So… WordPress very kindly informed me that my last post published this morning, Down the TBR Hole #5 was my fiftieth blog post! Hasn’t that gone pretty fast?!
I decided, in order to celebrate the occasion, I wanted to share with you my top 5 quotes by one of my favourite authors. To be honest, it isn’t just his ability to put pen to paper and write hilariously witty novels, all the while administering a good kick in the teeth to social issues like racism, sexism and corruption that I love. It was his attitude to life I admire.
Some of you may not know about Terry’s background.
At primary school he was told he would never amount to anything and as a teenager he left school with no qualifications. It must have been difficult to make your way through life with nothing to testify your ability. You certainly couldn’t do it now.
Whilst he had taken an interest in writing from a young age, he worked in a library before he started up in journalism. It was through his journalism role that he handed over his manuscript of The Carpet People to Peter Bander van Duren, which became his first published novel.
The point I am making is this. Terry was a grafter. He was by no means defined as (though I dispute) intellectually exceptional and he had far less of an education than the vast majority of people, but did he let that stop him? No. His determination is what inspires me. Just because he didn’t have an education, it doesn’t mean he didn’t know his shit. Here are just a select few of the things he had to say about life:-
These are just a select few of my favourite quotes – and there are plenty of them. Punch it into Google (other search engines are available) if you don’t believe me.
If we can all adopt a little of Pratchett’s attitude, I think the world will go a long way. Wouldn’t you agree?
This meme was started by Lia @ Lost in a Story and I am clearing out my reading list of unwanted books. I have old items on Goodreads that I need to sort through and gradually amalgamate into my current reading list. Here is how it works:
Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
Order on ascending date added.
Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
Read the synopses of the books
Decide: keep it or should it go?
Here are the five books that I have focused on for this post:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
Who doesn’t love Brandon Sanderson?! I have had a number of his books come up when going through my old entries on the TBR and it reminds me of just how long ago it was since I read one of his books!! …. but… not for much longer – I’ll let you in to a cheeky spoiler. One of his books is coming up on the reading pile for next month! Exciting times! If you want to check out the books I am going to be reading, stay tuned, because that post is going live on Friday, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
I digress. As I was saying, who doesn’t love Brandon Sanderson?! I think pretty much all his books I have come across sound interesting so if he comes onto the list, it’s probably a 99% chance of being kept… and this one is no exception. I seem to recall a previous post in which I ditched a book with a not-to-dissimilar plot line. Oops. Verdict: Keep!
Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.
So again, we have another Brandon Sanderson novel. Now I know I said above that his books are probably a 99% chance of being kept… but having read the synopsis for this again, I think I am going to exercise the 1% here and take this off the TBR.
I don’t doubt that I could read this. Maybe one day I will. To be truthful, I’m just not feeling so inclined at the moment. It evidently doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did. That’s okay – reading tastes change. Verdict: Go
Crispin is a master mosaicist, creating beautiful art with colored stones and glass. Summoned to Sarantium by imperial request, he bears a Queen’s secret mission, and a talisman from an alchemist. Once in the fabled city, with its taverns and gilded sanctuaries, chariot races and palaces, intrigues and violence, Crispin must find his own source of power in order to survive-and unexpectedly discovers it high on the scaffolding of his own greatest creation.
Has anyone, at the point of reviewing their TBR ever come across a book they’ve added and thought… was I bored that day?
I genuinely don’t know why I would have added this to the list. No offence meant, but this really doesn’t appeal to me, and I don’t honestly think it ever would have?
I don’t know. Either way, the verdict is clear. Sorry. Verdict: Go
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell—the thick silver cuffs he’s worn since birth. They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.
One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.
Meanwhile, Raisa ana‘Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She’s just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her…
The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
Okay, I think I have redeemed myself a little bit here. I added this to the TBR on the same day as Sailing to Sarantium and I was seriously doubting as to whether this was going to be of interest. Having reviewed the synopsis though, it does seem to be a book right up my street. Who doesn’t love a whole lotta magic and a woman/princess wanting to be kick-ass warrior? I’m sure there are plenty… but the point is – I am not one of them. Bring it on!! Verdict: Keep
THEY KILLED THE KING. THEY PINNED IT ON TWO MEN. THEY CHOSE POORLY.
There’s no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just unlikely heroes and classic adventure. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are two enterprising rogues who end up running for their lives when they’re framed for the murder of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it’s too late.
