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The answers to those questions and more may be found in Terry Pratchett's hilariously funny and thoughtful Soul music.
Soul Music consists of two parallel plot lines which, because this is Discworld and not the earth, converge as they reach the story's horizons. First we meet Imp y Celyn, soon to be known to the world as Bud of the Holly or Buddy, as he travels the long and winding road from his home of Llamedos to Ankh-Morpork. Back hone, Imp's music always made his people smile and he knew if he had a chance he could make some people dance and maybe they'd be happy for a while. Unable to raise enough cash to join the musicians' guild, Buddy, after picking up a very odd guitar at a strange music store joins up with Glod the dwarf and Lias the troll and form a musical group. In short order the group has a gig at the Mended Drum.
In the meantime, DEATH is in the midst of his nineteenth nervous breakdown. As DEATH walks through his land of broken dreams, he seems unconcerned about what becomes of those who should now be departed. There will be disastrous consequences for the universe (see Reaper Man) if DEATH does not perform his obligations. The Death of Rats and his raven translator Quoth go desperately seeking Susan, DEATH's granddaughter. She is persuaded by Death of Rats to fill in until DEATH can be found and persuaded to return to work. Susan soon finds herself atop DEATH's horse Binky. She's eight miles high and when she touches down in Ankh-Morpork she enters the Mended Drum to meet her first assignment - - - Buddy. And then all heck breaks loose.
Buddy starts to play the guitar just like he's ringing a bell and the world seems to stop. It may be that only the good, like Buddy, die young but in this instance Susan says something DEATH would never say: "it isn't fair". Though no fault of her own, Buddy does not go up to that spirit in the sky, Buddy and his music live on. The obvious question becomes why is he still alive and to what purpose?
"Music with rocks in" it becomes the next big thing. Even the wizards at Unseen University fall prey to these musical magic moments, so different and so new. Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler soon makes an appearance and rapidly transforms himself from purveyor of sausages to greedy rapacious rock and roll impresario. Soon, every kid in Ankh-Morpork wants to be a music with rocks in star. They get electric guitars but don't learn how to play. They think with their hair swung right and their pants too tight it will be all right. Little do they know that in the crafty hands of CMOT Dibbler even musicians with talent will soon be in dire straights.
Meanwhile, Susan, Death of Rats and even Albert, DEATH's loyal man Friday, search Discworld for DEATH. DEATH has been seen sitting on the dock of the river in Ankh-Morpork, drinking whiskey and rye with the good ole boys at the Mended Drum, and standing guard at midnight at an oasis manned by the Klatchian Foreign Legion. His internal dialogue is priceless, funny, and thoughtful.
Events proceed rapidly as Dibbler prepares the band for a huge free concert in Ankh-Morpork. This will be Discworld's Woodstock. Will Susan's sense of justice prevail? Will Buddy survive even though the sands in his hour glass are long gone? Will the Librarian get money for nothing and his chimps for free? Will the wizards ride though mansions of glory in suicide machines? The answers to these questions aren't blowing in the wind but they are in the book.
As far as Terry Pratchett's Discworld books are concerned, Soul Music is near the top of the charts . . . with a bullet.
Elvish has left the building.
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on 7 June 2000
It had to happen some time. We'd already talked about movies (Moving Pictures) and gods (Small Gods), so it only could be matter of time before Pratchett dealt with that other passtime, music. And he does it very well too. But I thought this book didn't actually concentrate on music that much and spent more time dealing with Death's disappearance. The introduction of Susan, Death's grand-daughter, by adoption, is a brilliant idea, and having her take over the business is a genius touch. The bits which are about music are well written and funny, but it all draws itself to a rather disappointing end. Not one of his best, but still very good nonethless. (P.S., for all those who have read it, did you realise that Llamedos, where the lead singer comes from, is not a Welsh name, but sod-em-all written backwards?)
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on 29 December 2006
Soul Music is (along with Hogfather) my favourite Discworld novel. I first read it at the age of twelve, and finally, five years later, someone got it through their heads to get it for me for Christmas.

