Title: The Folklore of Discworld
Author: Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 512
You shouldn’t need me to tell you too much about what this book is about, because the clue is in the title – it’s essentially your hands on guide to the lore and legends that make up the Discworld’s equivalent of our folk and fairy tales.
Because of that, you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate the book unless you’ve read a good chunk of Pratchett’s Discworld series – that said, there are plenty of thorough explanations of our own mythology as well, and so you’d still get a decent amount from it. It might even make you want to check out some of the Discworld books!
Simply put, Terry and Jacqueline segment some of the traditions of the Discworld into different categories, and then they systematically explain both the fictional tradition and its real-life equivalents – some of them are obvious, like the Hogfather being similar to Santa Claus, while others are tenuous links at best which still serve to show how much research Pratchett has done in to the field over the years.
Sure, it’s occasionally heavy-going, and it takes quite a long time to read, but it’s not as difficult as plenty of other books on the market – it’s a bit like how watching Q.i. takes up more of your brainpower than watching Deal Or No Deal does. Thing is, if you’re in to this sort of fantasy stuff, then you’re going to love it regardless, and you’ll find that it’s well worth the time investment that it takes if you plan to read the book from cover to cover.
To give you an idea of what to expect, the book is split in to sixteen different sections, covering everything from the different races (dwarfs, elves, the Nac Mag Feegle, trolls and others) to beasties, witches, heroes, lore, legends and, of course, Death.
Death is one of the Discworld’s most-loved characters, and you’ll be pleased to know that he gets his fair share of action here – the two authors often refer back to passages from Pratchett’s novels to give the reader examples of what they’re talking about, or to have something explained in a character’s own words. Because of this, and because of his immortality, Death makes quite a few appearances.
So do the myths and legends of the Ancient Greeks, the Romans and the Ancient Egyptians, all of which have their place – the Discworld’s Ephebe is essentially their equivalent to Egypt, and the denizens of the Disc owe a lot to the Greeks and the Romans, just as we do.
What’s cool about this book is that it makes you aware of your own ignorance whilst simultaneously rectifying it – you don’t know what you don’t know, until you find out about it. Terry and Jacqueline have done a fantastic job of teaching you about things that you might never otherwise hear about, without making you feel stupid while they do it. So buy it!