Soul Music (Discworld Novel 16)

by Terry Pratchett | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0552140295 Global Overview for this book
Registered by erinacea of Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on 3/14/2016
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by erinacea from Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Monday, March 14, 2016
I bought this copy to read along with the Mark Reads Discworld reading project, but I already knew the story from my audiobook.

Years and years ago I came across of a copy of this book in a bookstore in England (Leeds or possibly York, I think). At the time I knew enough about the Discworld to be intrigued and I'd already read Mort (which is the logical, if not chronolocial, predecessor), so I almost ended up buying the book. The problem was that I had only read Mort (that I remembered at the time, I later remembered I'd read Equal Rights before that) and had felt quite partial to the characters introduced in that book. Spoiler for this book! (highlight to make visible) As a consequence, I was ridiculously upset to learn that both Mort and Ysabell were unceremoniously killed off right at the start of the book. I was even more upset that their daughter hardly reacts to the news at all. I expected Susan to be at least as upset as I was, and that she wasn't made me dislike her more than might have otherwise been the case. It turns out that her parents' deaths do not go unmourned, which is a big point in the book, but I wasn't about to find out because my response was to drop the book in disgust and leave the store.

I loved the start of the blurb: "Being sixteen is always difficult, even more so when there's a Death in the family." (Spoiler: ... which is actually relevant in both interpretations of the sentence.)

The story:
After reaping his adopted daughter and son-in-law, Death feels depressed and embarks on a journey to learn to forget. Subsequently the Duty falls to his recently orphaned granddaughter Susan. One of her first jobs is to reap the young musician Imp who was fated to be killed during a performance of the Bande With Rocks In. However, the guitar he bought in a mysterious shop has other plans, and soon the "Music With Rocks In" fever takes hold of Ankh-Morpork.

The entire book is rife with rock'n'roll references to famous musicians, songs and the 60's fashion, food and other elements of the rock'n'roll way of living. I only noticed a fraction of them, and though a helpful group of people posted videos of every song referenced in the book I hardly looked at any of them. I'm just not that interested in music and (as with Moving Pictures) that's one of the reasons the book didn't really click with me.

The other reason is that, at least to begin with, I found Susan's "logical" attitude rather tiresome (though she grew on me over the course of the novel). Even so, her part of the story has a lot more depth and character development than the part about Imp/Buddy, Cliff and Glod (a.k.a. the Bande With Rocks In) or the effects of rock'n'roll on Ankh-Morpork.

I'm also bothered by (Spoiler, highlight to make visible) the reset to pre-Music times at the end of the book, which feels like a cop-out to me, and makes large parts of the book seem pointless.

That said, I did enjoy Ridcully's attempts to put a stop to the Music, and I also rather liked troll drummer Cliff. The ending was also quite nice. I greatly appreciated Susan's character development in the end, which showed in a number of small ways in the final section.

I actually have real trouble placing this book in my Discworld ranking.

Though I'm generally more interested in movies than in music, by sheer osmosis I've picked up more about the latter (especially the 60s, 70s) than the former (especially from the 1920s), so I found Soul Music much more funny than Moving Pictures. It also had the more interesting plot.
On the other end of the spectrum, it's similarly obvious that Reaper Man is loads better than Soul Music.

That leaves the ranks 5, 6 and 7. Mort and Soul Music are obviously closely connected, but I'm not entirely sure which of the two I liked better. On the one hand, Susan is more interesting than Mort (though I still have a fond spot for Mort, both the character and the book). On the other hand, I feel like Susan somehow had less impact on her plot (she was mostly busy saving Buddy after he'd already been saved by the Music) than Mort (who at least caused the derailment of reality). I'm considering placing them in a tie. Hmm... Oh well, for now I'll rank Soul Music before Mort, though that might change in the future.

1. Small Gods
2. Men at Arms
3. Guards! Guards!
4. Reaper Man
5. Witches Abroad
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Soul Music
8. Mort
-------- (imaginary line splitting favs from non-favs)
9. Moving Pictures
10. Lords and Ladies

Next up: Interesting Times

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