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Terry Pratchett joins up with a leading folklorist to reveal the legends, myths and customs of Discworld, together with helpful hints from Planet Earth. Most of us grew up having always known when to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are beginning to be forgotte Terry Pratchett joins up with a leading folklorist to reveal the legends, myths and customs of Discworld, together with helpful hints from Planet Earth. Most of us grew up having always known when to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are beginning to be forgotten. Legends, myths, and fairy tales: our world is made up of the stories we told ourselves about where we came from and how we got here. It is the same on Discworld, except that beings, which on Earth are creatures of the imagination — like vampires, trolls, witches and, possibly, gods — are real, alive and, in some cases kicking, on the Disc. In The Folklore of Discworld, Terry Pratchett teams up with leading British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson to take an irreverent yet illuminating look at the living myths and folklore that are reflected, celebrated and affectionately libelled in the uniquely imaginative universe of Discworld.


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Terry Pratchett joins up with a leading folklorist to reveal the legends, myths and customs of Discworld, together with helpful hints from Planet Earth. Most of us grew up having always known when to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are beginning to be forgotte Terry Pratchett joins up with a leading folklorist to reveal the legends, myths and customs of Discworld, together with helpful hints from Planet Earth. Most of us grew up having always known when to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are beginning to be forgotten. Legends, myths, and fairy tales: our world is made up of the stories we told ourselves about where we came from and how we got here. It is the same on Discworld, except that beings, which on Earth are creatures of the imagination — like vampires, trolls, witches and, possibly, gods — are real, alive and, in some cases kicking, on the Disc. In The Folklore of Discworld, Terry Pratchett teams up with leading British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson to take an irreverent yet illuminating look at the living myths and folklore that are reflected, celebrated and affectionately libelled in the uniquely imaginative universe of Discworld.

