Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Carpet People, by Sir Terry Pratchett

This week I'm reviewing what's often referred to as PTerry's first novel, The Carpet People. There actually is a little bit of background for this novel which was originally published back in 1971 by a much younger Sir PTerry. The edition which I read is a reprinting from 2013 which includes illustrations made by PTerry, but perhaps more importantly it's also been rewritten. By PTerry's own admission in the introduction to this edition the original version of The Carpet People wasn't very good. And quite frankly I can't blame him. Early books tend to be very rough around the edges and it can take a while for an author to find their voice. In addition, PTerry began work on The Carpet People when he was 17 and it was first published when he was in his twenties. Even if you're the greatest writer in the world, the stuff that you write when you're a teenager isn't going to be as good as the stuff that you write later on. So while I'm not entirely sure what the original version of this book contained, I've been informed that it was basically Lord of the Rings, but on a carpet so I'm very much in favor of a rewriting of the novel along more Pratchett lines.

To provide a summary of the plot, the entire story takes place on a carpet, inhabited by tiny people and animals. So tiny that one of their major cities is about the same size as the period at the end of this sentence. The story focuses largely on a tribe known as the Munrungs whose village is destroyed by a mysterious force known only as the Fray. (What the Fray is is never explained in the book so theories abound.) Once their village is destroyed they begin being attacked by creatures known as Mouls, who apparently worship the Fray and are determined to spread death and destruction across the Carpet. Again, the motivations of the Moul don't go much beyond they're a bunch of jerks and I kind of wish they'd been more developed. Anyway the Munrungs wander across the Carpet trying to avoid Mouls, the Fray, and find somewhere safe to live and discovering things may be much worse than they thought.

For me, this book feels kind of underdeveloped, but it may be because it's meant for children. It definitely has a very easy reading style and it's very easy to read through it quickly, so I think that may be intentional on the part of the author. It has a very unpolished feel to it as well, which I expected for it being a first book, but it definitely has the distinctive PTerry feel to it as well. There are a lot of lessons and themes in this particular book which have turned up in Discworld books as well so it definitely feels as part of Pratchett's work. In addition, the idea of little people was explored again in his Bromeliad trilogy which results in a book that feels like an unpolished example of the author's work.

Overall this book is pretty good, but it definitely has that unpolished feeling and I wish that some of the ideas or topics that PTerry brought up in this particular novel were explored a little more, but we can't have everything we want. Definitely a good book for younger readers and I highly recommend it for them.

- Kalpar

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