SPOILERS Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

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=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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Eep. Long years ago, Sir Terry posted that he was convinced he had read a book titled "101 Things A Boy Can Do" but he couldn't find it anywhere. I just did a websearch and found a listing for this:
The Fix-It Book - by Arthur Symons - 1967 - Revised from his 1961 book "101 Things a Boy can do Around the House"
I don't know whether the original includes everything in the revised version, but the revised one includes plumbing. Plumbing is mentioned in Pyramids, and replacing a faucet washer is simple enough for a reasonably capable young person to do.
 

=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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Tonyblack said:
There's this one by Arthur Woolf from 1959. There was a whole series of "Boy's" books written by Alfred Powell Morgan.

Also see this article about "things a boy can do" books. :)
Yes (and those are fascinating, thanks!), but Sir Terry was very specific about the "101" in the title, and at the time, either less was online or search engines were less powerful, because it was not to be found with that exact title. I wish I could find a cover image of 101 Things A Boy Can Do Around the House to see whether the last bit is in smaller type, like a subtitle.
 

=Tamar

Lieutenant
May 20, 2012
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=Tamar said:
Sir Terry was very specific about the "101" in the title, and at the time, either less was online or search engines were less powerful, because it was not to be found with that exact title. I wish I could find a cover image of 101 Things A Boy Can Do Around the House to see whether the last bit is in smaller type, like a subtitle.
A commenter (RadioSilence) on MarkReads.net Discworld (Pyramids, part 15) has found a cover picture, and it does divide the title. The words 'Around the House' are inside the roofline of the house in the cover illustration, so the title at the top appears to be simply "101 Things A Boy Can Do'.
http://imgur.com/1RfJBgR
 

Mimpsey

Lance-Constable
Sep 24, 2015
14
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I am currently reading this one, and I am about 200 pages in...and while the characters aren't as engaging as the last novel, the change in location is a great deal of fun, and it allows one to see parts of the world heretofore not experienced. The location of Djelibeybi (how are we supposed to pronounce this? I am reading it as sounding like jelly baby...but I remain uncertain) while quite like ancient Egypt, is nonetheless a fully realized location in it's own right. The actual use of the pyramids in question, the use of ritual, the disturbing use of handmaidens...it is incredibly vivid and inventive.

And that is what is making this novel a great deal of fun to read...it is such an unusual look at humanity, what makes us tick, and what superstition, religion, science and mathematics has meant to our species (all ways of making sense of our universe)...along with the sheer inventiveness of much of it and the trademark wit (that seriously picks up after the first third of it...I am sure it is quantum). All of this makes up for the less than vivid characterization so heavily on display in the last novel.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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Perceptive review so far, Mimpsey.

Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.

The first time I read it I was in the latter camp. Having started with many of the latter books, I found Pyramids to be very shallow in character and heavy in slapstick and music hall shtick.. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact it probably has more references to distinctly British cultural phenomena than most other DW books, so if you're a Yank like me you don't catch a lot of them.

After giving it a re-read I developed a greater appreciation. The characterizations may not be Pterry's best, but in terms of pure "funniness" Pyramids is definitely near the top of the canon. It might be the most "Wodehousian" of the series in terms of the wittiness of the dialogue and exposition.
 

Mimpsey

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Sep 24, 2015
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Wodehousian! A great way to describe the overall vibe of this particular entry (at least thus far)! Being a lover of Wodehouse, I am quite appreciative of the wit and banter. In reading a bit further, I was practically in tears when the priests were throwing one another into the river to be devoured by crocodiles, and then quickly praising whichever god that happened to be the priest of...

I am delighting in Teppic's excursion into Ephebe and the satirization of Greek philosophy (Zeno's Paradox, etc.). Though it perhaps is a bit on the nose, the wit on display has certainly shown Terry to be in mid-season form!
 
We just finished reading Pyramids (aloud!) last night - it's one I have a soft spot for, having written a playscript adaptation over 10 years ago for it - but this most recent re-read reminded me what I liked. It's just *fun*. Yes, I'll agree Teppic, Ptraci and the supporting characters don't really have much depth (Dios is probably the deepest character in it), but the parodies of human nature (belief, ritual, etc) are insightful as well as funny, and there's a gag-a-minute feel here that later novels don't quite have. It's certainly not Terry's best book, the plot is thin, but it's certainly, in my opinion, one of the funniest.