I had quite a hard time with this one. I like how this tries to avoid some of the common clichés in fantasy writing. Other than that, I can’t decide if I am going to like this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it doesn’t sound like I could read it. It does. It just doesn’t particularly smack me in the face and say “PUT EVERY OTHER BOOKS DOWN AND READ ME INSTEAD”… do you know what I mean?
I have a lot of books to read, and I’m inclined to say that if I am sat on the fence about a book, it should go. There are thousands of others I’ll enjoy that I could read instead. Verdict: Go
So there we have it! Of the five reviewed, I am keeping two. Even if I only review a few books at a time, I’ll eventually whittle down the TBR so I only have books I really do want to read on it.
I hope you have enjoyed my post! Have you found any books you no longer want to read lately?
When I came across this debut novel by Matt Mayr I was excited to give it a try. Some of you may have gathered that I really enjoy books of a dystopian theme, so picking up this book was a no-brainer for me.
In the violent world of post-apocalyptic South Town, Eli Baxter is king, ruling from the thirteenth floor of his building while henchman do his bidding. Simon Gray, a talented young thief, now disillusioned with South Town, is desperate to escape with the woman he loves. As he plots their journey north, glimpses of his childhood in South India and Northern Ontario reveal the world as it once was, fueling his desire to break away. But when he’s handed a new job, one that will make Eli untouchable, Simon realizes that escape – and transcendence to love and a peaceful way of life – might be harder than he thought.
Dark, atmospheric, and gritty, Bad City is the debut novel by Matt Mayr and was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
“Degrees of blood and violence like a shockwave of radiation, an eternal extension of the darkness that came hard and fast when the river poured into the city.”
The book follows Simon, a highly skilled thief, recruited by Eli Baxter to steal an object from his rival Fisher. The object in question will make his rule of South Town undeniable. Simon has an unusual childhood background in that his parents left the City to become independent. As a child, Simon hated this, but surrounded by the violence and corruption of the city following the Flood, it becomes his dream to escape and live in the cabin owned by his parents.
My initial thoughts when I read this book was that if South Town was truly that awful, there should be more atrocities going on. It almost seemed to me that whilst there was a certain degree of violence and depravity going on in the background, the focus was only on those caused by the main characters of the book. Given that these cities and the population are ruled using fear of what lies beyond these “safe” havens, I think this could have been played up more… almost made to be a little bit casual in a way, so it seems like a regular occurrence. The casual attitude should not play it down – the reader will be shocked regardless because this behaviour is not what they are used to.
Simon as our main character is well developed. Not only does the narration of the current events tell us about Simon’s personality… we also get flashbacks to his life as a child, how he came to be a thief and his influences in growing up. I think his aims are common in that he wishes to escape but for the most part, he doesn’t have the means to live a self sustainable life. When he meets and falls in love with Eva, who has access to seeds for crops, they stand a real chance of getting away.
In my opinion, Eva is the most underdeveloped character of the book. Admittedly, she doesn’t feature too much or do anything really important in terms of moving the plot along, but I would like to know her a little better. What makes her unafraid to wander the streets alone when every other woman has a male chaperone? Would she have not had trouble at the market in being charged extra by an uncooperative seller before Simon comes along? I wish there was a bit more background to her.
I actually quite like Anton. Whilst he is a man hell bent on revenge, I can relate to him a lot. He strikes me as the type that takes a lot to make him angry, but once he snaps, that’s it. I can kind of relate to that as I am much the same way; I might bite someone’s head off, don’t murder people, I promise!!
Every character’s motives and ideas are justified by their history and current position. I imagine that it must be difficult to establish characters and make them believable when putting them in a situation unlike a more familiar setting we know today, but Mayr achieves this reasonably well.
Without giving anything away, I think the plot flowed very well and the transitions between present day and the “flashbacks” were not difficult to follow. As well as it flowed, it didn’t necessarily pan out the way I first expected, but it was all the better for it. If anybody else out there loves this genre of book, I absolutely recommend it to read. There’s death, there’s violence and there’s corruption, but let us not forget, in the darkest of times there is always hope of something better.
Hi guys!! Hope you are having a lovely weekend!!
