This is a review of “Soul Music” by Terry Pratchett. It is the 16th novel in The Discworld Series and the 3rd novel in the Death Story Arc. It follows on, story-arc wise from “Reaper Man” but it can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Susan Sto Helit is a no-nonsense teenaged girl. She’s a bit strange. Her hair is mostly white and she can disappear at will. She’s an orphan and attends the Quirm College for Young Ladies. She’s about to find out who her grandfather is, and he’s definitely not like all the other grandads (his knees are too bony for one). He is Death. And he wants to forget. While he’s trying to accomplish this, it’s up to Susan to fulfil the Deathly duties. But she’s got a lot to learn.
Imp y Celyn is a musician, a bard from Llamedos. He’s decided to seek his fortune in Ankh Morpork. He soon discovers that to play music in the city, he must first become a member of the Musician’s Guild. He finds he cannot afford the joining fee. He meets Lias, a troll and Glod, a dwarf who have the same predicament. Together they form an illicit band. Imp’s harp is inadvertently destroyed and he buys a guitar as a replacement at a rather mysterious Music Shop. The music they make is like no other ever heard befor on the Discworld. It’s music with rocks in.
Music with rocks in has a profound effect on anyone who hears it. The wizards are certainly affected. The Dean becomes quite rebellious and wears besequinned leather robes. The Librarian plays the Organ and Piano like a man (erm Ape) possessed. Archancellor Ridcully knows there’s something not quite right with the music. It’s not magic, but it’s not…right.
When Imp has an appointment with Death (well … Susan), things don’t turn out the way they were meant to.
This novel was very entertaining and humorous. I really liked Susan, she’s my type of girl. It was amusing to read all of Pratchett’s very clever allusions to famous Rock Bands and songs, and it was fun trying to decipher the song titles and band names. There is a cartoon adaptation of “Soul Music”, and they used to air it on the ABC channel here in Australia quite late in the afternoon in the mid to late nineties. The image of the four elephants holding up the Discworld and riding on the back of the Great Sky Turtle A’Tuin will always remain with me.
Onwards I travel in my quest to read all of Pratchett’s Discworld novels.