The book revolves around a young man called Imp y Celyn (who's name translates roughly to "bud of the holly"), who journeys to Anhk-Morpork in a bid to become the greatest musician in the world. In the city, he meets a troll named Lias (who is incapable of counting to four) and a dwarf named Glod Glodsson (who's only in it for the money), and together, they form The Band With Rocks In. Thier style of music, dubbed "Music With Rocks In", takes the Discworld by storm, causing it's inhabitants to become obsessed with songs such as "Don't Step On My New Blue Boots" and "Good Gracious Miss Polly". Even the wizards in the Unseen University have been tranformed by it, with the Dean painting his bedroom black and weaing a studded leather robe that says "BORN TO RUNE".

Many aspiring Music With Rocks In bands spring up in The Band With Rocks In's wake, such as "We're Certainly Dwarfs" and a band that changes it's name so much they just end up being known as "Ande Supporting Bandes".

Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler also appears, eager to exploit the new fad to make himself a quick fortune.

Only thing is, Music With Rocks In is alive. And it's the only thing stopping Imp from meeting an early death.

Meanwhile, Death has joined the Klatchian Foriegn Legion in a bid to forget, and it's fallen to his granddaughter, Susan Sto-Helit, to take on the Duty. And she's more interested in saving Imp from his "Live fast, die young" destiny, which causes a lot of trouble for Albert and the Death of Rats.

All in all, Soul Music is a hilarious book and one of the best in the Discworld series, with many puns on well known aspects of music.
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on 25 February 2005
This is the sixteenth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld - a flat world, supported on the backs of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle. Anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does.
In this book, Death (capital "D", he's the man, or rather the anthropomorphic personification) disappears, and his granddaughter (that's another story) is forced to pick up the family business. But, there's something very strange going on here. A young man who was supposed to die has been strangely saved by music, and the music now owns him. It has all happened before, somewhere else, but now it has come to the Discworld - sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In!
This is one of Terry Pratchett's masterpieces, and that is really saying something. I like all of the Discworld books, but several are special, like this one. This is a great book, laugh-out-loud funny with lots of great references to rock music and movies. Beyond that, though, the story is very entertaining, and will keep you sitting up at night turning pages (like it did to me).
This is one of the Discworld greats, a book that I highly recommend to all fans of great fantasy literature!
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on 8 November 2010
Another installment in the Death series. Death goes missing again, and its up to his grand-daughter to fill his shoes. For a human this becomes a difficult task, and much like in the novel Mort, things don't go as planned.

Not being a huge fan of music, some of the jokes were a little lost on me. Also I do think that its a difficult task to have a "musical" novel however I think that Pratchett pull this off well. Its not one of my favourite Discworld stories, but I do love Death and Susan in this, I think they are particularly strong characters, and they pull the story together. I also love the setting of Anhk Morpork, and its denizens, particularly the homeless beggars who are brilliant individuals. Overall a good read if you love Discworld and Pratchett, but in my personal view, not his best novel but definitely worth a read.

I also think, having seen the tv series, that it is a good adaption of the novel, and if like me, you struggle with the musical side of things, this is a brilliant series to add the musical element to a well-written novel.
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on 18 January 1999
This has to be one the Pratchett greats. I have read this book time and again and I still find a bit of humour I missed at each pass.
The storyline is based in Ankh-Morpork, the Diskworld's city that never sleeps. This time its unlikely that anyone will get any sleep as Music With Rocks In breaks through the thin walls of reality that encompass the fragile universe that Discworlders call home.
Imp y Cellyn, alias Buddy (of the Holly), wishes to be the most famous musician in the world. Unfortunately wishes like that can lead to trouble, as they most often do in the Discworld.
The story takes off as we are introduced to the key characters Susan, Death's granddaughter, and Buddy, leader of the Band With Rock's In. Susan has been pulled into the reality gap left by the absence of her anthropomorphically personified granddad Death as he has disappeared in search of forgetfulness?!? Unfortunately things don't go quite to plan for Susan. She is disillusioned by the fact that the good die young and the bad die old and prosper. She wants to make a few changes and nothing like the laws of the Universe are going to stop her!
When it comes to Buddy's turn to ascend from this mortal coil, Susan is bent on saving his life. Before she can act the Music saves Buddy's life instead. From now on all is a hectic whirlwind of swirling adventure and misadventure, hellbent towards achieving the magical climax of this not-to-be-missed literary escapade.
Possibly one of my most favorite books ever.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 November 2014
This is the 16th Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and features in a major role the character Death. I’ve always thought this character in the Discworld novels was very well portrayed; while he obviously is rather scary in his implications, he is a well thought through character who has a vital role to play (and not just in helping people over to the other side).

