When you’ve got a protagonist named Moist Von Lipwig, character is obviously going to be a vivid part of your skill set.
Pratchett’s over-the-top satire is not for everybody, but I’d argue that his characters are universal even while being so far off center they’ve slipped over into a different reality (the one where the universe is a turtle with the world on its back).
His villains (and they are villains, not just antagonists) are badder than badder, but they never do anything just for the sake of Evil. His protagonists are doing their best, but their best is often hobbled by their vivid personality flaws: Moist is obviously a textbook example of the flawed protagonist, but Adorabelle is not without her problems, nor is anybody in the supporting cast anything but dented and damaged, albeit that most of them are fairly cheerful about it. The closest thing to a flawless character in Discworld is Vetinari, and even there “flawless” is a judgement call. After all, he would have let Moist plummet to his death. Free will and all.
So let’s talk about why we really love Moist (if you do) even though he’s a predatory con man who lies and cheat and steals his way through his story. Let’s talk about the Hero’s Love Interest, a heroine who chainsmokes, takes no crap from anybody, and tortures the hero throughout the story, for a very good reason as it turns out. And let’s talk about that antagonist, the wonderfully vile and fabulously named Reacher Gilt. And then there’s Stanley and his pins. So much wonderfulness crammed into one hectic story.
If you want a slightly more formal book club start, try these questions:
1. Pratchett is writing so far over the top of reality, he’s at space station level. How then does he make characters named Moist Von Lipwig and Adorabelle Dearheart so rounded and real and human?
2. An antagonist should always be stronger, smarter, faster, and better armed than the protagonist. Bring on Reacher Gilt. How is he a great antagonist for Moist Lipwig? Think doppelganger here: In many ways Gilt and Moist are the same person. How does that strengthen the conflict and therefore the story?
3. Pratchett uses supporting characters to build his world: they form guilds, make plans, flirt and betray and divide and connect in chaotic color behind the Big Story played out at the front of the page. One big example in Going Postal is the fallout from Moist deciding to deliver the mail. Let’s talk about character and world building.
And anything else you want to say.
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