Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Maskerade

Synopsis from Amazon:

THE SHOW MUST GO ON, AS MURDER, MUSIC AND MAYHEM RUN RIOT IN THE NIGHT…

The Opera House, Ankh-Morpork…a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a hideously-deformed evening dress…

At least, he hopes so. But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience. And she doesn’t hold with that sort of thing.

So there’s going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evening’s entertainment with murders you can really hum…)

This is book 18 in the Discworld Series, and one of my favourites. This is Terry Pratchett’s take on The Phantom of the Opera. Now I love that musical, and this book just added to my love. I will definitely watch it in a completely different light now.

This is a Witches novel, and sees Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg travelling to Ankh-Morpork to see an opera. Yet there are strange goings-on in the opera house. There are a series of murders and money disappearing out the window. It seems that there is an Opera Ghost, who likes to leave notes that just say: “Ha ha, ha ha, ha ha!!!!!” The fear is rife in the opera, but the show must go on. So Granny sets herself up to investigate, while the show goes on, and unmasks the Opera Ghost.

This is classic Pratchett. I love the Witches novels. Both Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax are hilarious. This is a very funny take on The Phantom of the Opera – mainly mocking the idea that a small mask that only covers the eyes would hide someones identity. Death features in this book as well, and he is probably my favourite character. Pretty much all he says is funny, and I enjoyed his game of poker with Granny.

Pratchett yet again transported me to Ankh-Morpork and incorporated some of the funniest characters in this adventure. Of course it is unrealistic, but it is an amazing fantasy novel. I have no complaints and as ever, I am eager for the next Pratchett book. This is a great series, full of adventure, humour and amazing characters. I highly recommend this novel. It is very, very good.

10/10

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Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

interesting times

Synopsis from Amazon:

Mighty battles! Revolution! Death! War! (and his sons terror and panic, and daughter Clancy). The oldest and most inscrutable empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes. Warlords are struggling for power. War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the ancient cities. And all that stands in the way of terrible doom for everyone is: Rincewind the Wizard, who can’t even spell the word ‘wizard’…Cohen the barbarian hero, five foot tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime’s experience of not dying…and a very special butterfly.

This is book 17 in the Discworld series, and as enjoyable as the rest. In this novel we are taken on an adventure with the not-so-great wizard Rincewind. Known to get himself into trouble, he finds himself a pawn in the god’s game. Sent by the wizards at Unseen University Rincewind ends up in an unknown kingdom were they were planning a very civilised revolution. He is believed to be The Great Wizard, and again, through running away he gives off this impression. Working alongside Cohen the Barbarian – not that either realise it – they embark on an adventure to take over the Empire and see which god is going to win their game.

I love this series. I have really enjoyed all of them, and this one is no exception. Rincewind novels make me laugh because he finds himself in the oddest situations and yet still comes out looking like a hero. I particularly enjoyed the return of Two Flower and Cohen the Barbarian. The Barbarian Horde were probably my favourite characters because they were all in their 90s or older and yet won many battles and still sniggered at sexual innuendoes. Their whole mentality and them trying to become ‘civilised’ was great reading.

I enjoyed the storyline of this book too. Emperors dying, the Red Army rising out of the ground, and a polite revolution – it was good fun. As ever, Pratchett leads headlong into the Discworld and his writing is so good he makes it seem real. He is witty, writes a good adventure and well worth reading.

As with his other novels, there is not a lot I can complain about – this is just a really good story that I enjoyed immensely. The Discworld books are high on my list of recommendations.

9/10

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Synopsis from Amazon:

When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year 802,701 AD, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realises that this beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture – now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity – the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels, if he is ever to return to his own era.

In Victorian London, a man known only as The Time Traveller has beaten the odds and made a time machine. He transports himself to the year 802,701 to find out what the world will be like in the future. He discovers two races, the fearful Eloi and the scary Morlocks. It seems the latter, who hide in the darkness of the underground tunnels have taken his time machine. The Time Traveller has to go on quite an adventure to relocate his ticket home.

This was a quick book, and fairly enjoyable, however, Wells makes quite a dire prediction of the future. He writes that humans will split into two races: one will be childish and the other evil. I did not relate to the characters well, yet I wanted to know what happened. Some people have referred to this book as a social commentary but for me it was an adventure book. The Time Traveller had dark roads to travel and all sorts of beings to fight if he wished to get to his era.

I think it is clear why it is a classic. It has elements of excitment and it Wells has thought outside the box to write this book. Although not the best classic around I think this is a book worth reading.

7/10

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

men at arms

Synopsis from Amazon:

Be a MAN in the City Watch! The City Watch needs MEN!

But what it’s got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detrius (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman…most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).

And they need all the help they can get. Because they’ve only got twenty-four hours to clean up the town and this is Ankh-Morpork we’re talking about…

Ankh-Morpork is in trouble. There are a series of mysterious murders, a student who wants a king put on the throne and the “Gone”, a very dangerous weapon with a mind of its own. So who is there to solve this mystery? The Night-Watch, consisting of an adopted dwarf, a real dwarf, a werewolf and a troll. How will pan out….?

This is another Discworld classic. It is number 15 in the series. I found this book just as enjoyable as the others. Pratchett’s writing was engaging and inviting. As ever, Ankh-Morpork is described so well that you lose yourself there. The characters have been seen in other books, and were hilarious at times. My favourites were Death, who makes a  couple of appearances, with some very witty one-liners; Corporal Carrot, a very simple human who was adopted by dwarfs and Gaspode the talking dog. His manipulation of humans was classic. The conversations between Cuddy and Detrius were amusing, as trolls and dwarfs traditionally dislike each other, so they rivalry had to continue for show. Detrius learning to count and his use of numbers had me laughing too. Pratchett is very original with his ideas of a Fools Guild, an Assassin Guild and even a Dog Guild. This is a very well thought out and well written book.