In this story Death has to deal with the deaths of his adopted daughter Ysabell and her husband Mort (who in an earlier story was apprentice to Death, and not a very good one at that). Their daughter Susan is an important figure in Death’s existence, but he has never found a way to satisfactorily show it. So he sets out to forget – but what does that mean for his ‘customers’? Meanwhile, a new kind of music is finding its way into the murk of Ankh-Morpork, as Imp y Celyn, a bard from Llamedos tries to break into the music scene with the aid of a troll percussionist and a dwarf hornblower. Plenty of mayhem abounds in this story, and I really enjoyed the involvement of the Wizards in the new music scene, as “Music with Rocks in” shakes, rattles and rolls the Wizards out of their humdrum routine, and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler sees a chance to make a few gold coins out of this new phenomenon.

Great stuff, and a really good Discworld novel.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 November 2014
This is the 16th Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and features in a major role the character Death. I’ve always thought this character in the Discworld novels was very well portrayed; while he obviously is rather scary in his implications, he is a well thought through character who has a vital role to play (and not just in helping people over to the other side).

In this story Death has to deal with the deaths of his adopted daughter Ysabell and her husband Mort (who in an earlier story was apprentice to Death, and not a very good one at that). Their daughter Susan is an important figure in Death’s existence, but he has never found a way to satisfactorily show it. So he sets out to forget – but what does that mean for his ‘customers’? Meanwhile, a new kind of music is finding its way into the murk of Ankh-Morpork, as Imp y Celyn, a bard from Llamedos tries to break into the music scene with the aid of a troll percussionist and a dwarf hornblower. Plenty of mayhem abounds in this story, and I really enjoyed the involvement of the Wizards in the new music scene, as “Music with Rocks in” shakes, rattles and rolls the Wizards out of their humdrum routine, and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler sees a chance to make a few gold coins out of this new phenomenon.

Great stuff, and a really good Discworld novel.
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on 17 July 2002
This is my favourite book. I thought that it was going to be really boring when I first saw the cover, because it had Death on a Motorbike! However, you can never judge a book by its cover as they say...The teaming of a dwarf and a troll in a rock band is inspired and some of Pratchett's best lines live here. If you like Pratchett you will love this.
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on 17 April 2016
Soul Music is about Death, but not about death – it’s about the anthropomorphic personification, the tall guy with the scythe, and not the thing that happens where people stop moving. And it’s also about rock music, or at least, it’s the Discworld’s equivalent – music with rocks in. And everyone knows that Death would be a killer bassist, right? He’s got long fingers!

I’m not going to dig into the story line, because it’s kind of complex and I think it’s better for you to discover it by actually reading the book. However, I can tell you that if you’re a lover of music then you’re going to love this, because there are all sorts of little references that are lying in wait for you to pick up on them. In fact, I personally found it to be one of the more relatable Pratchett books, even if I wouldn’t say it was my favourite.

The main problem with trying to pick out a Discworld book is that there’s just so much choice, because there are better books than Soul Music – really, though, it’s still very much worth reading, especially if you’re a musician or if Death is your favourite character. Pratchett’s in top form throughout the novel, and it was actually written and released during what I consider to be his strongest period – another good reason to read it!

The characterisation is excellent here as well, and so are the parallels with our own world – two of the musicians start calling themselves ‘Buddy‘ and ‘Cliff‘, for example. If you don’t recognise those references, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the book as much as you would if you love sixties rock ‘n’ roll, like I do.

So overall, I would definitely recommend Soul Music, and whilst you might also want to think about checking out some of the City Watch novels and some of Pratchett’s later work, it can’t hurt to start here, either. By now, you should have enough of an idea to make your mind up – if you do decide to read it, come back and let me know what you thought. Might re-read it myself, as it goes – we’ll have to see!
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