I don’t know about you, but this has been a pretty mental week for me. Some of you may know that I was away on a short break earlier on this week, so I actually didn’t pick up a book for two days! TWO!! I had to on the third, since I had a several hour boat trip home to kill some time on. The lack of internet may also have swayed my decision…
On account of being away for those few days my reading game has been pretty weak. I started The Maze Runner by James Dashner last Saturday night; I finished this yesterday and I have read about 25% of Dunstan by Conn Iggulden. I told you it was bad.
I’ll console myself with my pile of shopping instead.
I get to this stage every week and feel like I should be going to Confession in church. I lack two things to be able to do this though. Firstly, I’m not remotely religious. Secondly, I have absolutely no intention of promising to stop buying books.
So, I bought two. Two isn’t so bad, right? That’s what I tell myself. I bought The Sun God’s Heir, by Elliot Baker and Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. Whilst the former is a completely new discovery to me, I actually added Red Sister to my TBR back in April this year. The opportunity came up to buy this book at a discount, so I took it!
As well as purchasing books, I have added a number to the TBR this week. I set myself up on Twitter last week and it has proven to be very useful for connecting with other bloggers and writers too! So much so, over the next two months I have four ARC’s to read! Exciting times! I’ll tell you a little more about them when I publish my reading list for the month they are being read and reviewed in!
So this next week I am blessed with some additional time off work and no other major commitments, so I’ll be able to fit lots of reading in!
On Tuesday, as usual, I will be publishing a review of one of my latest reads. This week, it is Bad City by Matt Mayr. This is his first novel so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on any further releases from this new author!
As I have time on my hands I am also bringing you an extra little cheeky blog post this week!! On Thursday I am going to be reviewing my TBR pile again and having a sort out using the meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.
As the first of the month begins on Sunday, and I am too fond of my Sunday summaries for organising myself, I am instead publishing my October Reading List on Friday and my Sunday Summary will be published as usual.
I hope you all have a fantastic week ahead! What books are you reading?
At the time you are reading this I am probably running into as many shops as physically possible, dragging my mum in tow, before our shopping trip has to come to an inevitable end. *sigh* Admittedly, I’ll probably be just as knackered too!
In my absence I didn’t want to see you disappointed, so I have prepared a post featuring two of my favourite books/series – the first being my favourite book out of the selection I have read this year so far and secondly, my favourite series of all-time. Let’s get started!!
Favourite Book of the Year
When I decided this was the kind of post I was going to be writing I knew exactly which book I was going to be featuring in this section.
I love books that tackle major issues in society and challenge our views, be that past or present. Whilst today I would LIKE to think there is far less discrimination going on than in the 1930’s, truthfully that’s not the case. Instead of hatred being aimed at individuals based on race, today religious discrimination is huge. I don’t condone it at all. I can understand why people might come to the conclusion that all individuals of a minority group behave in the same way as a select few that do end up on the news, having committed awful acts or crimes, but if you do this, you are wrong.
We should not tar 99% of the population of the minority group with the same brush as the 1% of individuals who take the views of their religion to the extreme. That isn’t fair. If you stop to take a look you will find that that remaining 99% are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Seriously.
Let’s think of it another way and use another common misconception to bring this a little closer to home. British holiday makers are often accused of being drunken troublemakers. I have absolutely no doubt that in holiday resorts a large percentage of the drunk and disorderly individuals arrested are British. Yep. That’s not to say ALL British are drunks. I can count on one hand the number of times I have had a drink this year, and if I had to have a finger cut off for the number of hangovers I have had, I would still have all of them.
Now I’ve gotten that little rant over with, I can tell you which book it is that has really made me feel so passionately about this.
Yes folks, it’s The Green Mile by Stephen King. If anyone is interested in reading my review of this book, it can be found here.
Favourite Book(s) – All-time
So, having thought about this I truthfully cannot pin this down to one book, but rather a series. It’s probably a predictable answer as well, but it’s the truth!!
My favourite series of all time has to be the A Song of Ice and Fire series, better known as A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin!
Whilst I have other books that I have rated five stars over the years, this is the only series I have gone back to read again in it’s entirety (as much as possible anyway). I found it amazing that upon reading the first book again, it’s actually quite easy to understand. Thankfully, the plot building and diverging happens gradually so as not to throw you into the deep end of a pit of sharks… not immediately at least!
I don’t know what else I can add other than that series is amazing (and I’m obviously not the only one to think so!) and that I can’t wait for the next book.
No really, I can’t. Not only that, we are potentially having to wait until 2019 for the final season to air on TV?! I’m going to have to find another TV or book series as a crutch to keep me going until then!!