The British references (esp. in the Assassins' Guild scenes) are easier for Australians to pick up than Americans, maybe, raisindot? I never had a problem getting them - especially after reading the Annotated Pratchett File after my first read through back in the 90s. Knowing where the references come from does help get the jokes, even if you missed them the first time round. The rest of the references are more to do with Egyptology and Ancient Greece (plus e.g. the Trojan war) which are broad enough subjects that don't make them at all specifically British.

One of my favourites, but mostly due to nostalgia.
 

Mimpsey

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Sep 24, 2015
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In reading this one, I have several times thought that this would make a good screenplay...the movie would be a blast. It isn't overly complicated and it reads like a visual extravaganza. Massive gods playing a game of football (or perhaps rugby) with the sun...pyramids discharging time in the form of energy...the jokes coming at blistering pace, the hero in black and a damsel in distress. Seems the perfect candidate, really.
 

Mimpsey

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Sep 24, 2015
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raisindot said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
 
Mimpsey said:
raisindot said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
Opinions differ.

Personally, I'd say the 'great' period started somewhere between Mort and Wyrd Sisters (either can be considered the first "great" novel) and it continued up to probably The Truth. The books in the middle of this period (Men At Arms, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Feet of Clay and a few others) seem to have a great balance between humour, plot and character - earlier books are thinner on plot and character, and later books have great character, deeper and darker plots and the humour becomes more situational and character-based, rather than gag-a-minute narration puns and references. The 'darkness' (and seriousness of plot) seems to start around Carpe Jugulum and The Fifth Elephant, but many consider Night Watch to be Terry's finest Discworld novel, and that has a very dark plot and doesn't go in for gags much at all.

Not to say there aren't books outside the central 'great' period that can be considered 'great'. Of course there are. It's all entirely up to your own opinion!

I like all of them, but I do have some favourites (for various reasons). I consider the first 3 to be weak in terms of their style, and I could definitely see Terry's change in style due to his Alzheimer's in Dodger (non-Discworld), Snuff and Raising Steam. But many of those in between I definitely consider 'great', but they may be great in different ways :)
 

DickSimnel

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Sep 3, 2015
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I think Mort is the pivotal book, though it's perhaps the book where the writing style began to change rather than was completed. In the earlier books Death is capricious, taking life on a whim. That Death is much more like the replacement Death of Reaper Man than the Death we all came to know and love and could never have entertained adopting Ysabell because he had no interest in the creatures he harvested. In Mort, Terry explores the concept of death and its anthropomorphic associations. Is it a killer or the ender of suffering? Terry makes him the releaser of souls and their conductor to the afterlife of their beliefs so a character to be anticipated but neither feared nor dreaded. After this, Terry is much more likely to flesh out a character, then stand back and watch it grow. Vimes starts as a deadbeat drunk who runs a watch that makes the Keystone Kops look efficient. I heard Terry say at one of the Clarecraft events that he had not seen Vimes as a lasting character but. as I've heard and read other authors say, some characters develop a life of their own and demand new stories. If Guards! Guards! had been one of his earliest books I doubt very much if The Duke of Ankh would ever have emerged or, if he had, he would be much thinner. Rincewind is a character that is a fan favourite but he never developed to anything like the same extent as some of the characters. He remained one of the few two-dimensional major characters in the books.

I have no doubt that Terry's writing suffered as his disease grew more intrusive but if we only blame changes in his writing style of his later works on that I believe that is too simplistic. IMO, as his style deepened it also darkened and that process was already happening before his troubles became obvious. The plotting was always good and that means his mind was still capable of thinking things through, Rob's said that it was the final polishing that suffered and perhaps it's that we can link to Alzheimer's Disease because I certainly don't think that the last few books are bad, only less good than those of a few years before.

Keith
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,851
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Boston, MA USA
Mimpsey said:
raisindot said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
Mimpsey, opinions on this will differ. I think most people mark Mort as the first book where Pterry moves away from pure tantasy parody and begins to stretch his narrative vision. Since you're reading in order I'll "spoiler hide" the book that I believe triggers his "masterpiece" era.

