TP to read …

  4. Perfect timing for me, Chris, as a tie-in with my project to focus on series this year. I’ll shift DWJ’s Dalemark Quartet (which, no lie, I have not yet read) up to March and see if I can squeeze in Chrestomanci as well. And it all starts tomorrow!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing the event and for joining once again. And I’m glad you’ll be exploring the DEATH stories with me! I look forward to seeing what stands out to you in each book because I really think Pratchett is different for every reader.

    1. That’s the strength of a good author, isn’t it, that they awaken different — though not necessarily conflicting — responses in each reader! My library service doesn’t have those particular TP titles in store so I’m going to have to buy them, I think.

  6. Christine

    This sounds like a fun schedule! If you feel a little daunted by Pratchett’s sheer volume of work, I second that Tiffany Aching recommendation, it made for an excellent introduction to the Witches sub-series of Discworld books. You can never have too much Jones or Pratchett, really. I’ve been suffering from an acute case of reading paralysis ever since Jones’s death–and now Pratchett’s–because I’m afraid of running out of their books, so I keep saving them for later (and later never comes). Perhaps I’ll finally get around to DWJ’s Eight Days of Luke this year. Looking forward to reading your next take on Discworld!

    1. Good to hear from you again, Christine. I’d be interested to know what you think of Eight Days of Luke — whatever Neil Gaiman says I still suspect he may have subconsciously aware of this when writing American Gods. My library’s got two Tiffany Aching books, but they’re very recent and I feel I should start earlier down the line with them. 🙂

      1. Christine

        Oh yes, please do start with the earlier books and read them in order, I wouldn’t dream of recommending Tiffany Aching pêle-mêle. I have yet to read American Gods, so your comment makes me glad to read Luke first and AG second. Gaiman strikes me as a wonderful person, and I love his work in Sandman, but his prose has never truly grabbed me the way I hoped it would. His ideas are wonderful but somehow fall a little flat in execution. Do you feel that way about any authors? In any case, glad to be back, I truly love reading your blog and don’t always find time to join the conversation.

        1. Glad of your company whenever you can make it! I agree with your assessment of Gaiman — great on ideas and, usually, plotting, but not as great a wordsmith as others I’ve read. Hard to pick an author falling into that ‘flat’ category — either their prose doesn’t grab me so I never read them again or I give them the benefit of the doubt after reading a book of theirs that confounds the middling opinion I had of them.

          Anyway, should really get round to reading Eight Days of Luke again, if only to review it!

          Do you have a blog? Or are you an author? Or indeed is it ‘yes’ to both questions?

          1. Christine

            I thought as much, Gaiman strikes a few people this way. Ah well, he has his good points, and American Gods seems worth a try. I don’t keep a blog, unfortunately, but I am a writer on the side.

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