Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

About the series: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett is the fortieth book in the Discworld series (yes, four-zero-eth) and the third installment in a mini-series that describes a period of industrial revolution on the Discworld. 
For those of you who don’t know, Discworld is a long series of books set on a strange planet swimming through space, comprising a giant turtle carrying on its back four elephants who balance on their heads a magical disc. Discworld inhabited by characters at once like and wholly different from those who people our Earth. It is a humorous retelling of life with a few basic rules changed. The Discworld series has over fifty books, with miniseries dedicated to certain characters.
The Industrial Revolution series of the Discworld stars a scoundrel and thief named Moist von Lipwig who ends up at the centre of many new developments in technology. In the first book, Going Postal, Discworld gets a Post Office. The second book Making Money is all about the first mint and introduction of money to the Disc. Raising Steam, the third and unfortunately, the last in the series is about the invention of…. the steam engine. 

My thoughts: A long time ago, I had listened to a short clip of an interview by Terry Pratchett where he talks about his fascination with the Victorian delight in technology. Here is a link to the video. ”Once upon a time, people wrote poems about technology and communications… I wanted to get the feel of the world where the technology was so new and light and wonderful, that people really cared about it,” says Pratchett. 

Raising Steam is all about the spirit of invention, the curiosity and unending effort that drive innovation, its maddening, sometimes silly allure. It is also about the rejection faced by those at the head of change. The modernity embraced by the story and its characters, however, is not restricted to invention, and in a charming way, Raising Steam is also a modern claim on equality between the sexes, between castes and between species. If all this were not enough, it is a heady mixture of wise and sidesplittingly funny. 
When the first engine is built by a young self-made engineer Dick Simnel, it is initially eyed with suspicion. Soon however, it finds its happy audience in Ankh Morpork, a city of entrepreneurs. The engineer wins over investors and lawyers. And it is then that the Patrician of Ankh Morpork assigns the job of ensuring the railway brings profits beyond measure to his city to none other than Moist von Lipwig, reformed crook, fairly decent guy and now Head of the Post Office and Royal Bank.
It is the age of reform in every sense. Non-human species like trolls, goblins and vampires are increasingly letting go of their old binding traditions to become members of Ankh Morporkian society. But not everyone is quite so flexible. Trouble is brewing in the court of the Low King of dwarves. The Low King is modern for his position. But certain dwarf clans stand stubbornly in the way of change, ready to hunt down any of their own who yearn for it. The new railway becomes the perfect target for these anti-progress forces and it is up to Moist von Lipwig to guard the railway against the attack of the dwarves. Meanwhile, the Low King has a special secret to guard…
Select quotes: ”Sometimes, Mister Lipwig, the young you that you lost many years ago comes back and taps you on the shoulder and says, ‘This is the moment when civilization does not matter, when rules no longer hold sway. You have given the world all you can give and now it’s the time just for you, the chance to go for broke in the last hurrah. Hurrah!”
“The train is the future; bringing people close together. Think about it. People run to see the train go past. Why? Because it’s heading to the future or coming from the past. Personally, I very much want the future and I want to see to it that dwarves are part of that future, if it’s not too late.”
“Moist knew about the zeitgeist, he tasted it in the wind, and sometimes it allowed him to play with it. He understood it, and now it hinted at speed, escape, something wonderfully new, the very bones of the land awakening, and suddenly it seemed to cry out for motion, new horizons, faraway places, anywhere that is not here! No doubt about it, the railway was going to turn coal into gold.”
Afterthought: This is a strange, in fact bizarre… ridiculous, comparison to draw but the topic of Raising Steam kept making me think back to nearly twelve years ago, when I had read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which was similar only in its supreme thrust on the industrial revolution through the construction of the railway. And I once again found myself realising how over-the-top, self-indulgent, threadbare the book had been (even apart from the whole matter of its philosophy), doubling with laughter at how I went through a phase where that felt like good writing. Today, I find, simplicity is the best and hardest to achieve. 

