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The Folklore of Discworld: Legends, Myths, and Customs from the Discworld with Helpful Hints from Planet Earth [Paperback]

Terry Pratchett , Jacqueline Simpson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Mar 2014

Find out
- Why cheeses roll down hills
- The hazards of treacle mining
- What’s so uncanny about the humble hare
-The origins of orcs (which are not the same as goblins!)
- Why witches come in threes
Legends, myths, fairytales, superstitions. Our world is full of the stories we have told ourselves about where we came from and how we got there. It is the same on Discworld, except that beings such as vampires, trolls, golems, witches and, possibly, gods, which on Earth are creatures of the imagination, are real, alive, and in some cases kicking on the Disc.
The Folklore of Discworld, coauthored by Terry Pratchett and leading British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, is an invaluable reference for longtime Discworld fans and newcomers alike. An irreverent yet illuminating look at the living myths and folklore that are reflected, celebrated, and affectionately libeled in the uniquely imaginative universe of Discworld.

Product details

  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Rep Upd edition (25 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804169039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804169035
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,944,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. In all, he is the author of fifty bestselling books. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he is the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. Worldwide sales of his books now stand at 70 million, and they have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

Photography © David Bird

Product Description


One of the most interesting and critically underrated novelists we have...The Folklore of Discworld...emphasises his irreverence and drollery. -- The Times

Pratchett is, like Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker.
-- Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Pratchett is, like Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 103 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adds depth to the Discworld for fans 11 Sep 2008
I got an advanced copy of this book at the Discworld Convention and read it straight away. It is written in an entertaining style and explains how the books of the Discworld series have been influenced by the folklore of Earth - for example, why there are 3 witches and why wizards have a university.

The book is split into chapters covering different aspects of the Discworld, e.g. the animals of the Discworld, the country of Lancre. Unlike the "Science of the Discworld" books, there isn't also a story to follow, only the description of the use of folklore. Don't expect to find full annotations of every reference to folklore in each of the Discworld books - it is more an extended essay on the subject, with good examples from the novels chosen to illustrate interesting points.

For fans of the Discworld familiar with the novels, it can be an illuminating experience reading this book - there were certainly times where I said to myself "I never knew that!". However, it is unlikely to be of interest to people who are not familiar with the Discworld universe, and there are even a few small spoilers which may annoy fans who haven't yet read all of the books.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and was only slightly disappointed because there isn't really any new Discworld in it - however it supports the Discworld novels very well and did increase my enjoyment of them!
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Discworld enthusiast's necessity 4 Feb 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you've not read a Discworld book, then don't bother reading this one - you'll be mystified and bored. It is really only a reference book and the references will be meaningless to you.

However, if you have read several Discworld books, or, better, lots of them, then this is facinating since it ties together unexplained oddities and also shows some of the thinking behind the quirky ideas. Some of the strangest are based on the reality found here on the Roundworld.

Jacqueline Simpson has an excellent light and humorous style and I soon gave up wondering who wrote which bits, and just enjoyed the book.

I would have liked more of it, but then that is always true of good things.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nineteen versions?? 20 Oct 2008
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Folklore, ancient or modern, is one of the major foundation stones of the Discworld books. Human nature being another, one assumes. Discworld folklore is a trivia test among Discworld fans who will slyly ask one another [generally over a pint], if they can identify the origins of a certain figure or idea. With some slight discrepancies between UK and North American versions, such exchanges can become, well, spirited. "Elves or elfs?" is always good for starting an evening.

Pratchett and Simpson sort all this out - and much else besides - in this delightful work on matters folklorish. Typically, the prompt for the book was Pratchett chanting as he signed a previous release: "How many versions of the Magpie Song do you know?" A distinguished-looking lady gave the query a moment's thought and responded "about nineteen" Thus began the wonderful collaboration leading to FoD. It's typical also of the theme of the book. Discworld and Roundworld [Earth] are linked by the universal presence of narrativium, which Dimitri Mendeleev inexplicably omitted from the Periodic Table. Pratchett knows all about narrativium, carefully explaining how it drifts between universes, carrying ideas or stimulating new ones. Folklore on the Discworld compared to that of Earth may demonstrate strong similarities, or just vague likenesses that have been severely modified. The process is unhelpful, the authors note, in determining which world is the source of the story, which is sometimes a let-down.