Small Gods

There are some great books along the way to this transition, along with a couple that are more of the "parady-type" books. But for me, from this particular book on, Pterry moves into his "truly" great period where the depth of characterization, themes, philosophy.For me, I would say that this period lasts through Thud in the original series, and through I Shall Wear Midnight in the Tiffany series.
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,851
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Boston, MA USA
raisindot said:
Mimpsey said:
raisindot said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
Mimpsey, opinions on this will differ. I think most people mark Mort as the first book where Pterry moves away from pure tantasy parody and begins to stretch his narrative vision. Since you're reading in order I'll "spoiler hide" the book that I believe triggers his "masterpiece" era.

Small Gods

There are some great books along the way to this transition, along with a couple that are more of the "parady-type" books. But for me, from this particular book on, Pterry moves into his "truly" great period where the depth of characterization, themes, and philosophy are really unmatched by just about anyone else working in this genre. For me, I would say that this period lasts through Thud in the original series, and through I Shall Wear Midnight in the Tiffany series.
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,851
2,250
Boston, MA USA
raisindot said:
Mimpsey said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
Mimpsey, opinions on this will differ. I think most people mark Mort as the first book where Pterry moves away from pure tantasy parody and begins to stretch his narrative vision. Since you're reading in order I'll "spoiler hide" the book that I believe triggers his "masterpiece" era.

Small Gods

There are some great books along the way to this transition, along with a couple that are more of the "parady-type" books. But for me, from this particular book on, Pterry moves into his "truly" great period where the depth of characterization, themes, and philosophy are really unmatched by just about anyone else working in this genre. Others will differ, but I would say that this "masterpiece" period lasts through Thud in the original DW series, and through I Shall Wear Midnight in the Tiffany series.[/quote][/quote]
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,851
2,250
Boston, MA USA
raisindot said:
raisindot said:
Mimpsey said:
Pyramids is probably one of the most "polarizing" DW novels. For some it's one of their favorites. For others, it's one of the worst of his "great period" works.
I am curious....What do readers consider to be Sir Terry's "great period"? What book kicks it off, and when does it supposedly end. I ask this in all sincerity, as I have just now discovered the novels and am reading them in order of publishing...more or less.
Mimpsey, opinions on this will differ. I think most people mark Mort as the first book where Pterry moves away from pure tantasy parody and begins to stretch his narrative vision. Since you're reading in order I'll "spoiler hide" the book that I believe triggers his "masterpiece" era.

Small Gods

There are some great books along the way to this transition, along with a couple that are more of the "parady-type" books. But for me, from this particular book on, Pterry moves into his "truly" great period where the depth of characterization, themes, and philosophy are really unmatched by just about anyone else working in this genre. Others will differ, but I would say that this "masterpiece" period lasts through Thud in the original DW series, and through I Shall Wear Midnight in the Tiffany series.
 

Mimpsey

Lance-Constable
Sep 24, 2015
14
1,250
Good information to have...it appears that I have a lot of great reading ahead! Because, I just finished this one...and I enjoyed it immensely. Sure, it wasn't much for characterization...it was basically the typical hero's tale, Joseph Campbell type adventure...at least structurally...but it was incredibly funny. Nearly the entire last section was straight Monty Python (which I don't mean as a slight...I love it!)

It also had deeper themes that really resonated with me....the inability to let go of the past, the burdens of superstition and literalizing a metaphor, life was made for living and while you certainly should appreciate your heritage...you don't need to be defined by it...and the list goes on.

I loved the references and allusions that abound...one that made me see the story in a different light...was that of the Oedipus...the facing off with the Sphinx...and how going back home and facing your father both literally and figuratively (Dios) was a definite theme as well. Fathers have to die...or you never come into your own...so to speak. Just great stuff.

One last thing of note...I have noticed a trend over the last few novels, and I hope it is something that continues going forward...is the lack of a character that can simplistically be defined as evil for the antagonist. Dios would fill that role...but he isn't evil...perhaps simply misguided...definitely hung-up...but not evil...not simplistically so. I really admire that...the ability to imagine other people complexly...even those you disagree with...is something that reading fiction can definitely teach one.
 