Why You Must Read the Death miniseries from Discworld by Terry Pratchett

This post is part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge. I reread the books. That counts!
What do you do when your favourite author dies? When you’re done crying, if ever, you read. You read their books. The ones you’ve read before and any you may not have. You devour every word, like it’s their last, because it’s their last. And then you spread the word. Nothing I write will suffice to express my immense admiration for Sir Terry Pratchett. I am relatively new to the Discworld series, but I love it and I do believe it is the greatest and most self-aware fantasy writing out there. All I can do is try to explain just why and hope that my gushing recommendation makes you finally add the books to your shelf, or revisit them. I couldn’t possibly cover everything I have to say about a forty book series in one post, so I will start with five of my favourite books within it, and my favourite character.

Every time I find someone raving about the character of Death from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, I kind of want to roll my eyes at them and tell them about Death of the Discworld. He looks much like our Grim Reaper, clad in a black robe and carrying a scythe. He talks in CAPS with a voice which you hear directly in your head and which sounds like two concrete blocks rubbing together. Death of the Discworld rides a horse named Binky, rather preferring it to the usual fiery steed that keeps setting his robe on fire and lives in an endless all-black dimension called Death’s Domain in a black Victorian-looking house with a black garden.

Death has the most interesting story arc. Death, you must understand, is not cruel, only good at his job – he does no killing, we do it. Life ends, he is simply in charge of ‘what comes after.’ As an immortal outside observer, Death is fascinated by humans, puzzled by their stupidity and their intense grit in spite of it. Often out of concern for their well-being, or sometimes simply curiosity, Death attempts to imitate humans, without really understanding them. Needless to say, this leads to to all sorts of disasters which make the five-part miniseries centred on Death. Pratchett spins marvellous stories around ridiculous what if-scenarios.

In Mort, Death takes on a human apprentice, in Reaper Man Death gets fired for having developed too much of a personality and ends up working on a farm instead. Soul Music introduces us to Death’s granddaughter, a most amusing girl, who reappears in later books; also, Death rides a motorbike. In Hogfather, when Discworld’s Santa Claus goes missing, a curious and worried Death takes his place, to make one incredibly innovative story. In Thief of Time, Time has been kidnapped and Death recruits his granddaughter to rescue it. 

Through the course of five brilliant books, you watch Death learn ever more about humans and grow to sympathise with them. People often talk about Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in the same breath, I have likely done this too, but all they have in common is they both ingeniously churn humour out of genre fiction. Adams fuels his stories with one-liners and quips of such outrage, that it doesn’t matter when he leaves the plot unattended to spiral off in mindless directions – in fact, if anything, it only reinforces the self-fulfilling farce, that nothing goes according to plan, that plans don’t matter. Whereas, Terry Pratchett clearly cares about the craft of his stories as much as the message he sends through them. And this is because he does not write simply a zany story of a universe, or a planet, even one as extraordinary as the Discworld – which is a turte swimming through space with four elephants on its back who carry a magical disc-shaped world on their backs. Pratchett’s books are about the many endearing oddballs living on the strange planet. Discworld is about people and making a difference; it is not Adams’s clever exercise in futility. You can see this in the attention and respect Pratchett gives his version of Death. Discworld arises out of passion, not cynicism. It is satire, biting social critique, but with an unmistakable undercurrent of hope. This is its greatest achievement.
I wanted to make this a clear three-reasons sort of post, but when it comes to the Discworld series, I can’t help but ramble on. Anyway, here, as succinctly as I can put them, are three reasons you must read the Death miniseries of the Discworld. Terry Pratchett was a man who redefined death, in more ways than you could imagine, which makes Mort as good a place as any to start reading the Discworld series.
1. Death will make you laugh.


2. Death will make you think.

“You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”



“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point-


3. Death will never get old (or, you know, irrelevant.) 

Well, of course not. DEATH IS WHOEVER DOES DEATH’S JOB. 
Did I mention Death likes cats? Seriously, read the books. Any Discworld fans here (hopeful voice) who agree? If you loved Terry Pratchett, and haven’t already read this article, you should – There is no Past Tense of Terry Pratchett by Scott Lynch.

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

“If enough people believe, you can be god of anything…”

I loved this book. So did the cat, as you can see, who turned it first into a pillow and then a bedtime toy. Small Gods is one of the bests of the Discworld series. You can read it as a standalone (in fact, you can do that with most of the forty books.) If you do like the Discworld series, but haven’t read this, do yourself a favour and don’t wait any longer. If you haven’t read it, you should start with this book, and perhaps a bit of an introduction.

