I have much love, adoration, reverence, befuddlement (mainly because I don’t think that word is used enough these days) and gratitude for the writings of one Mr. Terry Pratchett, of the Sir variety. I remember when I was first introduced to his work. I was sitting in my college dorm room reading along and the next thing I knew I was laughing out loud, so much so that I began a bit of literary rewinding. Once I got done laughing, I’d turn back a page, began rereading the section, and then start laughing all over again.
I’m certain that my appreciation of this man’s writing will be addressed on more than one occasion, but today I wanted to talk about one of the things I love most about the Discword series, and that is all the literary cameos you get from book to book. There are over 30 books in this series now, and that’s just it, the core of all these books is the Discworld. Then you have all these stories about the people that live there.
There are books about the reluctant and cowardly hero Rincewind. There are books about Death and his granddaughter. There’s Sam Vimes and his band of misfit coppers, The City Watch. There are books about the Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax and the other witches on the Disc. There are so many more characters too. They are personalities that you either partially, mostly, or completely identify with, because they either remind you of yourself, or someone you know… or someone you hope to someday know… or in some cases hope to never know.
Regardless, you find yourself connecting with these people, and because there is more than one story about them, usually, you get to know them better and better. Cheering them on every step of the way. Even if what they are attempting something that is one chance is a million… but it just might work.
So in getting back to my main point, one of the things I love about reading the Discworld books are all the cameo appearances from characters you’ve met in other books. There you are, reading along about something happening in Ankh-Morpork and all of a sudden there’s a member of the City Watch chatting with the hero of the book. And there you are, giving a mental nod or wave to Nobby Nobbs, because, Hey! You know him.
And how could we forget the eclectic collection of cameo appearances by the one and only Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, and all the Dibbler egos, or cultural counterparts, found on each Discworld continent. There is Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah from Small Gods, and Al-Jiblah from Jingo. Also, Disembowel-Meself-Honourably Dibhala of Interesting Times fame. I’m sure there’s more, I still have a few more books to get through, and I am looking forward to finding out. It’s like running into an old high school friend while you are visiting some random city. Sure it’s a bit of a surprise and the conversation is usually short and in passing, but you are genuinely pleased to have seen them.
Such is the case with these literary cameos. The appearance may not last that long, often it’s a sort of hi, hello, how are you, and then back to things as normal. That part of its magic and appeal thought. The Disc is a whole world of characters and personalities that keep popping in every now and again for a short visit just because they happen to be in the area, and most of the time you’re not even expecting them. Well, at least initially that’s the case.
Now, it’s just part of the process. Part of the experience that is reading a Discworld novel. I might occasionally ask, “I wonder who it will be this time?” when I start reading a book I haven’t read before… or haven’t read for a few years, but it doesn’t late long. They show up when they do, whoever they may be.
So, to all you readers that have read one, some, most, or all the Discworld novels, I’d like to think that you, like me, take comfort in the knowledge that someone you know will be dropping by to say hi. It’s a thought that always brings a smile to my face every time I crack open a Discworld book. Well done and thank you sir, er, I guess Sir Terry… Pratchett. It’s always a pleasure.
What are some of your favorite Discworld cameos?
Google Images, key words: Terry Pratchett, Discworld, and Disworld Death.