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The Truth Shall Make Ye Free

Discworld Monthly - Issue 79: November 2003

Table of Contents:

1. Editorial
2. News
3. Readers' Letters
4. DiscTrivia
5. Review: Wadfest 2003
6. Competitions
7. Librarian's Corner - with Bookworm Baz
8. Review: Wee Free Men - ISIS Audio Book
9. The End

1. Editorial

Welcome to issue 79. Unfortunately due to illness Terry had to cancel a small part of his UK tour. I am sure you will want to join us in passing on our best wishes to Terry. In response to the number of concerned email received by Colin Smythe, Terry wrote the following:

"Insofar as there is any 'formal' story it's:

I arrived back from the US last week with a sore throat, probably picked up on the flight between Austin and New York;

It blossomed to flu-like proportions by Friday, so I got equipped with prescription painkillers (which did no good at all) and antibiotics.

I managed the Basingstoke signing but fell into bed when I got home, and was so bad on Sunday that we agreed to write Monday off and start touring on Wednesday (Tuesday was off anyway because of Lyn's birthday). By Tuesday things were worse, and while I'm pretty game the thought of the flight to Edinburgh was just too daunting. At this point, we agreed to cancel the tour for the rest of the week, because it'd be fairer on the shops and people to say so right then rather that drag things out.

And that's it, really. Mostly the problem was the throat, which was so bad that until Wednesday I wasn't really sleeping at night at all. I can't really remember much about Monday and Tuesday at all, although I must have had bouts of coherence, usually at 4.30am. Today, Friday, I slept until almost twelve, which was probably the system catching up.

That's it, really. No one takes the decision that that lightly. I've done about sixty tours now without hitting a problem like this, at least to the extent of cancelling anything, but any tour -- especially a big one, with changing time zones and sudden changes of temperatures, erratic sleeping, irregular meals, shops full of people and a regular exposure to the cocktail of germs in the aircraft -- is prone to something like this."

Terry Pratchett

Colin Smythe believes that Terry is certain that he'll be able to carry out the signings next Wednesday, at noon at Barrett's, 47 Market Street, St Neots, Cambridgeshire and at 6.00pm at Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2

Last month when we reviewed Bursarvixen's Discworld Beer we forgot to mention where you can purchase it from [Must have been too drunk - WB]. The web address is www.bursarvixen.com

Andy Gilvear jumped to the beer's defence stating:

"After sampling my 1st bottle of Old Kingdom, there is no way that these bottles will stay full for very long. It is probably one of the best bottled beers I've tasted (and I've tried one or two)!"

Just goes to show how people's opinions can differ. I suggest you purchase a bottle or two and let us know what your think. To make this option all the more palatable BursarVixen are having a sale for Hogswatch so the Discworld Beer prices are being reduced. Bursarvixen have made this offer even more tempting by giving one lucky customer a year's supply (3 bottles a month) of beer for a year. In order to enter the prize draw you need to become a member of their mailing list and order at least one bottle.

Finally we have been asked by several people if there will be a Discworld 2004 diary. From what I understand there will not be a 2004 diary and it is unlikely that there will be any more as most of the major character groups have already been used.

Jason Anthony (Editor)
William Barnett (Deputy Editor)
Richard Massey (AD/DC Fan)

2. News

Over zealous retailers appear to have been selling the latest Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment nearly a week before its official release date. If you are one of the tiny minority of people that haven't read it yet you can purchase a copy at 0385603401/87 for only 8.99 GBP plus postage.

The International Orangutan Awareness Week (IOAW) takes place from November 3-10 2003. A new web site has been created with a variety of information on orangutans and tools individuals need to conduct local outreach activities and fund-raising events that will benefit orangutan conservation programs. There are activities for all ages, including a poster contest for children. For more details visit www.ioaw.org/

News from Colin Smythe ( ) about The Big Read.

