Review: The Turtle Moves by Lawrence Watt-Evans

The Discworld Series has undergone a continual process of evolution and refinement since the first book, The Colour of Magic (Colin Smythe, 1983), was published 25 years ago. With a complex network of characters and styles, The Discworld Series defies standard fantasy genre definitions and generalisations.

In The Turtle Moves (Benbella Books, 2008), Lawrence Watt-Evans offers both existing fans and newcomers commentary on Pratchett’s evolving style and preoccupations and an insightful overview of the development of the series as a whole.

The Turtle Moves: Discworld’s Story (Unauthorised)

With refreshing candour, self-deprecating humour and the experience of more than 25 years as a writer and editor in the fantasy genre, The Turtle Moves offers an intelligent and knowledgeable commentary about Discworld and its place in the pantheon of fantasy literature.

Free from gushing enthusiasm or self-indulgent displays of Discworld trivia, The Turtle Moves includes:

  • Summary of each title from The Colour of Magic to the latest instalment Making Money (Doubleday, 2007)
  • Explanation of eight Discworld subseries themes with a chapter devoted to each
  • Summary of background characters
  • Commentary on the development of the series, Pratchett’s style and success, foundations for the stories and the construct of the Discworld.
Novel summaries can be read in chronological order or by theme, with recommendations for related chapters clearly listed.

Thoughtful Comments and Summaries for Discworld Fans

While occasionally referring readers back to fan websites such as Lspace.org (a list of online resources is included at the end of the book), Watt-Evans manages to convey the overall tone and humour of the Discworld novels without celebrating and explaining every pun or real-world reference.

Discworld fans without significant interest or experience with fantasy novels in general will particularly appreciate the insights into the first two novels, which exist primarily as parodies of the fantasy genre. The commentary highlighting themes and preoccupations that link various novels within the series are also of interest.

Tracing the development of the series from the initial fantasy genre parodies to the more recent novels, Watt-Evans also discusses the secret of Discworld’s success and the place Pratchett now holds in the world of fantasy literature. He offers the well-argued proposition that the final definition of the series and secret to its success is that Discworld novels are primarily about people and stories.

A Well Structured Introduction to the Discworld

The Turtle Moves is also useful for those readers who have never attempted to read a Discworld novel, who wanted to but weren’t sure where to start, or who tried books one and two and decided that the series just wasn’t for them.

Without spoiling the plot, Watt-Evans’ summaries offer readers new to the Discworld an opportunity to get a feel for the series as a whole before choosing where to start. By grouping the novels into subseries groups, new readers can choose to follow a particular group of characters or theme rather than reading the novels in chronological order.

An Interesting and Insightful Overview of Pratchett’s Discworld Series

Lawrence Watt-Evans is an experienced fantasy writer and editor with more than 30 novels as well as a large number of short stories and published articles to his credit. With a conversational style, frequent touches of humour and multiple footnotes, Lawrence Watt-Evans highlights the strengths, weaknesses and characteristics that have helped Discworld to become one of the most successful fantasy constructs of modern times.

The intelligent commentary of The Turtle Moves will appeal to existing fans and the discussion of the series development and structure will help new readers quickly familiarise themselves with this complex yet thoroughly enjoyable series.

The Turtle Moves: Discworld’s Story (Unauthorised) (ISBN: 978-1-933771-46-5, 285 pages)

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