Soul Music is the 16th Discworld novel, and was first published in May 1994. It was two years since I read my first Terry Pratchett novel and at that point I’d read everything published and Soul Music became my first hardback novel purchase (to be followed by almost all Terry Pratchett novels since…) I was nearing the end of my first year at university: a plump, weird, and mostly friendless eighteen year old whose only wall decoration in a drab room on the third floor of the smallest halls of residence was a copy of The Streets of Ankh-Morpork…
Perhaps knowing I was on the autistic spectrum might have helped me through the teenage years, but instead I had books. Reading (the town) in the mid 1990s was a great place for a fantasy fan, with a host of book signings. But the first signing I remember going to was for Soul Music. I was lucky enough to meet Sir Terry a few times at book signings (too many years ago) and although it was for mere minutes and I was too shy to say much, he was the sort of person who actually remembered people at later signings.
The list of books I submit to review for the Farewell Terry Pratchett Blog Tour (organised by Viv from Serendipity Reviews) was Wyrd Sisters, Mort, Reaper Man, or Soul Music. In retrospect, given its importance in my life, I should have put Soul Music first but fortunately all the others were taken. Wyrd Sisters was the book that started my love of Discworld, from reading the first page in the library, and the Death books were always my favourite.
I didn’t feel I could write about Soul Music without reading Mort and Reaper Man first, so I’ve just re-read all three in preparation, reminding myself of Terry Pratchett’s genius with words and humour. Over the years, the Discworld developed and grew, and even in reading books four, eleven, and sixteen, I could notice the books maturing. Although I can see that Soul Music could be described as lacking compared to later Discworld novels but whether for nostalgia or the huge number of pop culture and rock’n’roll references (or DEATH) this is still one of my favourites.
Soul Music follows the story of Imp Y Celyn (“Buddy”) from Llamedos (read it backwards) as he leaves his rural life and seeks his fortune in Ankh-Morpork. It includes familiar characters like Death and Albert, the Wizards, the Watch, CMOT Dibbler, the Patrician, and introduces Susan Death, the Canting Crew, and an embryonic Hex.
Soul Music is the story of rock’n’roll seeping where it doesn’t quite belong, while Death takes a short holiday to try to forget everything (including joining the Klatchian Foreign Legion and drinking the contents of The Mended Drum.) Susan Sto Helit, technically Death’s granddaughter (see Mort), gets roped into the family business by the Death of Rats (interpreted by a raven named Quoth, who doesn’t do “the N word”) and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler gets rich, very briefly.
It’s funny. It has an animated series with a soundtrack that gives a potted history of rock’n’roll in eight songs. The signing tour included t-shirts with the dates on the back. If you’ve not read any Discworld, it might not be the best place to start (I recommend Mort or Wyrd Sisters), but can still be enjoyed without any prior knowledge of recurring characters or Discworld politics.
As this post is ridiculously late, I will stop rambling for now. Luckily for us all, his written legacy will ensure Terry Pratchett will never fade away…
The Farewell Terry Pratchett Blog Tour 2015
9th April – Introduction at Serendipity Reviews
10th April – How Thief Of Time Changed My Life at Hapfairy
11th April – I Shall Wear Midnight at Serendipity Reviews
12th April – Guards! Guards! at Dark Readers
13th April – Reaper Man at Pewter Wolf
14th April – The Colour of Magic at So Many Books, So Little Time
15th April – Top Ten Discworld Characters at YA Yeah Yeah
16th April – The Wee Free Men at Della Says
17th April – Good Omens at Sister Spooky
18th April – Pyramids at Empire of Books
19th April – Cover Love (vlog) at Dark Readers
20th April – Equal Rites at Readaraptor
21st April – Nation at Tales of Yesterday
22nd April – Raising Steam at Thoughts from the Hearthfire
23rd April – Pratchett Adaptations at An Armchair by the Sea
24th April – Music With Rocks In at Child-Led Chaos (You Are Here)
25th April – Going Postal at Kirstyes
26th April – Truckers at Fluttering Butterflies
27th April – The Late Great Terry Pratchett (vlog) at Sable Caught
28th April – Memories of Mort at Making It Up
29th April – Wyrd Sisters at Tamsyn Murray
30th April – The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents at Green Mum
1st May – Terry Pratchett Farewell Tour at Teen Librarian
2nd May – Hogfather at Bookish Treasures
3rd May – Pratchett Inspired Pictures at Making It Up
4th May – Wintersmith at The Fleeting Dream
5th May – Truckers at Feeling Fictional