I've mentioned that Terry had five novels in the 100 books most loved by their readers in the BBC's The Big Read, but I see that in the volume published by Dorling Kindersley The Big Read Book of Books (ISBN 1-4053-0405-7) one can learn their relative positions not only in the top 100 but in the second hundred as well, where 10 of Terry's Discworld books featured. The positions are on the basis of numbers of votes cast for each title, which are not given:

65 Mort
68 Good Omens (with Neil Gaiman)
69 Guards! Guards!
73 Night Watch
93 The Colour of Magic

102 Small Gods
126 Reaper Man
135 Wyrd Sisters
137 Hogfather
148 Men at Arms
151 Soul Music
152 Thief of Time
153 The Fifth Elephant
193 The Truth
197 Witches Abroad

Fabrice Roy writes: I just wanted to let you know that Terry Pratchett will be in France, in Nantes, for the SF/Fantasy convention Utopiales (8th-11th November). There will be some other famous guests, like Brian W. Aldiss, Stephen Baxter, Tim Powers or James Morrow. Really nice news for the French Discworld readers!

Wyrd Sisters will be performed at St. Peters Parish Hall, Bushey High Street, Bushey Heath, Herts, WD23 1EA. Preview dress rehearsal on Tues 18th Nov 2003 (5 GBP) and performances Weds 19th, Thurs 20th and Fri 21st Nov 2003 (8 GBP). Box Office 020 8950 5325.

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Analog, and SciFi.com are co-hosting chat with PTerry, as follows:

Terry Pratchett Chat November 11 @ 9:00 p.m. EST Terry Pratchett on his new book, MONSTROUS REGIMENT.


The production of Wyrd Sisters at Brize Norton we announced last month has had to be postponed due to circumstances beyond their control. They apologize for any problems this may cause and will let us know the new dates as soon as they can.

Boston Playgoers will be performing Carpe Jugulum at Blackfriars Arts Centre, Spayne Lane, Boston. Lincs from 5th to 8th November 2003. Curtain up 7:30. Tickets 6.00 GBP.

The Hameenlinna City Theatre (Hameenlinna, Finland) will be performing Wyrd Sisters from 15th November 2003 trough 8th May 2004, altogether 34 performances. More details and booking information may be found at www.hameenlinnankaupunginteatteri.fi/

Purple Monkey Theatre Company is wrapping up its Pratchett run with "Lords & Ladies".

The show will be performed for three nights only at the Queen Street Central Hall, Queen Street, Scarborough.

The dates are the 13th, 14th, 15th of November 2003 @ 7:30pm.

Ticket prices are 5 GBP / 4 GBP concessions.

Many details at the website - www.purplemonkey.tk as well as frequent(ish) updates on the company blog - www.monkeydiary.tk

Details and booking via e-mail, or on the mobile - 07792 044003

The producers of the show state: The show is quite ridiculous, and even features some Nanny Ogg style folk songs, and The Stick and Bucket Dance. *wince*

The Girton Players will be performing Carpe Jugulum at Impington Village College in Cambridgeshire on November 26,28 & 29th at 7.30. Tickets are 6 GBP or 3 GBP concessions and can be reserved by phoning 01223 564329 or emailing .

For more information visit www.girtonplayers.org

Scifiweekely.com ran an interview with Terry (back in May 2003) which we missed. If you wish to see what Terry had to say visit www.scifiweekly.com/issue316/interview.html

Small Ads....

Please note, DWM has no way of checking the veracity or validity of any of the items in our small ads section. As always, exercise caution when giving out your details over the Internet. We *strongly* recommend parental supervision for younger readers who
follow up any of these contacts.

Chairman Mei writes: Having designs on web design and feeling so culturally/comedically (is that a word?) deprived living here in Germany, I recently bought a web address to act as a platform and vent for my hopefully humorous ramblings and anger... Since then it has lain dormant. It's such a great address and (hence me writing this in the first instance) a clear Terry connection that I was wondering if anyone out there fancied a joint venture to give credit to the url. I'm busting with ideas but rather lacking in knowledge (but about to do a CIWebmaster course) and would welcome the cooperation of a like-minded middle-aged disgruntled wannabe. The address in question is www.TheTruth.tk (see what I mean!).

Laura Holborow writes: The Discworld is an online role playing game based mainly within the city of Ankh Morpork. Create and play a character - imagine your house in Lower Morpork, get a job, you could join the Watch, or a guild, become an apprentice, or leave the city in search of an adventure. The action is only limited by your imagination! Just a few rules and guidelines to read first here - www.geocities.com/discworldrpg then have a look at the boards - pub37.ezboard.com/bthediscworld. The Gods look forward to seeing you there.

