The Magic of Terry Pratchett (Hardback)
In the press!
As seen in The Telegraph, July 2020: 'The Untold Story of how Terry Pratchett met Roald Dahl'.
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.
*Now disqualified on both counts.
This book is sheer joy. It is really hard to put down once you start reading it. There is extensive research, clear love of the subject and some good insights and reflections. It is a celebration of his life full of details I knew nothing about and now feel the richer for knowing.Blackberry Garden
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Review by Tiffany WittmanBooklist
... this biography has moments of sadness, especially when discussing Pratchett's fight with Alzheimer's. But the book is also funny and conversational in tone, and an excellent tribute to a beloved author.
I've always adored Terry Pratchett's work, and was keen to read this biography. I really enjoyed it. It's charming and well written, and does Mr Pratchett justice.NetGalley, Suzanne Jones
4.5★sNetGalley, Marianne Vincent
“From the young boy living in a cottage with no electricity to the best-selling author living in a 500-year-old manor house with its own grounds, his approach to money never changed: ‘I’m not a rich man,’ he told The Scotsman in 2012, ‘I’m a poor man with a shitload of money.’”
The Magic of Terry Pratchett, by British journalist and author, Marc Burrows, is a fairly brief (360p) biography of a man who has brought joy to countless readers, Sir Terry Pratchett. Burrows takes the reader on a journey through Pratchett’s life: his early childhood and the sound guidance and unfailing support his parents provided, especially when his school experience was found wanting.
When Burrows describes Pratchett’s schooling during the sixties and seventies, it will likely strike a chord with many of Pratchett’s vintage, but the deficit was amply supplemented by the Beaconsfield library, where he became a volunteer to give him unlimited access to books. He boasted that at one stage he had 143 books on loan at the same time.
Burrows details Pratchett’s early career as a journalist and remarks on how this contributed to his literary skills, and his fairly short-lived position in Public Relations, which also furnished him with material for his writing: “Watching as petty bureaucracy and stubborn adherence to the rules scuppered common sense was a useful crash course in human nature.”
Pratchett’s publishing journey is analysed: from his first novel, published at the age of twenty-three, through to the final books published posthumously, Burrows comments on Pratchett’s writing style and content, and how it reflected his life. He describes the seemingly unlikely but enduring friendship with Neil Gaiman, which led to their collaboration on Good Omens, and his tight control over Discworld merchandising and adaptation to other media: stage, film, TV, games.
His unfailing connection with fans is a constant, even late in his career “His relationship with his fanbase was still that of a genre writer, and at events, including the posh parties thrown for this or that Discworld anniversary, he would always prefer to spend time chatting with fans – a number of whom he insisted should always be invited – than with press or industry types.” Examples of his “pay forward” mindset are given.
Pratchett’s handling of his diagnosis with a variant of Alzheimer’s disease is described, his determination to continue writing, and his role as ambassador for dementia conditions, as well as his strong support for “right to die” legislation. The description of his own death is likely to bring a tear to the eye and, in all, this is a book that will have readers dusting off their Terry Pratchett novels for reading/rereading.
The Magic of Terry Pratchett? Clearly, the secret to Pratchett’s success with his inventive and hugely entertaining books, apart from being endowed with a spectacular imagination, is to be a voracious reader, from an early age, and to read very widely. Working as a journalist doesn’t hurt, either, nor does being brought up by parents who instil a strong work ethic. An interesting, informative and moving read.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pen and Sword.
Marc Burrows goes behind the scenes and turns in a fascinating appraisal of one of the most popular fantasy writers of his time.Books Monthly
The fact that this book is written by a fan of the man, Marc Burrows gives it that much loved feel good book, it’s not going to be one of those hatchet jobs that are sometimes done. I liked the way it was written and using the information and research done from past interviews and archives. I found this book to be good, clear, honest and very informed, it did feel like it bought the real Terry Pratchett across. This is very good book that I would recommend, and it brings back the memories to me of the man and his books who I personally would say was a bit like a Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy crossed with a bit of Roald Dahl.UK Historian
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Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Janet Perry
An excellent biography of the Discworld author by someone who isn't just a fan but a man who did excellent research. Pratchett's life is presented clearly with lots of insight into the books. I have been reading his books for close to 30m years, long before they became hugely popular in the US and the book gave me lots of great insight into the author.
