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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 17 April 2016
First and foremost we're introduced to Susan, Deaths granddaughter and a new favourite in my books. Hard as balls and soft as cotton, she's a greatly written character.
Whilst the story is quite fun and portrays a lot of our own musical history especially of the decades of the 70's 80's and early 90's, it jumps around quite a bit and I found it difficult to get involved in so many perspectives.
Again, a social commentary from Sir Terry but not the best
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on 18 October 2015
I'm not going to review the novel - it's been done many times before and enjoyed by millions. The latest edition of the hardback makes a smart display set - the paper's not that great but then who reads books these days - with everything available on tablet.... I may even sell off my first editions and just keep these
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on 26 June 2016
Saw the animation film on TV years ago. One to add to my Discworld collection. Will not fail to satisfy when I get around to read (on Raising Steam atm), bound to be better than film, looking forward to it.
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on 15 July 2014
Watch out! You will probably miss some finely-tuned references to early rock'n'roll. I did, on first reading. It's about Death, and how he gets a bit introspective about his job, and how his daughter Susan and Binky, the white steed of Death, are dragooned into filling the post while he goes off to join the Foreign Legion (and begging on the streets, among other pursuits).
With a few homages to Spinal Tap, and loads of respect to Buddy Holly, Pratchett conflates the early years of Rock and Soul into a novel which describes (with much hilarity) what might happen if rock'n'roll hit a universe that wasn't quite ready for it. Had me walkin' down the road, snappin' my fingers and a-tappin' my feet.
(By the bye, 'The Surreptitious Fabric', I finally worked out, was a reference to Velvet Undergroud). One of my favourite Patchetts.
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on 24 February 2015
Our favorite Discworld novel.
The reasons are obscure but have to do with Jim Steiman, Psychomania and spending too long in the Pop business.
Bought this for a friend who had only flirted with F&SF.
She is now hooked and her husband is tasked with getting her all the rest of the Discworld cannon for her birthday, so beware.
This World is catching.
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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 18 December 2013
This is an excellent Terry Pratchett Discworld novel. It is witty, lively, funny but also very deep, clever and thought provoking. This is definitely a good read.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels are marvellous. Just give the first two a miss (The colour of Magic and The light fantastic) as they are wobbly, and whatever you do don't read the last one (Raising steam) ; Raising Steam (clearly not written by TP!) is appallingly poor and would put you off the author, which would be a shame as his books are masterpieces!
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