So after the slight change of scheduling this week as a result of taking part in a blog tour, today I am posting my review of my first read this month – Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. This is the sixteenth book of the Discworld collection, and the third book in the Death mini-series. Death tends to crop up at some point in most of the Discworld books (at least the ones I have read so far, anyway), but these books go into more detail about his existence, family, and all manner of time-related paradoxes.
Other children get given xylophones. Susan just had to ask her grandfather to take his vest off.
Yes. There’s a Death in the family.
It’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe – especially when you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld.
It’s lawless. It changes people.
It’s called Music With Rocks In.
It’s got a beat and you can dance to it, but…
And it won’t fade away.
This book maintains the typical Pratchett style of humour, one I have come to know and love, from the very first page.
This is also a story about sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In.
One out of three ain’t bad.
Actually, it’s only thirty-three per cent, but it could be worse.
The concept behind the music is that magic guides the unsuspecting soul from making the ugliest noise humanly possible to give it life, the beat, the rhythm. Pratchett humorously makes it clear that none of our protagonists have a single clue about music; but the magic takes over and guides them into becoming the rock n’ roll stars they are. Managed by none other than Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler, the band tour the Disc chasing fame… and afterwards are chased off in style by a confetti of ladies underwear and the local guards!
Meanwhile, Death has taken a break from his regular duties and as ever, is trying to discover what it is to become more human. His granddaughter steps up to take his place and inevitably, things take a turn for the worse… again!
The Death series is one of my favourites in the Discworld books, second to the escapades of the Witches. Somehow, the musings of Pratchett with regards to the nature of time add another dimension to the quirky universe and the narrative. Of course, we were still treated to meeting some of the Ankh-Morpork regulars, as is only fitting.
I also liked the way the tone was set in relation to the music. It was written in a perspective from which one understands the presence and acknowledging other people’s reaction to it, without really understanding the hype behind it all. I’ll confess I’m not a particular fan of rock music myself. Unless it’s an iconic rock song from the 80’s…say, Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams or Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer (I am listening to this as I type), I’m not familiar at all. The rock music I do listen to is definitely my mum’s influence… they were songs she grew up with. It’s not my bag at all, so I found the viewpoint of the distant observer one I could relate to.
Whilst perfectly readable, this wasn’t one of my favourite books of the series. As mentioned above, the Witches books rank higher. Usually, if a couple of storylines are threaded together, they tend to work well with each other… but I find the storyline of Susan taking over Death’s duties and the existence of the music more… coincided than were dependent on each other. Although the book was funny and parodied the music industry (and the fame of the stars as part of it) it just didn’t quite come together in the way that I had hoped it would.