30 review for The Folklore of Discworld

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    The magpies in the image are so important because of how this book came to be. In order to understand Sir Terry, his motivation, the deal with the magpies and why I've cried reading even only the first two pages, please read an excerpt from the author's introduction to this book: Not long after this I did a book-signing on the south coast, when I took the opportunity to ask practically every person in the queue to say the magpie rhyme (I was doing research for Carpe Jugulum). Every single one The magpies in the image are so important because of how this book came to be. In order to understand Sir Terry, his motivation, the deal with the magpies and why I've cried reading even only the first two pages, please read an excerpt from the author's introduction to this book: Not long after this I did a book-signing on the south coast, when I took the opportunity to ask practically every person in the queue to say the magpie rhyme (I was doing research for Carpe Jugulum). Every single one of them recited, with greater or lesser accuracy, the version of the rhyme that used to herald the beginning of the 1960s and 70s children’s TV programme Magpie – ‘One for sorrow, two for joy’. It wasn’t a bad rhyme, but like some cuckoo in the nest it was forcing out all the other versions that had existed around the country (some of which will appear in a later chapter). Then a distinguished-looking lady was in front of me with a book, and I asked her, with some inexpressible hope in my heart, how many versions of the magpie rhyme she knew. After a moment’s thought, she said ‘about nineteen’. And that was how I met Jacqueline Simpson, who has been my friend and occasional consultant on matters of folklore, and once got me along to talk to the British Folklore Society, where I probably upset a few people by saying that I think of folklore in much the same way a carpenter thinks about trees. Some of the things in this book may well be familiar, and you will say ‘but everybody knows this’. But the Discworld series, which on many occasions borrows from folklore and mythology, twisting and tangling it on the way, must be the most annotated series of modern books in existence. And one thing I have learned is this: not many people know the things which everyone knows. But there are some things we shouldn’t forget, and mostly they add up to where we came from and how we got here and the stories we told ourselves on the way. But folklore isn’t only about the past. It grows, flowers and seeds every day, because of our innate desire to control our world by means of satisfying narratives. I used to live a short distance away from a standing stone which, at full moon and/or Midsummer’s Eve, would dance around its field at night, incidentally leaving unguarded a pot of gold which, in theory, was available to anyone who dared to seize it and could run faster than a stone. I went to see it by daylight early on, but for some reason I never found the time to make the short nocturnal journey and check on its dancing abilities. I now realize this was out of fear: I feared that, like so many stones I have met, it would fail to dance. There was a small part of me that wanted the world to be a place where, despite planning officers and EU directives and policemen, a stone might dance. And somewhere there, I think, is the instinct for folklore. There should be a place where a stone dances. The second introduction is by co-author and folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, who goes on to tell us about the importance of folklore and how un-snobbish it actually is (an excerpt): The truth of the matter is, the Disc is the Earth, but with an extra dimension of reality. On the Discworld, things that on Earth are creatures of the imagination (but sometimes quite powerful, even so) are alive and, in some cases, kicking. Sometimes we recognize them at once (is there anyone who doesn’t know a dragon when they meet one?). Sometimes we simply feel that something is deeply familiar and completely right, but we have no idea why. Then we realize that the key to the familiarity lies in folklore. Whatever is folklore on Earth finds its mirror in the reality of the Disc. Of course it’s perfectly natural that Mrs Gogol’s house moves about on four large duck feet, because Baba Yaga’s hut spins around on chicken legs in the forests of Russia; of course the Nac Mac Feegle are pictsies, not pixies, because of stories the Scots told about Picts; of course there’s an ancient king sleeping in a cavern deep under a mountain in Lancre, because that’s what King Arthur does in England and Scotland, and the Emperor Barbarossa in Germany. We’ve known about such things for ages, even if we called them fairy tales, myths, and folklore; now that we’re on the Disc, they are real, and we feel quite at home. But most people, most of the time, just grow up having always known how and when to touch wood or cross their fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone. They take for granted that there will be pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, pumpkins and scary costumes at Halloween, bonfires on Guy Fawkes Night, mince pies at Christmas. (Non-British readers, please adjust to fit your own traditional foods and calendars.) So who are the ‘folk’ who have all this ‘lore’? The answer is, ‘any of us’. It’s a mistake to think that the only folklore worthy of the name is what you get by finding the oldest crone in the dirtiest cottage in the poorest village in the remotest mountain valley, and cross-examining her on her deathbed. Every group and sub-group in society has its jokes, its beliefs, its tales and traditions. At this very moment, there are children in the playground giggling over the latest naughty joke (it may or may not be one their great-grandparents knew too); young mothers who take for granted that little girls must wear pink; college students teaching each other the equivalent of Nanny Ogg’s ‘Hedgehog Song’. And because where there is fun there is also money to be made, there’s a large-scale trade in birthday cards, Easter eggs, Mother’s Day cards, Halloween masks and so forth, which no parent dares ignore. And any town or pub or castle which wants to attract tourists will go looking for colourful local legends and customs to exploit. The days are long gone when scholars insisted that ‘real folklore’ must always be something passed on by word of mouth, not in print. This was never very realistic, at any rate in literate societies, where generations of poets and novelists and dramatists have drawn material from myth and folk tale, twisted and embroidered it, and then handed it on to future readers. And then, maybe, the readers become tellers in their turn, and hand it on again. The Tree of Folklore has no objection whatever to creative carpenters. Stories and beliefs grow and multiply in all the media available, old and new; they are forever feeding on, and then feeding back into, the rich soup of tradition. Take vampires, for instance. How much of ‘what everybody knows who knows anything about vampires’ comes from the basic five-hundred-year-old East European folklore, and how much from novels, films, comics, TV? Specialists can work it out, but does it really matter? Here and now, in the twenty-first century, all vampire lore has blended together into a luscious soup. Folklore may look as if it never changes, but if you keep a watchful eye on it, you will notice some things dying out and others springing up. In Britain nowadays, people do not wear mourning for months on end after a death in the family, but because grief needs an outlet a new custom has appeared out of nowhere and is spreading fast – thirty years ago nobody built roadside memorials of flowers and mementoes at the site of tragic accidents, but now this is felt to be right and proper. Customs also travel from one country to another much faster and more frequently than they once did; since the 1980s Britain has learned from America that if you tie a yellow ribbon to a tree or a fence, this means you’re praying for the safety of some prisoner or kidnap victim who is in the news. In fact, variously coloured ribbons and plastic wrist-bands in support of good causes are popping up all over the place now, in the way that lapel badges used to do, and everyone understands what each one means. On the Discworld, folklore is much more stable. New symbols sometimes arise – the black ribbon recently adopted by reformed vampires, for instance (its Earthly parallel was the blue ribbon of Victorian teetotallers), and the commemorative spray of lilac which Vimes and some others in Ankh-Morpork wear on one day of the year, as explained in Night Watch – but nothing ever seems to be discarded and forgotten. This makes the Discworld a wonderful place in which to rediscover the solidity, the depth which tradition brings to a society, and learn to cherish it. Why I’ve gone to the trouble of copying so much text in here? Because it gives you a feel for what this book is, how it feels, what it’s trying to do. It’s easy to say it’s just another addendum to the series, written and published to cash in. The truth, however, is that the Discworld books are so rich with mythology and hints and easter eggs and silent nods to all manner of things here on the Roundworld that it’s nice to have such a compendium, especially if you might not get every reference thrown in. I’ve been a fan of Pratchett’s long before I knew anything about him or the universe he has created. I read a book here, a book there, and when I finally saw the scale of things, he died. To this day, it’s such a blow that I’m crying like a little girl at the oddest moments. It’s what’s been keeping me from reading all the Discworld books for so long. Now that I was voluntold to read it anyway and have made it up to book #11 (finished yesterday, on Sir Terry’s birthday), it sure is nice to also have this book. You can read this as a separate book, front to back, the way I did now. Or, alternatively, you can read chapters or sub-chapters of it whenever you hit a certain spot in the series or want to look something up. The chapters in here are: 1. The Cosmos: Gods, Demons and Things 2. Dwarfs 3. The Elves 4. The Nac Mac Feegle 5. Trolls 6. Other Significant Races 7. Beasties 8. The Witches of Lancre 9. The Land of Lancre 10. The Witches of the Chalk 11. The Chalk 12. Heroes! 13. Lore, Legends and Truth 14. More Customs, Nautical Lore and Military Matters 15. Kids’ Stuff … You Know, about 'Orrid Murder and Blood 16. Death While reading, one notices the age of this book. Thus, it doesn’t necessarily include everything because Sir Terry wrote many more books until his death in 2015, but it is quite encompassing nonetheless because most characters had already made an appearance by the time the collaboration bore this fruit. I can honestly say that I’m charmed by how the two authors made this about the Disc as much as about our world and I dare say that some people might even make connections they had hitherto missed out on. As a fan of mythology, this was a special treat for me as it gave me all the Discworld versions as well as our real-life models and provided a deeper understanding of why Sir Terry used this or that image in a certain book/situation. Here's to dancing stones in the night!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    This could also be titled Folklore AND the Discworld. Sir Terry Pratchett teams up with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson (I want to be known as a folklorist – maybe that can be my new introduction – “please meet the imminent folklorist Lyn”) to describe how folklore on the Discworld and on Earth have influenced each other. Like shadows of the multiverse crossing lines, folk tales and folk stories on each world have come to be as an amalgam of myth, legend, popular stories, tall tales, bold faced lies This could also be titled Folklore AND the Discworld. Sir Terry Pratchett teams up with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson (I want to be known as a folklorist – maybe that can be my new introduction – “please meet the imminent folklorist Lyn”) to describe how folklore on the Discworld and on Earth have influenced each other. Like shadows of the multiverse crossing lines, folk tales and folk stories on each world have come to be as an amalgam of myth, legend, popular stories, tall tales, bold faced lies and some truth mixed in. Pratchett and Simpson work well together and while this is mainly about revisiting and explaining Pratchett’s magnificent creation of the Discworld, this is also a fun and instructive guide to how some of Earth’s myths and legend have come to be and also, interestingly, how some tales have evolved over time. Probably mainly for Discworld fans (ubiquitous references to just about all of the novels and stories might lose some non-Discworld travelers) this is also a good book to learn about Earth folklore.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I wavered between 3-4 stars on this one, but I'm nothing if not a bit generous when it deserves it. My main concern was that this was another book cashing in on the huge popularity of Pratchett, and it is, but it didn't dim my enjoyment. I love folklore and myth and this one is full of a bunch of mirroring of both, breaking down examples of how Pratchett twists and captures the spirit of so many legends... (mostly English or within that scope, which is also large). Is it good? Sure, if you like a I wavered between 3-4 stars on this one, but I'm nothing if not a bit generous when it deserves it. My main concern was that this was another book cashing in on the huge popularity of Pratchett, and it is, but it didn't dim my enjoyment. I love folklore and myth and this one is full of a bunch of mirroring of both, breaking down examples of how Pratchett twists and captures the spirit of so many legends... (mostly English or within that scope, which is also large). Is it good? Sure, if you like a refresher on myth and more local sources of custom, magical thinking, and fairy tales. :) I do. And so I thought it was quite good. I did learn a few new things, too, but mostly it was comparative religion and callbacks to the standards. :) Not bad, but it still reads like a popular literary analysis textbook. :) Do I recommend it? Absolutely, if you're a huge fan of Pratchett! :) Gives you a new dimension with which to read the books! :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Otherwyrld

