One of my favorite Discworld quotes is “Alone, in the gray shadows, Death tapdanced.” The thought of Death hanging out just offstage and dancing always put an amusing image in my head. Well, with the passing of Terry Pratchett, Death now has a new dance partner.
Terry Pratchett will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only was his Discworld series a brilliant combination of humor and fantasy (my favorite kind of book), but it also helped me connect more with my mom.
My mom was always trying to get me into reading. After many, many failures she finally struck gold with Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Later I came across Robert Asprin’s Myth series and she starting reading them, too. She thought it was similar enough to one of her favorite series that I might like it. And so one day when I was a teenager she got a box down out of the attic and introduced me to the wonderful world of Discworld. She told me about all of her favorite characters and stories and I couldn’t wait to dive in.
The character I was most looking forward to was The Luggage. The way my mom described it was perfect to get me a hooked. A chest with seemingly limitless storage space and hundreds of little feet that follows its owner around? I want one! But not only can you easily take your things with you wherever you go, The Luggage also acts as a guard dog. Many a thief lost a hand or disappeared into its depths because they tried to pick its lock or attempted to harm its owner.
The witches! Magrat (the maiden), the new age hippie type who always did the grunt work because she was the youngest. She was later replaced by Agnes Nitt who had an amazing voice that I envied and something of a split personality. Nanny Ogg (the mother), the fun loving matriarch who was so proud of her large family and could always be counted on for a bawdy song. And Granny Weatherwax (the other one), possibly the strongest living witch on the Disc. She was a stern old woman who didn’t put up with nonsense.
Death and his obsession with humans! He loves humans and tries his best to understand the human world. He even modeled his home after houses he visited, complete with an umbrella stand by the front door where he keeps his scythe. His great steed, Binky. No, really. That’s the name of Death’s horse. His granddaughter, Susan, who becomes a main character in her own right and makes an excellent governess.
And the plots! A kingdom where the people are forced to act as though they live in a "happily ever after" fairy tale. A retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. Elves, and not the good kind, trying to return to our world. Death's retirement and its repercussions. Creatures from other dimensions trying to force their way in. A family of vampires who have educated themselves beyond their inherent weaknesses who try to take over a kingdom. Death stepping in to fill the role of the Disc’s version of Santa. So many good stories!
I would read these books and then talk about them with my mom. We’d share our favorite moments, discuss who we wanted to see come back in a future book, and lament not having our own Luggage. We’d also complain if there weren’t enough footnotes for our liking or if we thought a book was short on humor. We’d eagerly anticipate the new books and call each other to see if the other had read it yet so we could talk about it. So yeah, my mom and I became closer thanks to Terry Pratchett. We’ll miss him and any new additions to his amazing Discworld series that might have been, but I’m sure Death is showing him a good time.