The Discworld, written by British author Terry Pratchett, is a series of comic fantasy novels. The series is set on the Discworld – a flat disc, balanced on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the back of a ginormous turtle called the Great A’Tuin who swims through space.
The story begins in the Church of the Great God Om. The Cenobiarch of Omnia, a vulture of a man named Vorbis is busy extinguishing heretical ideas that keep springing up. “The Turtle moves.” The rumour has spread deep and wide, and it goes against the very truth that the Church holds. The rumour is that the world is flat. Ring a bell? The Omnians know the world is a perfect sphere and Vorbis is ready to go to any lengths to remove every shred of heresy from his people’s minds, even if it means removing the people, especially if it means that. 
Meanwhile, in the gardens of the Citadel of Om, Brutha, a novice finds himself in the company of a talking tortoise, who claims to be the Great God Om, caught in a difficult situation. Om tells the simple fat boy about his failed attempt to manifest in the world in the form a bull and his current state, stuck as a tortoise. Slowly, through Om, Brutha learns to see gods for what they truly are and religion for what it has become. 
Vorbis, who happens to come across Brutha is impressed by his eidetic memory and unquestioning outlook and chooses Brutha to accompany him on a diplomatic mission to Ephebe, a place where they have many gods and hence, many heretics. Brutha considers himself generally unintelligent and unimportant. But he is the only person in the world who believes in Om. So he is the only person who can hear the talking tortoise. Brutha is the Chosen one. You see, in this world, as I suppose in any other, gods need belief to exist. As people lose faith, their gods become lowlier, until they cease to exist. In Omnia, people no longer believe in Om, they believe in the Church and the clergy. And so, the once Great God Om, terrified by his sudden mortality, is desperate and clingy and convinces Brutha to take him along. As story progresses, it’s time for gods to start believing in people.
The book is at once eccentric and insightful. Pratchett takes his writing very seriously. What makes it brilliant is that he does it with a laugh. For every vehement supporter of the ‘learning through fun’ mantra, Pratchett is a must-read. Religion has to be one of the most parodied themes. Hey, it’s probably ‘cool’ to make fun of religion. But this book doesn’t poke fun at religious people. Small Gods doesn’t take sides and so, every reader has something to learn from it. Of course, that requires reading with an open mind, laughing at the jokes, because they are worth a chuckle; if you take offense, it’s your loss.

Philosophizing apart, the book is also engaging. Om is adorable as the poor little indignant tortoise who hates his fate, Brutha is a protagonist created to be loved and it’s fun to be inside his mind. Deacon Vorbis is frighteningly true to life. Every character you meet leaves an impression. And even though the plot basically runs on witty dialogue, it does have a beginning, a middle and fabulous fireworks-ey end. You know, when it comes to Discworld, I always feel my mind bubbling with things to say and when I sit down to write, no words seem enough. So, before my review takes on a defensive tone, I’ll take the easy way out, and let Pratchett’s writing speak for itself.

(on wanting gods to perform miracles)
“Humans! They lived in a world where the grass continued to
be green and the sun rose every day and flowers regularly turned into fruit,
and what impressed them? Weeping statues. And wine made out of water! A mere
quantum-mechanistic tunnel effect, that’d happen anyway if you were prepared to
wait zillions of years. As if the turning of sunlight into wine, by means of
vines and grapes and time and enzymes, wasn’t a thousand times more impressive
and happened all the time…”
(on Disc politics)
“The Ephebians believed that every man should have the vote
(provided that he wasn’t poor, foreign, nor disqualified by reason of being
mad, frivolous, or a woman). Every five years someone was elected to be Tyrant,
provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible, and
trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to
everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view
of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five
years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing
how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.”
(on philosophers, the world being flat and the nature of Truth)
“But is all this true?” said Brutha.

Didactylos shrugged. “Could be. Could be. We are here
and it is now. The way I see it is, after that, everything tends towards

“You mean you don’t KNOW it’s true?” said Brutha.

