The Quotable Pratchett: Soul Music

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 Soul Music

Soul Music coverThis is the 16th Discworld novel and the 3rd in the DEATH series.

The British Invasion of the 1960s is nothing compared to the Music Invasion of the Disc. Forget the Big Bang and let’s focus on the First Chord.

Of course, before that there was the Clearing of the Throat and the Counting In.

But what happened after? What is the Prime Mover fell on hard times and pawned his instrument in an eldritch, multidimensional pawnshop? And then, what if that instrument were picked up by the leading unheard-of musician of  the day?

All these questions and ones you never thought to ask are answered here in Soul Music.

Featuring DEATH, Susan Sto Helit, Albert, Death of Rats, the Wizards, the Librarian, and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, Soul Music is a fun read, but not exactly funny. Instead, Pratchett relies on parody and allusion more than is his wont, to varying degrees of success. In addition, the themes of fate, destiny, choice, and grief are all there, but they don’t exactly add to the narrative, which is a shame. Furthermore, although Pratchett weaves in many major characters, the book ultimately feels like a stand-alone in the vein of Pyramids or Moving Pictures.

As much as this pains me, I can only give Soul Music three stars.

The Goodreads Blurb:

There’s no getting away from it. From whichever angle, death is a horrible, inescapable business. But someone’s got to do it. So if Death decides to take a well-earned moment to uncover the meaning of life and discover himself in the process, then there is going to be a void of specific dimensions that needs to be occupied, particularly so when there is trouble brewing in Discworld. There aren’t too many who are qualified to fill Death’s footsteps and it certainly doesn’t help the imminent cataclysm that the one person poised between the mortal and the immortal is only sixteen years old.

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

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

But if it is true that the act of observing changes the thing which is observed,* it’s even more true that it changes the observer.

*Because of Quantum


Well . . . one out of three ain’t bad.

Actually, it’s only thirty-three percent, but it could be worse.


Certain things have to happen before other things. Gods play games with the fate of men. But first they have to get all the pieces on the board, and look all over the place for the dice.


It is said that whomsoever the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. In fact, whomsover the gods wish to destroy, they first hand the equivalent of a stick with a fizzing fuse and Acme Dynamite Company written on the side. It’s more interesting, and doesn’t take as long.


He was not, by the standard definitions, a bad man; in the same way a plague-bearing rat is not, from a dispassionate point of view, a bad animal.


It rang like an iron bar dropped on a library floor at midnight.


They assumed that insulating her from the fluffy edges of the world was the safest thing to do. In the circumstances, it was like not telling people about self-defense so that no one would ever attack them.


[The Library] also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they weren’t also dangerous, just because reading them didn’t make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the reader’s brain.


CALLING SOMETHING A FIGURE OF SPEECH DOESN’T MEAN IT’S NOT TRUE.


Deafness doesn’t prevent composers hearing the music. It prevents them hearing the distractions.


In my experience, what every artist wants, really wants, is to be paid.


He . . . [felt] like an atheist who had wandered into Holy Communion.


Without the empty chord, music is just noise.

. . .

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