‘In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part . . .’[1] And so it is was, with that sentence, that Sir Terry Pratchett began what would become a forty-one edition long series of best-selling fantasy novels. Beginning in 1983, the Discworld series became one of the best-selling fantasy series in the world. It also made its author, Sir Terry Pratchett, one of Britain’s best-selling authors.

Born on the 28th of April 1948, Pratchett was one of the most prolific writers, having published his first piece of fiction, a short story titled ‘The Hades Business’, when he was only fifteen years old. His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, but it wasn’t until The Colour of Magic was published in 1983 that Pratchett gained critical acclaim for his fantasy writing. Pratchett continued writing the Discworld series throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, not even ending when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. The series eventually ended with Terry Pratchett’s death in April 2015.

Despite being such a popular author, the amount of critical study made on Terry Pratchett and his work is minimal to say the least. One is unable to attribute this to the fact that Pratchett is a fantasy writer, as the fantasy genre is indeed well-studied; J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, has many books and essays dedicated to his work. In fact, fantasy has become a greatly respected genre within the works of literary criticism; in her book In Defence of Fantasy Ann Swinfen notes that ‘The writing of successful fantasy, then, is the most demanding forms of literary creation.’[2] It is undeniable that Pratchett is a successful fantasy author, so it’s a wonder why he is not as widely studied as other fantasy writers. The answer may appear to be down to the simple fact that Sir Terry Pratchett is a writer of comedy.

The initial entries to the Discworld series are nothing short of farcical parodies lampooning the overworked stereotypes of the fantasy genre, the lack of serious material in these early books may have prejudiced critics against his works. However, what is ignored by critics is the eventual shift in tone that Pratchett’s writing takes in later years. Towards the turn of the century, Pratchett focuses less on deconstructing the literary conventions of his genre and instead turns his studious eye onto the human frame.  In one of the sole critical books that focus on Terry Pratchett, Andrew Butler states that as readers ‘we are laughing at the familiar by viewing it through absurdist spectacles and we are laughing at how the absurd seems so familiar.’[3] Throughout the series Pratchett deconstructs our modern day society, making observations that are both blithe and bitingly satirical.

Due to his Alzheimer’s disease, after 2007 Pratchett lost the ability to type for himself; instead he began to dictate to an assistant. The disease also affected his writing style itself, in such a way that critics and some fans bemoan the alteration in his later works. However, this dissertation will argue that Pratchett’s writing did not alter because of the Alzheimer’s; instead his writing has been changing since he began in 1983. This dissertation will be asking whether the Discworld lost its magic, and in order to answer this question the series will be studied from both a literary and a thematic standpoint.

When the series first began Pratchett focused solely on parody, his work ‘closely and delicately reproduces the manner of his victim,’[4] in this case his victim was the fantasy genre itself. The first novel, The Colour of Magic, introduces readers to a typical fantasy world, one that has been seen numerous times and fits into the definition of one ‘known to Western Europe between the Bronze and Middle Ages.’[5] The Discworld is so typical of fantasy in this novel that Pratchett pointedly ignores describing the setting to much extent. However, Pratchett makes it clear to his readers that they should not grow used to the world he is presenting them. Within the first few pages the major city presented, Ankh-Morpork (the setting for most of the action in the series) is burned down. This indicates that Terry Pratchett is ready to rejuvenate the fantasy world.

The first chapter of this dissertation will explore The Colour of Magic in more detail, focusing in particular on its treatment of magic. Characteristically of a fantasy novel, magic is the dominant force in the novel; however, what is unique is that magic is treated as nothing more than a nuisance. This attitude is continued throughout the series and by the time The Truth (the second novel to be explored in chapter one) is published, the usage of magic has all but been left behind in the conscious day-to-day lives of the main characters. By studying the weakening dependency on magic, the chapter will explore how the characters looked to more mechanical methods to solve their problems.

In response to the diminished influence of magic, metafiction becomes the next dominant force on the Discworld. Although it is usually nothing more than a literary trope, Pratchett moulds it into a noticeable element known as Narrativium. Both The Hogfather and The Wee Free Men explore how stories affect human society. The second chapter will be spent studying the two novels and applying Carl Jung’s theories of the collected unconscious to the stories. The chapter will explore how the characters move away from accepting the ‘archaic level of the psyche . . . a living reality that contains the accumulated history of the entire species.’[6] In this case the characters are rejecting the story conventions and are instead altering their destinies.

This allows perhaps the most controversial of Pratchett’s innovations to take centre stage. The twenty-first century sees the introduction of machinery into the Discworld and this move demonstrates a distinctive shift in the power balance of the fantasy world. The Discworld finally moves away from the medieval and begins to take on an industrial age appearance. By focusing on Feet of Clay and Raising Steam the final chapter will draw on Michel Foucault’s theories in order to explore how the power presented by the machines is vastly different to that which is wielded by magic and metafiction. Whilst the latter forces attempted to dominate the inhabitants of the Discworld, the machines fit in with Foucault’s definition of true power: ‘what makes it accepted, is simply the fact . . . that it traverses and produces things.’[7] The final chapter will explore the opportunities presented by the newly introduced machinery and how it irreversibly alters the Discworld.

By exploring these three topics, this dissertation will argue that the Discworld has been constantly evolving and that the eventual departure of the typical fantasy environment in the twenty-first century was to be expected. The three chapters will demonstrate Pratchett’s methods in creating what can perhaps only be described as a societal Bildungsroman. A forty-one-book long story that describes the evolution of the small, detail-lacking city of Ankh-Morpork presented in The Colour of Magic into the vibrant, rich metropolis that dominates the world in Raising Steam.


It didn’t stop being magic just because you knew how it was done.[8]

The word magic immediately brings to mind images of fireballs whizzing through the air and frogs transforming into princes. It also brings to mind the dingy, muddy terrains of the medieval world. However, the word ‘magic’ originates from ancient Greece, its origins being found in the Greek word ‘Magike’. This word in turn was derived from the Persian words ‘magush’ and ‘magos’ which referred to ‘a member of an ancient Persian priestly caste.’[9] Even at this point the word was clearly attributed to figures of power. This origin not only belongs to the word magic, but also to machine. From this ancient concept of power both magic and machines have evolved over the years, yet despite their original connection, they have grown to mean two very different things. However, despite this difference, due to their historical connection both the mystical realm and the physical realm are connected through the form of language.

Bearing in mind the connections between the two words, it seems only natural that Sir Terry Pratchett would play around with the natural link between magic and machines. Of course, whilst it is magic that is primarily focused on in this chapter, machines will also be referenced; especially how machines are infused with magical capabilities in the early part of the series.

Despite magic being as common as rain on the Discworld, it is viewed as more of a nuisance due to its chaotic nature. Although the presence of magic is constant throughout the series, as the years progress its importance and usage does begin to wane. Though, as Pratchett himself states: ‘magic never dies. It merely fades away.’[10] This chapter will be focusing on the gradual waning of magic within the Discworld, focusing on Pratchett’s treatment of magic in two of his novels, each with drastically different outcomes.