“I THINK it might be,” said Didactylos. “I
could be wrong. Not being certain is what being a philosopher is all about.”

His mind was on fire. These people made all these books
about things, and they weren’t sure. But he’d been sure, and Brother Nhumrod
had been sure, and Deacon Vorbis had a sureness you could bend horseshoes
around. Sureness was a rock.

Now he knew why, when Vorbis spoke about Ephebe, his face
was gray with hatred and his voice was tense as a wire. If there was no truth,
what was there left? And these bumbling old men spent their time kicking away
the pillars of the world, and they’d nothing to replace them with but
uncertainty. And they were proud of this?

So, I read this as part of the Once Upon a Time VIII challenge, Quest the First (or the Third, if I join in for the June readalong.) I don’t have to classify this into a category, but it does fall into fantasy, and maybe a little mythology. 
Have you read the Discworld series? If you have, which is your favourite book and character? – I don’t know many Discworld fans in real life and don’t get to discuss this often enough! For that matter, any other humourous fantasy recommendations? What have you been reading for the Once Upon a Time challenge?

A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett

I was so thrilled when I saw this at the library. As if it were not enough that it was a book by Terry Pratchett,  it had an introduction by A. S. Byatt. I got it immediately and spent the next couple of weeks reading the many pleasing stories in it. I have to admit though, the introduction was a bit disappointing.

I am a firm believer in the fact that very few authors can write good short stories, ones with a plot (unlike those of Byatt, which are nice but pretty vague.) The first story delighted me, because Pratchett had written it at the age of thirteen. While it was nothing like what he’s written now, it was entertaining finding that voice in him that is so familiar. Most of the stories were based on various prompts, which he has elaborated on at the beginning of each story.
One of my favourites was The Sea and Little Fishes, starring Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. A coalition of witches, led by self-appointed organiser
Lettice Earwig, asks Granny Weatherwax not to participate in the annual Lancre
Witch Trials, on account of her always winning. She agrees, becoming
disconcertingly nice. The sudden change in Granny’s usual stern unforgiving attitude hilariously terrified people. What follows goes on to show that you don’t have to be nice to be good. The story gets its title from an ancient Discworldian phrase: “The big sea does not care which way the little fishes swim.”

Death and What Comes Next was another favourite. It is the story of a conversation between Death and a dying philosopher. It’s short and not wanting to give anything away, I’ll just link you to it. Turntables of the Night was another story with Death; but a more Good Omens Death than the Discworld Death we all know and love.

Read it, if you are a Terry Pratchett fan! However, don’t let this be your introduction to the author. While awesome, this is certainly not Pratchett’s best work. I’d recommend starting with a Discworld novel and you have almost forty to choose from.

The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson

I’ve been on too long a break. This has been lying in my drafts, sad and unfinished for a while now. It is only fair to post it on my favourite author’s sixty-fifth birthday. Do I have to say it? Discworld is awesome and even if it seems impossible, this book is just as awesome. I am a big fan of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Quidditch Through the Ages and I didn’t think companion books could get any better. And then this came along in the mail. A little bit of Discworld was already spilling out from the middle of its delicious red cover. I couldn’t wait to dive straight into it.

The Folklore of Discworld: Its Legends, Magic and Customs
with Helpful Hints from Planet Earth has just what its title promises. Discworld, for those of you who haven’t read it (morons.) is a land somewhere in space – a turtle swimming idly through space carries on its back four elephants and on their heads rests the Disc; a world, which is quite like ours, but with magic. Accompanying the over thirty novels set in this world are a few other books, like the Science of Discworld and this book.

The Folklore of Discworld isn’t a non-fiction, quite unlike it, actually. It tells us about the uncanny similarities between the Earth’s legends and those of the Disc. About myths on the Earth that are actually real on the Disc and naturally, the other way around. You learn about the vampires, witches (and wizards, who are very different, of course) and zombies, the Luggage and the Feegles, the gods and Death. Our world and the Discworld do seem to have a lot in common and some of the reasons the author hypothesizes for this are: the constant drifting of particles of knowledge or through cosmic space, or the simple consideration that some or all of these creatures existed in all the worlds at some time or the other, and are now extinct. Read this book if you’ve read any books of the Discworld series, the fewer the better because a lot that is already in the books is repeated. But that doesn’t really matter as it is all very interesting and alo quite informative. For instance, I never knew that a story right out of Hindu mythology played with the idea of four elephants standing at the four ends of the world, holding it up, or something to that effect.

