on August 31, 2001
Death always makes me feel a bit melancholy.
laugh all you want, but when I read about how Susan
laughed at the swing he tried to make for her it brought tears to my eyes...
I absolutely love Pratchetts work. I also love music
so I was ready to love this book.
but, what can I say? it was kinda boring- not one
of his best. there wasn't enough plot for 380 pages.
and the ending was a bit hazy. I'm not even sure
what happened there.
but still, 3 stars on the Pratchett scale is about
5 stars on any other scale.
better buy Small Gods or Carpe Jugulum instead, and save that one for later!
on January 12, 2002
I always have a difficult time getting into the groove with Pratchett novels. Given the serious nature of most of the books I ever read, it takes me at least fifty pages to begin to come to terms with all the slapstick parody. Usually after that, though, I find myself in heaven, and "Soul Music," for the most part, upheld that illusion without a hitch.
I used to be into rock music a number of years ago, but I grew out of it as I began to take notice of just how pointless all the angst associated with the scene really was; the fact that all the bands sounded the same, I suppose, must have also played a part in my disenchantment. Whatever the case, this installment in the Discworld series struck a chord with me as it began to make note of all the conventions that go along hand in hand with the music; spike-studded leather clothing, you could say, goes along pretty well with the entire scene--but outside of that, you really can't justify its usage with any other point.
For a while, it's great to see Pratchett introduce element after element on the ground that "it just *fits*"--at least, until the end of the novel approaches, and you realize that what has been parodied is really nothing more than the superficial elements of it all.
But it's all fine and dandy, because when things begin to grow stale, our attention is turned towards Death's granddaughter's approach to her newly-inherited vocation, and the more intimate details of Death's home. I don't know if any details on the latter may have been dispersed in previous installments of the series (as I've only read a handful), but what's here is a hoot--it's a neat little way to make Death a more palatable, charismatic character.
The most problematic issue at hand, though, seems to be the conclusion of the novel--we're treated to dozens of terse passages that try to build up momentum for a situation so clichéd that it almost lacks any sort of impetus whatsoever, and at the end of it all you're left scratching your head at what seems to be a rushed, indolent excuse for an ending. And if you read over it, you'll realize that the passages relating to the Patrician are but a waste of time--nothing he does is important enough to progress the story, and since Pratchett forgets about him by the end (or middle) of the book, it seems like the reader is expected to have done so as well.
So I'll forget, and imbue the inner recesses of my mind with the opinion that "Soul Music" is a great frivolous read. There's really not enough reason here to regret having spent my money; in fact, for more passages with C.M.O.T. Dibbler alone, I'd probably be willing to fork over twice as large an amount.
on December 28, 2001
In this Discworld installment, PTerry definitely did a great job on the characters, of which there is no shortage. One of my favorites is Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who is a business enterpreneur. Also, Corporal Nobbs and Sergeant Colon of the city watch shared some pretty funny exchanges. Another of my favorites is the Librarian, an orangutan (don't ever call him a monkey), who runs the University library. This book was also the first time I encountered Mustrum Ridcully. Every character, from the Band With Rocks In roadie Asphalt to Qouth the raven, is done in a way that individualizes them greatly. Next, I'd like to talk about the plot. There are several subplots: Death tries various ways to forget his past, Susan takes on Death's role, Ridcully and the University wizards get crazed for Music With Rocks In, and Imp Y Celyn, a Llamedese bard, gets his life takenover by a magic guitar. PTerry weaves these plots together to form a gigantic plot, which heralds a long, exciting, 300-page book
on December 12, 2001
Death is easily one of my favorite characters in the Discworld series, and this book is him at his prime. Death is continually evolving into a more complex and humane character, while still maintaining a core 'deathness' about him. His residence is described in here using that great Pratchett mixture of blatently obvious statements and metaphors only he could get away with.
This book is also about music out of it's place. Rock and roll passes through Discworld, and the results are great (great meaning comedically bad). Take a very detailed and complete fantasy world, add the rebellion of rock and roll, and it seems like it writes itself. But the great part about this, and all Terry Pratchett books, is that the joke only begins with the setup, the entire book just keeps getting funnier and funnier. (Compare this to The Onion, where the entire joke is in the headline, and the story is usually just fluff.)