An entertaining account of Pratchett’s life and career... The result is that when the book finally does wrap up, we feel we have gotten to know the real Pratchett to some degree, if not with the intimacy that characterises the best biographies.SF Crowsnest
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I am an unashamed Kevin, and I wear the name with pride. Those who know what this means will enjoy reading this book, those who don't need to read it.NetGalley, Kathryn Renshaw
PTerry or The Creator as he's often referred wrote the 41 book series set on the Discworld, with all its seemingly superficial nuances, yet when you look deeper there are subtexts upon subtexts.
Terry as described in this book was a man who was focused on several things, but none so important as his family, his writing was as necessary to him as breathing yet his wife Lyn and daughter Rhianna were the reason for his choosing to make it his living when he discovered he was able to.
I learned more than I had anticipated from this, and despite "knowing the ending" found myself choked and railing against the injustice of a talented writer losing those essential areas of cognitive ability to a disease so insidious.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Chris Hallam
A former local journalist who later moved into public relations, Terry Pratchett grew from being a cult comic fantasy author in the 1980s to becoming the bestselling author in the UK of all in the 1990s. Biographer Marc Burrows does an excellent job detailing the prolific Discworld and Good Omens author's busy life and extensive back catalogue, successfully emulating his literary style as he does so with numerous witty footnotes throughout... Pratchett's official biography has not been written yet. Whoever writes it will have their work cut out surpassing this.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Stephen Moore
A well written, interesting, biography. This book covers the story of Terry Pratchett’s life in a charming, conversational style. The author obviously loves the subject matter, and his enthusiasm is infectious. A really readable story, which reads like a novel.
The book tells the story of STP in chronological order from his birth and council estate childhood in 1950s/60s Beaconsfield to his death in 2015 as a multi-award winning, multi million selling, author in a mini manor house in the chalk lands. Burrows uses archival material, interviews with friends and Sir Terry’s own words to build a picture of his life, influences, personality and writing. The book really comes into it’s own when it moves out of the purely biographical and gets into Pratchett’s writing, whether as a journalist or author.Rosie Writes
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Rating: 5 out 5 starsNetGalley, Christopher Helton
For a subject who died in 2015—not all that long ago—it might be surprising that the first person to publish a serious exploration of Terry Pratchett would have never met him. While not a requirement, there’s a compelling argument that closeness to a subject would provide the bones for writing a rich examination of them. And yet author Marc Burrows completely dispels the idea that that’s the only way to write about recent figures. Through careful research and a deep look into Pratchett’s own words from his numerous interviews, Burrows has provided a compact but comprehensive biography that’s both a page-turner and ridiculously funny.
Even though Burrows might not have a physical connection to Pratchett, he’s an obvious fan of his work, and his excitement while discussing his books is palpable on the page. It quickly becomes clear that, though Pratchett was a remarkable author, he lived a fairly low-key life by celebrity standards. Fortunately, this is where Burrows’s enthusiasm plays its greatest strength, allowing him to add in analysis of Pratchett’s books while relating them to the points in his life that they were written. While this gets somewhat technical, Burrows has such an easy, welcoming style, that these moments are fascinating—even if the reader has little knowledge of the specific book.