Pratchett’s writing is, as always, cheerful and witty. Good Omens told me that a collaboration isn’t really a bad thing and that Pratchett could really pull it off. The Folklore of Discworld doesn’t show any obvious there-are-two-authors-ey clumsiness, either. It is the kind of book that you can just open up to any page and start reading and before you know it, you’re buried nose-deep inside it.

As it has the word “folklore” in it’s title and everything, this book should qualify as my next read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge. And because I found this book extra nice, I have quoted an entire two pages – the story of how Ankh-Morpork, only the most horribly great city on the Disc, came to be. Read and laugh.

“Any self-respecting city has to have a legend about
its foundation. Ankh-Morpork, as is right and proper for the oldest city on the
Disc, has two.

The first is the official one. According to this, there were once two orphaned
brothers, mere babies, who had been left on the shores of the Ankh to die.
There they were found by a she-hippopotamus, who suckled them. When they grew
up, they decided to build themselves a home, and so founded what must at the
time have been a very small city indeed. In memory of this, the shield on the
coat of arms of Ankh-Morpork has as its supports deux Hippopatames Royales
Baillant, un enchaine, un couronne au cou. Which, stripped of its aristocratic
herald-speak, means two royal hippos yawning, one wearing a chain and the other
with a crown round its neck. The conventions of heraldry do not permit the sex
of the beasts to be clearly indicated, but in view of the tale we can safely
state that at least one of them is female. The legend is also commemorated by
eight hippo statues on the city’s Brass Bridge, facing out to sea. It is said
that if danger ever threatens the city they will run away.

Some people have expressed doubts over this ancient and uplifting tradition.
Why and how, they ask, would a she-hippo suckle human babies? And how could
they thrive on this eccentric diet? Did they but know it, these doubters could
find a tale on Earth proving that such thing are perfectly possible. It tells
of twins, Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of Mars the God of War and a
human princess. Their evil great-uncle, having just usurped his brother’s
throne, seized the boys and threw them into the Tiber, for fear they might grow
up to challenge him.* But the river washed them safely to the bank, where a
she-wolf fed them with her milk until a kindly shepherd found them. Later they
built the city of Rome. Considering what wolves normally eat, this tale is even
more wondrous than that of the hippo, but the Romans had no difficulty in
believing it. And, naturally, making a statue about it.

The second legend is not told quite so often by the citizens
of Ankh-Morpork, but is surprisingly widespread in other towns. It is said that
way back in the fogs of time there was once a great flood sent by the gods, and
that a group of wise men survived by building a huge boat into which they
crammed two of every type of animal then existing on the Disc. After a few
weeks the combined manure was beginning to weigh the boat low in the water, so
– the story runs – they tipped it over the side and called the heap
Ankh-Morpork. Anybody who doubts the truth of this should go and stand on one
of the bridges over the Ankh, preferably on a warm day, and breathe deep.

* Tyrants insist on doing this, despite the fact that it
never works.”


Dodger by Terry Pratchett and Dickens by Peter Ackroyd – Dickens in December

Dickens in December (hosted by Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia), considering how busy I have been this month, most regrettably turned into Dickens in the last week of December. Dickens, however, did also turn into quite an obsession. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I adored The Old Curiosity Shop, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. I am certain the year 2013 will see me read a lot more of Dickens, as much as I can fit into a year! This is the last day of the event and I don’t suppose I’d finish reading either of these two books tonight, so here’s what I think so far:

I’m about halfway through the book, which is saying something since I started reading it about an hour ago. This book by one of my favourite writers stars the Artful Dodger (right out of Oliver Twist) and Charles Dickens himself! The idea of an author meeting one of his own characters is charming and Pratchett has done justice to both. The book is written in a very quintessentially Terry Pratchett style and has at the same time a wonderfully Dickensian vibe about it – I mean, really, what’s not to like?

