re:View – The 2012 bookshelf IV: Pratchett and Bavarian Mysteries

I’ve been lazy. So, with a massive delay, here’s the first bunch of the Bookshelf from the second half of 2012!

The usual health and safety warning applies: May contain spoilers.


Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett’s take on the music industry: Somebody finds a magical electric guitar and soon the Disc is turned upside down by Music With Rocks In It. It’s basically a condensed history of everything that happened in music since the first rock ‘n roll tune was born – rockstar tantrums, shady agents and crappy punk bands are just the start, and of course the traditionally Pratchett-esque digs at musical celebs and the industry they feed are spot-on as ever, and laugh-out-loud funny, too!
Pens: 4 out of 5

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
So, after randomly reading all Discworld books on topics that instantly interested me (the witches, Death, movies and music) I went back to the start to read the rest of the saga in the right order. Turning to the first book after I’d already read a good third of the series was more than impressive – it put the whole experience into a new perspective to see how this hugely successful and influential series began with the start of an epic journey for its characters – a journey that then repeated itself on a massive scale over the course of 38 (and counting) books and almost 30 years.
Pens: 5 out of 5

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
As the journey continues for the characters from The Colour of Magic, we are drawn deeper into the Discworld and into the genius of Terry Pratchett’s mind. Exploring the continents and cities of the Disc, meeting its people (and other species), delving into its history. And by the time Rincewind returns from his journey, I’ll guarantee you will find it impossible to extract yourself from the fantastical and yet distinctly human universe of the Discworld. Because in there it’s a lot like the real world; just indefinitely more fun.
Pens: 4 out of 5

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
The wizards are loose! The first novel in the series focusing on the wizards of Unseen University delves deeper into the magic fabric of the Disc. But behind the rollercoaster-ride adventure of a little boy with big powers taking on the … old men’s club, there’s the very familiar story of the old against the new, and why we are so determined to keep things as they are because, well, that’s just how they have always been. A magical and very funny take on the age-old conflict of the generations.
Pens: 4 out of 5

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Oh what to do if you’re born pharaoh of a desert kingdom, but all you want is hang around the big city climbing the career ladder? Teppic, rising star of the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork, is about to find out when his old man checks out leaving him in charge of a kingdom of temperamental pyramids, and in the grip of a power-crazed priest willing to sacrifice more than a few virgins to protect his precious traditions. And when a newly built mega-pyramid starts to interfere with the rules of time and space, Teppic finds that being king is a lot harder than it sounds. A wonderfully funny alternative history of ancient Egypt and the mystic powers of pyramids, this book definitely stands out in the early Discworld era.
Pens: 5 out of 5

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Dragons! A secret brotherhood meddles with things that shouldn’t be meddled with, and soon the dragons are upon Ankh-Morpork and all hell breaks loose. Enter Sam Vimes, the commander of the watch and one of Pratchett’s earliest unlikely heroes. This has been one of my favourite Discworld books so far, because Vimes is just such a beautifully written, convincing character. And the dragons are simply ADORABLE.
Pens: 5 out of 5

Eric by Terry Pratchett
Eric is the first Discworld book I have come across that had a certain can’t-be-botheredness to it. A 13-year-old summons a demon and ends up with poor Rincewind, the only wizard on the Disc who doesn’t know a single spell. It’s everything you’d expect from a Faust parody, but despite some good ideas (Pratchett’s concept of hell in particular), the rather slim, episodic volume somehow just doesn’t get off the ground. A bit of a lukewarm read I probably wouldn’t have finished if it wasn’t Discworld.
Pens: 2 out of 5


Hochsaison | Niedertracht | Oberwasser by Jörg Maurer
Three more brilliant, batshit-crazy murder case in Maurer’s genius series around the curious cases of the police in our famous ski resort of Garmisch-Patenkirchen. The adventures of superintendent Jennerwein are some of the finest examples of the genre, built on a finely tuned balance of an authentic location and cast, a loveably clumsy team of investigators, and a bunch of criminal masterminds so ‘out there’ it almost makes you wish they were real. Their schemes and plots are so awesome that I can’t actually spoil them, in the hope that the German speakers among you will give these wonderfully funny books a try.
Pens: 5 out of 5

Grießnockerlaffäre by Rita Falk
I’m a big fan of Falk’s murder mystery series, mostly because it’s set in my hometown and all the characters and locations just feel like home. The stories used to be very entertaining – village sheriff stumbling through a crazy little murder case in his laid-back, Bavarian way until he happens to stumble over the solution, with a good deal of endearing village soap opera going on in the background. Sadly the books have gone downhill a bit lately; the (not very original) murder cases are disappearing on the sidelines but the villagers’ stories have become too samey to carry the series forward. Sadness.
Pens: 3 out of 5 (for curing my homesickness)

Der Prinzessinnenmörder by Andreas Föhr
This was my first experience of a more serious Bavarian murder mystery. It’s more of a regular police thriller actually, just happens to be set in a typically provincial setting. A decent story without any characteristics that would set it apart from the eleventeen million other halfway decent, read-and-forget police thrillers out there – and even the local colour doesn’t breathe much life into this one.
Pens: 3 out of 5

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