The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows reviewed

The Magic of Terry Pratchett Book Cover The Magic of Terry Pratchett
Marc Burrows
Pen & Sword
July 30, 2020

The Magic Of Terry Pratchett is the first full biography of Sir Terry Pratchett ever written. Sir Terry was Britain's best-selling living author, and before his death in 2015 had sold more than 85 million copies of his books worldwide. Best known for the Discworld series, his work has been translated into 37 languages and performed as plays on every continent in the world, including Antarctica.

Journalist, comedian and Pratchett fan Marc Burrows delves into the back story of one of UK's most enduring and beloved authors, from his childhood in the Chiltern Hills to his time as a journalist, and the journey that would take him - via more than sixty best-selling books - to an OBE, a knighthood and national treasure status.

The Magic Of Terry Pratchett is the result of painstaking archival research alongside interviews with friends and contemporaries who knew the real man under the famous black hat, helping to piece together the full story of one of British literature's most remarkable and beloved figures for the very first time.

I’ve been a fan of Terry Pratchett’s work since shortly after the publication of the first Discworld book. The idea of this biography, The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows, appealed a lot. It starts with a very good foreword by Helen O’Hara. It’s a concise round up of Pratchett in some ways. The author then gives an introduction to his book. He too is a fan and suggests that this book may be an opportunity to “meet” Terry Pratchett or at least “a” version of him.

I found the early chapters a little disappointing. The writing seemed rather basic – rather like an episode of “This is your life”. First he did this, then he did that. However the book got going for me properly after that. While I may not have been convinced initially, the more I read the more this book grew on me. I felt it was a very good overview of Terry Pratchett’s work. This gave me insights into aspects of his life and work that I was not aware of. I also found out things that I had not previously been aware of.

The fact that I generally agree with the author’s views may be worth bearing in mind while reading this review. However I do have some slight caveats with this book. I’m not sure I really agree with the footnotes idea as used here – Pratchett did it his way and brilliantly. The author here uses some conventionally and some in Pratchett’s style. Another issue is that this has mostly been gleaned from external sources it seems. This leads to some uncertainty about some of the stories.

A fundamental uncertainly is simply the fact that Pratchett tended to embroider his own version(s!) of events over the years – he was a story teller after all! I found this quite entertaining and was one of those insights that I enjoyed. The Magic of Terry Pratchett is definitely a book that fans will be interested in reading.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review