The Quotable Pratchett: Lords and Ladies

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away

With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, I embarked on an epic re-reading of all 41 official Discworld novels, with the goal of finishing by 31 December, 2016.

Famous for its wit and wisdom, the series offers countless quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. The quotes I share should not be considered the whole of Sir Terry’s excellent prose; indeed, they are the tasty appetizers to a succulent, nourishing meal.

About Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies coverThis is the 14th Discworld novel and the 4th in the Witches series.

It’s circle time in Lancre, and that means one thing: the gentry are coming. Sure, The Dancers – both stone and Morris Men – will do their best to keep the fair folk at bay, but you know how it is on Midsummer’s Eve: the border between realty and fantasy and the line the here-and-now and the what-might-have-been is stretched so thin one isn’t sure which is which. So it’s up to Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and almost-Queen Magrat to keep the lords and ladies “entertained” until circle time is over. This being the Disc, however, things won’t go according to plan.

No matter what happens, remember: This is a real word, with real people in it. Know exactly who and why you are, and come to terms with what actually is, instead of insisting on what ought to be.

The Goodreads Blurb

It’s a hot Midsummer Night. The crop circles are turning up everywhere-even on the mustard-and-cress of Pewseyy Ogg, aged four. And Magrat Garlick, witch, is going to be married in the morning…Everything ought to be going like a dream. But the Lancre All-Comers Morris Team have got drunk on a fairy mound and the elves have come back, bringing all those things traditionally associated with the magical, glittering realm of Faerie: cruelty, kidnapping, malice and evil, evil murder.* Granny Weatherwax and her tiny argumentative coven have really got their work cut out this time…With full supporting cast of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris Dancers and one orang-utan. And lots. of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

*But with tons of style.

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

The  Librarian as he appears in The Discworld Companion, illustrated by Paul Kidby

There are very few starts. Oh, some things seem to be beginnings. The curtain goes up, the first pawn moves, the first shot is fired* — but that’s not the start. The play, the game, the war is just a little ribbon of events that may extend back thousands of years. The point is, there’s always something before. It’s always a case of Now Read On.

*Probably at the first pawn.


Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one, and there’ll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland? In fifty years’, thirty years’, ten years’ time the world will be very nearly back on its old course. History always has a great weight of inertia.

Almost always . . .


Being alone isn’t the same as not having other people around.


The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.


You can get books about anything.


Personal’s not the same as important. People just think it is.


Technically, a cat locked in a box may be alive or it may be dead. You never know until you look. In fact, there mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious.


Folksongs have a lot to answer for.


The graveyards are full of people who have rushed in bravely but unwisely. . . . Sooner or later the graveyards are full of everybody.


The hard way’s pretty hard, but not so hard as the easy way.


Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. They’re not all that subtle.

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