Terry Pratchett, The Carpet People (1971/1992)

Just a few quick words in-between longer posts. As I’ve mentioned here and there, I’ve decided to do a big, complete Discworld re-read a couple of years ago. I’ve sped it up last year, went from Mort to The Amazing Maurice… and this year I’ve already listened to the Night Watch  and The Wee Free Men to start The Monstrous Regiment only yesterday.

I love it! Even more, then the first time. And some books I read for the first time. I will sum it all up after I finish. But, it was not enough Pratchett. I’ve read his nonfics, and now I’ve also read his first novel (although in its re-written, later version), The Carpet People.

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What a funny little book! I don’t know how much it’s changed from the original version – anybody here read that? – but it’s a great debut and clearly a work of a beautiful, brilliant mind.

The humour is already there, Pratchett’s satirical sense, his ability to show us an absurd fantasy world – and through this, the absurd of the one we created here on Earth. Sure, it was refined later on, but this book is nothing to be ashamed of.

What about the story?

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Well, maybe not end all adventures, not really, but to save their flat world from eminent danger – definitely.

Our brothers are from a barbaric (but friendly) tribe of Munrungs, living under the authority of a benevolent Dumii Empire. One – Glurk – is an archetypical chieftain, not too smart – being smart is the job of his shaman/philosopher, Pismire – but brave and dedicated. The other, Snibril, is smart and adventurous. Together with a group of companions they will have to defeat an invasion of Mouls, a devious, aggressive race of ugly creatures. Invasion made easier by the Fray – force of nature/act of God in this world of carpet dwellers, but in true (most probably) just a sweeping of carpet by humans – good thing they don’t have a vacuum cleaner! It also helps that they leave many thing for the micro-peoples of the carpet to explore and use – coins that turn into metal mines, matchsticks that give them wood, varnish is also very important for the local economy, and it is taken from a chair leg.

What a way to deal with a conflict – and cooperation of civilized and nomadic peoples, of advanced and primaeval cultures, of change and tradition. Of benefits of tolerance, nay, understanding and friendship, of what brings us together, even if we look, worship and cook differently. There are bad guys that aim for violent subjugation if all the others, and they are dealt with – in a battle, nonetheless – but that is not the point, and the battle is short and not that bloody.

In comparison to Pratchett’s later books, it’s naive, calmer, quite ironic but not sarcastic. Characters are nowhere as complex as the heroes and heroines of Discworld. While not as good, it’s still fresh and highly enjoyable.

Score: 7,5/10

16 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett, The Carpet People (1971/1992)

  1. Yeah, Pratchett 🙂 His books require re-reading every so often – for the health of the soul, and the eyes (or ears). We’ve been jumping with our re-read here and there – first were all Death-themed books, from Mort and my beloved Reaper Man, to Soul Music, and now we’ve returned to Rincewind – after The Lost Continent and The Colour of Magic we’re at The Light Fantastic at the moment. The Polish translation is very good indeed, and Maciej Kowalik does a very good job as a narrator – especially compared to Krzysztof Tyniec’s terribly botched attempt at being funny… Can’t wait to start the Watch-themed books! 😉

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  2. It’s my intention to tackle Wintersmith next as my next Pratchett, in time for #MarchMagics celebrating the work of STP and Diana Wynne Jones. It’s proving a slow pilgrimage through Discworld but I’d rather savour than rush it, especially as of all the comic fantasy I’ve read (which, to be honest, is not a huge amount) his is the only I’ve had both laugh-out-loud moments along with heart-felt emotions.

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    • Well, at least you tried 😉 I love satire so he’s definitely one of my favourites, but not all his stuff is gold to me, I couldn’t get into the Long Earth, for example.

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  3. I like to always have a Pratchett book to hand and reread through the Discworld on a kind of loop, no matter what else I’m reading. He’s that kind of author – you can visit and revisit and enjoy each time. 🙂
    I am less fond of The Carpet People (and Truckers and Johnny and the Bomb). Not that it’s a bad book, but as you say it’s calmer, and the sarcasm is missing … and I lovelovelove the sarcasm! 😀

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    • I totally agree. This one was enjoyable, but far from Discworld’s quality. It was most interesting as an insight into younger Pratchett’s mind..

      Sarcasm is definitely the best 😉

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  4. Something about the cover and the premise made me think of Dr. Seuss too. Really interesting novel and it’s nice that you’ve got so much history with Pratchett and still got “new” ones to discover. Is it really different (in a sort of bad way) compared to his Discworld books?

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  5. Pingback: #worldbookczar Candidate: Czar Nicholas II | Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road

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