    I've read a few of the non-fiction books associated with Terry Pratchett's Discworld books but somehow missed this one when it first came out, which is a pity because I have an interest in mythology and folklore. The book itself is lightweight and doesn't really add that much to knowledge of either Earth or Discworld folklore, it is just a simple comparison between the two worlds and notes where there are similarities. Where it does have a lot of relevance is the way in which Terry Pratchett meti I've read a few of the non-fiction books associated with Terry Pratchett's Discworld books but somehow missed this one when it first came out, which is a pity because I have an interest in mythology and folklore. The book itself is lightweight and doesn't really add that much to knowledge of either Earth or Discworld folklore, it is just a simple comparison between the two worlds and notes where there are similarities. Where it does have a lot of relevance is the way in which Terry Pratchett meticulously sifted through Earth mythology in order to come up with the inspiration for his ideas into the Discworld, but also twisting it just enough to make it new and different. Any fantasy writer would do well to read this book as a how-to guide for creating a comprehensive and realistic background for their own stories. Many fantasy worlds fail because the author hasn't done their research properly - it may be fantasy, but it still has to be grounded in something we recognise. It would certainly be easier to read this book than The Golden Bough, or Hero of a Thousand Faces (both of which I have found too hard to get into). I also found this book interesting because it reminded me just how much detail of the Discworld books I have forgotten over the years, even though I have retained the general gist of each story. That reminds me that I really must start rereading this series in the near future. 3 1/2 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is really a 3.5, but I'm rounding up. If you have read the Discworld novels and have a good working knowledge of folk and fairy tales much of this book isn't anything new. Undoubtably, you made the connections yourself. There are some interesting tidbits, like the ballad about the dragon who was killed by a kick up the rump (must track that down); however, most of the information isn't really new. It isn't presented dully. It is an interesting book to read because of Pratchett's style (yes This is really a 3.5, but I'm rounding up. If you have read the Discworld novels and have a good working knowledge of folk and fairy tales much of this book isn't anything new. Undoubtably, you made the connections yourself. There are some interesting tidbits, like the ballad about the dragon who was killed by a kick up the rump (must track that down); however, most of the information isn't really new. It isn't presented dully. It is an interesting book to read because of Pratchett's style (yes, there are footnotes) as well as the bibliography at the back. You also get an idea of how Pratchett's mind works. I did wonder, however, why in the discussion of chests used as murder weapons (a.k.a. the Luggage) why the Grimms’ "The Juniper Tree" and the Italian version "Cat Cinderella" were left out.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    This book was a little bit of a mixed bag: if you're familiar with Pratchett's Discworld novels, a lot of this will not be new and the extensive quotations might irritate you after a while (they did me). If you aren't familiar with Discworld, I can't imagine this book making much sense. However, the comic ways in which Pratchett riffs on Earth folklore, mythology and urban legends are explained well, and the style is very amusing. I guess I was looking for something a little more dense, especial This book was a little bit of a mixed bag: if you're familiar with Pratchett's Discworld novels, a lot of this will not be new and the extensive quotations might irritate you after a while (they did me). If you aren't familiar with Discworld, I can't imagine this book making much sense. However, the comic ways in which Pratchett riffs on Earth folklore, mythology and urban legends are explained well, and the style is very amusing. I guess I was looking for something a little more dense, especially at this length, but the book was still fun.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James Kemp

