The New Discworld Companion Paperback – 27 Mar 2003
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Terry Pratchett's enormously successful comic fantasies need no introduction, but the Discworld saga is so wide-ranging as to require its own encyclopaedia: The New Discworld Companion, latest revision of the original 1994 Discworld Companion.
Once again the alphabetical round-up of Discworld's people, places, creatures, organisations, books, food and miscellanea is (to hi-tech Pratchett's alleged disgust) based on Stephen Briggs's much-thumbed, uncomputerised card index. It draws its material not only from the first 30 Discworld novels and novellas--from The Colour of Magic to The Wee Free Men--but from associated maps, guides, diaries, cookbooks, short stories and two volumes of The Science of Discworld.
This torrent of information about a world that doesn't even exist (though often seeming suspiciously more real than our own) is carefully channelled. Minor entries on walk-on characters from the early novels have been ruthlessly crossed out to make room for Discworld facts and fancies that are either more important or--preferably--offer better scope for jokes. The Companion is consistently, unashamedly entertaining. From a geopolitical entry on a small but frighteningly important country:
Lancre operates on a feudal system--everyone feuds all the time and hands on the fight to their descendants. The chips on some shoulders have been handed down for generations. Some have antique value. A bloody good grudge, Lancre reckons, is like a fine old wine; you look after it carefully and leave it to your children.
It would probably be madness to read the New Companion from cover to cover, but it's endlessly browsable and offers something amusing on every page. From Abbot via Bugarup University, Orang-Utan/Human Dictionary ("Ook"), Place Where the Sun Does Not Shine, and Vestigial Virgins to "Zweiblumen, Jack", all Discworld life is here. In a closing interview Pratchett lets slip the title of the Autumn 2003 novel, Monstrous Regiment. All in all, it's a must for the hardened fan. --David Langford
The All-New Revised Essential Companion to all things DiscworldSee all Product description
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Ever since the Enlightenment and Diderot's compendium of the natural world, encyclopaedias have remained a buttress to learning. Some of us had the "EB" as children almost as a matter of course. All these references were collections of facts - about nature, people, literature - almost anything you might name. Rarely is an encyclopaedia a collection of one man's imaginative musings. And there are few writers around with the imagination, wit and prose style of Terry Pratchett. If you can catalogue a man's thoughts, it's been done with this "Discworld Companion".
In the earlier part of his career, Pratchett declared he didn't strive for consistency or much order in his writings. Characters, events and places on the Discworld could vary in personality, happen and be forgotten, or be seen and lost. The same place wasn't always in the same place twice. With so many books, so large a fan base and a deluge of questions, some level of order was demanded. Although there is a web page devoted to sources for the origins of Pratchettean allusions, there has never been a catalogue of persons, places and events. Hence this book.
The Companion is a rich trove of entries, many enhanced by Briggs' delightful illustrations. Anyone can read it. The long-term fan will find explanations for things encountered. The novice cruising through here will likely respond: "She did what?" and nip over to buy the referenced book. Major Discworld figures are fleshed out by background material not found in the stories. Characters with fleeting exposure in the books, are explained more fully here. Places are described in detail and placed in historical context. One can almost see Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist, clutching this book as he gazes in wonder at the Place of Lamentations in Kom, major city of Klatch. He will leave soon for the Orohai Peninsula in quest of a sponge lunch. Don't believe me? You could look it up. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]