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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 17 October 2010
I'm an anthropologist and a huge Discworld fan. With this book I can be both at the same time. The Folklore is laid out and analyzed in brilliant detail.
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on 16 February 2010
truly fantastic, its a woven magic of fancy and real folklore. dont be fooled its not a story its a collection of facts and pratchett's imagination
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on 11 September 2015
I've always had an interest in folklore, that's partly why I chose to write my short story The Lambton Worm which is based on a tale from old English folklore but with some modern twists.

My biggest recommendation for this book is to other authors. It's interesting, and exposes the origins of many of the strange myths and other aspects of English folklore. There's not much of a plot, there isn't one - but it isn't about that. Having finished this for a second time, I'm inclined to keep my copy on my writing table and refer to it for inspiration from time to time.

It's worth noting that this book is co-authored by a Jacqueline Simpson. If memory serves she's the one who is the expert on our folklore and Terry spends more time writing about Discworld folklore and it's origins.

He actually explains where he met Simpson - at a book signing. She'd effectively saved the day, when he'd spent the morning asking people to recite the Magpie rhyme and every person had recited the one from the 1960's TV show. She claimed to know 19! But then as a member of the British folklore society you can't blame her. She'd be a useful person to know for anyone writing anything fantasy related.

I think the early story in the book, in Terry's introduction really sums the flavor of the book up well. It's a story about the Dunmow Flitch - a ceremony that took place on Whit Monday I think, in the village of Great Dunmow Essex. Basically if a dude walked into the village on the right day and swore that he hadn't argued with his wife or wished he'd been a bachelor again in the last year he could claim a rasher of bacon.

It's a bit daft I know, it stinks of the same sort of mindset that came up with the Eaton wall game, Morris dancing and Cheese Rolling. It's British eccentricity. The book DOES also explore the origins of other, non-British elements of folklore but there's something about British folklore that seems worth celebrating.

I personally get the impression from this book that the late Sir Terry Pratchett at least, was an atheist, or at the very least a skeptical agnostic. His section on gods gives no real reverence to these fictional characters, instead it hints at the flaws and the humanity of human-invented gods. This is true too! If you look at any holy book or religious doctrine, the gods they portray to me at least, seem far too full of human flaws to actually be gods or even god-like. Vanity, Wrath are probably the most prominent god-like qualities in human gods, and when Sir Terry wrote his own gods he amplified these traits as a means satirical parody.

When he talks about Om in particular, the god of 'Small Gods' worshiped by Brutha and Vorbis, you get get a real feel for his criticism of organized religion, if anything you could argue that Om's story in Small Gods is a call for more spirituality, and less doctrine. I suppose we all want to believe in something, but faith and spirituality should perhaps be a personal thing, not the organized, pay-per-prayer entity it seems to have turned into.

I'm a little saddened that I read an old version of this. I know the latest imprint includes 'Raising Steam' and I've yet to even read that novel! It's on my TBR pile!

Some of the origins and analysis of mythology and folklore is quiet surprising too. I think it's interesting that we can put our modern view of elves down mainly to Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' and since then that view has largely prevailed. In old English folklore elves were evil, malicious and malevolent.

If you're writing your own piece of fantasy fiction, I'd say thumb through this, leave a few page marks. It's the sort of book that you should read once and refer to often. When you're trying to adapt and draw inspiration from real-world folklore this might be a great source of inspiration.

In my own novels, I borrowed elements of various cultures for my gods, Orion, Ishar and Avanti. There are parallels within the religions of Torea and our religions. I suspect part of my decision making at least in setting this up was from reading this book and from reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels!

To sum up. A great read if you're interested in folklore but can't be bothered to study it properly. A great read if you're a writer and you want some inspiration for adapting real world aspects to your fiction world, but if you just like a Discworld Novel for what it is - I'd probably give this a miss. If you just want to kick back and read a story this book isn't for you, you'd probably consider it a 1 or 2 star. If you get what the book is about and that is what you're after then it's a definite 5 star!

Martyn Stanley
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on 23 May 2013
I have read the whole Discworld series (in order) three times, and this book collates the Folklore behind the characters and events very well.
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on 10 September 2013
Amusing but basically a rehash of previous work. Reason for buying if T.P. wrote it I buy it.Was it worth it? No.
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on 4 December 2012
"I really enjoyed this book but I hate the way Amazon reduces its UK taxes. There is wonderful writing here but we all need to shout loud until Amazon pays its fair share. I really enjoyed this author's earlier books and if you did, why don't you log in and leave 10 more reviews like this today. Tell Amazon to sign that cheque or forever lose my respect and the respect, no doubt, of this very fine author."
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on 26 October 2014
As an 88yr old fan I have always enjoyed his books I like his humour
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on 3 September 2010
I bought this book for my son who loves everything Terry Pratchett has ever written. The book arrived in good order and in good time as always. I made a mess of question 2. Had I kept my wits about me, I would have rated it on star 5.
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on 19 September 2010
Fascinating and entertaininly written, though not as much new information as I had hoped and, naturally given the content, ends up reading like a catalogue. Intersting to discover which Discworld characters I had mis-interpreted!
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on 9 August 2014
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.
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