Chris Potts writes: I have a 1st Ed HB COM, with the original cover showing A'Tuin and sleeve notes by Colin Smythe. Does anyone have any idea of its value? It is in perfect cond, in a DJ.

"Emma Cook" writes: Just Discworld - A new Discworld Group on MSN. All the usual stuff and more! Partly still under construction (and might be for a while... so many ideas, so little time!!) but would love to have any DWM readers pop in and let me know what you think. Who knows, you might even like it and join! G-rated site which is suitable for all. groups.msn.com/JustDiscworld/

"Robyn" writes: I know this might sound really stupid, but does anyone play Thud? I was recently given it as an early birthday present, but I don't understand the rules and how to play. Please can someone write the instructions down in such a way that a 3 year old could understand. Many, many thanks, Robyn.

3. Readers' Letters

If you have any letters or comments, please email them to

We assume any correspondence is eligible for use in the newsletter unless otherwise stated, including the sender's email address. We may also edit your letters and report any illegal ones to the appropriate authorities.

It is vitally important that you don't pass off other people's work as your own. If you use information from other resources please let us know so we can give proper credit.

The best letter of the month will receive a Kiss the Cook print supplied by Bonsai Trading. Bonsai Trading, is the Discworld store that brings you Clarecraft figurines, diaries & calendars, Thud and much more. bonsai.discworldmonthly.org

* From: "Tegumai Bopsulai"
In case PTerry (or someone filtering out the nonsense for him) monitors this forum, we need to know MUCH more about Bergholt Stuttley Johnson. Perhaps he wasn't as uniformly maladroit as advertised. Perhaps he was an ancestor of Leonard of Quirm (and communicates with him through some convenient muddling of temporal order). Perhaps BSJ, with the help of "Old Stoneface" Vimes, intentionally sabotaged one of Lorenzo the Kind's nastier efforts (as Heisenberg claimed to do with Hitler's atomic weapons program--er, programme).

Human attempts to manage the universe are almost always interesting (in the sense of the Discworld/Chinese curse: May you live in Interesting Times). Hey, the Game is crooked, but it's the only game in town. Consider, for example, Edward Tenner's "Why Things Bite Back" and other investigations into the basic Murphy-mindedness of the universe. NASA and its contractors have learned the subtle distinction between inches and centimeters (er, centimetres) at a cost of about two billion dollars US, and there are more grievous lessons (cold O-rings are brittle, 1986, and ice chunks can break tiles, 2003).

* From: "Barrie Wakeford"
The question about Discworld Noir in last month's issue should be very easy to answer. The game was released on CD not DVD and should run on any computer. The copy I have was issued on three discs here in the UK.

Unless it's been reissued onto DVD there shouldn't be a problem.

* From: Vanessa Mullin
I recently purchased the 2004 Discworld calendar. After examining it from cover to cover, upside down, and backwards, I have come to the conclusion it has surpassed my highest expectations. I would highly recommend this calendar to any Discworld junkie.

* From:
I am an avid pratchett fan but alas have to admit to being a collector of miniature whisky bottles too. I have just read the article on Discworld beer and suddenly thought if anyone might know if there are any Discworld miniatures out there as there now seems to be no limit to having your own whisky bottled or have I found a new niche for miniature collectors? If anyone knows of any such miniatures please let me know otherwise I may have to ask Mr Pratchett for permission to do some bottling.

* From: "Charlie Ashford"
I have a few things to say-

1. Has anybody else made the Wow Wow Sauce in the Discworld Companion? I hope that I'm not the only one who bothered. For anyone else who wants a go here's a tip - Add a few drops of Encona to make it a bit hotter.

2. Has anybody else noticed the similar sentence spoken by both the Patrician in The Truth, and Agent J in 'Men in Black'? The one about "Don't you wonder what shape the world will be tomorrow?" Who copied who? Or is it just coincidence...

3. Why doesn't the picture of Cohen near the beginning of the Last Hero have his name written on the plaque underneath him? Great pictures by Paul Kidby by the way.

* From: "Allen Springer"
In Discworld Monthly #78 it was said:

"According to Harpercollins The Bromeliad Trilogy will be released for the first time in the US in one volume."

This is not exactly correct. The Science Fiction Book Club sold "The Bromeliad" in one hardcover volume which contained "Truckers", "Diggers", and "Wings". I have a copy, printed by Guild America Books. The volume was not available generally in the book stores here.