What is your favourite book or series? Do you agree with me, or do you have another?
Today I am giving you a spoiler-free review of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, in case anybody out there is still yet to jump on the bandwagon. I bought a copy of this book back in May with the book vouchers my sister gave (traded with) me and I have been looking forward to reading this book since!
Following the release of the television series there has been a lot of buzz on the blogosphere for both the series and the book… so I had to see what all the hype was about. I tried not to read too much in the way of spoilers or equally have my perception of the book altered by the opinions of others. Upon starting the book I was advised by a fellow blogger that it was a book that has to be read at least twice to fully grasp.
As much as I took this on board, I did my best to go into the book with an open mind. American Gods isn’t the first book I have read by Neil Gaiman. I perfectly understood and enjoyed Stardust, which I read earlier this year.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Having reached “the other side” I can completely understand why I was advised not to just read this book once. It is a complex book and it discusses many important themes. Unlike some other books, I wouldn’t say that the discussion of these things is subtle; in fact the understanding of immigration of Gods from other continents and the waning power of the religion/belief in these Gods is a pivotal point of the story. That being said, I think the book can still be enjoyed whether you only think of these topics on a superficial level, or equally if you want to delve a little deeper into it.
I am going to be perfectly honest here and say that if I have one criticism of the book, is that I found the pace to be a bit slow for the first half. That being said, I also found I had to take frequent breaks to digest what was going on because the story in many places goes from being reasonably normal to rapidly stretching the imagination very quickly. Were I to read it again I think I could appreciate the build up to the climax more; I was eager to see how events would unfold. Maybe I was a bit slow on the uptake, but I thought the plot finally began to unravel quite late on. The second half was much more readable. I think it took me about four days to get through the first half of the book and then two to complete the second. To me, the prose seemed to flow naturally (plus as well at this point we fully expect the whackiness).
Admittedly when I immediately finished reading the book, I wasn’t sure I was fully satisfied with it. On reflection though, I did enjoy the book and its many themes. It is (for me) a book that it is better to stand back and appreciate as a whole picture rather than individual scenes and characters. I didn’t bond with any of the characters purely because they all had traits I dislike. To my mind that only goes to show that not even Gods, as humans create them, are perfect… and that’s a good thing! I didn’t overly bond with our main character Shadow either but I’m not disappointed about that – a character who has had to persevere serving three years in prison, the death of his wife and then being thrown into the crazy world of Gods is going to be the kind of person who keeps an arms length relationship with people, purely just to cope.
I would highly recommend that anyone out there who hasn’t read this book to do so. I wouldn’t say it is an easy read, but it is an enjoyable one all the same. I will definitely be reading it again. Who knows, maybe I have missed something and will pick it up in a second read. I do think this is one of the books in life that has the power to keep on giving.
Hi guys!! Happy Monday to you all!!
I’ve decided to put up this little ad-hoc post because…
I’ve made it onto Twitter!!
Last night I went through all my followers and added those you have twitter links to their blog that I could find! Apologies if I missed any!!
If anybody would like to return the favor, here is my profile:- @fantasyst95
I’m still learning the ropes with Twitter… does anyone have any tips? I’d be grateful for any advice you can give me!!
Good afternoon everybody! I hope you are all having a pleasant day!!
Today has been a reasonably busy one for me and that’s why this post is coming to you a little later than usual today. Sorry about that!!
This week has been pretty good, which surprises me in a way. A few nights this week I came home and after doing all the necessary stuff, I just couldn’t get into reading all that much. I did manage to read a little every day, but not as much as I could have done! Thankfully I made up for it yesterday. Monday night was a good one as I was determined to finish American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and I did. The next book on my TBR list was Bad City by Matt Mayr. It was this book I spent most of the week reading (or not reading very much as the case was), but thankfully I managed to read the second half of this book yesterday and finished it with enough time to start reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I haven’t read much of this – I’m in chapter 3 at the moment, but it is a solid start.
I always dread logging on to my Amazon account to find out how many books I’ve bought. It’s one of those situations where you want to both look and shut the laptop screen down in a panic simultaneously. I think the trouble is that it is so easy to spend money nowadays – that however is another topic and I’ll go wildly off tangent if I carry on that thought.