This massive biography of Dickens by Peter Ackroyd, began interestingly enough, with his death in 1870. The biographer describes in haunting detail the scene of his death and what a stir it caused in the world. Even the prologue talks about his writing style, his social commentary and his influence on the readers as well as his role in the literary history of the world. The author then begins the biography right from his birth, making it a point to mention every little detail. You don’t just read a book about Dickens, you witness his life.
It would probably be the end of February by the time I finish this book but I will definitely finish it. I have heard about Peter Ackroyd being a masterful biographer and this book, whatever I have read of it, justifies the praise.

Dickens in December has been a great event, a perfect ending, really, to the year. If it were to take place next year, I would certainly make it a point to participate!

Good Omens – Book Review

It is time for yet another book review! The book in question is Good Omens (The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

The world is going to end soon; next Saturday, to be precise, right after tea! Anathema Device is a witch. Newton Pulsifer is a witch hunter. They team up to stop the Apocalypse that the seventeenth century prophetess, Agnes Nutter has predicted in her Nice and Accurate Prophecies (where nice means precise). And they aren’t the only ones.

Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel, are representatives of Good and Evil stationed on the earth. As the End-of-Times is nearing, they seem to be in a bit of a mess. Not only have the managed to develop a liking for the earth, but they have also lost the one who is supposed to bring about the Armageddon – the Antichrist (who is an entirely different 11 year old boy from the one they thought was the actual son of Satan!)

While a whole lot of people, including the Four Horsemen (Bikers) of the Apocalypse are out to track the Antichrist, somewhere an 11 year old boy is naively using powers he doesn’t know he possesses to change the world according to his will.

Before you know it, you are transported into a zany, faced-paced, indescribably awesome world, full of characters so surreal; they might as well walk right out of the book. Who knew the Apocalypse would be so funny!

Aziraphale stared out at the rushing hedgerows.
“It all seems so peaceful,” he said. “How do you think it will happen?”
“Well, thermonuclear extinction has always been very popular. Although I must say the big boys are being quite polite to each other at the moment.” said Crowley.
“Asteroid strike?” said Aziraphale. “Quite the fashion these days, I understand. Strike into the Indian Ocean, great big cloud of dust and vapor, goodbye all higher life forms.”
“Wow,” said Crowley.
“Doesn’t bear thinking about it, does it,” said Aziraphale gloomily.
“All the higher life forms scythed away, just like that.”
“Nothing but dust and fundamentalists.”
“That was nasty.”
“Sorry. Couldn’t resist it.”

The book is ‘ineffable’. That’s what it is.

A long overdue book recommendation

It’s almost the end of the year, and I’m desperately looking forward to the next year! So I haven’t been doing much lately; other than waiting around for time to fly by, of course! And reading Discworld – every second that I am at home.

It’s a comic fantasy series by Terry Pratchett and I have been reading it for the past couple of months. There are 39 books in the series, 6 short stories and a couple of more books about the Discworld; so you really can’t blame me for taking a lot of time. Actually, I’m still in the teen-ages of the series!

It’s about a flat disc-shaped world, that rests on the heads of four huge elephants, that are standing on top of an enormous turtle named the Great A’Tuin, that is slowly swimming through space! Don’t imagine a “Horton Hears a Who” kind of world, it’s an enormous planet, the Disc! Possibly the Creator of the universe got bored with all the usual business of axial inclination and rotational velocities, and decided to have a bit of fun for once. It’s quite different from the worlds made by creators having less imagination and more mechanical aptitude!

The Discworld series is a mind blowing read for an fantasy fiction fan! It’s also one of the few books that can actually make you laugh out loud! I’m not writing a review of the books, because there are too many new ideas to understand and explain; and because I have read too little of the series as of now! But I want to recommend the books, to anyone looking for an interesting and fun read! So I decided, instead, to write(type) down one of my favourite introductory paragraphs from one of the books:

I would like it to be understood that this book is not wacky. Only dumb redheads in fifties’ sitcoms are wacky.
No, it’s not zany, either.
This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesn’t pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.
However, it’s primarily the story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive…

I hope someone does take my advice and reads these books; because it will be only the best thing that’s ever happened to them! Also, I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year, in advance! I created my little blog in 2010 and honestly, I’m totally looking forward to having a “2011” section on it as well!