    I'm a fan of both Terry Pratchett and folklore. I definitely learnt some things, but also knew quite a lot of it already, which perhaps reflects the four star rating rather than the five one might otherwise expect given my stated interests. You don't need to have read all the discworld novels to get this book, but you do need to be a discworld reader or a large chunk of it will be lost on you. This book is a reference list that explains how earth's folklore (primarily British, but not exclusivel I'm a fan of both Terry Pratchett and folklore. I definitely learnt some things, but also knew quite a lot of it already, which perhaps reflects the four star rating rather than the five one might otherwise expect given my stated interests. You don't need to have read all the discworld novels to get this book, but you do need to be a discworld reader or a large chunk of it will be lost on you. This book is a reference list that explains how earth's folklore (primarily British, but not exclusively so) has influenced the stories, and it comes with a really good index at the back. So you could have it on the side when reading through the various discworld books to look up the bits you weren't sure of. However, it works best on the novels set outside Ankh-Morpork. From memory the most referenced are Pyramids, Sourcery, Hogfather, Lords and Ladies, Soul Music, Monstrous Regiment and the Tiffany Aching books. Another word on spoilers. Although there are a good number of quoted sections and explanations of references I don't think any of these directly related to the main plots of the stories. However, you might want to read the actual Discworld books before reading this one. You'll enjoy it all the more for being familiar with the stories.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sande

    Discworld companion for the die-hard fans. Particularly useful for the non-British readers who are not so familiar with the British traditions and might have missed some of the customs referred to in the series. Unfortunately, Pratchett's involvement in this book is limited to extracts from his books. Discworld companion for the die-hard fans. Particularly useful for the non-British readers who are not so familiar with the British traditions and might have missed some of the customs referred to in the series. Unfortunately, Pratchett's involvement in this book is limited to extracts from his books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick Phillips

    It would be impossible not to give this five stars. It is so much more than just a look at the folklore behind Pratchett's Discworld series, as with his Science of Discworld books it is also a detailed look at the folklore of our world, both obvious and obscure and stretching back some 4500 years, but unlike those books which sort of follow a new narrative line The Folklore of Discworld acts as a greatest hits of around 40 of his books with quotes and passages littered throughout the text to ill It would be impossible not to give this five stars. It is so much more than just a look at the folklore behind Pratchett's Discworld series, as with his Science of Discworld books it is also a detailed look at the folklore of our world, both obvious and obscure and stretching back some 4500 years, but unlike those books which sort of follow a new narrative line The Folklore of Discworld acts as a greatest hits of around 40 of his books with quotes and passages littered throughout the text to illustrate his comments which just serves to remind the reader just how good these books are. That it should be a reminder is important because this is not a greatest hits as a musician might produce which can be used as a gateway to their works for a new audience, here the value of the text is to remind you of the bits you enjoyed first time round while at the same time pointing out some of the references that you might have missed. The book is co-authored by Jacqueline Simpson who brings a lifetime of knowledge around Earthly folklore to counterbalance the Discworld equivalent. Simpson makes a good point in her introduction that she felt that the book might take too much away from people's enjoyment of the series and this again may be true for someone who hasn't read the majority of the books but for someone who has the joy is in recognising the references that you spotted while happily having those that you didn't pointed out to you. One thing I know for sure is that I'll never look at a magpie in the same way again.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brandi

    I love Sir Terry Pratchett's work and I am very interested in folklore, so this book hit all the right buttons. Sir Terry and Jacqueline Simpson have written an interesting, fun, and informative text which tells of the myth, legends, and lore that inform the Discworld series. No dry, dull scholarly work here, oh no. The usual wit and levity Sir Terry brings to his fiction is reflected in this volume, enhanced by Simpson's expert knowledge of her field. A jolly good read. I love Sir Terry Pratchett's work and I am very interested in folklore, so this book hit all the right buttons. Sir Terry and Jacqueline Simpson have written an interesting, fun, and informative text which tells of the myth, legends, and lore that inform the Discworld series. No dry, dull scholarly work here, oh no. The usual wit and levity Sir Terry brings to his fiction is reflected in this volume, enhanced by Simpson's expert knowledge of her field. A jolly good read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    A superb companion to Sir! Terry's incomparable Discworld series. If you ever wondered about the mythic parallels drawn between Discworld and our world; if you're just a folklore buff and enjoy reading up about beasties, odd traditions, and historical flights of fancies: this is the book for you. Now expanded to include the events of Raising Steam, it's well worth the read. A superb companion to Sir! Terry's incomparable Discworld series. If you ever wondered about the mythic parallels drawn between Discworld and our world; if you're just a folklore buff and enjoy reading up about beasties, odd traditions, and historical flights of fancies: this is the book for you. Now expanded to include the events of Raising Steam, it's well worth the read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Redsteve