Finally, like all Pratchett books, through all of the ridiculous situations and absurd logic, there is a decent amount of drama at the end.
If you already know and like Terry Pratchett, here's one of his best works on Death. If you don't know him yet, you could easily start with this book. This was the second Pratchett book I ever read, and I haven't stopped since.
on March 9, 2001
No one agrees on which is the best Terry Pratchett novel, but a lot of his fans, myself included, would name this as a candidate. In this novel, he takes his manic punning, wordplay and double- and triple-entendre to the highest level.
Soul Music has three narrative threads: Death takes a holiday (which Pratchett fans will remember from _Mort_), Mort's orphan daughter, Susan Sto Helit, and her attempts to cope with the family legacy, and the discovery of rock and roll on the disc. The three stories intertwine and the result, for me, ranged from snickers to guffaws.
The big news is that rock and roll comes to the disk, through the agency of a pawnshop guitar and a skilled harpist, whose name translates as "Bud of Holly" and who looks kind of Elvis[h]. With a dwarvish horn player named Glod and a trollish drummer named Cliff, the band Music with Rocks In takes the Discworld by storm. The Librarian, the monk... orangutan who runs the Wizard's library, sits in on keyboards, and exceeds even the excesses of Jerry Lee Lewis. You cannot imagine a rock music issue that Pterry doesn't reach. Women fans pitch articles of clothing; espresso shops appear; rock promoters - C.M.O.T. Dibbler, of course - arrive; even the sedate wizards wear leather, do their best James Dean and show they, too, are "Born to Rune."
Parts of the book are a pastiche of "Blues Brothers" ("We're on a mission from Glod"), "Spinal Tap," and "Woodstock." Other parts are simply Pratchett's own mad invention. And this book also features Pterry's best pun - "some felonious monk;" possibly the best pun in literature since Niven's and Gerrold's _The Flying Sorcerors_. You can spend a lot of time just working out the puns. And let me note that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" gets the treatment it righteously deserves.
But while Buddy and his band tour with their roadie Asphalt and inescapably head towards Dead Man's Curve, and while Death does his best to learn how to forget with the help of the Klatchian Foreign Legion and alcohol, Susan makes increasingly frantic efforts to keep what passes for reality on the Discworld from coming completely unstuck. With the help of the Death of Rats, Albert and other favorites, the Disc is saved, but not without some uncommon poignancy.
There are scholarly articles on whether Pratchett writes parody or satire. However labelled, this was the high water mark for his experiments with the pure form. Anglo-American literature has never had as brilliant a satirist/parodist as Terry Pratchett. He may have written better Discworld books, but I'm not sure he has written a funnier book. Especially if you know and like rock music.
"Bee There Orr Bee A Rectangular Thyng"
on December 11, 2000
This is my first venture into realms of Terry Pratchett and his Discworld. And, well, I'm not sure what to think. Explaining the plot is also difficult because, well, any plot about a band where the pianist is a orangutan (..a librarian by profession!) and the Grim Reaper joins the Foreign Legion leads one to believe that the novel Soul Music and the term 'plot' are mutually exclusive. No one will ever confuse this book as being an example of literature.
It seems that Terry Pratchett has written lots of silly jokes and satiric observations, some of which are quite funny, loosely tied into a very absurd story. Either you'll love it or hate it. I'm perhaps the exception where I think the likes of Terry Pratchett are best served as a humour columnist (satirist) for a newspaper, for example, rather than as a novelist. Soul Music does drag on. It's sort of like listening to the class clown in grade school; in small doses it's great, but after a while .. SHUT UP!!