Burrows also taps into less obvious sections of Pratchett’s career, and many of these anecdotes are hilarious. In particular, a section on the cover art for some of the early editions of the German Discworld novels is a fascinating examination of the publishing industry, frustrating, and funny all at the same time. Along the way, Burrows, in a nod to Pratchett’s style, tosses in copious footnotes to drive some of the jokes.*
Of course, no look at at Pratchett’s life would be complete without discussing his Alzheimer’s diagnoses and subsequent death. Much like Pratchett was able to weave darker themes into his often cheeky fantasy novels, Burrows also doesn’t shy away from the serious. He does so in such a respectful and thoughtful way that it’s impossible not to leave those final pages without having a deeper appreciation for not just Pratchett, but Burrows as well.
Ultimately, Burrows has written an emotional, charming biography of a literary giant that’ll have fans flipping through well-worn paperbacks while newcomers pick up The Colour of Magic.
This is a very well written, easy to read look at one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time.NetGalley, Caroline Wright
To be honest the only work of Terry Pratchett that I have read is Good Omens (co-authored with Neil Gaiman), but after reading The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows I want to read everything and thankfully there are a lot.NetGalley, Athina Semertzaki
In my mind Terry Pratchett is attached to Discworld but he has written many more with many children's books among them.
In this book Marc Burrows does a brief analysis and description of the books while giving background information on them, which is very interesting and informative at the same time. I also learned many things about his personal life that made Terry Pratchett even more interesting than before.
The book mostly focuses on his work and his books. It is very well-written and it's an easy read. I also liked the fact that the notes were included in the chapters and not at the back, making reading easier.
If you are a Terry Pratchett fan you will love this biography, but even if like me you haven't read many of his work you will be fascinated by it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
I'm huge Pratchett and was more than happy to read this biography because it help me learn more about this author and how he wrote the books I love so much.
It's a well researched and well written story that I strongly recommend to any Pratchett fan.
This is the first full biography of the great man, from his upbringing in the quintessentially English hamlet of Forty Green, Buckinghamshire, to his battle with Alzheimer’s (which Pratchett dubbed “the Embuggerance”) and ferocious campaign for a law change to allow assisted dying — and featuring a whistle-stop tour of his 60-odd books.Rachel Cunliffe, The Critic Magazine, July 2020
It is, as Burrows admits from the start, the project of a committed fanboy. The author never actually got to speak to his literary hero (“This book is my chance to meet Terry Pratchett. It’s yours as well,” he explains early on), and has instead pieced together his life story through old interviews, archives, and conversations with friends and contemporaries.
The result is an engaging quest to get to know the man that both explores and adds to the mythology surrounding him. Pratchett was, as Burrows makes clear, a storyteller first and foremost, and some of his oft-repeated anecdotes — such as encountering a dead body age 17 on his first day as a junior reporter, or filing his copy from a shed on the roof — may have been based more on fantasy than reality. Where he cannot verify, Burrows sticks to the strategy taken by Tony Wilson in the film 24 Hour Party People: “When you have to choose between the truth and the legend, print the legend”.
As such, while this book will no doubt be of greatest interest to Pratchett fans, even those who have never opened a Discworld novel will find themselves entertained by its numerous detours — encompassing the educational apartheid of the 1950s, a surreal stint doing PR for Britain’s nuclear industry, and the once vibrant, now sadly endangered local journalism ecosystem.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Vivienne O'Regan
This is the first full biography of Sir Terry Pratchett and certainly a must read for Pratchett fans and for anyone wanting a comprehensive introduction.
Marc Burrows has done a brilliant job of bringing together archival material, interviews, and an in-depth analysis of Pratchett’s works. I was riveted from start to finish.
I had been reading Pratchett from the start of the Discworld series and they remain firm favourites. It provided me with a great deal of food for thought in terms of the changes in his writing and themes over the years.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Terry Pratchett a number of times during the 90s-early 00s at various events and his love of SFF, generosity and kindness was always evident. He really did ‘pay it forward’. This was an excellent tribute to the man and his work.
Following the main text there is an extensive bibliography and index. It also includes a number of archive photographs.