    I got a free used copy of this, expecting it to be either a joyless cash-grab and/or a literary pummeling of the traditional deceased equine. You know what I mean: someone went over the series and selected random bits to make a "new" book. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mistaken. This book discusses the folklore (broadly speaking) of Sir Terry's Discworld books (cosmos, religion, non-human beings, monsters, witches and witchcraft, magic, death and funerals, certain especially I got a free used copy of this, expecting it to be either a joyless cash-grab and/or a literary pummeling of the traditional deceased equine. You know what I mean: someone went over the series and selected random bits to make a "new" book. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was mistaken. This book discusses the folklore (broadly speaking) of Sir Terry's Discworld books (cosmos, religion, non-human beings, monsters, witches and witchcraft, magic, death and funerals, certain especially folkloric regions of the Discworld -Lancre and the Chalk-, kings and heroes, nautical and military customs, sports, children's' stories, and holidays), but, as Discworld is a reflection of our Earth, the author goes back and forth over the "real world" customs, beliefs and legends that inspired Sir Terry, or, alternately, seeped through the walls between our realities. This ends up with you getting an excellent survey of the legends and folk customs of the British Isles. The book does hit some other cultures' legends (mostly ancient), but it is largely England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Absolutely worth reading. 4 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eustacia Tan

    I've been waiting a long time to read this book. I first saw it last year, but decided not to borrow it because I had exams. And then, I didn't go to Jurong Regional Library (where I saw it) for quite some time. And now, I've finally borrowed (and read) The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson. At first, I was a little disappointed because it kept talking about the folklore of Earth. But gradually, I came to understand that the inside jokes about Discworld (and the folk I've been waiting a long time to read this book. I first saw it last year, but decided not to borrow it because I had exams. And then, I didn't go to Jurong Regional Library (where I saw it) for quite some time. And now, I've finally borrowed (and read) The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson. At first, I was a little disappointed because it kept talking about the folklore of Earth. But gradually, I came to understand that the inside jokes about Discworld (and the folklore) exists only in relation to that of earth. After all, Discworld is very much like Earth, except when it's not. If you're looking for a nice thick book to read, then look no further. This huge book is divided into 16 chapters, covering things like Heroes! Death, Beasties and so on and so forth. I loved how thick it was, because it showed the immense talent and work involved in building a good Alternate Universe (AU) and because it helped to solidify Discworld in my imagination. In order words, it gave this AU a solid history and character. A very cute thing about the book is how they quote the Discworld novels so extensively, especially when talking about its folklore. It actually brought out some details that I'd previously thought was insignificant and showed how it contributed to the novel. The folklore about Earth was interesting too. I liked how folklore from around the world was sourced, and an adequate background/explanation of those folklore's given. I feel as though I've learnt quite a lot about folklore from the book ^_^. And as an added bonus, I also felt like I understood the authors a bit more, because the stories they've heard is also mentioned, adding a personal touch. Yes so basically, this is one awesome book. I'm glad I managed to read it before I leave for Japan. I'd say that this book is for all Discworld lovers, and it's actually very helpful to a newbie reader (for them to understand how the Disc operates). But as an introduction to Discworld, I think it'd be too confusing, so it's best to have some knowledge of the series before you read it. But then again, why would you want to read this book if you've never heard of Discworld? Ok, so I read this book as part of the Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge. It not only fufils the-one-book-a-month thing, but also the second part, where I want to read a book about Discworld but isn't a Discworld novel. But looking at the "Other books about Discworld" list, I really want to buy "Nanny Ogg's Cookbook" and read more of this kind of stuff. (First published at http://allsortsofbooks.blogspot.com/2...)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christoffer

    In a collaborative effort with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, Terry Pratchett have put to print some of the inspirations (tip: most of them actually derive from our Roundworld, who would have known?) for the tales that take place on the Discworld. In the funny and quirky way that is common practice for Terry Pratchett we are led through some well known (for us Roundworlders) tales of myth and legend and what role they've had in influencing what takes place on the Discworld. Some concepts of myth, In a collaborative effort with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, Terry Pratchett have put to print some of the inspirations (tip: most of them actually derive from our Roundworld, who would have known?) for the tales that take place on the Discworld. In the funny and quirky way that is common practice for Terry Pratchett we are led through some well known (for us Roundworlders) tales of myth and legend and what role they've had in influencing what takes place on the Discworld. Some concepts of myth, legend and known fiction are also explained more exhaustively in a more earthly manner. Recommended reading for fans more familiar with the series as much of what is brought up most likely will go straight over the head of those unfamiliar with the series. But, also, it is a really good read if one is interested in folklore; it's a good entry for those with an interest, but no deeper knowledge.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    The Folklore of Discworld was a lot of fun to read, with a good mixture of the pleasure of being able to think, "I knew that!" and the pleasure of actually learning new things. I found the late origins and development of the triple goddess and Herne the Hunter to be particularly interesting. The book is designed to be a very brief overview of a very broad variety of folklore, and there were times when I found myself thinking, "Yes, I know all about the Discworld version, please tell me more abou The Folklore of Discworld was a lot of fun to read, with a good mixture of the pleasure of being able to think, "I knew that!" and the pleasure of actually learning new things. I found the late origins and development of the triple goddess and Herne the Hunter to be particularly interesting. The book is designed to be a very brief overview of a very broad variety of folklore, and there were times when I found myself thinking, "Yes, I know all about the Discworld version, please tell me more about the Earth version!" There is a nicely categorized list of reference works in the back, though, some of which I may have to check out. This book does a lot of the same work as the Annotated Pratchett File, and the latter is probably more thorough sometimes, but The Folklore of Discworld is narrated with all the humor of Pratchett's style and is definitely worth checking out for educational funtimes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kell

