|Photo by Kaleem Rorke|
I picked up my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was thirteen years old. It was Mort, and it remains, in my opinion, his greatest Discworld novel to date. It was with this fine work of literary hilarity that Terry Pratchett introduced me to the fantasy genre. In the years to come his books continued to work their magic on my eager young mind and I found myself gravitating towards books stores, solely in search of the latest Discworld Novel.
Through Sir Pratchett (because I would never presume to be on a first name basis with the man) I discovered my next favourite fantasy author, Neil Gaiman, when I read that defining classic of the fantasy-humour genre: Good Omens. I found the mixture of Pratchett's humour and Neil Gaiman's dark and often disturbing writing style, an exhilarating mix. I have lost count of the number of times I have read that book, trawling through pages trying to distinguish which author wrote which paragraph or chapter.
It was this kind of passion and love for reading that Terry Pratchett inspired in his fans. His comedy was on point and his satire was biting. Groups of friends were built around a mutual love for his works, quoting select lines as 'in jokes'. He was a hero to every geek, fantasy reader, D&D gamer, lover of laughter, and many more besides.
It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that Terry Pratchett shaped my childhood and ultimately the man I would become. Before Pratchett I did not read. At all. Because of him I feel lost while waiting for the next favourite instalment of whichever fantasy epic I am reading at the moment. Because of him, my first real job was with Exclusive Books, because I needed to be close to the escape that books provided. Because of him I decided that teaching English simply must be my chosen profession.
Without a sound education in the English language, the next generation will not know that sense of underlying pity for Death in his efforts to be more like the living; the sense of pride in our Captain Vimes when he comes out on top; the elation I felt every time Moist von Lipwig gets one over whoever is foolish enough to try and outsmart him; or the exasperation that comes whenever Rincewind stuffs up again. I could name favourite Discworld characters all day, but I won't. Read the books and decide who you love best.
Terry Pratchett was a pillar of the comedic fantasy genre and to say that we have lost a great man is an incredible understatement. We have lost the one man who understands that, as Death so eloquently puts it, ‘Humans need fantasy to be human’. The real world is so often unforgiving and cruel, as Mr Pratchett found first hand, and it is only through the escape of fantasy that we are able to conjure some magic into our lives.
Terry Pratchett, you were and will always remain the magic in my life.
No one gets pardoned for living
- Robert Smith