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The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld    by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Briggs order for
Wit & Wisdom of Discworld
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
Corgi, 2009 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld ('Favourite Quotations from the famous Discworld Universe, as filtered somewhat erratically through the mind of the Distinguished Scholar and Scribe Terry Pratchett, Esq.', compiled by Stephen Briggs) will be of most interest to the vast horde of rambunctious Discworld fans out there, there is much here that will also resonate with the casual reader - at least with one who has a good sense of the satirical.

In his Introduction, Through the Wardrobe into Discworld, Stephen Briggs reminds us that 'Terry writes fantasy - but his books are grounded firmly in reality. They contain heroes (not many), cowards, villains, bigots, crooks, the strong-willed and the weak-willed ... Terry uses his wit to sharpen his pen; the humour in the books can be dark, and it can be so corny you may groan out loud as you read him on the train.' The extracts - from the four million words or so that Terry Pratchett has published - that Briggs features in The Wit & Wisdom of Discworld 'are presented book by book, in the order in which they were published' from The Colour of Magic to (one of my personal favorites) Making Money. Each chapter is preceded by the cover blurb (mostly written by Pratchett) for that book, to create a context for the quotations.

Here are some of the shorter extracts that I especially appreciate ...
'He moved in a way that suggested he was attempting the world speed record for a nonchalant walk.'
'A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history.'
'If women were as good as men they'd be a lot better!'
'In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap, and much more difficult to find ...'
'Don't you talk to me about progress. Progress just means bad things happen faster.'
'This is space. It's sometimes called the final frontier. (Except that of course you can't have a final frontier, because there'd be nothing for it to be a frontier to, but as frontiers go, it's pretty penultimate ...)'

My own penultimate favorite is that 'Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.' Of course this one (from The Wee Free Men) is a close second: '"The thing about witchcraft," said Mistress Weatherwax, "is that it's not like school at all. First you get the test, and then afterwards you spend years findin' out how you passed it. It's a bit like life in that respect."' But stop browsing my picks; read the book and choose your own. Or better yet, re-read the entire series, starting with The Colour of Magic, as I plan to do.

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