    This book is such fun to read! The way it's set out makes it easy to dip into every now and then; as there's no plot to follow, you don't lose the plot. However, it would also be just as easy to read straight through - and every bit as enjoyable as any of Pratchett's novels. The folklore of Discworld takes all the myths, legends and rituals of Pratchett's now famous discoid world and links them all back to their "round world" counterparts and holds the reader's interest from start to finish - per This book is such fun to read! The way it's set out makes it easy to dip into every now and then; as there's no plot to follow, you don't lose the plot. However, it would also be just as easy to read straight through - and every bit as enjoyable as any of Pratchett's novels. The folklore of Discworld takes all the myths, legends and rituals of Pratchett's now famous discoid world and links them all back to their "round world" counterparts and holds the reader's interest from start to finish - personally, I could hardly wait to find out what little gem would come next as I perused the pages. A must for all Pratchett fans and also a lovely addition to the collection of anyone who loves folklore in general.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

    I can't say I was overly impressed with this. Some parts of it were very interesting, but at times there was almost too much focus on the source material; for example quotes included that only echoed a point that was previously outlined, or detailed plot summaries taken from particular books. For someone who knows the books well (or in my case the majority of them, since there are some I don't care much for) it at times gets boring since it's just going over what you already know and/or assumed. I can't say I was overly impressed with this. Some parts of it were very interesting, but at times there was almost too much focus on the source material; for example quotes included that only echoed a point that was previously outlined, or detailed plot summaries taken from particular books. For someone who knows the books well (or in my case the majority of them, since there are some I don't care much for) it at times gets boring since it's just going over what you already know and/or assumed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Olga

    What a perfect distraction from the craziness of the real world! Listened to it on while riding home Upstate NY from Thanksgiving in PA. Perfect fun, tongue in cheek and lots of very real folklore history from around the world (Earth-world as well as Discworld). You do not need to know about the actual Discworld series to enjoy this "companion" book. I had only read two Discworld books before but now have downloaded two more. Fun! What a perfect distraction from the craziness of the real world! Listened to it on while riding home Upstate NY from Thanksgiving in PA. Perfect fun, tongue in cheek and lots of very real folklore history from around the world (Earth-world as well as Discworld). You do not need to know about the actual Discworld series to enjoy this "companion" book. I had only read two Discworld books before but now have downloaded two more. Fun!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vibha Vajpayee

    This book has everything a folklore book should have...filled nautical lores. Fascinating accounts on Hogswatch, Kings and Heroes. Legends of Phoenix, sphinx, vanishland, vampires, Werewolves, witches and elves. What an awesome read! If you are into folk tales, legends and mysticism, pick it up,read. P.S I also loved the way its written, very vivid, descriptive and funny at times!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sula

    I was hoping for a more in-depth look at the material drawn upon by Pratchett in the Discworld series. Instead it felt like half of it was just about his variant of it. Maybe useful for those who have not read anything of his before, but I think most of the people wanting to read this will have a reasonable knowledge of this and won't want to read quotes of his take on it. As a result the other half doesn't go as in-depth on some of the ideas he references in his work. Perhaps more interesting t I was hoping for a more in-depth look at the material drawn upon by Pratchett in the Discworld series. Instead it felt like half of it was just about his variant of it. Maybe useful for those who have not read anything of his before, but I think most of the people wanting to read this will have a reasonable knowledge of this and won't want to read quotes of his take on it. As a result the other half doesn't go as in-depth on some of the ideas he references in his work. Perhaps more interesting to non-British readers who haven't come across so much of this folklore given a reasonable chunk is about British folklore?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Martyn Stanley

