Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

20130205-135717Book 16 in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series tells the story of what happens when Rock and Roll music and culture leaks into the Discworld dimension and causes all sorts of mayhem. The novel is similar in concept to his 10th novel, Moving Pictures, which involved Hollywood movie culture.

Imp Y Celyn, a young Harpist from Llamedos comes to Ankh-Morpork seeking his fortune as a musician. Unable to pay the Musician’s guild dues, he meets up with a dwarven hornblower named Glod and a troll percussionist named Lias, to form an unlicensed band. When his harp is destroyed, he finds an unusual guitar at a rather odd music shop. They then decide to create “The Band with Rocks in”. Imp takes on the stage name Buddy (who everyone says ‘looks a bit elvish’ (ie. a combination of Elvis and Buddy Holly), and Lias takes on the name “Cliff”. At one point, Cliff actually says “We’re on a mission from Glod”, an obvious allusion to “The Blues Brothers”. This is Pratchett at his punniest. Later, the recruit Unseen University’s Librarian (an Orangutan — don’t you ever call him an ape) as a keyboard player, but he doesn’t last long. And soon, all over the Ringworld, people become obsessed with music and with “The Band with Rocks In”.

Meanwhile, Death has become obsessed and disturbed by the fact that his memory is perfect, and he decides that he wants to learn how to forget. He leaves his job behind to seek the means to forgetfulness. His Granddaughter Susan is recruited as a temporary replacement. Like her father before her, Mort, she’s not so much a stickler for rules and soon becomes obsessed with Buddy (Imp) and keeping him alive. You see, the Musicians guild wants him dead for playing without paying guild dues.

This is a hilarious book, but the kindle edition is marred by extremely poor editing. Footnotes (which Pratchett uses to great effect) sometimes point to the wrong text, which are the most annoying errors, but there are a lot of others as well. If you aren’t reading a kindle edition, this should not be an issue. But it was for me. But regardless, I do highly recommend this book. I don’t consider it Pratchett’s best, but it is pretty darn funny.

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