Thankfully I was able to sigh in relief when I checked Amazon this week. Admittedly, this week I bought three. I don’t feel guilty though. Two were books on my TBR for this month that I hadn’t bought in advance, being the Maze Runner (my current read) and Making History by Stephen Fry, which is the last book on the list for this month. The other book I bought is In the Blood by Steve Robinson. I actually saw an advert for book three in this series and I thought it sounded really interesting. It said you could read that as a standalone story, but I know what I’m like. I went back and bought this one, which is the first of the series.
So this next week coming up I am actually having a short break away, so I might be a little less active on reading other people’s blog etc. I have a special blog post I am preparing for you to fill the void I am away.
On Tuesday I will be reviewing my recent read of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I like to try and give everyone a vibe as to what my review is going to be like at this point, but I genuinely couldn’t say. Admittedly I need to sit and have a think on it – I don’t think I’ve entirely made my mind up yet.
Now my special post on Friday is going to cover two books:-
My favourite book so far this year
My favourite book of all time
Now for this post I am going to tease you by keeping my cards close to my chest. You’ll have to check out my post on Friday.
Last but certainly not least I’ll be giving you a round up of the week, and I might even tell you a little bit about the spoils I bring back from my shopping trip!
The last little thing I want to tell you all about refers to my post on Friday, The Diary. If anyone looked closely enough, you’ll see I had an entry in on Friday to have a draft ready for a fairytale short story I am submitting for a competition. The good news is that I was actually ahead of schedule and I have now made my submission into the competition!! It’s the first real competition I have entered, so it’s exciting for me. For that reason I am also not expecting much from it, but I plan on writing more and entering more competitions in the future so if nothing else, it is all good practice.
When I started this blog, it was with the intention of getting myself into a routine of sitting down and to write. It didn’t overly matter what – it was the setting aside time that was the goal.
We all lead very busy, fast paced lives. I work thirty five hours a week, or doing the nine to five, as it is called. I also live by myself, so inevitably all those wonderful household jobs we love fall on me to do. Not only that, there’s people to see and things to do, so how do we find the time to manage everything?
On top of everything else, I initially set myself the task of twenty books this year. This is a goal I had never reached before. Circumstances meant I wasn’t spending much time at home in January; between going to work and visiting a close relative in hospital, my life was hectic. It was the reading habit I developed during this period that helped me knock my reading target out of the park. I had very little free time but I made the most of it. I needed something to relax and help me wind down at night to get to sleep. Reading served both purposes.
It was in April when I decided to start a blog. I wanted to take the plunge to write and I wanted to challenge myself further in terms of reading, so naturally my thoughts wandered to the idea of a book blog. There are many books blogs out there and I love to browse them myself in any free minutes I get. It was hardly an original idea, but the best way to inspire myself to write is by doing it about something I know and love.
I am pleased with how well I have taken to blogging as well as managing my extra reading; over the past few weeks I have really gotten to grips with it. I regularly post three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No longer am I depending on having read books so I can write a review post. I have been inspired by the many other book blogs out there to write book related content as well as reviews and that makes it easier to post consistently.
I am the type of person that needs organisation in order to see something come together, and that is how I have managed to pick my blog up and get it into shape. Yes folks… I got myself a diary. I was fortunate enough to decide to get one a few weeks before the start of school term, so I have an ACADEMIC for a full year instead of a few months! My projects are running January to December in my head so I’ll have to make the switch at some point though.
So this is what my diary looks like this week, for anybody interested.
As well as the practicality of a structured diary, I love the use of colour, so I use different colours depending on the task:-
Yellow – books I have started
Green – books I have completed
Pink – Blog related taks
Orange – Other writing related taks
In the back of the diary I also have a full list of the books I have read this year, and it looks like this:-
When I said I loved colour, I really wasn’t kidding.
I have fallen in love with the idea of bullet journals, but at the moment I don’t think I could juggle creating this as well as the reading and writing. Perhaps this is something to consider further down the line.
What I do know is this – the blog has helped my reading. Looking at that list above I can tell when I started the blog as the books I choose to read become for diverse. Yes, I still read a lot of Pratchett and other series that I have started, but they are more spread out and I try a few different books in-between.
The diary, since I started it has in turn been a great help to my blog. On the 22nd August, four months on from starting the blog (or thereabouts) I hit the milestone of fifty followers – I know that because I popped that little achievement in the diary!! I know I’m hardly a high flyer on the follower count, but I’m still pleased all the same. At that point I began posting regularly as opposed to sporadically and in just over three weeks, I now have just shy of seventy. Again, not huge, but a definite improvement in such a short time.