    I've always had an interest in folklore, that's partly why I chose to write my short story The Lambton Worm which is based on a tale from old English folklore but with some modern twists. My biggest recommendation for this book is to other authors. It's interesting, and exposes the origins of many of the strange myths and other aspects of English folklore. There's not much of a plot, there isn't one - but it isn't about that. Having finished this for a second time, I'm inclined to keep my copy on I've always had an interest in folklore, that's partly why I chose to write my short story The Lambton Worm which is based on a tale from old English folklore but with some modern twists. My biggest recommendation for this book is to other authors. It's interesting, and exposes the origins of many of the strange myths and other aspects of English folklore. There's not much of a plot, there isn't one - but it isn't about that. Having finished this for a second time, I'm inclined to keep my copy on my writing table and refer to it for inspiration from time to time. It's worth noting that this book is co-authored by a Jacqueline Simpson. If memory serves she's the one who is the expert on our folklore and Terry spends more time writing about Discworld folklore and it's origins. He actually explains where he met Simpson - at a book signing. She'd effectively saved the day, when he'd spent the morning asking people to recite the Magpie rhyme and every person had recited the one from the 1960's TV show. She claimed to know 19! But then as a member of the British folklore society you can't blame her. She'd be a useful person to know for anyone writing anything fantasy related. I think the early story in the book, in Terry's introduction really sums the flavor of the book up well. It's a story about the Dunmow Flitch - a ceremony that took place on Whit Monday I think, in the village of Great Dunmow Essex. Basically if a dude walked into the village on the right day and swore that he hadn't argued with his wife or wished he'd been a bachelor again in the last year he could claim a rasher of bacon. It's a bit daft I know, it stinks of the same sort of mindset that came up with the Eaton wall game, Morris dancing and Cheese Rolling. It's British eccentricity. The book DOES also explore the origins of other, non-British elements of folklore but there's something about British folklore that seems worth celebrating. I personally get the impression from this book that the late Sir Terry Pratchett at least, was an atheist, or at the very least a skeptical agnostic. His section on gods gives no real reverence to these fictional characters, instead it hints at the flaws and the humanity of human-invented gods. This is true too! If you look at any holy book or religious doctrine, the gods they portray to me at least, seem far too full of human flaws to actually be gods or even god-like. Vanity, Wrath are probably the most prominent god-like qualities in human gods, and when Sir Terry wrote his own gods he amplified these traits as a means satirical parody. When he talks about Om in particular, the god of 'Small Gods' worshiped by Brutha and Vorbis, you get get a real feel for his criticism of organized religion, if anything you could argue that Om's story in Small Gods is a call for more spirituality, and less doctrine. I suppose we all want to believe in something, but faith and spirituality should perhaps be a personal thing, not the organized, pay-per-prayer entity it seems to have turned into. I'm a little saddened that I read an old version of this. I know the latest imprint includes 'Raising Steam' and I've yet to even read that novel! It's on my TBR pile! Some of the origins and analysis of mythology and folklore is quiet surprising too. I think it's interesting that we can put our modern view of elves down mainly to Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' and since then that view has largely prevailed. In old English folklore elves were evil, malicious and malevolent. If you're writing your own piece of fantasy fiction, I'd say thumb through this, leave a few page marks. It's the sort of book that you should read once and refer to often. When you're trying to adapt and draw inspiration from real-world folklore this might be a great source of inspiration. In my own novels, I borrowed elements of various cultures for my gods, Orion, Ishar and Avanti. There are parallels within the religions of Torea and our religions. I suspect part of my decision making at least in setting this up was from reading this book and from reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novels! To sum up. A great read if you're interested in folklore but can't be bothered to study it properly. A great read if you're a writer and you want some inspiration for adapting real world aspects to your fiction world, but if you just like a Discworld Novel for what it is - I'd probably give this a miss. If you just want to kick back and read a story this book isn't for you, you'd probably consider it a 1 or 2 star. If you get what the book is about and that is what you're after then it's a definite 5 star! Martyn Stanley Author of:-

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gergana Draycheva

    Rather enjoyable. There are many fun facts for both - the Earth and the Disk-World Folklore I didn't know. Rather enjoyable. There are many fun facts for both - the Earth and the Disk-World Folklore I didn't know.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Landerman

