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

The Streets of Ankh-Morpork was the first of the Discworld Mapp series, and features an atlas of the city of Ankh-Morpork, the rich, powerful, and sprawling city in the Discworld series.

The map was devised by Stephen Briggs, who compiled references from the Discworld novels, and revised it many times with test readers' help. Terry Pratchett also checked the many revisions of the map, and was very surprised at how well the city fitted together. In the accompanying booklet he said that he thought Ankh-Morpork was unmappable, as he'd made it up as he went along, but that he then realised that real cities are also made up as people go along. Pratchett later revised his above opinion, saying that a fantasy world should not be mapped until it has become established in the creator's mind. He had expected a map to restrict future ideas, but found instead that it inspired them.

The final, artwork-grade map was drawn by Stephen Player, who also drew the artwork for a later publication, The Discworld Mapp. The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, an aerial-view map of the city of Ankh-Morpork, looks vaguely like a brown and green cut onion with a river bisecting it. An enclosed booklet includes Pratchett's and Briggs's words on how they devised this map, and a 6-page map legend listing the many famous and picturesque establishments in Ankh-Morpork.

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Quotes

Did you know...
  • It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done.
    -- Equal Rites
  • He saw his life stretching out in front of him like a nasty black tunnel with no light at the end of it.
    ...He'd been wrong, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a flamethrower.
    -- Mort
  • The Hashishim, who derived their name from the vast quantities of hashish they consumed, were unique among vicious killers in being both deadly and, at the same time, inclined to giggle, groove to interesting patterns of light and shade on their terrible knife blades and, in extreme cases, fall over.
    -- Sourcery
  • Greebo's grin gradually faded, until there was nothing left but the cat. This was nearly as spooky as the other way round.
    -- Wyrd Sisters
  • All assassins had a full-length mirror in their rooms, because it would be a terrible insult to anyone to kill them when you were badly dressed.
    -- Pyramids

                             

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Book of the day

Carpe Jugulum is the twenty-third Discworld novel, published in 1995. The novel pastiches the traditions of vampire literature, playing with the mythic archetypes and featuring a tongue-in-cheek reversal of 'vampyre' subculture with young vampires who wear bright clothes, drink wine, and stay up until noon. The title is a play on the Latin phrase carpe diem ('seize [literally, "pluck"] the day') and the author considers it to mean 'Go for the throat'.

Count Magpyr and family are invited to the naming of Magrat and King Verence's daughter, to be conducted by the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats. The Magpyr family have made themselves much more formidable enemies by building up tolerance to the normal methods used to defeat vampires, such as garlic, bright light, and religious symbols. They exert a hypnotic charm over normal people which prevents them from realising that the vampires are taking over Lancre. Only the youngest witch, Agnes, and the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats, seem able to resist this charm, due to their dual personalities. The Magpyr son, Vlad, is attracted to Agnes because she is able to resist him.

Preceded by
Maskerade
6th Witches Story
Published in 1998
Succeeded by
The Sea and Little Fishes
Discworld reading order Full article

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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