Critics have often found it difficult to accurately place Pratchett’s Discworld into a particular genre. By filtering his world’s magic through the sieve of mundanity, the author presses the series into the realm of Magical Realism. This term is used to describe a state of fiction that blends the ‘improbable and the mundane,’[11] this quite accurately describes the Discworld; it is presented by Pratchett as a tired and cynical place for its characters, (a stark contrast to other well-known fantasy stories) and so it can be viewed as ripe for evolution. However, in other places the term Magical Realism is inadequate to describe the complexities of Pratchett’s world.  The very term ‘magical realism’ is loose, and in recent years it has been subject to discussion by both authors and critics. Maggie Ann Bowers describes Magical Realism as relying upon the ‘realist tone of its narrative when presenting magical happenings.’[12] But, of course, the Discworld is laughably far from realist in its delivery. The very fact that the planet in question is resting on the backs of four elephants that in turn balance on the shell of a turtle as it swims through space immediately invites readers to dispel any sense of normality. However, whilst Pratchett ignores magical realism in a thematic sense, his magic is intrinsically real on the Discworld.

Yet magic is not the only thing that exists on the Discworld; a growing reliance on science also makes itself known in The Colour of Magic. And so, with this added factor, in the very first novel the lines between the genres are beginning to blur. The first half of the novel is purely fantasy, but by its conclusion the characters are treading into science-fiction territory when they climb into a spaceship and are launched into space. This sort of thing would never happen in a conventional magical realism story, and so we are left with not only a term that defies genre, but also a novel that does so as well. Yes, Pratchett’s Discworld is an example of magical realism, but only because the reality of magic is presented as being entirely unspectacular; both its positives and negatives are recognised and appreciated by the characters. And, as Pratchett goes about dealing with magic realistically, he shows the weakening dependency upon it. Like all things in our own world, magic in the Discworld is going out of fashion.

The first novel in the Discworld canon, The Colour of Magic (1983) introduces readers to both the bizarre setting and to the inept wizard, and renowned coward, Rincewind. Unlike other wizards within the Discworld Rincewind only knows one spell, which happens to be one of the Eight Great Spells. It is due to this spell that Rincewind is unable to remember any other incantations, as all spells are afraid of this particular one; this prevents him from becoming a fully graduated wizard. However, as Rincewind is the only wizard presented for the majority of the novel, he is presented as Pratchett’s first attempt at a satirical approach towards magic. When discussing his lack of skills with an imp, Rincewind has this to say about the Discworld’s variant of magic: ‘No spells are much good. It takes three months to commit even a simple one to memory, and then once you’ve used it, pouf! it’s gone.’[13] His inability pushes him to wonder whether magic truly is the most appropriate energy source. It is during this dialogue that Rincewind flirts with the idea of electricity, pondering on whether there is a way to harness the lightning. However, this theory is quickly brushed aside by the imp who reminds Rincewind that lightning is simply ‘the spears hurled by the thunder giants when they fight.’[14]

It is this failure with magic that proves to be Rincewind’s salvation later on in the novel. During his travels with the Discworld’s first tourist, Twoflower, the pair accidentally stumble upon the temple of Bel-Shamharoth, a type of demigod also known as the Soul-Eater and the Sender of Eight, (eight being the most magical number on the Discworld.) When the creature begins to attack the travellers, the scene takes on the archetypal trappings of a normal fantasy novel. Readers are introduced to three genre-typical characters: the wizard, the Hero and the naïve traveller. Usually it would be the job of the hero to save his two companions, yet, as Dorthe Anderson points out in his essay on Pratchett, he ‘highlight(ed) certain aspects of the story and twisted them to allow for reworking of their thematic value.’[15] In this case Pratchett incapacitates the hero, forcing the characters into a situation in which magic would appear to be the only salvation.

In his struggle to escape the clutches of Bel-Shamharoth, Rincewind attempts to use the great spell, despite not knowing what it actually does. But the creature silences the wizard, rendering the spell useless. With magic being found ineffective against the opponent Rincewind inadvertently grabs hold of the first piece of technology introduced into the Discworld, Twoflower’s iconograph, their equivalent of a camera. In a subversive move from Pratchett it is this piece of technology that secures the protagonists’ freedom, as opposed to magic. The flash from the iconograph blinds Bel-Shamharoth and forces him to retreat from his attack, thus ending the danger. Once Bel-Shamharoth is defeated his influence deserts the temple and, as its presence had been the only thing keeping it together, the temple begins to destroy itself. As Pratchett describes it ‘the suddenly released, accumulated weight of all those pent-up seconds was bearing down on the unbraced stones’[16] here the demonic entity is seen as an ageless creature, one that had prevented the progression of time, anchoring its surroundings in one time zone. Pratchett is using this scene to represent the entirety of the fantasy genre: a timeless form of writing that resists all attempts to move forward. Pratchett partakes in the modern fantastic by ‘discovering emptiness inside an apparently full reality.’[17] In this case Bel-Shamharoth’s timeless temple represents the emptiness of progression within the entirety of the genre. By having the Soul Eater scared away by a new innovation, and thus having the progression of time finally restored, Pratchett does something that most fantasy writers at the time had never attempted: he allows the fantasy genre to move on from the medieval setting in which fantasy novels found themselves trapped.

This incident, right at the beginning of Pratchett’s thirty-year series, signifies the direction that the world would inevitably take. Rincewind relies on unfamiliar technology to save him from a magical threat, and by subverting the climactic battle between sorcerer and beast the fantasy novel is robbed of its ‘magical satisfaction.’[18] In more conventional story worlds it is the wizard who is the most superior member of the group; his companions will time and time again look towards him for help, as Frodo looks up to Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. Yet Pratchett has already defied the conventions that J.R.R. Tolkien held in such high esteem; in an essay Tolkien published on Fairy Tales, the author had this to say on magic:

If there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away.[19]

 As this essay has already discussed earlier, Pratchett does nothing but mock the Discworld’s magic, and so it is no surprise that Tolkien’s depiction of the wizard would also be lampooned.

The Colour of Magic begins what the rest of the series will continue and develop: the dashing of pre-existing notions about fantasy. In a speech Pratchett delivered several years after the first Discworld novel’s publication, he declared that the ‘classical wizard . . . represents the ideal of magic.’[20] In other words classical magic is all powerful and respected because the classical wizards are also respected. But with the introduction of Rincewind this ideal of magic is shattered, thus the characters are forced to find an alternative solution to magic. Of course, the iconograph is still founded firmly within the fantastic; the flash is powered by captive salamanders and the pictures are painted by a small imp trapped within the wooden box. Nevertheless, despite this fantasy origin, the iconograph is still firmly pushing the Discworld into a new technological age.

What Terry Pratchett presents in this novel is a world that has grown bored with magic. It is treated as an everyday hazard, rather than something presenting fantastical opportunities. Not only is magic mocked in this novel, but so are we the readers. Twoflower, the eager tourist from faraway lands, represents the common readers of fantasy; he arrives in Ankh-Morpork ready to witness the mystical delights that are commonly associated with fantasy fiction: the heroes, the tavern brawls and the dragons. However, Rincewind, a man who lives in that environment every day, views his world as nothing more than a mundane and dangerous place. Whilst as readers we would normally follow Twoflower’s view of Ankh-Morpork, it is from Rincewind’s perspective that we come to understand the chaotic world. In the end it is Twoflower who ends up bringing the fantastical to Ankh-Morpork, albeit unintentionally.