Perhaps Soul Music is the best way for you to decide on whether you think Terry Pratchett is a god or a man with a misplaced talent.
on May 21, 2000
Terry Pratchett is without a doubt one of the most gifted writers to grace the world of literature. His Discworld novel, 'Soul Music', is the most entertaining book I've read in many years. This is the story of Susan Sto Helit- boarding school student, granddaughter of Death, and acting CEO of the family business. When Death joins the Klatchian Foreign Legion to forget (in general), Susan has to take up the scythe and fill in for a time. Not particularly well suited for the job, Susan refuses to collect the life of Imp Y Celyn- a young man who along with a dwarf trumpet player and a troll percussionist, has introduced Music With Rocks In to the good people of Ankh-Morpork. Imp has been influenced by a magical guitar with a life of it's own, and given birth to 'Rock' music. Susan feels it's not right for Imp to 'live fast and die young', and this upsets the balance of nature on Discworld. Assisted by Albert- Death's manservant, and the Death of Rats- Susansets out to find her grandfather and try to set things right. Music With Rocks in has upset every aspect of society in Ankh-Morpork, much like rock'n'roll in 1950's America. The wizards of Unseen University are under a spell like nothing anyone has ever seen. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the whole fantasy/sci-fi genre, but Pratchett's Discworld novels are more akin to flights of fancy... enjoyable on many levels. His works leave the reader with a pleasant sense of fulfillment that few authors can approach. You never find yourself wishing things turned out differently than Pratchett's vision, like so many other novels today. This splendid work has to be read to fully grasp the beauty of it's complex fluidity, and the humorous footnotes are fantastic. I would recommend Terry Pratchett's 'Discworld' series to anyone- they are a pleasure to read and finished far too soon.
on June 11, 1997
Here we are again. Death, the skeletal fellow who goes around wearing black robes, carrying a scythe, riding a pale white horse (named Binky), and TALKS LIKE THIS, has once again grown tired of the job and gone to try to forget things by joining the... um... (glancing at a piece of paper) the Klatchian Foreign Legion.
That's an in-joke about how NOBODY in the Klatchian Foreign Legion can remember anything.
...so, his granddaughter Susan inherits the job accidentally.
Meanwhile, the young bard Imp y Celyn starts to make it big when he finds a magical guitar and music takes over his soul. He changes his name to Buddy...
...and, in positively classic Pratchett style, the two plotlines come together in a rush of magic, energy, and Music With Rocks In!
I very highly recommend this book to anyone with... well, anyone with a willpower rating of above 10, which is what you need to move.
As Death would likely say, DON'T FORGET. I CAN'T ANYWAY, SO IT'S NOT A PROBLEM. BUT YOU HUMANS...
And you don't want to miss the Death of Rats who goes around saying SQUEAK.
on August 19, 2000
As a humor writer and as a novelist, Terry Pratchett has his ups and downs, with ERIC being the most complete failure among his 20-odd novels. SOUL MUSIC is not at the bottom, but it is not far above. Generally, any Pratchett novel featuring the character Death is disappointing, but this one has major problems with ALL its characters, none of whom ever come to life even for a moment. There is really no plot, no characterization, no meaningful action, and at the end there's a non-ending perilously close to "why, it was all a dream."
Each of Pratchett's novels takes on a specific feature of our own world, and the closer the feature is to mass media, the worse the novel is. MOVING PICTURES (about the film industry) was bad, SOUL MUSIC (about the popular music industry) is even worse. The satire has little bite and almost no point, as if Pratchett were so offended by these media (as am I for that matter) that he can hardly bear to dissect them effectively.
on September 8, 2001
When Imp y Celin comes to Ankh-Morpork, he has no idea that you should actually pay The Guild of Musicians to play music. Since he doesn't have the money, he, a dwarf trumpet player, and a troll percussionists start a band, the first Rock band in Ankh-Morpork. The music actually kinda hypnotizes people -- it has Rhythm, and wherever the band goes, there are always tons of listeners.
Meanwhile, Death has once again decided to take a break to try and forget everything, this time joining the Klatchian Foreign Legion, and his 16 year old grand-daughter Susan has to take his place.
The plot lines coincide really great, making a great, and really funny book. You'd think that Pratchett was reading the story of some real band (e.g. The Beatles, Metallica) and just telling it over, but with different names and also making it sound silly.
This is not one of Pratchett's best, but makes a great addition to your library.