* From: "John Phipps"
I appreciate the tour dates. I sent an email off to Mike Dirda the instant I saw PTerry was going to be there. Mike and I have chatted at the odd party and other gatherings for years on ways to increase the popularity of his books.

I have been trying to talk Mike into going to the Discworld Convention. He says the Washington Post travel budget only covers trips to war zones. Though the way things are going the world could be a war zone ere long.

DWM replies: Have you been to a Discworld Convention? Some might describe them as being a war zone.

* From: "Hrothricke Dragon"
Maybe it is just me, but I find it frustrating having to wait for the softcovers to be released. Originally only softcovers were available here in South Africa, so my collection started as softcovers. One each year for my birthday. Then the Hardcovers were released & I had to wait for Xmas for my fix of TP when the softcover finally arrived. Then it took a year before the softcover arrived, only after the new hardcover was on sale. So now my collection was lagging badly. To make matters worse, The last book (Night Watch) is still not out in Softcover although Wee Free Men has been out for a year & now the next book is to be released, again only in Hardcover. Very unfair to us dedicated fans who are collecting the softcover versions only. And no I don't want to order from overseas, I want it to be released here in South Africa. I really need my annual fix. Regards Angelique

* From: "Jan"
Last weekend, I was in Poland for the wedding of a friend of mine, and to my surprise (since I had not read that particular edition of DWM [#53]; I checked the archives before I wrote this mail) was able to confirm that the term "Sto Lat" is indeed a part of a Polish party (better:drinking) song, and does indeed mean "100 years".

What the Polish correspondent (in the email I am referring to) omitted to mention is the fact that after singing (shouting, slurring, not actually being able to form the right syllables anymore, sort of humming along) the verse, everybody present (of drinking age; this is taken seriously, though not necessarily literally legally) has to down 2cl of vodka (I do not know the term for that measure in English; in German it would be a "Kurzer").

This is repeated quite often; the wedding party went from 5pm to 6:30 in the morning (continuously), and it is customary to buy 1 litre of vodka per attending guest, which is consumed without any apparent fear of death.

People there do get to be 100 years old, though. There were 80-year-old couples on the dancefloor. Dancing what appeared to be a Polish version of the Macarena. At 4 in the morning.

I come to the conclusion that the term was not used in the books to allude to some 100-year-old history of the geographical area in question on the Discworld, but to commemorate some festivity that TP was at himself.

* From: "Dan Norman"
About scumble

IMHO, as a full-time-I-don't-drink-nothing-BUT-cider cider drinker, I would suggest the following:

- Find someone who makes PROPER scrumpy (NOT the stuff that they sell in plastic bottles in Oz & NZ which is marketed as scrumpy (about 8.5%bv), proper scrumpy should contain dead badgers, leaves, twigs and floor sweepings)

- Do as Nanny Ogg would do: Freeze it until most of the water is ice, scoop the ice out and leave the concentrated scumble (aka suicider)

- I'm currently living in NZ (after 4 years in Oz) and miracle of miracles, my folks in the UK have managed to send me some proper scrumpy. Only problem is that it's about 1,000km away in the South Island. One day.....

Hope this helps, and watch out for the dragons and elephants coming through the walls.

DWM replies: Letter of The Month goes to Dan for staying sober enough to write in.

* From: "k sessions"
I just returned from Seattle where I saw Terry. I drove three hours and had to stay over night and it was worth it. He spoke for and hour and answered questions for another half hour. He is a wonderful speaker and we heard a great deal about the writing of "Monstrous Regiment" and "Hatfull of Sky" which is a sequel to "Wee Free Men". We also heard a bit about his new book coming out next fall that he is working on, now called "Going Postal". We heard a lot about his views of the writing process and of course I got my SIGNED copy of "Monstrous Regiment".

If you are ever in an area where Terry Pratchett is scheduled to appear, go. You will not ever regret the time, or expense.

* From: "Stevet VanSlyck"
And ideas on how I can find out if Terry Pratchett was a Freemason?

DWM replies: We can only tell you if you can do the funny handshake.

* From:
My just turned 12 year old (his birthday is today) has just read his first Discworld book (not the first one) and loved it.