Let’s return momentarily to the previous discussion on exactly how to classify the Discworld’s genre. In The Colour of Magic some of the traits of Magical Realism are clearly displayed, however the first Discworld novel also slips into the territory of science-fiction; jumping from a ride on a dragon’s back to an odyssey in a spaceship plummeting over the edge of the world. This takes Pratchett away from the terrains of Magical Realism and instead pushes him into the slip stream. This is a mode of story-telling that defies a ready-made genre definition, and thus fits quite well with Pratchett’s writing. In their anthology of short slip-stream stories, James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel explain that the genre ‘raises fundamental epistemological and ontological questions about reality that most other kinds of fiction are ill prepared to address.’[21] This certainly fits in with Pratchett’s writing, especially as it evolved over the years. Readers of early slip-stream novels were also taught to ‘expect intrusive unreality,’[22] when reading supposedly realist stories. However, when reading Pratchett, it’s the other way round. When reading his fantastical novels, readers grow to almost expect an intrusion of ‘realist’ elements into the fantasy: Vampires settling down as press photographers, werewolves joining the police force and dwarves setting up a printing press round the back of a pub. The further Pratchett progresses through his series, the further reality creeps into the Discworld.


A more modern example of Pratchett’s slip-stream takes us into the twenty-first century. The twenty-fifth addition to the Discworld, The Truth, presents the Discworld taking its first step towards its industrial revolution, something that will be discussed in more detail later on. The Truth is far less fantasy orientated than The Colour of Magic; in fact, it reads more like a political thriller. The plot follows the central protagonist, William De Worde, as he sets up the Discworld’s first newspaper, and concurrently investigates an attempt to depose Vetinari as the Patrician. After only taking a relatively small step into the industrial age, The Truth already displays a momentous shift from the first novel. However, despite the minimised focus on the fantasy side, the novel isn’t any less fantastical.

De Worde’s endeavour faces opposition from both the religious and the magical community; the opposing parties believe that there is something inherently dangerous in moveable print and fear a magical disaster being caused by the invention of the newspaper. Given that past attempts to modernise the Discworld have led to disastrous outcomes, those worries are not entirely unfounded. Knowing that Pratchett has attempted to introduce machinery in the past, it’s a wonder why he chooses to make the endeavour successful this time. Pratchett explains this through Lord Vetinari, Ankh-Morpork’s despotic tyrant. The Patrician puts it as: ‘you cannot apply brakes to a volcano.’[23] Here Pratchett is saying that the eventual evolution of the Discworld was inevitable, and as the world is approaching a new century it seems only apt that a departure is made from the old themes that weighed down the earlier novels. The Truth presents the Discworld as being ready to ‘be dragged kicking and screaming out of the Century of the Fruitbat.’[24]

Although The Truth and The Colour of Magic seem drastically different to one another in certain respects, in many more they share a great number of thematic parallels. Both De Worde and Rincewind are reluctant protagonists that find themselves partnered with foreign arrivals, and both share a desire for moving forward with the times. However, the biggest parallel between the two novels focuses on a pivotal confrontation between the protagonists and antagonists. Whilst earlier we looked at Rincewind defeating a magical threat with the aid of technology, De Worde defeats a non-magical threat with the aid of magic.

When De Worde and the other workers at the press are confronted by Mr Pin and Mr Tulip, the central antagonists, it is up to the press photographer, Otto, to save the day. The use of a camera in this scenario mirrors Rincewind’s own encounter, however unlike the first instance, Otto’s camera is imbued with an added magical element (aside from the indispensable imp.) Using an Uberwaldean Deep Cave land eel, Otto is able to take a photograph using the True darkness, something which the vampire photographer describes as: ‘Zer light on zer ozzer side of darkness. You could call it . . . living darkness.’[25] By using this living darkness Otto scares both Mr Pin and Mr Tulip away by taking their photograph. It is also due to the mysterious, supernatural side effects of living darkness that Mr Pin is eventually driven into the paranoid psychosis that causes both Mr Tulip’s and his own grizzly death.

Although it is clear to readers that Otto is utilising magic in his photography, it is never stated as such by the other characters. The fact that magic is never directly addressed is a factor that draws Pratchett out of the slip-stream and back into magical realism. Once again, in terms of genre, the Discworld is unsure of what it is. But this fits with what the story essentially is; by having that strained relationship with magic, the Discworld is discovering just what it exactly is.

Perhaps the most interesting point about the usage of magic in The Truth is that it is in fact the core factor that helps reveal the titular truth. Just as by taking a photograph of Bel-Shamharoth revealed the timeless nature of fantasy, by taking pictures with the dark light the photographs that Otto takes reveal metaphysical truths about the characters. For example, when a picture is taken of De Worde, the image reveals De Worde’s father standing behind him; as Otto explains later: ‘You only have to talk to Mr Villiam for any length of time to see that, in a vay, his father is alvays looking over his shoulder.’[26] In this instance, using the dark light, Otto is taking photographs that show more than just the facts of the matter; they are revealing the truth. After having his photograph taken, Mr Pin is tormented by the souls of his past victims, revealing the truth that he is terrified of being held accountable for his actions. Here Pratchett is moving into the realm of the unconscious; he is giving magic a much darker and more primal role to play in the narrative. Rather than having magic continue to be the understandable yet annoying substance as found in The Colour of Magic, magic is now being portrayed as archaic and something that the characters avoid using. Yet, despite their attempts to avoid magic, in an ironical turn, magic is continuously utilised in The Truth. In De Worde’s quest to discover who is framing Vetinari, he is aided by a talking dog, the aforementioned vampire, dwarfs and, of course, the dark light.

This begs the question of just what Pratchett is attempting to accomplish in his series. In the first Discworld novel, through his characters, he laments the stagnant and unhelpful nature of magic. Yet, twenty years later, magic is still prevalent in his stories despite every character attempting to move away from it. Perhaps it is this very fact that Pratchett is trying to show readers; by making magic a primary factor in The Truth Pratchett is displaying that magic is the inherent truth of the Discworld.

Although in his first novel Pratchett presents magic as a nuisance, in later years his attitude seems to have evolved. When he enters the twenty-first century he retires magic from being a central part of the plot in order to allow other elements to prosper, however magic is still granted an important place in the narrative, it just doesn’t have the same trappings as it did in The Colour of Magic.


Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.[27]

When Terry Pratchett first began the Discworld series his aims were to purely parody and mock the fantasy genre. His characters defied expectations and went against the stereotypes that past fantasy authors had helped construct; however, Pratchett’s manner was parodic and slapstick, there was a lack of subtlety to his craft. Whilst this worked in the first few novels, when he reached the middle of his series Pratchett decided to try a different tactic. Rather than mercilessly ridicule the tropes of the genre he decided to embrace them and began to spin them on their head. As the series progressed Pratchett turned metafiction into a physical influence on the Discworld in the form of the element known as Narrativium.

In her book on the subject, Patricia Waugh described metafiction as being:

Fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.[28]

In Pratchett’s writing he uses the blithe comedy of transtextuality in order to comment on the evolution of our own society. By creating the Discworld, with characters and cities that are undoubtedly parallels to our own reality, Pratchett is constructing an allegory for the progression of society.

