Beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett has died at the age of 66, his publishers confirmed on Thursday (March 12). I'm going to be honest with you, dear readers: This news breaks my heart.
Pratchett was one of the funniest, most clever authors I've ever had the pleasure of reading. And while it's hard for me, as a fan, to think of Sir Terry walking arm-in-arm with Death to the great big unknown -- where, presumably, curry runs on tap -- I know his legacy lives on with his wonderfully satirical "Discworld" series. You didn't have to be a fantasy nerd to appreciate Pratchett's witty voice and band of quirky characters. Although, I will be the first to admit that it certainly helped. (The jokes were funnier, you know?)
My first "Discworld" novel was "Guards! Guards!" As a bookish 12-year-old, I checked it out from my local library after I saw a dragon on the cover because even at a young age, I knew dragons were effing awesome. But this wasn't any dragon; this was a noble dragon. And the world-building was fantastic.
There was a giant dwarf -- yes, those exist -- named Carrot, the only competent member of the incompetent Night Watch, and a violent Librarian who just so happened to be an orangutan (AKA NOT A MONKEY). This was also a world where "dragon ladies" existed without judgement, so clearly, the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork was my kind of place. And in many ways, it still is.
The "Discworld" series changed everything I thought I knew about the fantasy genre. The humor could be dark and biting and silly, and most importantly, it was extremely sharp. Only in Ankh-Morpork -- and the brilliant mind of Pratchett -- would you hear the battle cry, "The people united can never be ignited!"
But enough about me. From young readers to fantasy buffs, Pratchett's work impacted so many people, including my fellow MTV News colleague Kase Wickman. Here's what Sir Terry and his "Discworld" meant to her, in her own words:
I discovered Terry Pratchett’s work at a time when I wanted to read all the time without stopping and laugh all the time without stopping, so this vast universe with strange, funny, well-written characters, with so many books that it seemed like I could never read all of them, was a welcome discovery. My favorite books were the less-popular Death series; the first Pratchett book I read was “Mort,” and I was hooked. I will never think that Death saying silly things IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE HE’S DEATH YOU KNOW is not funny.
When I was in seventh grade, my AIM screen name, that all-important indicator of Who You Really Are, was suddenhedgehog, a reference to Pratchett’s pondering on dancing naked for magical rituals in “Witches Abroad” (nobody wants judgy little animals seeing them in the altogether, no matter how warm it is). Absolutely nobody understood it, but I liked it anyway.
Pratchett published the 40th "Discworld" novel in March of last year, and his daughter Rhianna plans to continue the series. Hopefully, this means we'll finally get the gnomes (not goblins) standalone we've been waiting for.
All jokes aside, I know the word genius gets used a lot -- hyperbole is fun! -- but in Sir Terry Pratchett's case, the word genius simply cannot be used enough.
Rest in peace, Sir.