My question is how important is it he reads the others in a chronological order, or can he just dip into any of them in no particular order? The reason I ask is he got the latest paperback novel as a birthday present. Should he read it or wait till he's read the other circa 30 first?

DWM replies: While some of the "franchise" books (eg. The Watch or Witches) are better read in the order in which they were written, it isn't essential to do this.

* From: "Nadia Collins"
I was just wanting to know if anyone here knows what happened to the website Deaths Domain (finnfma.co.uk/dd). I went away for work for about a month and now I am unable to find this Discworld based site. Have I missed something? Does it have a new address or does it just not exist anymore? I would be glad if someone could get back to me with an answer.

* From: "Schaad, Thomas (PACE)"
I had the opportunity to interview Terry Pratchett on September 30 when he was in Washington, D.C. for my local access television show Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction. Terry was patient, gracious and informative as always. If you are interested, we have placed the interview on our website (you will need QuickTime 6) for viewing. The address for the site is http//www.fast-forward.tv.

Thanks for all the information in the newsletter. It's a great way to keep track of what's going on.

4. DiscTrivia

For the next few months we thought we would concentrate each trivia section on a certain subject. This month we have decided to ask questions about assassins. If the answers are wrong this month you will have to blame Jason .

What was the name of the assassin Vetinari witnessed being killed in Night Watch?

This assassin became a king.

Teacher known for her love of practical lessons.

Who is the current head of the Assassins' Guild?

What time would you expect an assassin at Hogswatch (cryptic!)?

The results, as always, appear at the end of this issue.

5. Review: Wadfest 2003

by Jason Anthony

Wadfest is a Discworld event that is run by fans for fans. It also claims to be a family event so I took up the challenge and took my five year old daughter with me.

The event took place over the weekend of the 19th, 20th and 21st September at Ashbourne in Derbyshire. Unfortunately I had to wait until after 3pm to pick up my daughter Emily from school. We were soon on the road and after a small detour into Solihull to pick up a friend we were on our way. We eventually arrived at the campsite at around 7:30pm. We soon discovered just how much fun you can have putting up a tent in the dark whilst Emily made friends with our new neighbours. While we were putting up the tent we noticed a number of other people arriving and felt better knowing they still had to go through the rigmarole of setting up their tents.

We finally made it over to the communal bar-b-que were we cooked some burgers, had a couple of beers and met up with old and new friends. It was great to be able to meet Lynn from the US, her Dad and Lynn's friend Lauren who had travelled over just for the Wadfest weekend. Emily and I went to bed at about 10:30 but I understand others were up until the early hours of the morning in the far field, where they were kept warm by Loz's campfire.

Emily is a bit of an early bird and we emerged from the tent at 7am to find most of the campsite asleep. After attempting to get the bar-b-que started without any luck, John Lawn (who is the Doctor Lawn from Night Watch) came to our rescue with some fire-lighters. Which meant we were then able to cook some breakfast.

Emily spent some time on Saturday morning painting and decorating a witch hat whilst making friends with Anusha and Monica (who were both about the same age as her). I took this opportunity to meet up with old friends and finally meet some existing on-line friends in the flesh for the first time.

During the day, volunteers were busy building hardboard Luggages that would later be decorated by the children and then used in the Luggage wars event on Sunday. There was also the opportunity to purchase various Discworld goodies from the likes of Bonsai Trading, Clarecraft, Bernard Pearson and of course official Wadfest merchandise.

The main event on Saturday was the first ever wedding at a Discworld event. Pete and Sue looked stunning in their costumes and Bernard Pearson made a short and poignant speech before the exchange of rings. After the giving of presents the Bride and Groom were whisked off while the rest of us headed back to the main field for the Live Thud game.

Whilst the game board was being set out the children took part in a game called the Haggis hunt. Earlier in the day Rob had deposited a number of small pieces of cardboard with pictures of small fluffy creatures on them around the two fields. The children had to find as many haggis as possible in a set time limit.