Within the Discworld stories have as much power as magic does, although its influence is more subtle. In this case that power is known as Narrativium, it is the element that makes things happen solely because they are supposed to happen. Through this element Pratchett is making a profound comment on the correlation between stories and society; in the two novels discussed Pratchett points out both the positive and the negative influences that stories have over us. In the early part of the Discworld series it is shown that ‘there’s no escaping the power of story.’[29] However in later years the characters achieve just that, and by studying The Hogfather and The Wee Free Men this chapter will explore the evolution of Pratchett’s views towards stories and his characters’ interactions within the narrative spectrum that has so much power over the Discworld. The characters go from following the narrative in an instinctual way and become independent, conscious beings due to ‘opposing himself to instinct.’[30]

In The Hogfather a crisis is caused by spectral beings, known only as The Auditors, who have hired an assassin to kill the titular character of the novel, a thinly-veiled parallel to our own Father Christmas. Knowing what the Hogfather represents, Death steps in to take the former’s position. More than being a simple children’s story, Death claims that it is imperative that the Hogfather is seen to exist so that: ‘The sun will come up.’[31] Although many characters dismiss Death’s claims, they still do their best to ensure that the Hogfather returns.

Once the titular character has been rescued from the Auditors’ final attempt to kill him, Death explains to his granddaughter, Susan, exactly what would have happened had the Hogfather not survived. Rather than having the sun rise in the morning, instead ‘A mere ball of flaming gas would have illuminated the world.’[32] Susan simply brushes this off as a play on words, however Death points out that this is exactly what defines the human race. As this chapter’s opening quote illustrates, without the idea of stories humans would no longer be considered humans. This is exactly what the Auditors wished to accomplish; they wished for a universe without falsity, one that would instead be controllable. Death recognised that this would strip the Discworld characters of their humanity, the story of the Hogfather helps give humanity ‘its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as unit.’[33] In her essay on the Discworld’s variant of Death, Nickianne Moody declares that ‘while events cannot change belief and expectations, belief and expectations can change events.’[34] It was through Death’s actions whilst pretending to be the Hogfather that managed to reinstate the level of belief that helped bring the real Hogfather back into existence. But in reciprocation it was also the belief in the Hogfather that kept the human race as a cohesive, civilised society.

This reverence and respect for the power of stories is a clear attribute of metafiction and it also furthers the influence of Narrativium. As has already been discussed, Pratchett is no longer skewering the stereotypes, instead he is embracing them as a force of nature, something that can be appreciated, and later on overcome. In The Hogfather the wizards develop a cure for Bilious, the God of Hangovers; however – against all narrative conventions – there are no untoward side-effects to the hangover cure. This infuriates the wizards, as the Dean comments: ‘”Everyone knows that a good hangover cure has got to involve a lot of humorous shouting, ekcetra.”‘[35] Here the wizards are annoyed because they know that something should have happened, and in their view the rules of nature have been bypassed because what they expected to happen has not happened. Despite the assurance by Narrativium that things must be because they are meant to be, The Hogfather presents us not only with this subversive incident, but also with characters that do not adhere to their narrative convention. Death is the primary example of this; rather than being the forbidding character that most of popular culture presents us with, in the Discworld he is compassionate and attempts to imitate the humans. To this end he makes himself a house with a bathroom, a bedroom and even a fishpond. However, none of what Death creates has any practical use, he simply copies what the objects look like. It is as Susan realises: ‘You hung around with humans for long enough and you stopped being what they imaged you to be and wanted to be something of your own.’[36] And Death is not the only character that evolves away from what the narrative expects him to be. The Discworld’s version of the Tooth Fairy turns out to be a Bogeyman, but it grew tired of its role terrorising humanity, and instead it decided to become something new and more caring.

Although Pratchett is promoting the importance of stories in our culture, he is not afraid to show that these same stories are just as malleable as anything else we create. Whilst The Hogfather focuses on the characters attempting to ensure the story progresses the way they know it should, Pratchett also indicates that some aspects of the story ought to be changed. Rather than having a human character achieve this, it is in fact Death, a figure within the story world, that ends up taking over the story. Whilst masquerading as the Hogfather, Death decides to go against his original role as the Grim Reaper, and against the story of Hogswatch, and chooses to save the life of a little matchstick girl. Albert, Death’s assistant, rues this decision as it conflicts with the narrative that he has grown up with. In his eyes the death of the matchstick girl is integral to the story. Death, however, disagrees and feels that the child’s death goes against what he has learned about Hogswatch. And so, being a creature that has already defied the laws of the narrative, he brings her back to life. This defiance of the story is a prime example of metafiction, as ‘it is precisely the fulfilment as well as the non-fulfilment of generic expectations that provides both familiarity and the starting point for innovation.’[37]

If we keep the theorist Carl Jung’s ideas in mind, then Narrativium can be seen as a representation of the unconscious. Pratchett is allowing Death the power to alter the stories because, as of yet, the human characters are unable to fully understand the stories. As Jung puts it: ‘it is alien to us because we have estranged ourselves from it through the aberrations of the conscious mind.’[38] Death is the only character able to manipulate the stories because he is the only who recognises them for what they are. The other characters forget that the stories naturally change, even the Hogfather himself has altered numerous times over the centuries, originally starting as an ancient winter god, one to whom sacrifices were made in order to make the sun rise. In this case the Hogfather is an example of a character whom is abiding by the laws of the narrative; as the story is changing, so is he. But if the characters are forced to change as the story does, can the reverse not be true? In The Hogfather Pratchett has presented a world in which characters are able to indicate an evolution within society by taking a stand against the stories that force them to comply with certain ideals. Death is no longer the grim reaper, and the Bogeyman is no longer the nightmare beneath children’s beds, and this is a trend that Pratchett further develops with Tiffany Aching in The Wee Free Men.

Although both Death and the Bogeyman were able to reject being pigeonholed by Narrativium, at that point they can be viewed as special cases. Both are metaphysical creatures on the Discworld and, as Jessica Tiffin points out in her essay on Pratchett, he is ‘more interested in the dehumanising effect of narrative alienated from the reality of the characters.’[39] The key phrase in this sentence being ‘dehumanising’, and as neither Death nor the Bogeyman are in fact human, this allows them more chance to avoid the constraints of Narrativium.

Whilst in the first half of the chapter Pratchett’s portrayal of the influence stories have is positive, the above quote from Tiffin demonstrates another stance that the author has taken against stories. Whilst they do aid our society to grow and nurture us, if taken to an extreme then the stories can treat people as objects. And it is this aspect of the narrative that Pratchett takes a hostile position against, these attitudes are especially conveyed in the Witches series of books within the Discworld canon. The central witch being Granny Weatherwax, a witch well known for combating the invasive narrative; however whilst she does resist these stories, as pointed out in The Science of Discworld, ‘she is herself part of a larger story, and they follow rules, too.’[40] In her case it is due to how easily she fits into the archetype of the witch: she is elderly, crabby and constantly meddles. But her spiritual successor, introduced in the 21st Century, goes one step further than Weatherwax.

The characters in The Hogfather attempt to keep the stories going, fearing that the world would otherwise be destroyed. But there are other characters in the Discworld whom reject these predestined roles. Two examples are Captain Carrot of the Night Watch, and Tiffany Aching, a young witch introduced in The Wee Free Men. Both of these characters are supposed to conform to certain narrative expectations, however both decided to rebel against the supposedly all-powerful Narrativium. The further exploration of Carrot will be saved for the next chapter as, unlike Tiffany, Carrot was largely unaware of his actions and did not actively seek to upset the narrative.

