Terry Pratchett, make that Sir Terry Pratchett, was visited by one of his creations, Death, this past March. The world of fantasy and humour are worse off for that visitation.
I wouldn’t say that I am his biggest fan, I’ve only read 35 of his 41 Discworld novels and four or five of his non-Discworld novels. I haven’t read any of the companion books, for example (Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook? etc.). So you know, I’ve only read about forty of his books. So I guess I’m not a big fan? 😉
But even I know that Terry not only left a rich world, he left one full of interesting, yet untold, stories.
It was Terry’s style to fall in love with a set of his characters and explore them fully, then move on, with them only appearing as support players, never changing their status quo. First came Rincewind and luggage, then came the witches, then Death and his oh-so-complicated personal life, then the night’s watch, Moist von Lipwig followed, and lastly, we got Tiffany Aching. Along the way we met the Librarian, the Patrician, Igor, Chrysoprase the godfather of trolls, and a talking dog, all of whom moved seamlessly from story cluster to story cluster, always being themselves.
Yet there were a number of books that Terry had at least hinted at, if not planned to write.
Let’s look at what might have been:
This story would have focussed on Moist von Lipwig, along with his usual assortment of co-characters. After he’s saved the Post Office and the Royal Mint, what’s next? Save the IRS! Yes! er, No!
Scouting for Trolls
This story may have surfaced in part. Raising Steam refers to incidents that may have made up the general flow of the narrative, and a short story called Squib sets the foundation, but the actual story itself didn’t happen.
The Missing Chapter
This may or may not have been a working title for Unseen Academicals, since it appears to have included the Librarian playing a football match.
This title was mentioned in passing by Terry, in the context of having Lipwig run a logging company. The idea may have been spontaneous, or may have been in jest.
Now let’s move beyond what Terry had told us he had envisioned, and look at some of the loose threads that he left:
Carrot Ironfoundersson is the king in waiting. It is well established that Carrot is a lost descendant of the last king of Ankh-Morpork. But for this story to play out, the Patrician would have to be removed – through death or exile, and Terry didn?t tend to change his playing field that much*
Moist von Lipwig appears to be being groomed by the Patrician to be his successor. Perhaps mixed with the above, there is really one novel and not two.
Granny Weatherwax is getting near the end of her life, even as she is grooming Tiffany Aching to be her replacement. I haven’t read The Shepherd’s Crown, but I doubt that Terry would actually kill Granny. It would be out of character for him.
William de Worde never got his chance. I always felt like Terry abandoned him in favour of Moist von Lipwig. I’d love to see these two have it out in some kind of rivalry, perhaps for the Patrician’s (And Terry’s) attention. On the one hand you have Moist, who likes to skulk around in the dark, on the other you have William who likes to bring light to other?s secrets.
It’s probably for the best that the characters will live on each in their individual status quo in perpetuity. Granny may be old, and crotchety, but she will always be. Terry had enough warning with his illness that he could have chosen to sketch out fates. He chose not to. So, we can always visit Granny Weatherwax, and she’ll always be there.
As much as it might be fun to think of what might have been, I respect Terry’s daughter’s decision to freeze the Discworld with his passing. On the silver lining side of the cloud of Terry’s passing, I still have a number of new Discworld adventures to read. Don’t you envy me?
Footnotes (Because we’re talking about Pratchett here):
*In earlier books both the Patrician and the wizards are much harder, meaner and not comical characters. While the Patrician evolved to be a detached, hyperly intelligent puppet master**, the wizards denigrated into almost buffoon simplicity.
** Each footnote has to have at least one footnote to it, it?s Pratchett?s Law of Information Furtherance.