The book's organisation is appropriate for what it must cover - it begins with the entire universe.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 12 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While I was never a fan of the Science of Discworld series, I picked this one up since it seemed to approach things from an interesting new angle. I'm certainly not disappointed - there is a whole gamut of folklore covered within, showing the links and relationships between Discworld and the Earth. It's very well written, and flows like fine honey!


There isn't an awful lot of 'meat' to a lot of the content. It's very much a case of 'Here's a thing from Discworld, and here's it's real world equivalent.', and then after a paragraph or so it moved on to the next thing. I would have liked it to be a bit more in-depth, but there is a bibliography provided at the end that helps flesh out the detail.

I wholeheartedly recommend it, though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Completing my collection 29 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a die-hard Pratchett fan and have bought all his books so I had to buy this, too. It's okay but there's nothing new so I'm just waiting for then next Discworld novel....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting & enjoyable book 21 Feb 2012
I have always been fascinated by folklore and legends, and as I am also a big Discworld fan I have been meaning to get this book for a while but never got around to it until now. The book is co-written by Sir Terry and folklorist Jacqueline Simpson who he met at a book signing event and I must say that it is very interesting and informative to read.

The book is nicely set out into short sections easy to read sections. Each section deals with a subject such as gods, fantastical sentient races such as trolls and dwarves, heroes and various miscellanies legends. The sections deal with how their subject is dealt with on the Discworld, as well as their Earthly counterparts. From what I can see, the book has been very well researched and includes many interesting facts, some of which I knew and some I didn't, from both the Discworld and Earth.

On the downside, the book can be a little dry in places and so people who are expecting to laugh out loud will probably be a little disappointed but in my view the book is never less than entertaining. Also the book is, understandably, mostly focused on the folklore of the British Isles and Europe, and I felt that there were a number of places where the book could be quite easily expanded to include some folklore from further afield.

Despite its minor faults, `The Folklore is Discworld' is a very entertaining book and one that I am sure any Discworld fan will find at least a little interesting and overall I will give it a full five stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
pratchett at his best , great .
Published 15 days ago by Mrs D Jopson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
gave as a present and they loved it
Published 16 days ago by rebecca.l.greenwood
4.0 out of 5 stars She liked it. Not my cup of tea
She liked it. Not my cup of tea.
Published 17 days ago by David Hearne
3.0 out of 5 stars Found it better when I just read the chapters with the Disc ...
Wasn't quite what I expected. Found it better when I just read the chapters with the Disc World characters in it. Have now read it twice so is a good story line.
Published 20 days ago by Mrs Diane Barber
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthly parallels to the Discworld
A beautiful wander through the earthly sources of the Discworld mythology. Ever wonder where some of the stranger creatures originally lived? This is for you...
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Requested present
Just perfect, as requested and I have had no complaints. as requested and I have had no complaints. Very good.
Published 6 months ago by Daniel Crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars Folklore nof Discworld
A great read and an insight into the origins of our world and Disk world beliefs, tales, folk lore and superstitions. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars My latest Pratchett
Amusing but basically a rehash of previous work. Reason for buying if T.P. wrote it I buy it.Was it worth it? No.
Published 11 months ago by wrinksys
5.0 out of 5 stars The Folklore of Discworld Legends
I have read the whole Discworld series (in order) three times, and this book collates the Folklore behind the characters and events very well.
Published 15 months ago by M. rs carol Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, informative and very readable.
Having read reviews of this before I bought it I was prepared to be disappointed, but in fact found myself completely absorbed and thoroughly entertained. Read more
Published 15 months ago by L Stewart
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