In most respects The Wee Free Men would be considered a typical coming-of-age story; Tiffany’s younger brother, Wentworth, is kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies and Tiffany takes it upon herself to rescue him. But Tiffany is not, in terms of Narrativium, the sort of character whom should be doing those things. In the book Tiffany is described as having a very plain appearance, and, as the young nine-year old laments, ‘did the book have any adventures for people with brown eyes and brown hair? No, no, no . . .’[41] She goes on to complain that, due to her appearance, the narrative causality would lump her as simply a background character with no significant input into the plot. Upon realising this and due to witnessing the effects stories have, Tiffany decides to rebel against the narrative: ‘She couldn’t be the prince, she’d never be the princess . . . so she’d be the witch and know things.’[42] Here Tiffany is declaring that she will reclaim the power that stories supposedly have over her.

Bringing Jung’s theories back into the discussion, when Tiffany decides to tackle the power of the stories, she can be seen as skirmishing with the collective unconscious. Jung believed that the collective unconscious is the consciousness shared by all living things: ‘our minds have been made by the history of mankind; what men have thought has influenced the structure of our own minds.’[43] The similarities between this and Pratchett’s Narrativium has already been noted, and the collective unconscious is seen in action when we consider Tiffany’s main inspiration for becoming a witch. When the Baron’s son vanishes into the Fairy world, his disappearance is blamed on Mrs Snapperly and she is accused of being a witch. In response to their fears, the citizens living on the Chalk burned the old woman’s home down and then left her to die in the snow. It is made clear that Mrs Snapperly was most likely not a witch, however, unfortunately for her, she naturally slotted into the narrative; she was a toothless old woman whom lived alone with her cat, and to the citizens this was enough evidence. Analysing it with Jung in mind, it is clear that due to our history of believing the stories about elderly old witches, humans instinctively believe that all old women that live with cats must be guilty of witchcraft. Similar to Death and the Matchstick girl in The Hogfather, Tiffany recognises the foolishness of this line of thinking and laments the cruel nature of the narrative. And so, by becoming a witch, Tiffany hopes to stop this sort of event occurring ever again. Tiffany resolves to change the very nature of the stories, and, with it, people’s way of thinking.

In order to combat this deeply ingrained belief in the stories, and in order to rescue her brother, Tiffany travels into the Queen’s domain, Fairyland. In terms of Jung’s theory, the Queen can be seen to represent the Collective Unconscious, as in she is something that humans cannot understand and she is able to manipulate dreams and her surroundings. As Jung states when discussing nature, ‘the collective unconscious is identical with Nature to the extent that Nature herself, including matter, is unknown to us.’[44] However, in keeping with Pratchett’s earlier Witch stories, Tiffany is deeply connected with the nature around her and when she finally confronts the Queen on the Chalk, Tiffany awakens her powers and connects with nature, thus becoming able to understand it. When she undergoes this transformation, Tiffany is stripped down to her ‘instinctive level of psyche.’[45] By becoming in tune with this level, Tiffany is able to not only understand nature, but also the embodiment of the collective unconscious, the Queen. It is only when she is able to understand the Queen that Tiffany is able to defeat her and return the balance between the conscious and the unconscious world.

Furthering the exploration between the similarities shared by the Queen and Jung’s collective unconscious, we can examine the Queen’s greatest power: her manipulation over people’s dreams. Her most potent weapons are creatures known as Dromes, gingerbread-men-shaped beings that are able to spin webs that trap people inside dreams. After becoming trapped in the dream and starving to death, the victim is devoured by the Drome. Jung believes that dreams are simply an extension of the collective unconscious; he describes them as being ‘impartial spontaneous products of unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will.’[46] However Tiffany is able to do just that; the first two times that Tiffany is trapped, she is able to subconsciously manipulate the dreams in order to escape. The third time Tiffany actually ends up taking control of her own dream, wrestling control from the Drome. It is through this dream that Tiffany manages to escape the Fairyland and, in effect, the confines of the collective unconscious.

The two novels in this chapter have both depicted Narrativium in vastly different ways; The Hogfather presented it as an integral force to the continuity of the human race, and one that can only be affected by metaphysical beings. However, when we come to the 21st century, Pratchett presents Narrativium as a collective force that threatens to objectify humans and halts them from evolving. Pratchett, through the ever-changing Discworld, demonstrates to readers that whilst it is all well and good to adhere to the stories at times, at other instances it is as Tiffany Aching says: ‘The secret is to wake up.’[47] Rather than continue to have his characters dictated by the narrative conventions, his characters rebel and become something independent. And as Pratchett does this surely it is worth wondering whether, if the characters can rebel against literary expectations and evolve, then why cannot the genre itself? The next chapter will fully explore this ideal as the Discworld begins to embrace its genre defying industrial revolution.


It worked like a machine. That was fine except for the occasional people who got crushed in the wheels.’[48]

This dissertation’s first chapter briefly explored the etymological links between machines and magic. Due to both words’ connection to the ancient Greek and Persian words for power, both are intrinsically connected. This particular link is adopted by Pratchett and taken beyond the simple etymological origins. During the first half of the Discworld series it is magic that holds the power over the characters, if machines hope to surface then they can only do so with the aid of magic. However, at the turn of the 21st century, machines begin to inherit that power without the aid of magic. As explored in the previous chapters both magic and metafiction used their power in such a way that the Discworld was on the verge of stagnation. But with the introduction of machinery Pratchett allowed this new force to use its power in order to move the Discworld forward. This chapter will not only explore the physical machines that come to inhabit the Discworld, but also the machinations with Terry Pratchett’s mind; namely, this chapter will be spent investigating the reasons Pratchett may have had for concentrating on the arrival of machines and their eventual displacement of magic.

Although Pratchett’s fan-base is widespread and filled with diehard fanatics, his later works have been open to criticism. The main point of focus seems to be his altered writing style, due in some part to his contraction of Alzheimer’s disease. In one review Pratchett’s penultimate Discworld novel, Raising Steam (2014) is described as being ‘the least whimsical’[49] and, due to the supposed lack of comedy, is left with nothing more than ‘hectoring didacticism.’[50] The reviewer attributes this shift in quality to the disease from which Pratchett had been suffering. However, to bemoan the book for a lack of humour somewhat misses what the author had been attempting to achieve in his later novels. Other reviews also share their disappointment with the industrial age Discworld; most prefer the earlier treatment of machines in the novels, in that the alien instruments are banished from the Discworld by the end of the book, such examples of this are Men at Arms, Soul Music and Moving Pictures. But the fact that any new innovations may be simply gotten rid of by the end of the book because it threatens the stability of the world is just what Pratchett had always been attempting to escape in his novels.

This chapter will explore Pratchett’s attitude towards machines and will address his detractors, challenging their stance. I hope to show that Pratchett’s writing did not decline (at least not as dramatically as some commentators and reviewers state). Rather, instead, Pratchett’s writing style altered because of his Alzheimer’s disease; due to his rapidly approaching meeting with Death, Pratchett chose to display his ideologies and messages more loudly in his novels.

Terry Pratchett has been exploring an altering fantasy realm since 1983, for example, as stated in chapter one, Rincewind was pondering a new energy system in The Colour of Magic. Even a wizard, at that early stage, was searching for a force that would help the Discworld escape the clutches of magic. Pratchett did briefly explore civil rights in Equal Rites (1987), a book which focuses on a young girl as she challenges the patriarchy of the Discworld and attempts to become a wizard, at that point a primarily male profession. But, after this endeavour, Pratchett returned to parody and, for a while, left civil liberties alone. His main female characters, save for the witches, returned to being damsels and supporting characters.

