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Opinion: Terry Pratchett reflected real life in his fantasies

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Terry Pratchett, author of XXX, died Thursday at his home. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Terry Pratchett, author of ‘The Wee Free Men’ and over 70 other booksOp, died Thursday at his home.
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Two years ago, my mom gave me a book with a picture of angry-looking little blue men climbing over a sheep.

I thought it looked weird, so I didn’t pick it up at first. But one day, I was bored enough that I picked it up.

I didn’t put it down for the next two days.

That book was “The Wee Free Men.” It was also my introduction to Terry Pratchett.

The book is about a young witch, Tiffany, who meets a huge group of ferocious blue men 6 inches tall, the Nac Mac Feegle. Tiffany’s little brother is taken away to Fairyland and Tiffany goes to get him back, with the help of the Nac Mac Feegle.

But my all-time favorite character Terry Pratchett ever created was Sam Vimes, a policeman who lives in Ankh-Morpork, once a drunk who manages to save his city from a dragon after he recovers from alcoholism.

Pratchett took the policeman stereotype of a coffee-addicted night owl and made his policeman Commander Vimes, Duke of Ankh, a family man who wore the socks his wife donned without saying a thing, even though they were lumpy, because he loved his wife, who flipped out when the dwarves tried to blow up his house with his young son inside, a private man who hated newspapers because they exposed him to ridicule, but tolerated them so he knew what was happening in his city.

Vimes is a real person in a fantasy universe.

I think Pratchett must have liked Vimes a lot too, because he appears in a lot of Pratchett’s later books: “Thud!,” “Guards! Guards!,” “Snuff,” “Going Postal,” “Making Money” and “Steam.”

It took a while longer before I Googled the name of the author, after I had read more books and realized I really liked this author, who could make me feel I was in the middle of the story, not just on the sidelines.

The first result that popped up informed me Pratchett had Alzheimer’s disease. At that point, he’d been battling the disease for five years.

On March 12, just over seven years after he’d been diagnosed, he died from the disease at his home, according to a press release by Penguin Random House’s Transworld Publishers, who published most of his more than 70 books.

When I first found out from another fantasy author over Twitter, I was in shock. I knew he was ill and I knew it was getting worse, but it still shocked me that a man with a mind like that would be allowed to die. It didn’t seem fair for a man that so many millions of people loved to die at age 66.

But Pratchett thought Death wouldn’t be so bad; after all, he wrote a book about Death. He gave Death a name — Mort — and a daughter, Isabelle.

I hope that when Death came to find Pratchett, it gave him his own version of Death: Mort, who would lead him across the black desert under the endless night.

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