Monday, May 14, 2012

Midnight, the Amazing Maurice, and the Apocalype

My blog title is not actually a book title. But it's a good blog title, as you shall see.

This month I re-read I Shall Wear Midnight and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. This completed my re-reading of all* of the Pratchett books that I've read previously: The Bromeliad Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers, Wings), The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

*"All"? Really? Now that I think of it, I haven't reread The Last Hero...
Shame. And I already went to the library today. Next time then.

I Shall Wear Midnight

I absolutely love the Tiffany Aching series. Tiffany (the young lady seen on the cover) is a witch-in-training who is aided in her adventures by the Nac Mac Feegle (the feisty warriors seen on the cover, ye ken?)

I always have to keep a notepad handy when I read Pratchett, because he has great insights into life and human nature.

In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany must fight the Cunning Man, a former-witchhunter and current evil spirit who spreads lies, hate, and murder (in that order) across history. All of these books are even better than the second time, and this book has one of my favorite characters in the series: Preston. Why Preston? Because he fancies Tiffany.

And it's hi-larious. Enough said.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

I wasn't going to reread* this book, even though it would complete my rereading** of Pratchett***, but then I remembered that I like all Pratchett books better the second time, so I should give this one a try**** because I didn't like it a ton the first time.

Well, I liked it better the second time. I liked it a lot the second time. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is about the pied piper--Discworld style. There's a humorous con-artist cat named Maurice. There's a rat named Dangerous Beans. There's Death (a Discworld favorite) and his rat counterpart: the Bone Rat. A great read.

*Have you noticed that I'm inconsistent with how I spell this word?
**Because I've been re-reading them, as I mentioned earlier.
***The Pratchett books that I've already read, mind you, except The Last Hero, as I mentioned earlier.
****I can't remember what this footnote was about. There are far too many of them.

So with all of this rereading behind me, I ventured forth anew in the sea of Pratchett books and read Good Omens. Many friends have recommended this book to me, but it was my friend Alyssa who gave the decisive recommendation--a bit of advice along the lines of:

"Drop whatever you're doing--drop that piece of pizza you're holding in your hand right now--and go read Good Omens."

Considering that I was at Hideaway Pizza at the time, I was unable to immediately follow her advice. Whether that failure to promptly adhere to her wishes will result in calamity is unknown--perhaps we should consult Agnes Nutter*.

Nevertheless, I wanted to read the book, so I asked Alyssa if she had a copy. She said yes, but it was back home in Texas--whereupon** I advised her to drop her piece of pizza*** immediately and fetch Good Omens for me. Alas, she was also unable to immediately act upon my advice. Any portents of what's to come, Agnes?

*The importance of Agnes Nutter will become clear when I explain the book's premise--or, failing a decent explanation of the book's premise, when you actually read the book.
**I think I'm using this word correctly, but just in case I'm not, I'm going to consult the dictionary.
***I myself did not one, but two pieces of pizza that day, but for other reasons than the immediate fetching of Good Omens.

Good Omens

Note Importante: As you may notice, this book is co-authored by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. You probably noticed. I was just making sure.

This book will be hilarious, offensive, enlightening, empathetic, irreverent, and/or amusing to people will an understanding of the Bible--particularly the Book of Revelation. Good Omens is about the apocalypse.

Crowley (a demon) and Aziraphale (an angel) find out that the apocalypse is happening in eleven years. How? Because the antichrist has been born into the world. Crowley and Aziraphale have grown quite fond of the world and its lovably-stupid-and-violent-and-charming-and-stupid human population (along with the dolphins--who have very smart brains).

They are rather not fond of the cosmic war that Heaven and Hell are about to stage on the Earth--neither the bloodbath involving billions of people nor the eternity-after are very appealing to them. Apparently, Heaven has no good musicians, restaurants, or social events, and Hell is...well, Hell.

So Crowley and Aziraphale are going to help things a bit by switching the antichrist and getting him to grow up in a healthy-not-demonic-environment. Nurture vs. Nature do your thing.

But then the baby gets switched. Fast forward eleven years, and the Four Horsemen (see: "motorcyclists") of the Apocalypse are ready to get things going. The descendant of Agnes Nutter* (I almost forgot to mention her) is trying to decipher all of these nice** and accurate prophesies to understand the end times. Witchhunters are abroad. A Hellhound is turned into a terrier. Atlantis is rising. Pandemonium, etc. etc.

*Agnes Nutter is a witch who wrote the most accurate prophesies about the end times. Her book is continually referenced throughout the book.
**"Nice" meaning "precise." Not the other kind of "nice."

I was wondering if the book would be entirely irreverent toward the Bible, but after getting to the end, I decided that Pratchett and Gaiman had some wonderful insights on the End Times. Highly unorthodox, but interesting and wonderful nonetheless.

The final pages even include a nice dialogue about God and His Sovereign Plan. It was quite a good scene (with some actually orthodox insights about God's Sovereign Plan).

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