Looking back through my blog to see what I have written about him before, I note that it is now over two years since Sir Terry Pratchett passed away. I have been thinking about him and his writing again this weekend as I’ve started on another Discworld novel I picked up from the library, I Shall Wear Midnight (2010).
As well as thinking about the story in front of me, I was reflecting on his body of work as a whole. The theory formed in my head that, while he’d always seemed to be gifted as a writer of things that were funny and which didn’t require overlarge arrows to pin down as comments on the world he lived in rather than the ones he wrote about, there was also a developing and admirable measure of compassion in his writing. Even drawing out stories of sad things and bad people, there seemed a kindness in his observations and a desire, albeit it sometimes impossible, to make them better (from the author but particularly expressed through protagonists like Tiffany Aching and Sam Vimes).
Once I’ve finished this one, I shall have to dig out an early Pratchett to test my theory of his development. If, somehow, you’ve never read any of his work, for now my advice is not to try and begin at the beginning but to dive in later on. Wherever you start, there will be plenty that will be confusing but I think the magic of the author’s compassion shines more brightly later on.