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The Folklore of Discworld Paperback – 8 Oct 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi (8 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552154938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552154932
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"One of the most interesting and critically underrated novelists we have... The Folklore of Discworld - co-authored with the eminent folklorist Jacqueline Simpson - 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... funny, exciting, lighthearted and, like all the best comedy, very serious" (Guardian)

"Simpson provides depth to the real-world analogues of the Discworold characters, and the text becomes a neatly integrated discussion of folklore, belief systems and the like in both worlds... well written and will raise a smile... a fine Hogswatch present." (Fortean Times)

Review

Pratchett is, like Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, not just a great writer but also an original thinker.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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By R. F. Stevens HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You shouldn’t need me to tell you too much about what this book is about, because the clue is in the title – it’s essentially your hands on guide to the lore and legends that make up the Discworld’s equivalent of our folk and fairy tales.

Because of that, you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate the book unless you’ve read a good chunk of Pratchett’s Discworld series – that said, there are plenty of thorough explanations of our own mythology as well, and so you’d still get a decent amount from it. It might even make you want to check out some of the Discworld books!

Simply put, Terry and Jacqueline segment some of the traditions of the Discworld into different categories, and then they systematically explain both the fictional tradition and its real-life equivalents – some of them are obvious, like the Hogfather being similar to Santa Claus, while others are tenuous links at best which still serve to show how much research Pratchett has done in to the field over the years.

Sure, it’s occasionally heavy-going, and it takes quite a long time to read, but it’s not as difficult as plenty of other books on the market – it’s a bit like how watching Q.i. takes up more of your brainpower than watching Deal Or No Deal does. Thing is, if you’re in to this sort of fantasy stuff, then you’re going to love it regardless, and you’ll find that it’s well worth the time investment that it takes if you plan to read the book from cover to cover.

To give you an idea of what to expect, the book is split in to sixteen different sections, covering everything from the different races (dwarfs, elves, the Nac Mag Feegle, trolls and others) to beasties, witches, heroes, lore, legends and, of course, Death.
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