It is rare and splendid event when an author is elevated from the underground into the international literary establishment. In the case of England's best-known and best-loved modern satirist, that event has been long overdue.
Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent Discworld novels satirize and celebrate every aspect of life, modern and ancient, sacred and profane. Consistent number-one bestsellers in England, they have garnered him a secure position in the pantheon of humor along with Mark Twain, Douglas Adams, Matt Groening, and Jonathan Swift.
Even so distinguished an author as A. S. Byatt has sung his praises, calling Pratchett's intricate and delightful fictional Discworld "more complicated and satisfying than Oz."
His latest satiric triumph, Carpe Jugulum, involves an exclusive royal snafu that leads to comic mayhem. In a fit of enlightenment democracy and ebullient goodwill, King Verence invites Uberwald's undead, the Magpyrs, into Lancre to celebrate the birth of his daughter. But once ensconced within the castle, these wine-drinking, garlic-eating, sun-loving modern vampires have no intention of leaving. Ever.
Only an uneasy alliance between a nervous young priest and the argumentative local witches can save the country from being taken over by people with a cultivated bloodlust and bad taste in silk waistcoats. For them, there's only one way to fight.
Go for the throat, or as the vampyres themselves say...
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Carpe Jugulum is the 23rd Discworld novel, and with it this durable series continues its juggernaut procession onward. Pratchett is an author who inspires such devotions that his fans will fall on the novel with cries of joy. Nonfans, perhaps, will want to know what all the fuss is about; and that's something difficult to put into a few words. The best thing to do for those completely new to Pratchett is to sample him for themselves, and this novel is as good a place to start as any. But fans have a more precise question. They know that Discworld novels come in one of two varieties: the quite good and the brilliant. So, for instance, where Hogfather and Maskerade were quite good, Feet of Clay and Jingo were brilliant. While true fans wouldn't want to do without the former, they absolutely live for the latter. And with Carpe Jugulum, Pratchett has hit the jackpot again. This novel is one of the brilliant ones.
The plot is a version of an earlier Discworld novel, Lords and Ladies, with the predatory elves of that novel being replaced here by suave and deadly vampires, and the tiny kingdom of Lancre being defended by its witches. But plot is the least of Pratchett's appeal, and Carpe Jugulum is loaded with marvelous characters (not least the witches themselves, about whom we learn a deal more), comic touches and scenes of genius, and even some of the renowned down-to-earth Pratchett wisdom (about the inner ethical conflicts we all face and the wrongness of treating people as things). Pratchett's vampires are elegant Bela Lugosi types, and they come up against an unlikely but engaging alliance of witches; blue-skinned pixies like Rob Roy Smurfs; a doubting priest with a boil on his face; and a magical house-size Phoenix in a seamless, completely absorbing, and feel-good-about-the-universe mixture. Highly recommended. --Adam Roberts, Amazon.co.ukAbout the Author:
Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE, was the author of more than 70 books, including the internationally bestselling Discworld series of novels. His books have been adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal. In January 2009, Pratchett was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry, who lived in England, died in March 2015 at the age of 66.
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