I expect that I will be adding its print edition to my library in due course. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Annie Buchanan
The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a well written and engaging biography of the inimitable and sadly missed master fantasist, written by Marc Burrows. Tentatively due out 30th July 2020 from Pen & Sword on their White Owl imprint, it's 224 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.
I was unfamiliar with the author's other work (as a comedian, writer, entertainer) (sorry!) and admit to some trepidation going in. I'm a massive fan of Pratchett's work, both the canonical Discworld series, as well as his other series and standalones and was worried that nobody could really do his biography justice. I worried needlessly, as it turned out, because this is a genuinely funny and sensitively written biography. There was quite a lot of information included with which I was previously unfamiliar, especially about Pratchett's early life and writing and career choices.
I liked and appreciated the gently humorous voice of the book, peppered with asides and footnotes of which Sir Terry would likely have approved. Burrows also points out often in the book those places where strictly factual anecdotes and retellings might be in doubt (Pratchett was renowned for self-mythologizing during his lifetime - and the stories have only grown since his passing). There are numerous photographs included and it's apparent just how much he was loved and lauded during his too-short lifetime.
I really enjoyed this biography and recommend it unreservedly to fans of Pratchett, Discworld, and his other works. It's written humorously and well in an entertaining (if not rigorously academic) style.
Five stars. Well worth a read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Dawn Lewis
By some cruel twist of fate, Terry Pratchett wasn't my uncle*. That statement clearly shows my bias for the subject matter, so we'll move on to the book itself. Marc Burrows has managed to pack a whole (but far too short) lifetime into "The Magic of Terry Pratchett" and there were a lot of things I didn't know. Throughout reading this book, I felt a desperate pull to start re-reading the Discworld books** but I resisted. I don't think I've ever cried at a non-fiction book before*** but the end found my eyes leaking****. Marc Burrows has managed to write with a skill and humour that Sir Terry himself would be proud of, I'm sure. Absolutely wonderful. *****
*Something I will lament forever.
**Nice job, Marc!
****And they're still a bit damp now.
*****Apologies for all the footnotes. Fans will understand!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Colin Edwards
I had low expectations of this book. The title, The Magic of Terry Pratchett, nudged me into anticipating a fan’s hagiography from which I would learn little. How wrong I was. This biography is superb. In fact, it’s better than that.
The book shows us how Terry’s youth shaped his impatience with petty authority such as school headmasters and managers. Burrows’s research is thorough and really illuminates Terry’s development as a writer. I knew about the fan letter he wrote to Tolkien, but didn’t know he’d written about Smith of Wootton Major rather than Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Tolkien was overjoyed to receive Terry’s letter and replied quickly, stating it was the first correspondence he’d received about that work. Nor did I know that Terry’s first story was published when he was fourteen – and he received £14 for it. Being a professional published author gave him the confidence to ignore the ignorant teachers who didn’t think he would amount to anything.
It isn’t just stuffed with anecdotes, both ones told by Terry and by people who knew him, it also contains highly perceptive comments, showing how the novels mature with Terry’s development as an author. I was pleased to see that the non-Discworld books are treated with as much respect as the canon.
Burrows warns us to treat the anecdotes with a degree of suspicion as Terry’s journalistic instincts steered him towards polishing tales, possibly at the expense of 100% accuracy. I met Terry a couple of times and had the privilege of buying him a drink each time. One anecdote that isn’t in the book is from the Wincanton convention that Bernard Pearson decided ought to have a cabbage theme. People were invited to make foodstuff with a cabbage twist and Pterry would judge them all – poor devil! Terry praised my wife’s cabbage cake, saying with delight, “That was actually really good cake”, but I had the impression that the cabbage beer (or was it wine?) wasn’t such a hit. I can’t remember whether that was the occasion that someone sent Terry some special brownies and Terry dutifully munched them. He told us that it wasn’t until he started hallucinating that he realised in what way they were “special”.