Dorthe Anderson states that, in relation to Pratchett’s usage of parody, he uses it ‘to disconcert his reader, in so far as he forces us to reconsider facts and certainties,’[51] and by forcing his readers to reconsider the basic foundations of fantasy, Pratchett is preparing them for the oncoming changes. With the diminishing power of magic and metafiction Pratchett became more serious in his writing; parody no longer became his primary tool in telling stories.

Whilst discussing Pratchett’s evolved writing style I will be looking closely at several themes that Pratchett presented in his novels. From the civil rights movements introduced in Feet of Clay (1996), to the invention of the steam engine in Raising Steam, Pratchett has been long preparing his readers for a more grown-up Discworld. In fact, in an interview conducted by ‘January Magazine’ in 2002, Pratchett himself admitted that his books were becoming ‘more realistic. They’re less clearly funny.’[52]

Feet of Clay is an interesting novel in the Discworld canon as it is the final book in the Watch series to focus on an attempt to reinstate the monarchy within Ankh-Morpork. With this in mind we return to Captain Carrot, a man raised as a dwarf (despite being over six feet tall) and who came to Ankh-Morpork in order to join the Watch, Ankh-Morpork’s police force. Towards the end of his first appearance in Guards! Guards! (1989) Carrot is revealed, or at least heavily implied, to be the secret heir to the Ankh-Morpork throne. However, what sets Carrot apart from other typical fantasy heroes, is that he has no intention of becoming the king. Instead he chooses to continue being a simple policeman, much to the disbelief of other characters. Referring back to the previous chapter’s discussion on metafiction, Carrot is one of the first characters to shrug off his predestined role.

The events of Feet of Clay focus on the Patrician being indisposed by a nonlethal poisoning, the perpetrators of which are hoping to replace him with a monarch. The most obvious candidate for this role would be Carrot due to: ‘he’s got that sword of his, and the birthmark shaped like a crown, and . . . well, everyone knows he’s king.’[53] However, due to his relationship with fellow police officer, and werewolf, Angua, Carrot is passed over by the antagonists, and instead a character is chosen who is believed to be more controllable. As the book primarily deals with the ideas of emancipation, the very idea of reverting to a monarchy is seen as a step backwards, especially in a continuously evolving city such as Ankh-Morpork. Commander Vimes, the main protagonist, is the greatest opponent of the return of a monarchy; his ancestor, ‘Stoneface’ Vimes, was a Discworld parallel to our own Cromwell. The main reason for Vimes’ distaste for a monarchy is that he views them above the law, and as Michel Foucault’s theories on power state: ‘monarchical authority was identified with arbitrary rule, with the exercise of power above the law.’[54] And as a policeman, Vimes views that the same law applies for everyone, in fact he doesn’t understand why people like monarchs, he sees them as being ‘somehow magical.’[55] Pratchett, through the civilians desiring a monarch, is addressing the readers’ own desire to return to the familiar. We all know how fantasy should be; we all know that the dwarfs all have beards and the trolls eat people and that boys from humble origins always turn out to be the heirs to the throne. Pratchett knows that we know that, but he is saying that simply because that’s what we expect does not mean that is what we should have. Umberto Eco, a prominent postmodernist writer, had this to say about addressing an audience’s pre-existing expectations: ‘The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognising that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed . . . must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently.’[56] Even in his earlier stories Pratchett had been addressing our expectations, but it wasn’t until later that he discarded the parodic nature that marked his first novels. This focus on irony and the abandonment of innocence is presented in the Golems and their attempt to create their own king.

The golems, in the Discworld, are as they are in the Jewish myth, in that they are ceramic creatures that are viewed as nothing more than tools. ‘It’s a Golem. A man of clay. It’s a machine.’[57] Due to this the golems are refused payment and only have time off on their ‘holy days’, if they are not released on such days than the chems inside their head (which keeps them functional) would stop. Before the start of the novel, the golems, tired of being slaves, create their own golem created from pieces of their own clay. This golem was considered a king as they ‘thought a king would make them free.’[58] And to this end the golems filled their king’s head with more than a single chem. However, through a combination of too many demands and its ill-baked body, the Golem King is driven insane and murders its human makers and assists (albeit in a mechanical way) in the plot to depose Vetinari. Despite their king becoming mad, it is in fact a king of sorts that frees the golem race; the main golem of the story, Dorfl, is freed by Carrot when the latter buys him and places the receipt in the golem’s head, in effect giving it a new chem.

Concurrent to these events a much more subtle and down-played emancipation is progressing within the Watch. Pratchett returns to a fantasy trope that he has parodied in the past: the fact that all dwarfs are identifiable as male. Of course, there are female dwarfs, but they are indistinguishable from their male counterparts. But, in Feet of Clay, the Watch hires Cheery Littlebottom, the first openly female dwarf. As with the idea of a free golem, the idea of a female dwarf horrifies the other characters. Even Carrot, one of the more progressive characters, displays his abhorrence towards Cheery’s openness: ‘of course there’s female dwarfs but . . . I mean, they have the decency not to show it.’[59] Once again Pratchett has moved away from the simple parody that structured his early novels, instead he has taken a long-established joke and allowed it to mature. He is not only addressing the stereotyping of ethnic minorities, but also the inherent sexism within the fantasy genre. By dramatising an intrinsically patriarchal system, Pratchett returns to explore the sexism of fantasy that Equal Rites began. When discussing feminism in fantasy, critic Anne Cranny-Francis states that the role of feminist fantasy is to explore ‘the problems of being for women in a society which denies them not only visibility but also subjectivity.’[60] Due to Cheery’s radical move women are allowed to become visible within the dwarf’s male society and, considering that the word ‘fantasy’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Phantasia’ which means to make something visible, it is only right that Pratchett makes the plight of the golems and female dwarfs visible on the Discworld.

Although Feet of Clay is not the first of the Discworld novels to tackle the civil rights movement, it is the first to establish topics that continue on from their introductory novel. Both the golem emancipation and the dwarf suffragette movement are used as plot points in later novels. Both revolutions are integral to the continuity of the Discworld series; as Fred Botting states: ‘even as it inaugurates and rewrites history, (revolutions) also demands an evacuation of past and present in order for there to be a future.’[61] The freedom of the golems and the empowerment of female dwarfs both force characters within the Discworld, and also the readers, to revaluate how they view both species within the canon of fantasy.

