One of the purposes of satire has always been to show a mirror of our society. Through this mirror the author is able to poke at the flaws of society and the foibles of the mighty. This mirror shows a different view in the hands of each individual author. But when Sir Terry Pratchett looked through this mirror he saw a round, flat world that soared through space on the back of four elephants standing on a giant turtle. This is the Discworld.
The Discworld is a fantasy world, appearing as the standard swords and sorcery fare. But through this world of dwarves and trolls, of wizards and barbarians, Pratchett has addressed the thorny issues of racism and sexism, of religion and politics. Never scolding, never preaching, but always with a wry humor and with characters that belies a vast compassion for his fellow man. The Discworld books paint a rich tapestry filled with fascinating people and places, but above all these books are funny. These books will often make you think, but they will always make you laugh.
Pratchett is at his best describing the misfits of the world. There is the cowardly and inept wizard Rincewind, who runs away from everything but will still accidentally save the world. Or the hard bitten Watch Commander Samuel Vimes, whose idealistic pursuit of justice is frequently at odds with his cynical view of his fellow man. As well as Moist von Lipwig, a petty thief and con artist who is sentenced to be Postmaster General as punishment for his crimes. These characters serve as a vehicle for comedy, but also add depth and humanity to the stories of Discworld.
In October 2011 Sir Terry Pratchett will publish his 39th Discworld novel. He has sold over 65 million books in 37 different languages. On his website, Pratchett says this about Discworld: “It started out as a parody of all the fantasy that was around in the big boom of the early ’80s, then turned into a satire on just about everything, and even I don’t know what it is now.” With the praise of critics, and throngs of fans around the world, what it is now is nothing less than excellence in literature.