Annie’s Bar Book Club: Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Bev picked Maskerade by Terry Pratchett to read for September’s book club. Scratch that – she actually picked it to read for August’s book club but alas, life got in the way for a number of our members until the meeting got pushed back so far that we ended up just skipping a month instead. Still, we got there in the end, and with a reasonably good turn-out too. A typical Discworld novel, Maskerade features some of my favourite characters – the witches – and is centred around the Opera House in Ankh-Morpork, where music and of course, death are rife. As the characters cry that the show must go on (once too often, for some of our book clubbers), the story tumbles through fast-paced, farcical action in full-on Pratchett style.

I’ve got to be honest, I came to this month’s choice a little biased. I’ve been a die-hard Pratchett fan since I stumbled upon him (or rather, his books) in my formative teenage years, whereupon I discovered that it is actually possible for a book to make you laugh out loud, guffawing your way to college on the train whilst fellow passengers (especially those peculiar non-reading ones) look on in bewilderment. Pratchett, for me, helped shape me as a reader and I find his writing intelligent, clever, full of references that you either get or you don’t – and it doesn’t matter either way. It’s satire stitched together with observational comedy, all the while taking place in a fantasy world that is rich and deep and…well…fantastical (why, oh why, can’t I go there? Just for a weekend?). Although probably one of my least favourite Discworld novels (I never did care for Opera), Maskerade was no exception to the fun that Pratchett produces. And, ya’ know, I do love me a bit of Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax.

It’s a shame that not everyone in book club agreed. Except for mum of course (the eponymous Annie, if you were wondering), who is firmly in the Pratchett fan club by my side. And perhaps Bev, who also found herself enjoying Pratchett’s style and the light-hearted tale he had to tell (mass murder at the opera can be light-hearted, right?).

The general consensus was that the book was light and quick, an enjoyable read after a few months of heavy, hard-going books. It was the break that the book clubbers needed. Everyone found themselves chuckling away at parts of it too (such as, my dad said, when Nanny Ogg pushes through the crowd crying “nosy person coming through”), although some found it a little repetitive (yes, we know the show must go on) and perhaps a little tiresome by the end. For my dad and Michelle, it simply wasn’t there type of book – they found it enjoyable to an extent but it wasn’t for them. Carol, too, was unimpressed. Despite having read Pratchett before, she felt that his characters were somewhat copied and that shows a lack of intelligence – or at the very least, imagination. For Carol, the book wasn’t the deep, intellectual, thought-inducing book that she was craving or that she’s in the mood for at the moment and it’s easy to see how that could happen – sometimes, we just prefer one genre over another. Throughout the meeting, it was compared to a comic for the vivid images the books invoke, and most agreed that it was probably more suited to younger readers.

And that last comment is certainly one that struck a chord with me. I undoubtedly enjoyed the book and I’m still a Pratchett-lover, but I can see how the series has lost a little of its sheen since those days when I devoured book after book after book. I would also say that perhaps the majesty of Discworld as a whole can’t be truly appreciated with the reading of just one book – you’ve got to read a few of them to appreciate Pratchett’s world-building abilities.


Scores

Anna: 6, Bev: 6, Michelle: 5.5, Carol: 3, Me: 7, Frank: 4, Mandy: 5, AVERAGE: 5.21

Book Club Book Rankings:

  1. 8/10: The Running Man by Stephen King (Anna)
  2. 7.64/10: Lion by Saroo Brierley (Jules)
  3. 7.59/10: The Second Life of Amy Archer by RS Pateman (Vicky)
  4. 7.5/10: The Retribution by Val McDermid (Emma)
  5. 7.09375/10: See How They Run by Tom Bale (Anna)
  6. 7.06/10: Bloodman by Robert Pobi (Michelle)
  7. 7/10: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Decker (Vicky)
  8. 6.78/10: Tell it to the Skies by Erica James (Mandy)
  9. 6.5/10: Someone is Watching by Joy Fielding (Emma)
  10. 6.125/10: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Mandy)
  11. 6/10: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Jules)
  12. 5.97/10: Twisted by Jeffery Deaver (Michelle)
  13. 5.6875/10: The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver (Frank)
  14. 5.21/10: Maskerade by Terry Pratchett (Bev)
  15. 4.44/10: Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Larson (Nadia)
  16. 3.714/10: Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Carol)

Want to read along with us? Our next book is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell, as chosen by me! We’ll be meeting on October 26th.

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