Terry Pratchett – Soul Music

Yes, it’s time for the next book in the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. Actually, it’s somewhat past time, as I’m starting to develop a backlog, so I’d better get right on with it.

Soul Music could be considered a sequel to Mort and Reaper Man, or a follow-up to Moving Pictures, if you look at it from the right angle. Or you could just settle back and enjoy it.

The story involves a young bard from Llamedos, which you can think of as Wales with the knobs turned up to 13 – perpetually wet and full of bards. It may have been influenced by Dylan Thomas’s Llareggub, and knowing Terry, probably was. Imp y Celyn, whose name roughly translates as “bud of the holly”[1], gravitates to Ankh Morpork, buys a slightly strange guitar in One of Those Shops, and the next thing you know there’s an outbreak of Music With Rocks In.

As with the little matter of the Moving Pictures, this involves a nice line in leakage, what with being on a mission from Glod, and some cringe-inducing gags

“Right,” said Buddy, “but if you went out there now and asked who the most famous horn player is, would they remember some felonious monk or would they shout for Glod Glodsson?”

and some useful etymology, where a footnote[2] explains where the word wizard comes from

From the Old wys-ars, lit: one who, at bottom, is very smart

Talking of the wizards, they get a bit involved in the whole mess, which I’m afraid leads to Archchancellor Ridcully saying

“Let’s go home. I’m not sure I’m that interested in music any more. It’s a world of hertz.

But weaving through all this is the story of Susan, who is Death’s granddaughter. Errr, well, if you recall Mort, where Death’s adopted daughter settled down with his apprentice, well, they had a daughter, who by the usual way of things on the Disc, has inherited some attributes from her grandfather. Which is useful, because Death has one of his periodic bouts of having an existential crisis, and wanders off, leaving Susan to do the job. Which leads to problems with Imp y Celyn (or “Buddy” as he’s become known.

And talking of Buddy, there’s a running gag through the book of people thinking he looks elvish. So it shouldn’t be any surprise where he ends up working after all the chaos is over. And for the benefit of anyone who doesn’t get it:


[1] Obviously, nobody with a name like that is going to make it in the music business
[2] Many of Terry’s best gags are in the footnotes.

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