if you don’t know who Terry Pratchett is, then you should probably administer yourself a slap to the head.

come on… do it… there, you go. much better

Terry Pratchett is a man who i have never met [altho he did email me once] who has kept me thoroughly entertained for, oh since about 1983 when his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published and 40 novels later [as well as others not specifically in the discworld universe] he is still one of my absolute favourites.

in fact, my best buddy Reegs, gave me his latest, ‘Rising Steam’ for my birthday and i am still waiting for the right moment to dive into it.

a fictitious world set on a disc which balances carefully on the backs of four elephants who themselves, stand on the back of a giant turtle, A’Tuin, who casually glides through space. part fantasy, part science-fiction, part popular culture, all satirical, Pratchett has managed to create a genre of writing that can’t really effectively be likened to any other. a man called Jasper Fforde comes closest, but even as he is getting better, with his Thursday Next series, i still very much refer to him as “the poor man’s Pratchett” by which i only really mean that he’s not nearly as good.

if you have not yet read one of his novels, you are really missing out.

i just wanted to share some Pratchett quotes with you, which will hopefully give you a glimpse into the genius of the man

ranging from witty, hilarious, so deeply profound, creatively inventive, philosophical to deeply spiritual, Terry Pratchett manages to regularly surprise, taking you from deep laughter to deeply philosophical thought in a moment.

try some of these on for size:

“A good plan isn’t one where someone wins, it’s where nobody thinks they’ve lost.”

[ Terry Pratchett]

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‘If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.’

[Terry Pratchett, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents]

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“No! Please! I’ll tell you whatever you want to know!” the man yelled.

“Really?” said Vimes. “What’s the orbital velocity of the moon?”
“Oh, you’d like something simpler?”

[Terry Pratchett, Night Watch]

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pratchett quotes

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My favourite Terry Pratchett character is Death who arrives without warning when somebody offs it, but with complete warning in that he only ever speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS. So Pratchett used that simple premise to let you, the reader, know that someone is about to [or has just] die, even before they realise it themselves.


[Terry Pratchett, Good Omens]

“And what would humans be without love?”
“RARE”, said Death.” 

[Terry Pratchett, Sourcery]

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“The trouble is you can shut your eyes but you can’t shut your mind.”

[Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith]

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“Sometimes I really think people ought to have to pass a proper exam before they’re allowed to be parents. Not just the practical, I mean.”

[Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time]

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“Steal five dollars and you’re a common thief. Steal thousands and you’re either the government or a hero.”

[Terry Pratchett, Going Postal]

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pratchett death

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“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life.”

[Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent]

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“The truth isn’t easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than the soap and much more difficult to find.”

[Terry Pratchett, Sourcery]

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pratchett fire

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“Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.”

[Terry Pratchett, Mort]

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“Goodness is about what you do. Not who you pray to.”

[Terry Pratchett, Snuff]

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pratchett crowd

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pratchett boredom

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Terry Pratchett is a self-confessed atheist, but I want to end with the most powerful piece I think he has written, which I have used in a number of preaches in churches and on camps as he really does nail the heart of the gospel, really touching on the premise of WHAT IF THIS STUFF IS TRUE… 

This is from the book titled ‘Carpe Jugulum’ which is a plan on the latin of Carpe Diem [Seize the day] and as it is a story about vampires, is more aptly, ‘Seize the Throat’ and in this passage a young priest from a religion where the god is called Om is walking along with a witch called Granny Weatherwax who is a wily old lady who uses headology [making people believe in the power they think you have but focusing more on herbs and passed down knowledge than actual magic] more than magic to maintain the power people see her as having…

“They walked on in silence. A shower of hail bounced off Granny’s
pointed hat and Oat’s wide brim.

Then Granny said, “It’s no good you trying to make me believe in Om,

“Om forbid that I should try, Mistress Weatherwax. I haven’t even
given you a pamphlet, have I?”

“No, but you’re trying to make me think, “Oo, what a nice young man,
his god must be something special if nice young men like him helps
old ladies like me,” aren;t you?”


“Really? Well it’s not working. People you can believe in,
sometimes, but not gods. And I’ll tell you this Mister Oats…”

He sighed. “Yes?”

She turned to face him, suddenly alive. “it’d be as well for you if
I didn’t believe,” she said, prodding him with a sharp finger. “This
Om…anyone seen him?”

“It is said three thousand people witnessed his manifestation at the
Great Temple when he made the Covenant with the prophet Brutha and
saved him from death by torture on the iron turtle-“

“But I bet that now they’re arguing about what they actually saw,

“Well, indeed, yes, there are many opinions-“

“Right. Right. That’s people for you. Now if I’d seen him, really
there, really alive, it’d be in me like a fever. If I thought there
was some god who really did care two hoots about people, and who
watched ’em like a father and cared for ’em like a mother…well,
you wouldn’t catch me saying things like “There are two sides to
every question,” and “We must respect other peoples beliefs.” You
wouldn’t find me just being gen’rally nice in the hope that it’d all
turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like
an unforgivin’ sword. And I did say burnin’, Mister Oats, cos that’s
what it’d be. You say that your people don’t burn folk and sacrifice
people any more, but that’s what true faith would mean, y’see?
Sacrificin’ your own life, one day at a time, to the flame,
declarin’ the truth of it, workin’ for it, breathin’ the soul of it.
THAT’S religion. Anything else is just…is just bein’ nice. And a
way of keepin’ in touch with the neighbours.

She relaxed slightly, and went on in a quieter voice. “Anyway,
that’s what I’d be, if I really believed. And I don’t think that’s
fashionable right now, ‘cos it seems that if you sees evil now you
have to wring your hands and say, “Oh deary me, we must debate
this.” That’s my two penn’orth, Mister Oats. You be happy to let
things lie. Don’t chase faith, ‘cos you’ll never catch it.” She
added, almost as an aside, “But, perhaps, you can live faithfully.”

Her teeth chattered as a gust of icy wind flapped her wet dress
around her legs.

“You got another book of holy words on you?” she added.

“No,” said Oats, still shocked. He thought: my god, if she ever
finds a religion, what would come out of those mountains and sweep
across the plains?”

[Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum]

So there is Terry Pratchett for you, and if you haven’t yet, i hope this will have encouraged you, even just out of curiosity to go and find a copy of ‘The Colour of Magic’ and give it a chance… i found that around books 6, 7, 8 [Wyrd Sisters, a parody of Macbeth, Pyramids, with the greatest character name ever devised, ‘Yousonofabitch’ the camel*, and Guards, Guards!] he really started blossoming, but it is worth getting the back story of the first few to get into the characters and description of the world.

[*post script – turns out our minds ‘remember’ funny things – the camel’s name was ‘You Bastard’ so i at least got the concept right… and he was also the greatest camel mathematician of his time – other camels in the book went by the names, ‘Evil-Smelling-Bugger, Bloody Stupid and You Vicious Brute]

I leave you with one last piece of piercing Pratchettian wisdom and observance:

pratchett quote