Returning yet again to the already discussed genre classification of Pratchett’s work, when his later works were published Pratchett began to be placed in the science-fiction aisle in bookshops. When this point was raised, Pratchett classified himself as a fantasy writer and responded: ‘If what I write isn’t what you think fantasy is, then I suggest you just extend the definition a little bit.’[62] Despite this, there is still some more to be said for the slipstream. Gregory Frost describes the genre in his essay ‘Reading the Slipstream’ as ‘human stories but in a shape-shifting world.’[63] And Pratchett’s novels most certainly are human stories, even when focusing on the exploits of dwarfs, trolls and werewolves. And, as argued in this dissertation, Pratchett presents these stories in a continuously evolving world; whether it’s the attitudes towards magic and metafiction, or the way minorities are treated, the Discworld has been shifting since its inception. This change has been gradual, being spread over twenty-five novels, however in 2007 Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and after that point a more distinctive shift is noticeable. Whilst some, as evidenced earlier, believe that Pratchett’s quality fell, instead he seemed to make the societal progression less subtle than in earlier novels. Indeed, after the introduction of the Clacks system (the Discworld equivalent of emailing) in The Fifth Elephant (1999) the technological and societal advancements arrive with greater rapidity than in the past. The centre of all these changes is, of course, the city of Ankh-Morpork; it is described by one character as ‘the place where things ‘appen.’[64] Over the course of the series Ankh-Morpork has been the hub for battling for change; the very fact that Pratchett’s first act with the city was to burn it down indicated that it would be the focus of change in his future work. Since The Colour of Magic Pratchett has been battling against the inertia felt within the fantasy genre; he constantly depicts characters that are struggling against the unchanging world they find themselves in, and his twenty-first century novels do not buck this trend. In fact, since the turn of the century Pratchett has increased his battle against stagnancy; novels such as Monstrous Regiment (2003) Thud! (2005)and Raising Steam all chronicle characters struggling against an inert society. The latter in particular signifies a dramatic change within the canon as it focuses on the introduction of the locomotive on the Discworld, and through this industrial revolution other past themes are addressed yet again, such as multiculturalism, prejudice and, of course, the dangers of stagnancy.

Social mobility is one theme that is not particularly represented in Ankh-Morpork; citizens are generally encouraged to stay in their places. Despite its progressive nature the city is still under a tyranny and as such the citizens are not allowed to vote, most live in abject poverty and the greater part of the labour is under direct control of the numerous guilds. However, with the introduction of the railway a new power enters the Discworld, one which transcends both magic and metafiction. One such effect of the railway’s power is the offers of helping the common man ascend the social classes. Sir Harry King, the sponsor and part owner of the railway, protests at the idea of this social climb: ‘You’re inciting people to have ideas above their station, and that sort of thing makes people suspicious and anxious and, above all, very, very nervous’[65] Yet this statement from Harry King is somewhat hypocritical; he is perhaps one of the most socially mobile characters within the series. Starting life as a waste disposal man, he was originally penniless, but at the start of this book he is the richest man in Ankh-Morpork, and by its conclusion is made a baron. Through his actions he is able to escape his original class, and he is not the only prominent character to do so. Commander Vimes started off as a humble, and alcoholic, police officer; but at the end of each Watch novel he is promoted in rank, until by the end of the series Vimes is a Duke and the second most powerful man in the city. Whilst early on in the series these movements through the social ranks are unique, the introduction of the railway promises a shift in power which would make such ascensions almost common place. Michel Foucault determined that power was a series of ‘strategic games between liberties.’[66] In this case the game is between the railway company and the Patrician. Vetinari recognises the danger presented by the locomotive, but still decides to allow it to continue, albeit for his own methods: ‘I feel the pressure of the future and in this turning world must kill it or become its master.’[67] Recognising the dangerous potential, Vetinari resolves to possess the power of the railway, rather than allow the people to control it. However, keeping in mind Foucault’s theories on power, Vetinari’s plans do not entirely go his way. In his book on Foucault, Simon During states that: ‘power-effects can be hidden from view, and they can always misfire in part because they are not simply intentional.’[68] In other words, whilst Vetinari hoped to use the railway for one purpose, the railway used itself for an entirely different reason. As with both magic and metafiction, the power over machines is possessed solely by the machine itself. This, in a manner of speaking, gives the locomotive an almost magical effect, although, as within The Truth, the magic is never explicitly stated as being such. Instead Pratchett seamlessly merges technology and magic into one being: ‘What strange magic -? He corrected himself; what strange mechanics could have achieved this?’[69]

What differentiates machines from both magic and metafiction in the Discworld is that the latter pair were both utilised to keep the fantasy world trudging through the clichéd tropes, albeit for comical purposes. In order to finally push the Discworld into a progressive state, one which is finally able to shrug off the tired ideals of fantasy, Pratchett dispatches a group of antagonists known as the Grags. These are an extremist group of dwarfs, analogies for any group of fundamentalists, whether they be the Luddites of the industrial age, the fundamental Christians, or the twenty-first century radical sect of Islam. These dwarfs ‘have somehow indoctrinated their flocks into believing that change of any sort is a blasphemy,’[70] and so wish to return to the archaic fantasy tropes, especially rebelling against the suffragette movement began in Feet of Clay.  The group represents misoneism, ‘the instinctive fear of anything new – whether an invention, an idea, or a new way of doing something.’[71] And so their conclusive defeat, and the subsequent reveal that the Low King of the dwarfs is in fact the Low Queen, symbolises that the Discworld has irreversibly changed and has embraced the new energy system that Rincewind had imagined all the way back in the first Discworld novel.


Your railway, my friend, will allow them to dream, and once you have a dream you’ve got somewhere closer to a reality.[72]

This dissertation has explored the dramatic shift that occurs in Sir Terry Pratchett’s acclaimed Discworld fantasy series. What began as a simply flippant series that parodied the tired genre tropes, soon evolved into a daring satire on modern life and the human experience (featuring dwarfs, trolls, vampires, and werewolves.)

The original question asked whether the Discworld had lost its magic; although it wasn’t meant in an entirely literal sense, given the fantastical nature of the series it would have seemed odd not to also explore the diminishing aspect of the occult. When the series began in 1983, magic was at the forefront of the narrative; the main protagonist was a wizard, admittedly an inept one, but his knowledge of magic was essential in traversing the Discworld. From then on Pratchett focused on the influence of magic for the next six books. The seventh, Guards! Guards!, whilst involving magic, slipped out of the dominantly fantasy genre and mingled with police procedure. From that point Pratchett demonstrated the path the rest of the series would continue down, the usurpation of magic by other forces.

The dissertation has not spent much time on discussing the effects Pratchett’s illness had on his writing, but it would be difficult to argue that it did not alter his writing somewhat. Alterations can be particularly noticed with the character of Willikins, Commander Vimes’ faithful butler; in between Thud! (2005)and Snuff (2011) the character undergoes a drastic personality change. When he is first introduced, he is a soft-spoken and polite individual. A violent personality was introduced in Jingo when he became a soldier and entered the battlefield, but it was intermingled with his subservient manner: ‘we were on patrol, sir, and we were attacked by some Klatchian gentlemen. After the ensuing unpleasantness -‘[73] However by Snuff, written whilst Pratchett was several years into his illness, Willikins becomes a much more informal character. He speaks to Vimes, his employer, as if they were equals: ‘Well commander, it ain’t snobbishness. You don’t get much of that from the real McCoy, in my experience.’[74] His violence is also incredibly exaggerated; he also becomes much more open about this character trait. This may indeed be an indicator of the disease affecting Pratchett’s writing; however, it may also be down to the setting. Both Vimes and Willikins are taken out of their natural environment of Ankh-Morpork, being placed in the country. It may also be down to the shifting social classes as explored in chapter three; both Willikins and Vimes share the same background, and by the time Snuff was published, Ankh-Morpork had already begun to shift towards the change presented in Raising Steam.

One of the biggest changes that both critics and readers noted was the lack of humour in the later Discworld novels. The humour had always been paramount in Pratchett’s work, but some of the main target for his humour was the tired genre and his attempts to alter them. His later novels were much darker and tackled much headier themes than Shakespeare’s works or the arrival of a dragon. As his subject matter changed it is only understandable that his humour would also alter.

