Portal:Discworld

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The Discworld Portal

Discworld is a comic fantasy book series by the British author Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 — 2015) set on the Discworld, a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants which are in turn standing on the back of a giant turtle, the Great A'Tuin. The books frequently parody or at least borrow ideas from J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, and William Shakespeare, as well as myth, folklore and fairy tales, often using them for satirical parallels with current cultural, technological and scientific issues.

Since the first novel, The Colour of Magic (1983), the series has expanded, spawning several related books and maps, five short stories, cartoon and theatre adaptations and even music inspired by the series. The first live action screen adaptation for television (Hogfather) was broadcast over Christmas 2006. Another one for the cinema (The Wee Free Men) is currently in development.

Newly released Discworld books regularly top The Sunday Times bestsellers list, making Pratchett the UK's best-selling author in the 1990s. He has since been overtaken by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, but still holds the record for the most shoplifted books. Discworld novels have also won awards such as the Prometheus Award and the Carnegie Medal. In the BBC's Big Read, four Discworld books were in the top 100, and a total of fourteen in the top 200.

Character of the day

Discworld's Death is a parody of several other personifications of death. Like most Grim Reapers, he is a black-robed skeleton carrying a scythe and, for royalty, a sword (It's the rules, he once told Mort). Unlike many of them, he has a personality beyond this.

Death is one of the most popular Discworld characters and makes an appearance in every Discworld book except The Wee Free Men. His steed is a great pale horse called Binky who is very much still alive. His hollow, peculiar voice is represented in the books by unquoted small caps; it is peculiar because since he is a tall skeleton, he has no vocal cords to speak with, and thus, speaks through other means. In The Colour of Magic (the first Discworld novel), and in Faust Eric, all direct written references to Death are proper nouns, thus, for example, "he" is written as "He". This is usually reserved for the Discworld gods and is not featured in any of the other novels.

Death is not invisible. Most people just refuse to acknowledge him for who he is, unless he insists. Under normal circumstances, only those of a magical disposition (e.g. witches and wizards), children and cats can see him, or allow themselves to see him. Death can of course ignore things like walls or magic spells that stand between him and his object: this is because he's much "realer" than they are. A castle might stand for centuries, but Death has existed for billions of years: to him, the walls of the castle are less substantial than a cobweb. However, he can only go where people can die, as shown in Hogfather.

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Article of the day

Lancre (pronounced Lanker) is a fictional country from the Discworld series. It is situated in the Ramtop mountains, about 500 miles Hubwards of the city of Ankh-Morpork. It is the best-known of hundreds of tiny countries in the Ramtops, occupying a vertiginous shelf looking over the Sto Plains.

Lancre is based mainly on the North of England (as in Lanc(ashi)re, with strong resemblance to the windswept, hilly, northern regions (the only piece of flat, level ground in Lancre is in a museum). However, it is reminiscent of many rural areas in Britain and elsewhere. It also contains elements of the Swiss Alps and the Appalachian Mountains. Pratchett has described the tiny country as "solid folklore"; it is the place all the legends of our world's countryside really happened. Ankh-Morpork serves a similar function for urban folklore, but not as blatantly.

Part of the reason for this is that the Ramtops are a major earthing point for the Discworld's magical field. Headless horsemen and walking trees are part of the landscape, as are witches. Lancre is famous for witches, especially since the publication of The Joye of Snackes (an erotic cookbook) by "A Lancre Witch" (Nanny Ogg). Lancre is also the gateway into the "parasite universe" of the elves. The other thing Lancre is famous for is young people going off and seeking their fortunes (usually in Ankh-Morpork).