Trevor Truran (Thud's designer) came all the way up to the event from Somerset just to see Live Thud performed, as he didn't think it could possibly work. After he'd been recruited as a dwarf the game was ready to begin. In order to make it easy to identify trolls and dwarves a blue or gold plastic hat was given to each of the dwarves and trolls respectively. What we must have looked like to the unsuspecting ice cream man that chose that moment to enter our field is anybody's guess. The main difference between Thud and Live Thud is that in a normal game of Thud you have one player on each side, whereas in Live Thud is it the team as a whole that makes decisions. This causes the problem that, like any thinking by committee, very little gets done. Live Thud takes a couple of hours to complete. Next year maybe there should be a time limit on each move. The game was eventually won by the Dwarves but only by a small margin. Trevor had a great time and Live Thud had become a real success.

After Thud we just had time to cook some dinner before Lupine's Magic show. Unfortunately the generator and lights that the organisers had expected were not delivered so the magic show had to be done by candle and gas lamp. This, if anything, made the show more Discworld-like. Lupine's show was a combination of caroc mind reading games and traditional card and pompom magic. During the performance the weather made a turn for the worse and it started to rain. Luckily the organisers had a sheet of tarpaulin that they managed to pull over the audience so we were at least dry, although as we were enjoying ourselves so much we hardly noticed the rain. We were all impressed by Lupine's entertaining and diverse show that ended with a re-enactment on Tommy Cooper's multiple bottles trick. A truly magic show.

Once again Emily and I went to bed early but others stayed up late again at Loz's camp fire. Having Emily with me meant I was unable to join them which is quite disappointing but I really did enjoy having Emily with me at the event.

First up on Sunday was the children's Luggage Wars, where two children got into each Luggage which were then guided up and down the short course. The winners were the first team to make it to the end and back first.

After the children's version the adults had a go. There was obviously more competition in the adult section which ended with Glenn and myself coming first. Glenn gave me the winner's cup to look after until Wadfest 2004 where we will defend our victory.

Next up was the charity auction. Bernard was once again convinced to add his usual aplomb to the proceedings by being the auctioneer. The lively auction, which thankfully didn't include a hodges box, raised just over 524 GBP for Cancer Research (the event's chosen charity).

All that was left was to pack our stuff away and head off home. After some emotional goodbyes we all set off on our separate ways, promising to meet back again next year.

Wadfest was a truly wonderful weekend. I came away from it having put more faces to names and having had a really wonderful and relaxing time. I can't recommend Wadfest enough. It is a shame that it only lasts a couple of days. You can find lots of pictures of this year's event and details of next year's event Wadfest 2004: Koom Valley at the Wadfest web site located at www.wadfest.co.uk

I would like to add my personal thanks to Waddy (the event organiser) for putting so much of his own time and money into the event. And to his wife Elaine for putting up with him.

6. Competitions

Please note that unless stated otherwise our competitions are open to all readers, regardless of where you live.

* Monstrous Regiment Competition Result *

Last month we asked: What name does Polly assume when she joins the army?

The correct answer was Oliver (we also accepted Ozzer). The randomly selected winner of the UK hardback of Monstrous Regiment is Tom Godfrey of Bristol.

* Josh Kirby Print Competition *

A competition with a slight twist this month. We don't know exactly what the prize is... Actually, we do know, the winner gets their choice of any Josh Kirby A3 print that is in stock at Bonsai Trading bonsai.discworldmonthly.org

In order to win one of these wonderful Josh Kirby prints all you need to do is answer the following simple question:

How much is the most expensive Josh Kirby print on the Bonsai Trading web site?

Email your answer along with your postal town before 22nd November 2003 to Please put Josh Kirby Competition in the subject - failure to do so may result in your entry being missed.

A randomly selected winner will be announced next month.

Bonsai Trading is the premiere on-line store for Clarecraft Figurines, Discworld Diaries & Calendars, Isis Audio Books, Octarine Forge Jewellery and Prints. More information can be found at bonsai.discworldmonthly.org

7. Librarian's Corner - with Bookworm Baz.

Somebody once said "The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there" and how right he was. People remain people, but society changes. Behaviour that was acceptable, even expected back then would get you locked up (or on "Kilroy") nowadays. Still, it's a fascinating subject, and these are a few of the books that's helped me explore it. This is history, and her story, and my story. It's your story too.

Legacy, Michael Wood, Network Books, 1992, ISBN 0563364297.