Mimpsey

Lance-Constable
Sep 24, 2015
14
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DickSimnel said:
I think Mort is the pivotal book, though it's perhaps the book where the writing style began to change rather than was completed. In the earlier books Death is capricious, taking life on a whim. That Death is much more like the replacement Death of Reaper Man than the Death we all came to know and love and could never have entertained adopting Ysabell because he had no interest in the creatures he harvested. In Mort, Terry explores the concept of death and its anthropomorphic associations. Is it a killer or the ender of suffering? Terry makes him the releaser of souls and their conductor to the afterlife of their beliefs so a character to be anticipated but neither feared nor dreaded. After this, Terry is much more likely to flesh out a character, then stand back and watch it grow. Vimes starts as a deadbeat drunk who runs a watch that makes the Keystone Kops look efficient. I heard Terry say at one of the Clarecraft events that he had not seen Vimes as a lasting character but. as I've heard and read other authors say, some characters develop a life of their own and demand new stories. If Guards! Guards! had been one of his earliest books I doubt very much if The Duke of Ankh would ever have emerged or, if he had, he would be much thinner. Rincewind is a character that is a fan favourite but he never developed to anything like the same extent as some of the characters. He remained one of the few two-dimensional major characters in the books.

I have no doubt that Terry's writing suffered as his disease grew more intrusive but if we only blame changes in his writing style of his later works on that I believe that is too simplistic. IMO, as his style deepened it also darkened and that process was already happening before his troubles became obvious. The plotting was always good and that means his mind was still capable of thinking things through, Rob's said that it was the final polishing that suffered and perhaps it's that we can link to Alzheimer's Disease because I certainly don't think that the last few books are bad, only less good than those of a few years before.

Keith
Yeah...Death certainly doesn't read the same in the first two books of the series (is it apt to refer to them as a series?) as he does in his own fleshed out novel...I had read something about some fan theory that perhaps that wasn't the Death we come to know...but some stand-in? I haven't read enough to know who might be referenced, and I am sure it is merely fans attempting to retcon what is merely a process of growth and change in the author.

I will be starting Guards! Guards! soon, and am eagerly anticipating my introduction to Sam Vines...as he is apparently on many DW reader's list of favorite characters in the novels. If it is as good as this one...then I am in for a treat!
 

DickSimnel

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Sep 3, 2015
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Mimpsey said:
Yeah...Death certainly doesn't read the same in the first two books of the series (is it apt to refer to them as a series?) as he does in his own fleshed out novel...I had read something about some fan theory that perhaps that wasn't the Death we come to know...but some stand-in? I haven't read enough to know who might be referenced, and I am sure it is merely fans attempting to retcon what is merely a process of growth and change in the author.
You could argue that but I would say that's making the facts fit your perception, with the added benefit of hindsight. Everything about the first few books is different. The humour and satire lack subtlety and are set inside loosely-linked parodies of well-known SF and fantasy authors, such as Anne McCaffrey and H P Lovecraft. The later books have a shift towards situational comedy, where the humour emerges from the actions and interactions of the characters which have, as I've said, been broadened and deepened. The stories are a coherent whole, not ad hoc vehicles for slapstick.

I will be starting Guards! Guards! soon, and am eagerly anticipating my introduction to Sam Vines...as he is apparently on many DW reader's list of favorite characters in the novels. If it is as good as this one...then I am in for a treat!
I think Terry's lack of writing experience in this new style shows up in the polishing. Had this been even later in the sequence I think Vimes would have been developed to the same degree throughout but he isn't. Instead, he grows with the story so I think we get a glimpse into the way Terry shaped a new character as he developed a book from the outline to a novel. By the time we see Vimes in Night Watch he's a vastly different man to the Vimes of Guards! Guards! but there's still much to enjoy about his first incarnation.

Keith
 

Mimpsey

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Sep 24, 2015
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I guess Sam's development as a character would make sense...don't you think? Of course, terry is growing as a writer and he is developing his voice and perspectives...but we expect that from characters as well. Didn't you earlier note that Rincewind (whom I also am quite fond of as a character) was rather two dimensional, and was never really all that fleshed out (or was that someone else)? In any regard, "Night Watch" is book 29 in the series( how that translates into temporal distance traveled I have no idea); and I guess you could make a perfectly reasonable "in-universe" explanation for Sam's continued development....which only matters if you care about those sorts of things. :geek:
 

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