If you enjoy Discworld, you will learn a lot from The Magic of Terry Pratchett. I recommend it without reservation. And you’ll love that Burrows uses footnotes just as Terry did – to add excruciating puns and witty asides. One example notes the existence of a second Carpet People story from 1967, enquiring whether this makes it a carpet offcut?
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Emma Fish
The Magic by Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows succeeds as an exceptional biography of a well loved author. There's a lot of pressure on a biographer has a subject who is as well as Pratchett is. He has rabid fans, lived a charitable public life, and had a sad and frustrating death. It's hard, in light of these merits, to give an honest portrait of a human subject, but Burrows succeeds. He takes us through his subject's strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures, and never skimps on the details. I'm very satisfied with this as a fan, and I can't wait to add it to my shelf.
The untold story of how Terry Pratchett met Roald DahlSunday Telegraph 05/07/20
The Magic of Terry Pratchett is an interesting biography, especially considering that the author never met the man himself. Instead, everything is based on interviews from various people who did work with him across the years. Additionally, given that Pratchett has a very strong following, it was surprising to find that the author here is not a rabid fan. He's definitely a fan, but not so much as to be completely enamored by the subject. This leads to an almost clinical review of the life (well, mostly bibliography) of Sir Terry. Personally, I found this to be mostly a good thing. While I consider myself something of a fan (I think I've read all discworld books twice), I'm not enough of one to want to shift through the minutia of his life, or pages and pages of glorification of his works.NetGalley, Andrea joki
The biography is laid out in clear parts: first the early history of the man, which is quite interesting and even reaches a level of narrative that seems too accurate. When Sir Terry moves on to be an established author the focus shifts more to the books themselves, publishing deals and becoming famous. The last part deals with his battle with Alzheimers which is handled with just the right amount of gravitas.
I read the whole biography in one sitting, which could be one of the first times I've done so on a non-fiction piece. I very much liked the approach the author took and almost never got bored with too much detail - yet also rarely felt that something was skimmed over. The beginning and the end of the biography are the strongest, and there is a fascinating insight into publishing in the middle. And just enough of a touch on all the best Discworld novels to bring up good memories.
I enjoyed this book; who wouldn't enjoy reading about as wonderful an author as Terry Pratchett? The book gave a good deal of insight into both the man and his works, of which the Discworld books are of course the most important.NetGalley, Coleman Wells
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Rebecca Kearon-Wiles
The Magic of Terry Pratchett is a humorous and moving biography of a fascinating man. I laughed out loud at many of the more eccentric anecdotes, but I was also moved to tears by the description of Terry's prolific writing and outstanding work ethic in his later years whilst living with early-onset Alzheimers.
Marc Burrows' use of footnotes seems to be a deliberate choice to echo Terry Pratchett's wit. I would recommend this book to Pratchett fans and to anyone who would like to learn more about the mind of someone who was able to create their own entire universe.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Danielle McCrory
A must read for all Pratchett fans. If you love Pratchett you will be sure to love the magic of this book!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Matthew Barnes
Those of you who know me personally will probably know by now that I love Terry Pratchett's books. Having read every one of his books, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read this biography of Sir Pterry.
I will state now that this is not an official biography, but Marc Burrows is a fan who has done his research very thoroughly. Interviewing people who knew the great man, he brings us closer to knowing what Terry was like as a person, as well as talking about the success of each book individually. The book also has some fantastic photographs throughout and is, in my opinion, a great tribute to a writer who always makes me smile, even when I'm not feeling at my best.
This clearly read as a fan biography, but you can feel the writer's love for Terry Pratchett on every page of this fascinating book. In my opinion, it's one for people who are already fans, but if you have always wondered what the life of a writer is like, this could be for you as well. It's the first biography about Pratchett, and certainly not the last.
