Review of Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

9454765Soul Music by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★

Soul Music is the sixteenth entry into the Discworld series. While Soul Music does stand largely alone, I would recommend starting elsewhere in the series – perhaps with Reaper Man or Guards! Guards!.

Soul Music is closer to two different story lines woven together than one single plot. Things do come together at the end, but the different stories still feel very separate. One follows Susan, the granddaughter of the personification Death. Death’s disappeared, and Susan has to take up his duties as she learns about her heritage. The other story line is about a group of musicians who find a mysterious guitar that leads to rock and roll being introduced to the Discworld.

Of the two stories, I liked Susan’s better. Unfortunately, I feel like she got increasingly shuffled to the back towards the end of the book. Susan’s a terrific character, possibly the best in the book (only Death could give her a run for her money). She values logic and order and is quite vexed by all this “granddaughter of Death” silliness.

“In theory it was, around now, Literature. Susan hated Literature. She’d much prefer to read a good book.”

The rock and roll story line was crammed full of jokes about music. I caught some of them – the guitar maker’s apprentice being named Gibson – but I know there are many more that completely passed me over. If you’re the sort of person who’s really into music, this is the book for you. Just remember that Soul Music was published in the early 90’s, so don’t go expecting any jokes about current musicians.

In the end, only the additions of Susan and Death make Soul Music a better installment to the Discworld than the similar Moving Pictures. However, I certainly recommend Soul Music. It is a good book, it just has the difficulty of being compared to far superior Discworld novels.

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