So far this year I have read a lot more Terry Pratchett than I usually do. But once you buy one on your Kindle you get told when the others are on offer. This one was inspired by the series being put onto the BBC iplayer. After watching the first episode I realized I needed to read the book…so I did.
The Preface by the authors caused me to laugh a lot and my poor long-suffering partner was subjected to listening to me read it to him… luckily he is a massive Terry Patchett and Neil Gaiman fan.
As I have said above I did watch the first episode of the series before reading the book so the images of the characters were already in place. Luckily the book does not have a large amount of description of any of the characters’ physical appearance, the main bit of description is about Crowley’s eyes.
The plot is well thought out and as a reader of Terry Pratchett you can see elements of his writing, the various plotlines all written chronologically, but coming together as the characters converge. Though I have not read anything else by Neil Gaiman (Stardust is on my TBR pile) the book is split into unofficial chapters which is something that Terry Pratchett does not do.. never think about finishing at the next chapter with Terry Pratchett… you will be there all night!
The characters are all very strong and you can tell the difference between the angelic and the hellish characters with little difficulty. I love that one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is in truth a woman. I also like the fact that my favourite Discworld character of death makes an appearance.
I love the extra details we get about Crowley and Aziraphale, random details which are completely irrelevant to the characters’ situation, Crowley sleeping through the vast majority of the 19th Century, despite not actually needing to sleep. Azirapahle, on the other hand, was a helpful and not helpful proofreader, adding verses to the bible and being an all-round terrible seller of books.
The theme of the book is predestination vs free will. I mentioned in my review of Mort that Terry Pratchett was exploring predestination and here he is at it again. It mainly focuses on Adam’s life and his choices regarding the apocalypse. But the tentative friendship and “The Arrangement” between Crowley and Aziraphale is another example. The pair are not meant to get along and have different motivations and aims, but when you spend a lot of time together you cannot help but come to find that you have something in common, in their case it was that they were the only other person that they had known for most of their lives. When it really comes down to it, they are there for each other it didn’t matter that they were on opposing sides.
Strangely, the book made me feel a little bittersweet. This book was published in 1990, 30 years ago, and a lot of the problems with the world at that time which Adam laments are still happening and in some cases worse. But the plot is there to give hope, no matter what it is that the characters are facing they managed to get through it with support of their friends, and a little magic. Which is something that we can all strive for.
I will give this book 4 stars (which is my average so far this year). It is a good feel amusing book which I am glad I took the time out to read… even though it wasn’t on my list of 40 books for the year.