'The Magic of Terry Pratchett' is described as 'the first full biography of Sir Terry Pratchett ever written' by journalist, comedian and fan Marc Burrows. By his own admittance, Burrows has never met his idol but like so many (myself included) is a devoted and lifelong fan of the novelist.NetGalley, Maria Flaherty
Burrows has taken a chronological approach to his work and follows the life of Pratchett from his birth in Beaconsfield, and early life with his parents, through to his time at school and initial story-writing. Burrows has interviewed numerous people from Pratchett working life and goes into detail about his time as a journalist and how this work impacted on his development as an author. Following his approach, Burrows discusses each of Pratchett’s works from ‘Business Rivals’ (published while attending High Wycombe Technical School) to ‘The Shepard’s Crown’.
Burrows has an engaging, conversational style to his writing which makes the biography particularly easy to read. His addition of regular footnotes are reflective of Pratchett's own style. And indeed, some of the humour glimpsed in these footnotes are echoes of his style.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and even if I was not a fan of Pratchett, this book would have made for a highly engaging read. The chapter titles are amusing, and there are plenty of hilarious antidotes scattered throughout the book that will entertain existing and new fans alike.
Rating: 5 out 5 starsNetGalley, Kim Deinaß
This is the story of Terry Pratchett, how he came in touch with sci-fi and fantasy, started to write, became a journalist and his growth as an author. Because he always was one.
Normally, I would not rate a biography, because it feels like I am somehow rating someone's life. If I do rate a biography, it's about the writing, how the author worked with what he had, and I feel like Marc Burrows did the best job possible.
This is not a scholarly version of writing a biography, this is a nerd who gathered all the information about one of his idols and invites you to nerd about them with you. It's fun - it even has footnotes!
We start out with a description of Pterry's parents, to get to know the environment he was raised
in, are shown how he fell in love with speculative fiction and became an author. How he was troubled at school because the system was too strict for creative minds, how he became a journalist just to flee the toxic environment he was placed in against his will. I didn't know all of this, and in fact I was told he had been a spokesperson for a specific atomic reactor before switching to full-time writing, which is plain wrong.
The parts about journalist-life were most boring, but still illuminating in regards to some influences we see in the Discworld novels.
Since I am in my twentys, I only saw the end of Pterry's career, and while I read all of the Discworld novels and some books beside, it was interesting to get some background - especially regarding the switch of the German publishing house, which I've always wondered about since I started reading in German before my English became good enough to switch to the untranslated versions. Heyne, you messed up very badly. Not as bad as the Australian publishers, but come on!
The bibliography is huge and I am tempted to look up some of these articles mentioned, despite having no time for any extra research outside my current projects.
The author of this biography tells you quite clearly if the information he gathered is unclear, and what are his own suspicions, while using every instance possible to make a joke that shows, well, that he spent a lot of time on Discworld. I can't remember when was the last time I laughed so much while reading a biography.
And then I cried straight from the Alzheimer's diagnosis to the end of the book. While it was hard to read, I liked the thorough and understandable explanation of that illness, what exactly is meant by "Pratchett had a rare case of Alzheimer's" and how it affected him and everyone around him.
I knew he switched to dictating his novels and then stopped writing more than his name when signing novels, but that's about it.
Having been treated with condescension for reading "those fantasy novels" because they're "not real book" even by my father, who adores Tolkien's work, it felt good to read the parts about how his image underwent changes over the years.
So, yeah, I got a lot from this one. I'd recommend it to every Pratchett fan, even if they normally wouldn't touch non-fiction or specificly biographies.
Now I want to re-read all the books. Well, I always want to re-read them, but now it's more urgent.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Katie Perkins
The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows is a fantastical, engaging, and incredibly easy read for any fan of the man himself, Terry Pratchett. Burrows conversational and captivating style is suited for any fan - the casual Discworld devotee, a middling Lance Corporal of the City Watch, or a dedicated Pterry-head. There is something to be found for everyone in this biography.
Marc Burrows freely admits that he never met Terry Pratchett, which is just the level of irony for a Pratchett biography. To his credit, Burrows undertook an incredible amount of research to write this beautiful narrative of the man who brought us so many works of fantastic fiction. Of course, this will not be the definitive biography, but it will be a book to pair with some of Terry's work to get a better picture of the beloved author.
