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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

maskerade terry pratchett book reviewIt is no secret that I love Pratchett's Discworld books. Next to PG Wodehouse, Pratchett's writings blow me away. I always wonder if he just sits down and taps out those perfect sentences or if he writes like us mere mortals first and then goes back and polishes and hones it with his special gift till it shines... No matter. A perfect blend of humor/wit/keen observation/fluent expression... layers of meaning sometimes, and, fairly blunt at other times... the characters simply come into being and loom in the mind's eye without any visual aid...

It just saddens me to realize every time I read or re-read one of his books that there won't be many more as he is suffering from a form of Alzheimers that is quite rare and would prevent him from churning out such brilliant work.

Maskerade is another Discworld book with Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and the inimitable parodying that sets Pratchett apart. As the title might possibly suggest, this book parodies Phantom of the Opera. Yes, nothing is sacred when it comes to Pratchett's ideas, not even Opera.

Agnes (Perdita) Nitt, a witch from Lancre who refuses to accept it, is being pursued indirectly by the two great witches of Lancre (Granny and Nanny) to replace Magrat Garlick as the third witch needed to form the coven. But, Agnes runs off to join the Opera in Ankh-Morpork. And thus starts a series of events that bring Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to the opera house to solve the mystery of the Ghost at the opera house.

Needless to say, the plot gets quite interesting with such uncommon new characters as Henry Slugg aka Enrico Basilica the world-renowned Tenor, Walter Plinge the odd-job man at the opera house who walks like a string puppet being manipulated by an amateur, and some old ones like Greebo the Cat and Nobby Nobs of The Watch.

The mystery of the opera Ghost is solved - in fact, revealed to be played by two people - one very unlikely and harmless, the other deranged and villainous. All's well that ends well, of course. Except for Agnes, who reluctantly joins the coven.

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