I recommend this book because it is engaging, full of danger, and adventure and hilarious. This is a grea fantasy book and well worth reading.

9/10

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

lords and ladies

Synopsis from Amazon:

THE FAIRIES ARE BACK – BUT THIS TIME THEY DON’T JUST WANT YOUR TEETH…

Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven are up against real elves.

It’s Midsummer Night. No time for dreaming…

With a full supporting cast of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers and one orang-utan. And lots of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

This is the 14th book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. This adventure sees the return of the elves, and they are not as pretty and nice as they seem… Granny Weatherwax is up for a big fight – aided by the wizards.

This book is up there with my favourites. I found it very entertaining. I really enjoy the Witch books, I have found all of them to be funny and exciting, and this one was no different. In fact, the humour of this book was aided by the fact a selection of the wizards had come along. I like the Librarian – what a great character.

As ever, Pratchett’s imagination is just incredible. He draws you into this alternative world, full of fighting and mythical characters, and just lets the action unfold. His descriptions are just amazing, and I really want to travel to the Discworld.

Nanny Ogg is fast becoming one of my favourites character. She is witty and generally humorous, and a great companion to the hilarious Granny Weatherwax. I thought the old love flame between Granny and the Arch Chancellor was great, it added another dimension to the books.

As always, I really enjoyed this Discworld book, and this has to be top rated. It was full of great fight scenes, humour and pure adventure. A really good read.

10/10

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

living dead in dallas

Synopsis from Amazon:

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse isn’t happy. Her co-worker has been murdered and no one seems to care. If that wasn’t enough she’s got blood-poisoning and a raging fever. Luckily, some friendly vampires graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it). But, seeing as they did save her life, when they come asking for a favour she can hardly refuse. She quickly finds herself using her telepathic skills in the search for a missing vampire, but when they break their good behaviour condition over a tasty blond, things go rapidly and horribly wrong …

This is the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery series by Charlaine Harris. In this adventure, Sookie is attacked on her way to see Eric, by a mythical creature, and after having had her poisoned blood sucked, is told she is off to Dallas to use her gift. There she meets the anti-vampire group, and has to fight for her life. While all this is going on, she is trying to find out who murdered her friend and why.

There is a lot going on in this book. It starts with a murder and ends with an orgy. In between there is a lot of fighting and maybe mythical characters. Up until the last fifty pages I really enjoyed this book. It was exciting and gripping. The last bit of the book was full of sex and that put me off.

I like how Harris is introducing more mythical beings instead of just including vampires – I think this adds a new dimension to the story. It will be interesting to see where she takes the stories with all these characters and beings.

Harris is a very distinctive writer. She has her own style, which comes through in both her Sookie Stackhouse books and her Harper Connelly books. I like how she writes, for the most part she is engaging and gripping.

Apart from all the sex, which I still think is unnecessary, I think this is a good book.

8/10

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

dead until dark

Synopsis from Amazon:

Small town Louisiana has a big problem – or rather a number of big problems. And now some of them have come knocking on Sookie’s door …Sookie is an unassuming cocktail waitress in an (outwardly) unremarkable town. She’s quiet, keeps to herself and doesn’t get out much. Attractive as she is, her hidden ‘talents’ send men running. For some reason her mindreading skills are just a bit threatening …Then the unreadable Bill appears on the scene. Tall, dark and handsome, Bill seems to be the man of her dreams. Except he’s not technically human. Bill is a vampire and a vampire who keeps seriously bad company, some suspected – unsurprisingly – of murder. Things get a bit close to home when a co-worker is murdered and Sookie starts wondering whether she will be next …

Well it is fair to say Charlaine Harris really does know how to write a good story. This is the first book in her Sookie Stackhouse series. Sookie is a waitress in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. Yet she has a gift; she can read people’s minds, which makes her the strangest person in the community. But things are set to change in this sleepy town, as vampires are now legal beings and are trying to “go mainstream” and live in amongst humans. This is good news for Sookie – it gets her a boyfriend – a tall, dark, handsome vampire. But not everyone is happy with having vampires roaming around, and soon there are girls dying, girls who Sookie works with and who associate with vampires. With fear and death all around, Sookie fears she will be the next victim….

This book had action right from the first page to the last. Harris weaves a great web of suspense, suspicion and fear. She writes in several characters, all of whom could be committing the crimes. The deaths themselves were gruesome. She had no fear in writing a realistic murder. I liked how she wrote about vampires too. She stuck to the traditional ideas about vampires – such as them keeping out of sunlight and feeding on humans. Although I thought it was interesting that she invented “fang-bangers”: those who wanted to be bitten by vampires; I thought that was original.

I liked Sookie. She seemed strong and sensible, and fairly likable. I loved her Gran though – her interest in the vampires was fairly amusing. I couldn’t figure out her brother – his character kept changing. That makes me wonder if he will feature more further on in the series. Of course, the other key character was Bill. For a vampire, I liked him. I couldn’t work out how vampires don’t have emotions but do fall in love but I liked how he was written. He was dangerous, and he showed that, but he had affection too.

My complaint would be the amount of sex in the book. There was a lot. It did seem that when they weren’t out investigating, they were having sex. I didn’t think the book needed quite that level of intimacy – in a way it did spoil the book for me a little bit. However, I did enjoy the book for the most part and would recommend it. It didn’t take long to read; it was gripping and exciting; and Harris keeps her status as one of my favourite authors.

8/10