This afternoon it was announced that Sir Terry Pratchett, author of over 70 books and the creator of Discworld, passed away at the age of 66. Literature has lost a great, but he’ll live on through his work.
When I was 10 years old my stepdad bought me the book The Wee Free Men. It had a beautiful front cover, and was heavy in my hands. I felt like it was my first proper, grown up book. My stepdad explained to me that it was by Terry Pratchett, one of his favourite authors, and the book spelt like a special bond between my stepdad and myself.
I finished reading The Wee Free Men in two days, taking the book to bed and secretly reading it with my flash light. The story was about a girl who wasn’t girly, who beat a monster equipped with only a frying pan and who wanted to understand more of the world. I completely related to her.
There was humour but there was intelligence. For the little me, Terry Pratchett opened up the world of bigger ideas. His books made me ask questions, and then ask questions on why I was asking those questions. It ignited curiosity and a wide-eyed, magical wonder.
Next I ploughed through the Truckers collection, and from there I moved onto Going Postal. I didn’t read the Discworld novels in publication order, or any real order actually, but that didn’t stop me enjoying it, or understanding it.
Discworld was to me, a place, a real place, that would always be there. I could open a book and me transported to the streets of Ankh–Morpork. There the characters I knew and loved would still be caring on with their lives, and the great turtle A’Tuin would still be swimming through the vastness of the universe. It was my home away from home. I spent my childhood moving around a lot, and the characters of the Discworld books were the friends I took along with me.
But it wasn’t simply the fun stories, the colourful characters and the humorous dialog that made me love Terry Pratchett’s writing. Terry Pratchett was able to explain complex theories, on politics, religion and economy in way that was easy to understand. I learnt through his books that everything in the world is not built from stones and bricks, but from people.
A single person. A bunch of people. A whole village, town, city, country, empire of people. Everything is a consequence of choices, that those choices are a freedom, that freedom is not opening our eyes, but opening them again, and opening your mind.
So finally it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to a great man, who thought big but was able to explain in small. A man who created characters that my stepdad introduced to me, characters who travelled with me and taught me, characters who I one day I hope to introduce my own children to.
“Nothing’s louder than the end of a song that’s always been there.” – The Wee Free Men