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Quotes

Did you know...
  • Assassination was meat and drink to the Hunghung court; in fact, meat and drink were often the means.
    -- Interesting Times
  • No one had asked her [Agnes Nitt], before she was born, whether she wanted a lovely personality or whether she'd prefer, say, a miserable personality but a body that could take size 9 in dresses. Instead, people would take pains to tell her that beauty was only skin-deep, as if a man ever fell for an attractive pair of kidneys.
    -- Maskerade
  • I am Death, not taxes. I turn up only once.
    -- Feet of Clay
  • She'd become a governess. It was one of the few jobs a known lady could do. And she'd taken to it well. She'd sworn that if she did indeed ever find herself dancing on rooftops with chimney sweeps she'd beat herself to death with her own umbrella.
    -- Hogfather
  • Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.
    -- Jingo

                             

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Book of the day

Mort is fourth Discworld novel, and also the name of its main character. Published in 1987, it is the first to focus on the Death of the Discworld, who only appeared as a side character in the previous novels. As a teenager, Mort's personality and temperament made him rather unsuited to the family farming business, resulting in his father taking him to a local hiring fair. Mort is hired by Death as an aprentice. The pressure of the job (and a crush on a princess who is due to die) forces Mort to make a few mistakes, but like all good heroes, he grows some spine, gains some self control, challenges Death to a duel and waltzes away with the girl in the end, but not the correct girl by normal fantasy standards.

Preceded by
None
1st Death Story
Published in 1987
Succeeded by
Reaper Man


Deity of the minute

Zephyrus: God of Slight Breezes

Did you know...

From the Discworld's craziest paragraphs:

Death

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People:

Terry PratchettStephen BriggsPaul KidbyJosh KirbyIan Stewart and Jack Cohen

Characters:

Tiffany AchingAlbert (Discworld)|AlbertAngua • The Auditors of RealityThe BursarCarrot IronfounderssonCohen the BarbarianFred ColonDeathDetritusCut-Me-Own-Throat DibblerGaspodeGranny WeatherwaxGreeboHexIgorBloody Stupid JohnsonLeonard of QuirmThe LibrarianLu-TzeThe LuggageMagpyr familyMort and YsabellNanny OggC.W. St J. NobbsMoist von LipwigMr PinMr TulipMustrum RidcullyThe Great God OmRincewindSusan Sto HelitPonder StibbonsGeneral TacticusTwoflowerVerence II of LancreHavelock VetinariSam VimesLady Sybil VimesThe WitchesDiscworld godsmore...

Locations:

Discworld (world)Ankh-MorporkAgatean EmpireDeath's DomainDjelibeybiDungeon DimensionsEphebeGenuaKlatchLancrePseudopolisQuirmSto LatÜberwaldUnseen Universitymore...

Concepts:

City WatchThieves' GuildAssassins' GuildBeggars' GuildFools' GuildClacksGuildsMagicPost OfficeStealth Chess

Novels:

The Colour of MagicThe Light FantasticEqual Rites Mort Sourcery Wyrd Sisters Pyramids Guards! Guards! Eric Moving Pictures Reaper Man Witches Abroad Small Gods Lords and Ladies Men at Arms Soul Music Interesting Times Maskerade Feet of Clay Hogfather Jingo The Last Continent Carpe Jugulum The Fifth Elephant The Truth Thief of Time The Last Hero The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents Night Watch The Wee Free Men Monstrous Regiment A Hat Full of Sky Going Postal Thud! Wintersmith Making Money Unseen Academicals I Shall Wear Midnight Raising Taxes

Short Stories:

Troll BridgeTheatre of Cruelty The Sea and Little Fishes Death and What Comes Next

Other books:

The Discworld CompanionThe Science of Discworld The Science of Discworld II: The Globe The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch The Pratchett Portfolio The Art of Discworld The Unseen University Challenge The Wyrdest Link The Streets of Ankh-Morpork The Discworld Mapp A Tourist Guide to Lancre Death's Domain Nanny Ogg's Cookbook The Discworld Almanak Where's My Cow? The Unseen University Cut Out Book The Discworld Diaries Once More* With Footnotes A Blink of the Screen

Games:

The Colour of MagicCripple Mr Onion Discworld Discworld 2 Discworld MUD Discworld Noir GURPS Discworld Stealth Chess Thud

Films and TV series:

Welcome to the DiscworldSoul Music Wyrd Sisters Hogfather The Colour of Magic Going Postal Troll Bridge

Categories: DiscworldNovelsCharactersGamesLocationsPeoplesShort storiesFilms and TV series

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