A look at some of the earliest societies ever to have existed starts out with the cradle of civilization, the land of the first true cities, the land where writing was invented and the most likely site of the idyllic paradise remembered as the biblical Garden of Eden. Iraq. Yes, brought me up short too. Still, gotta love a people who name a city "Ur" ("So, what do we call this place?" "Er..." "Perfect!"). From here we go on a whistle-stop tour of other pioneers of the urban lifestyle: India, China, Egypt and Central America, seeing their rise and generally depressing decline. Eventually, as an afterword, the book brings us back to Iraq. Note the publication date? It's deja vu all over again, poor old Eden.

The History of Britain - Parts 1,2 and 3, Simon Shama, BBC Worldwide, 2000 / 2001 / 2002, ISBN 0563384972 / 0563537477 / 0563534575.

These are the books that accompany the marvellous TV series. Apologies to Americans and other such strange creatures for going a bit Anglo-centric, but you're in here too. In fact most of the world is at some point in British history, and generally not in a good way either. This has supplanted most of my other history books, which tend to reel off dates and events like a speaking clock. Instead these books skip through history, cherry-picking for the pivotal events that shaped this island, this people and, sometimes, this world. The whole three book wad is a little heavy on the wallet (and the bookcase) but that's what we've got libraries for. An excellent trilogy that does exactly what it says on the cover.

Historical Blunders, Geoffrey Regan, Andre Deutsch, 2002, ISBN 0233050655.

One should learn from one's mistakes. Or, if not, one should at least collect them in book form so you can go back and say "Oh yeah, that's just what happened last time we tried this.", which is precisely what Mr. Regan has done here. A fine set of really bad ideas humanity has had over the years; like corsets, or flagellation, or prohibition, or Idi Amin (seriously bad idea). From Fonthill Abbey to the quest for El Dorado, from the Children's Crusade to the Beer Hall Putsch. And, of course, China (don't ask). Reading this you keep muttering "What on earth were they thinking!" to yourself. Ah, the benefits of 20/20 hindsight. Just one of a series of books from this author, here's another.

Royal Blunders, Geoffrey Regan, Andre Deutsch, 2002, ISBN 0233050442.

Despite the title, this is a book that should be welcomed with open arms by modern Royalists since the finest way to give one a good opinion of today's Royal Family is to take a close look at their ancestors. What a bunch of inbred, deformed, idiotic, loony, psychopathic monsters. And that's just the European lot, the ancient Roman rulers were even worse and they were voted in. So much for democracy. The frankly jaw-dropping behaviour detailed in these pages makes one realise the sheer power the tradition of the Monarchy must have held over people to have put up with it and, indeed, keep going back to it. Except, of course, for the French. And the Russians. And the Americans...

8. Review: Wee Free Men - ISIS Audio Book

ISIS have recently supplied me with a copy of their latest Discworld audio book The Wee Free Men, read as usual by Stephen Briggs. The novel tells the tale of nine-year-old Tiffany Aching trying to rescue her little brother from the evil Queen of the Fairies with only her wits and the Nac Mac Feegle to help her.

This book was Stephen's first opportunity to voice the Nac Mac Feegle and he does a wonderful job. It sounds like Stephen had a lot of fun making the recording and I admire his ability not only to do accents but to be able to do them at various pitches, making it easy to recognise which of the Nac Macs were talking. I particularly like his interpretation of William the Gonnagle whose voice is deep and full of rolling r's.

I have commented in the past about how the jokes can really come alive in these recordings - in this book there is a section with a character called "No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-wee-Jock-Jock" where his name is mentioned numerous times. This joke works fine in the written book but tends to grate when read aloud time and time again, although this doesn't last too long and is soon overlooked.

Stephen also gets the opportunity to voice Granny Weatherwax for the first time in this book and seems to me to have got it spot on again. If Terry decides to write another Witches book in the future I look forward to hearing more from Stephen's Granny [Weatherwax, not his own granny - WB].

By now you will have gathered that I really enjoyed listening to this audio book. I heartily recommend the ISIS audio books to anyone who likes reading Terry's novels. Go on, give it a go, or better still get someone to purchase you a copy for Hogswatch.

The Wee Free Men comes on seven cassettes or CD's and costs 18.99 GBP + postage on cassette and 23.99 GBP + postage on CD. You can purchase it direct from the ISIS web site located at www.isis-publishing.co.uk or via mail order on Freephone 0800 731 5637.

9. The End

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