    There are moments where it gets a little hard to follow only because of the speed in which the information comes at you. I've been working on my master's thesis (I'm an illustrator and painter) and it's largely based on family folklore. So I spent a lot of time re-reading and googling stories brought up in the book. Well worth the read! There are moments where it gets a little hard to follow only because of the speed in which the information comes at you. I've been working on my master's thesis (I'm an illustrator and painter) and it's largely based on family folklore. So I spent a lot of time re-reading and googling stories brought up in the book. Well worth the read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    What could be better than reading a book based on the Discworld? The answer is reading a book about the Discworld! The Folklore of Discworld is written by Sir Terry Pratchett and a folklore author and researcher named Jacqueline Simpson (who also happens to be a Pratchett fan herself) The book flows like a normal book so you can never be sure who wrote what but no true Pratchett fan could fail to notice his trademark wit and whimsy. This is without a doubt the most interesting book I've ever rea What could be better than reading a book based on the Discworld? The answer is reading a book about the Discworld! The Folklore of Discworld is written by Sir Terry Pratchett and a folklore author and researcher named Jacqueline Simpson (who also happens to be a Pratchett fan herself) The book flows like a normal book so you can never be sure who wrote what but no true Pratchett fan could fail to notice his trademark wit and whimsy. This is without a doubt the most interesting book I've ever read. It's main purpose is to explain the inspiration behind all aspects of the Discworld. Why a giant turtle? Why four elephants? What exactly are the Nac Mac Feegle? But it's not just a simple textbook of answers. Sir Terry does a wonderful job (as if he could do any other kind) of blending our universe with that of the Disc. The similarities we learn between the creatures, gods, people and places of Earth and of the Disc are of course not mere coincidence. Somehow, perhaps due to areas where the walls of reality and space and time or something along those lines is weak and thin, the ideas of such things are passed from one universe to the other; infecting the minds of those who are open to them. All Discworld and Sir Terry fangirling aside, this book is just rammed full of interesting stuff and even the most learned scholar would learn something new from it. All of it was brand new to me, even the bits about Santa! And I learned some interesting stuff about my own country! Sir Terry does love Scotland. The only way I would not recommend this book to someone is if they haven't read most of the Discworld novels. I haven't read The Last Hero yet and reading this book has spoiled it a bit. But if you have read all of his work, then why haven't you reads this book yet?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    Does what it says on the tin, really. This book is about all of the myths and folklore that Pratchett has adapted, adopted, borrowed or outright stolen for use in his Discworld series, and if you count yourself as a fan of both Pratchett and folk traditions, this is a good thing. If your main interest in such a book would be the insights into the workings of the Disc, it's still a good time. If folklore is what interests you here, don't bother; there are many books better suited to you elsewhere. Does what it says on the tin, really. This book is about all of the myths and folklore that Pratchett has adapted, adopted, borrowed or outright stolen for use in his Discworld series, and if you count yourself as a fan of both Pratchett and folk traditions, this is a good thing. If your main interest in such a book would be the insights into the workings of the Disc, it's still a good time. If folklore is what interests you here, don't bother; there are many books better suited to you elsewhere. Not that this book doesn't have quite a bit to say about the stories we tell ourselves and, especially, our children. It's just that, given the vast number of references salted through the series over it's forty-odd book run, dealing with any of them in great detail is impossible. If you want detail, the bibliography is handy, though not organized very well. The prism of Discworld is, obviously, the selling point here, but this isn't like The Science of Discworld or it's sequels, where the real-world sections alternate with narrative sections involving well-known Pratchett characters. No, this is strictly non-fiction, showing, as an example, a quick rundown of our vampire legends before showing how they are used in the author's fiction. It's well-done and certainly entertaining, but the formula does get old. That said, unless you are a serious, dedicated folklorist, there will be things here you didn't know, and you will probably respect Pratchett more as an author and researcher by the end, as well.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Actually this is a fairly scholarly exploration of folklore, mythology, and some actual history throughout the multiverse as defined by Pratchett. The Discworld examples and excerpts keep it light but I learned a lot about folklore from all across this planet as well. Pratchett and his co-author cover all of the expected topics: witches, elves, wizards, orcs, dwarves, and dragons. They also delve into the nature of death, heroes, kings, and religion. I listened to this as an audio from the libra Actually this is a fairly scholarly exploration of folklore, mythology, and some actual history throughout the multiverse as defined by Pratchett. The Discworld examples and excerpts keep it light but I learned a lot about folklore from all across this planet as well. Pratchett and his co-author cover all of the expected topics: witches, elves, wizards, orcs, dwarves, and dragons. They also delve into the nature of death, heroes, kings, and religion. I listened to this as an audio from the library but may look for a used copy to keep as a handy reference to all things mythic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    A very good book comparing the folklore of the Discworld with our own folklore here on Earth. I enjoyed it very much, though it's more an educational than an entertaining real. A very good book comparing the folklore of the Discworld with our own folklore here on Earth. I enjoyed it very much, though it's more an educational than an entertaining real.

  28. 4 out of 5

    patrycja polczyk

    It's an ok book, but some parts were bit too slow. Some other parts were a lot of fun and quite informative too. I don't think I would read it again as a whole but some parts yes. It's an ok book, but some parts were bit too slow. Some other parts were a lot of fun and quite informative too. I don't think I would read it again as a whole but some parts yes.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Reade

    fantastic

  30. 4 out of 5

    George Siehl

    This is a great book. The Folklore of Discworld is a collaboration between Terry Pratchett, creator of the popular series of Discworld novels, and professional folklorist Jacqueline Simpson. I took a course in folklore this Spring, providing an introduction to this academic discipline. Reading this book, viewed through the lens of folklore has deepened my already great appreciation of Pratchett's narrative talent. The book draws extensively from the Discworld series then traces analogs of the ex This is a great book. The Folklore of Discworld is a collaboration between Terry Pratchett, creator of the popular series of Discworld novels, and professional folklorist Jacqueline Simpson. I took a course in folklore this Spring, providing an introduction to this academic discipline. Reading this book, viewed through the lens of folklore has deepened my already great appreciation of Pratchett's narrative talent. The book draws extensively from the Discworld series then traces analogs of the example among Discworld, Earth, notably the UK and the US, but other countries, worldwide, as well. The exploration tracks through literature and language dating back to the pre-Christian era. The result is a most enjoyable read with Pratchett's keen wit frequently on display. Among the results is the revelation of Pratchett as an accomplished scholar in his own right. Another prize is rereading the various excerpts. On first reading of the novels my habit was to read for the unfolding story lines and the embedded humor, both satirical and slapstick. Now, reading the excerpts, one finds rich detail about folklore, but also about geography and the human condition. It is incentive enough to send one back to reread the books at a slower, more reflective pace. Highly recommended for all Pratchett fans, and for those who would find interest in seeing how the study of folklore applied to an outstanding series of novels can supply new insights and appreciation. I had once suggested to a fellow Pratchett fan how much I would enjoy reading some political scientist's analysis of governance in Discworld. That is, provided one could find such a political scientist who was both de-jargonated and possessing a Pratchett sense of humor. Jacqueline Simpson provides the ideal role model for such a future intellectual mining of Discworld.

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