>From beginning to end, I enjoyed this book. The footnotes provided just the right amount of research (I love a good footnote) and humor to keep the lightness and serious, but not serious tone that Terry frequently used. The chapter titles made me laugh, and I found myself quite emotional at points.
I loved the quick dives into Terry's novels with parallels drawn here and there, showing the influence of his childhood reading on his work. Of course, Terry Pratchett did exist outside of Discworld, though it may be what he is most known for. Burrows would have been remiss if he didn't include those titles in this biography. There is, indeed, another world of literature beyond Discworld and I am so excited to experience it.
The nods to the publishing industry, it's ups and downs, and working with other media outlets really gives an inside look at the history of those industries as experience by Terry Pratchett and his peers. Licensing, publishing, film rights, etc. are all part of a world I knew existed, but had not understood to any real extent. All of these collected experiences offer us a glimpse into the world in which Terry existed professionally.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this book and would recommend to fans of Terry Pratchett's work, those who have been fans for ages and those who don't know who Terry Pratchett is. As an introduction to Terry Pratchett's work, this book is par for the course. Marc Burrows brings us into Terry's life, while not quite touching it. As a first, in-depth look at our friend Pterry, this is a winner.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Julianne Freer
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,
Immensely readable and echoing the warmth and humour of his writing, this biography of the esteemed author Terry Pratchett is a must read for fans of his works.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Lottie S
As a child who was brought up in a house of Discworld stories, with a stepfather who (still) proudly displays the Clarecraft Rincewind figurine which bears an uncanny likeness to him, and a mother who has a matching Nanny Ogg (it bears no likeness but let’s just say encompasses a couple of her characteristics), this was an ARC that I was frankly desperate to read. I have to thank Netgalley and Marc Burrows for granting me this opportunity. My opinions are enthusiastic, and entirely my own.
As a 32 year old female, mother and accountant you may be forgiven for expecting my book reviews to be based around chick-lit or classical novels and, although it is the case that I own several very well-read copies of Pride & Prejudice, I am wholly a child of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Terry Pratchett novels sit alongside George RR Martin, Terry Brooks, David Eddings and Ursula Le Guin in my house; I owned and loved Discworld computer games and probably know every word to the film Labyrinth.
It could therefore be said that I would find Marc Burrow’s biography fascinating regardless: however, I am ashamed to say that, before reading this book, I knew very little about the life of the author whose books I admire so much.
Burrows structures his writing predictably enough, running through the life of Terry Pratchett chronologically, from his working-class upbringing; his career in journalism; the progression in popularity of his novels; his knighthood all the way up to his untimely death from Alzheimer’s. However, this is where an affiliation to any standard biography ends.
It is immediately apparent that Marc Burrows is an avid Terry Pratchett fan, even without reading his foreword, due to the inclusion of footnotes: a writing style which is synonymous with Pratchett. This allows Burrows, as it did with Pratchett, to provide little notes and details which cannot be in the main text without limiting the reading experience. It also allows both authors to inject a large amount of humour into their writing.
It should also be mentioned that no book has gripped me from the introduction in a long time, although I am fairly sure no other book would use the word “crotch” before we even reach Chapter One!
‘The Magic of Terry Pratchett’ is a clever, well-informed biography which perfectly encompasses the humour of the Discworld creator whilst educating the reader of his journey to becoming the icon that he is today. I have no doubt that this has been a labour of love for Marc Burrows: when the kindle says you have 20 minutes reading time left and you have reached the bibliography, you know that a whole lot of research has been done!
It is important to note that this book transgresses the existence of Discworld and “the business with the elephant” and encompasses all of Sir Terry’s work: from short stories in the local paper to his TV documentary on assisted death. The reader will also learn of the involvement of Rhianna Pratchett in her father’s work and discover that the “man in the hat” was not always the easiest man to work with.
