On Thursday 12th March 2015, the world lost a funny, crazy, wonderful mind. A man who gave life to numerous colourful, vibrant characters. The creator of a world so rich, lively and detailed that for many it is real. That man is Sir Terry Pratchett.
Many authors have created impressive, expansive and detailed worlds. Stephen King gave us Mid-World. Tolkien dreamed up Middle Earth with its myriad locations. George R. R. Martin took readers to Westeros and Essos. Each one has its own charm, stunning locations and well-crafted characters. But none quite come close to the wonder of Sir Terry’s Discworld – a round, flat disc of land balanced upon the back of four elephants, stood on the shell of a giant turtle that swims through the blackness of space. There aren’t many minds wondrous enough to dream up such a world.
Its many continents, countries, cities and town leap out of the pages with a life like no others. Such is the level and attention to detail given to them, that it was easy to imagine the feel of the sea breeze and the roar of the waters of the Rimwise Ocean. You can almost smell the fetid odour of the river Ankh and the bustling streets of Ankh-Morpork.
I arrived late to the Discworld party. Naively believing the entire series to be for children or teenagers, I never really gave them a chance. I began to hear of more “grown-ups” having read the books, so my curiosity began to rise. I purchased my first book, The Colour of Magic obviously, back in August 2011. Before this, I had seen the made-for-TV films, thinking I would try them out and see what all the fuss was about. I immediately fell in love with the characters, Rincewind and Death especially.
So I purchased book 1, and devoured it with a hunger akin to that of a man who has trekked for months through the sands of Klatch. And that was it – I was absolutely hooked. From that point I blazed a trail with gathering pace across the Disc, storming my way through 40 books. Having read little else in my wild attempt to catch up, I flew through the 40th and final (for now) book, Raising Steam.
I am a voracious reader of books. I love the works of many authors. There aren’t many novels by Stephen King I haven’t read. James Rollins, J. K. Rowling, Jeff Lindsay and numerous others have taken up residence inside my Kindle. Many of these, if not all, will be read and re-read over the years, such is the enduring quality of some of the top authors in the world.
That being said, none have ever made me truly belly laugh out loud in private, in public, anywhere I could stop for long enough to read. When I had caught up, having read Raising Steam not long after it came out, I had a strange feeling – not sure what to read next. That said, I definitely can’t wait to re-read the books, and visit what feel like old friends in familiar places once more. So after some 70 books, and a whole new world, we finally have to say goodbye to The Man in the Hat – that blasted embuggerance having finally got the better of him.
While it is never easy to say goodbye to people, I like to think he left us, in the company of old friends, something like this.
Lying in his bed, his eyes fluttered open. He looked around, friends, family, even his cat didn’t seem to notice his awakening, too consumed with sadness. Puzzled, he looked around, eyes stopping on the figure sat in the corner of the room.
Covered head to toe in black robes, white bony hands and feet showing, he propped a large scythe against the wall. His eyes shone with a blue light, a grin upon his skull. I know skulls don’t have any other choice but to grin, but this time, I am quite sure, it was sincere and as warm as a grin from a skull could be.
“Oh bugger” exclaimed the man in the bed. “I guess my timer just ran out of sand?”
The hooded skeletal figure inclined his head forward, the merest hint of a nod. “Well, it had to happen sometime, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.”
The blazing blue eyes looked at him for a moment, before a deep voice seemingly filled the room. “NOBODY EVER DOES” he stated. “BUT DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING” smiled Death, “JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”
With a sullen look on his face, the man lay there staring in to the face of Death. “I know that, I may be losing my memory but I know I came up with that line!” And without any obvious change, Death appeared to grin even wider. “VERY TRUE, OLD FRIEND. WITHOUT YOU, NONE OF US WOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN LIFE…OR DEATH IN SOME CASES.”
The man, his black hat on the bedside table, stared at Death, then broke out in laughter. “It’s been a good run, hasn’t it?” the man said, beaming ear to ear.
Death stood up and collected his scythe. The man noticed for the first time, a small, robbed rodent-like skeleton perched on Death’s shoulder. “IT HAS BEEN A VERY GOOD RUN. YOU GAVE LIFE TO AN ENTIRE WORLD, AND MIRTH AND JOY TO ANOTHER. BUT NOW, I FEAR IT IS TIME FOR US TO GO, TERRY.”
Terry got out of bed, with a disconcerting feeling as he looked back to see his body still lying there. He grabbed his hat, put it on, and stepped over to Death. A skeletal hand reached out, opening a door that Terry was sure had not been there before, revealing an endless expanse of sand under a starry sky.
He took hold of the sleeve of Death’s flowing black robe, and passed through the door, lined on both sides by familiar faces. Faces of those he gave life to. “I hope there’s Thud where I’m going, I haven’t played a game in years!” exclaimed Terry, as he walked with Death into the Dark Desert, under the endless sky.
So long Terry, see you in the Black Desert, somewhere under the endless sky.