So, with these changes in mind, did Terry Pratchett’s Discworld lose its magic? The answer is both yes and no. It is true that his earlier novels were more fun and light-hearted, but if Pratchett continued in that vein then it is unlikely the series would have had the longevity it does. Pratchett himself once stated in an interview with David Langford: ‘it has to evolve to keep going. If I’d written 25 versions of The Light Fantastic by now, I’d be ready to slit my wrists.’[75] It is also as Patricia Waugh states in her book on metafiction:

Parody in metafiction can equally be regarded as another lever of positive literary change, for, by undermining an earlier set of fictional conventions which have been automatised, the parodist clears a path for a new, more perceptible set.[76]

By beginning with parody Pratchett was able to tear down the conventions that weighed fantasy down. Once that task was done, he was open to move onto different, more thoughtful subjects.

Although Pratchett’s Discworld did move on from magic, there were still plenty of fantastical elements within the world, even when the machines took over the Discworld there was still a hint of magic left.

In conclusion, over the course of thirty-three years and forty-one novels, Terry Pratchett has chronicled the evolution of a world just as complicated and bizarre as our own. The magic may have seeped from Pratchett’s work, but it was instead replaced with something more nuanced and satirical. Pratchett had not completed his Discworld by the time of his death, but through what he did accomplish he ‘left the world much better than (he) found it.’[77]

[1] Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 1986)  p.7.

[2] Ann Swinfen, In Defence of Fantasy, (Routledge and Kegan Paul plc, London, 1984) p.4.

[3] Andrew M. Butler, ‘Theories on Humour’ Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, ed. Andrew M. Butler, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, (The Science Fiction Foundation, United Kingdom, 2003) p.36.

[4] Gilbert Highet, The Anatomy of Satire, (Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1962)  p.15.

[5] Swinfen, In Defence of Fantasy, p.82.

[6] Carl Jung, ed. Meredith Sabini, The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life, (North Atlantic Books, California, 2008) p.16-17.

[7] Michel Foucault, ed. Paul Rabinow, The Foucault Reader: An Introduction to Foucault’s Thought. (Penguin Books, London, 1991) p.61.

[8] Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men, (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 2004) p. 41.

[9] T.F Hoad, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1986)

[10] Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, p.119.

[11] Maggie Ann Bowers, Magic(al) Realism, (Routledge, Abingdon, 2004) p. 3.

[12] ibid, p.3.

[13] Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, p.53.

[14] Pratchett, The Colour of Magic,. p.53.

[15] Dorthe Anderson, ‘L-Space: Transtextuality and its Functions in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld‘ ed. Jorgen Riber Christensen, Marvellous Fantasy (Aalborg University Press, Denmark, 2009) p.69.

[16] Pratchett, The Colour of Magic, p.112.

[17] Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy – The literature of Subversion, (Routledge, London, 1993) p. 158.

[18] ibid. p.154.

[19] J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories, p.3.1947,, 27/2/2016

[20] Terry Pratchett, ‘Why Gandalf Never Married’ (Xyster 11, Dave Wood, 1986)

[21] James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel, Feeling Very Strange (Tachyon Publications, San Francisco, 2006) p.XI.

[22] Gregory Frost, ‘Reading the Slipstream’, ed. Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012) p.154.

[23] Terry Pratchett, The Truth, (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 2001) p. 45.

[24] ibid. p.43.

[25] Pratchett, The Truth. p.143.

[26] Pratchett, The Truth, p.226.

[27] Terry Pratchett, The Hogfather, (Corgi Books, Great Britain, 1997) p.422.

[28] Patricia Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction, (Methuen & Co. Ltd, London, 1984) p. 2.

[29] Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, (Ebury Press, London, 2003) p.24.

[30] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul, p.73.

[31] Pratchett, The Hogfather, p.366.

[32] ibid. p.422.

[33] Pratchett, Stewart, Cohen, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, p.98.

[34] Nickianne Moody, ‘Death’, ed. Andrew M. Butler, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, (Science Fiction Foundation, United Kingdom, 2003) p. 100.

[35] Pratchett, The Hogfather, p.199.

[36] Pratchett, The Hogfather, p.392.

[37] Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction. p.64.

[38] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul, p.189.

[39] Jessica Tiffin, Marvellous Geometry: Narrative and Metafiction in Modern Fairy Tales, (Wayne State University Press, USA, 2009)  p.164.

[40] Pratchett, Stewart, Cohen, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, p.79.

[41] Pratchett, The Wee Free Men, p.38.

[42] ibid, p.38.

[43] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul, p.69.

[44] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul, p.82.

[45] ibid, p.82.

[46] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul p.188.

[47] Pratchett, The Wee Free Men, p.291.

[48] Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay, (Victor Gollancz ltd., Great Britain, 1996) p.107.

[49] Christopher Bahn, ‘The 40th Discworld Novel Forgets to Bring the Whimsy, (, 17/4/2014) 27/2/16

[50] ibid. 27/2/16

[51] Anderson, Marvellous Fantasy, p.72.

[52] Terry Pratchett, Int. Linda L. Richards,, 27/2/2016

[53] Pratchett, Feet of Clay, p.66.

[54] Alan Sheridan, Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth, (Routledge, London, 1994), p.182.

[55] op.cit, p.67.

[56] Umberto Eco, Reflections on the Name of the Rose, trans. William Weaver, (London, Minerva, 1994) p.67.

[57] Pratchett, Feet of Clay, p94.

[58] ibid. p.248.

[59] Pratchett, Feet of Clay, p.187.

[60] Anne Cranny-Francis, Feminist Fiction: Feminist Use of Generic Fiction, (Polity Press, Cambridge, 1990) p. 77.

[61] Fred Botting, Sex, Machines and Navels: Fiction, Fantasy and History in the Future Present (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1999) p.131.

[62] Terry Pratchett, Terry Pratchett: Science Fiction or Fantasy? Mark Lawson Talks to Terry Pratchett, (BBC Worldwide, Youtube, 2009), 1:28

[63] Gregory Frost, ‘Reading the Slipstream’, ed. Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2012)  p.156.

[64] Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam, (Transworld Publishers, London, 2013) p.18.

[65] Pratchett, Raising Steam, p. 143.

[66] Michel Foucault, ‘The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom’, trans. J.D. Gauthier, The Final Foucault, (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1988) p.19

[67] Pratchett, Raising Steam, p. 48.

[68] Simon During, Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing, (Routledge, London, 1992) P. 133.

[69] Pratchett, Raising Steam, p.40.

[70] ibid. p. 70.

[71] Jung, The Earth Has a Soul, p.18.

[72] Pratchett, Raising Steam, p. 144.

[73] Terry Pratchett, Jingo, (Victor Gollancz Ltd., Great Britain, 1998) p.348.

[74] Terry Pratchett, Snuff, (Transworld Publishers, London, 2011) p.43.

[75] Terry Pratchett, ed. David Langford, CROSSTALK: Interviews Conducted by David Langford, (Ansible editions, Great Britain, 2015) p.42.

[76] Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction, p.64.

[77] Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd’s Crown, (Doubleday, Great Britain, 2015), p.38.

HEADER IMAGE – credit belongs to Paul Kidby.


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