Although the wonderful Terry Pratchett is no longer with us, he still has a myriad of fans around the world and I hope they are going to love this work. It is a chronological look at his life and his work and we can see how his style and thought processes developed and changed over the years. Living in the south west of England I feel a strong connection to some of the backgrounds that he creates and it reminds me what a lovely part of the world it is. The author obviously has a great affinity to the great man and his love of the books shines through. we are shown Sir Terry as a real person; a true family man and yet someone who does not suffer fools gladly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anybody who loves the great man and Discworld in particular.NetGalley, Margaret Pemberton
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Kelly Furniss
Every once in a while, not often too often though, you come across a book that you can hardly put down. When you do, you can't wait to pick it up again and you just feel completely immersed in it when reading. This is one of those, I absolutely adored this book.
I learnt so much about Terry as this biography covers everything from his birth until he passed away. Along the way we learn of his relations, teachers, associates, friends, colleagues, assistants, fans and the effect they had on him and his career and vice versa.
The amount of research that must of gone in to this book was vast as could be seen from the appendix and acknowledgements and is really something to be marvelled at.
Right from the beginning I was sucked straight in learning that his many ideas for Discworld were inspired from his visit to a department store in London with his Mum when he was 5 to see Father Christmas. This place became a dream world for him and sparked his imagination whilst riding an escalator as to what could go on inside when it was closed. I laughed when we learnt Terry had also thought when passing an old quarry as a child about the prehistoric fish that would be in it, as the book stated "It showed his imagination added a unusual shape and spin to the world creating possibilities and scenarios quit different from the mundane reality" and that I think summed Terry up perfectly.
As a fan also of Neil Gaiman I revelled in the chapters that talked about there initial meeting, friendship and collaboration. Through this book I took so many screenshots of things I wanted to remember such as the history behind words used within the fandom or books and it was fascinating to read Marc Burrows dissect his books and offer his opinions and show the links to others or characters previously. It was so insightful. We got glimpses in to Terry Pratchett's personality with people relieving memories where he would show emotion, temper & quirks etc. The book talks of his favourite authors, artistic side, religious views, fashion, ethos, fathering, marriage, monetary views basically everything that makes you up as person is in here and to learn all that about one of your favourite authors is truly fascinating. This book has encouraged me to dip back in Discworld and when I do I am pretty sure my eye's will be far more open than ever before knowing all the background.
I am pretty sure every person who reads this book regardless of how much a fan they may be will take something from it, I for one took a huge amount. Word of warning though, just be careful of the onion fairies at the end!.
My thanks go to the publishers, author and Netgalley for providing this arc in return for a honest review. I truly am indebted to you for my favourite book read so far in 2020!.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Alex Sarll
An immensely readable survey of the great man's life and works, striking a good balance between revisiting old favourites and supplying new information (or new to me, at any rate, as someone who's a big fan but has never really engaged with fandom per se). Burrows has the sense to know that, while you can't necessarily write a 'comic biography' as such (not least because they all end the same way, and this one sadder than some – I still cry at those last tweets), a life of Terry Pratchett without jokes of its own would never do.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Erica Borland
'The Magic of Terry Pratchett' is described as 'the first full biography of Sir Terry Pratchett ever written' by journalist, comedian and fan Marc Burrows - pretty much the perfect person to undertake this project given Pratchett's pre-Discworld career, and needless to say no biography of the man should ever be guilty of taking itself too seriously. As a fellow Discworld appreciator this is honestly a joy to read, Burrow's discussion of each of the Discworld novels has me itching to jump back in and continue with my quest to finish the series in publication order (as many do after beginning with some of the later installments.)
I'm looking forward to purchasing this title upon it's release as it's something I can easily see myself dipping in and out of as a companion to my Discworld reading adventure. A warm, affectionate, funny and thoroughly researched homage to the late great Sir Pterry. I recommend to any Discworld fan, it's most definitely a worthwhile read.