It’s safe to say that keeping myself organised is paying off for me. I’ll be keeping up the diary and the regular blogging.
I’m interested to know how you keep up your blogs. How do you plan ahead? Do you plan ahead, or post in the spur of the moment. It will be interesting to compare how different bloggers manage the workload.
If you’re a lover of all things Fantasy, Terry Pratchett is a fantastic author to fall back on if you’re looking for a fabulous read. The Discworld series of books are all based on the same fictional world, roaming through time and space on the back of four elephants, which are in turn carried on the back of A’tuin, the Great World Turtle. One of my favourite things about the series is that the books don’t really depend on you having read any of the others, so anyone can pick one up and not be lost. One slight drawback to this is that for devoted readers, you get to read the explanation as to why light travels slowly over the Discworld again and again. And again, just for good measure.
Corporal Carrot has been promoted! He’s now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork, Discworld’s greatest city, from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It’s a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf.
But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork, ruled for decades by Disorganized crime, has a secret sovereign! And his name is Carrott…
And so begins the most awesome epic encounter of all time, or at least all afternoon, in which the fate of a city—indeed of the universe itself!—depends on a young man’s courage, an ancient sword’s magic, and a three-legged poodle’s bladder.
Men At Arms is the second book following the adventures of the City Guard of Ankh-Morpork. Our main character Carrot, born human was adopted as a dwarf and joined the Watch to make a man of himself. As mentioned above, whilst it may be helpful to have read the first book for backstories of the guards, it is not essential at all. Carrot has now been promoted to Corporal and the City Guard is recruiting. Captain Vimes is getting married to the richest, most dragon-loving woman in the city and is due to retire. Vimes is a man very set in his ways; whilst he tries to adapt to his new life as a hobnobbing gentleman, he struggles to lose his attachment to the Watch. He also doesn’t like the new recruits, a troll, a dwarf and a woman. Vetinari, the City’s leader has decided to champion equal opportunities for all.
When a mysterious weapon goes missing and murders start sprouting up in Ankh-Morpork, despite their differences, can the guards rally themselves to hunt the killer down?
I admire how Pratchett manages to drop in important themes within the utterly whimsical, comical and outrageous world that is the Discworld. Race is a topic that comes up throughout the book. Dwarves and trolls hate each other. Why? At some battle a long long time ago each side accused the other of foul play. Well, that’s how it started. In today’s society, dwarves and trolls hate each other because their ancestors have successfully hated each other for centuries. Why break tradition?
Not only is race challenged as a topical issue, governmental corruption also features massively. Ankh-Morpork is a corrupt city through and through. Home to the Assassin’s Guild, the Thieves Guild and even the Alchemist’s Guild, to mention but a few names, the city thrives on money. For a fee, you can arrange for a certain somebody to disappear. For a fee, you can walk the streets safely in the assurance you won’t get robbed. Nobody can guarantee your safety from flying debris if you walk past the Alchemist’s Guild, however. If you happen to chance your arm robbing somebody and you don’t have a license to do so, you had best pray it’s the Guards that get you before the Thieves Guild.
Here are some of my favourite quotes of the book:-
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Colon thought Carrot was simple. Carrot often struck people as simple. And he was. Where people went wrong was thinking that simple meant the same thing as stupid.
The Librarian was, of course, very much in favour of reading in general, but readers in particular got on his nerves. There was something, well, sacrilegious about the way they kept taking books off the shelves and wearing out the words by reading them. He liked people who loved and respected books, and the best way to do that, in the Librarian’s opinion, was to leave them on the shelves where Nature intended them to be.
People ought to think for themselves, Captain Vimes says. The problem is, people only think for themselves if you tell them to.
I’m sure like many other readers out there, I read to escape from reality for a little while. I read to forget about those bills I have to pay and to forget I have to get up and go to work in the morning… and that’s okay. I get that escapism from books. For me, it makes a goddamn fantastic author if they can achieve this and still highlight issues within our society without smacking you in the face with it. It’s there, and you know it’s there and you can choose to pay attention to it. If you want to at least.
You may have been able to find the words to say exactly what you thought of the world Terry, but nothing I could say about you will ever live up to the legacy you left behind. Not all super heroes wear capes, after all. Rest in Peace – you’ve earned it.