As I grow old, I want to be Nanny Ogg.
She is an irrepressible, lusty, and completely shameless witch who belts out dirty little ditties and saunters her way through numerous adventures along with her best friend, the dour and righteous Granny Weatherwax. It is easy to identify with such a joyous and colorful person. After all, I’ve sat through my share of nighttime vigils with the sick and the dying, and invoked headology when needed. In addition, my kitchen cabinet features a version of dwarf bread as well. So when Terry Pratchett wrote such memorable characters and talked about witches standing in between, I felt right at home. In between what? Witches stand between the light and the dark, life and death, as well as right and wrong.
Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax belong to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, an amazing place of octogenarian heroes, pompous wizards, werewolf-oriented policewomen, and other mind-boggling characters. With a heavy heart this week, I join in with other fans across the globe, mourning the loss of this great author.
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Pratchett created wonderful tales of talking mice, six-foot dwarves, and blue, tiny Scottish people along with a sentient suitcase that follows its owner to the end of the planet. And what an incredible place! Imagine a flat planet that lays on the backs of four elephants standing on a turtle swimming through space. He described Discworld’s impossible setting by saying every probability curve had a far end of the tail and the gods like a good joke.
Yes, Terry, they do. And you showed us how funny they are.
His books are easy to get into and hard to forget. His characters start from lowly beginnings and yet grow in depth and complexity as they weave in and out of situations across numerous adventures. And as we are engrossed in how Sir Samuel Vines brings about his particular brand of justice on the Assassins Guild or enjoy the personification of Death substituting for a Santa Claus figure, we learn about some hidden but completely obvious truth about our world as well. In examining Pratchett’s people, we see ourselves lampooned and yet we can still laugh.
Therefore, during this week, the flags of Ankh Morpork fly low, the color of magic dims, and Blind Io hangs his head in sadness in tribute to a great man. May his memory be blessed.
For those of you interested, Terry Pratchett’s work includes The Color of Magic (the first in the 30+ book series of Discworld), The Bromelaid Trilogy, The Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, and Good Omens with Neil Gaiman, among other works. He is a classic in modern fantasy.