- The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
Originally written when he was seventeen and revised when he was forty-three, Pratchett’s first novel, now published for the first time in the U.S., traces the exploits of the diminutive races that inhabit the Carpet. Complete with an evolutionary cosmology, an ecosystem, and a complex social structure, the peoples of the Carpet are menaced by Fray, an atmospheric force that seeks to eliminate life in the Carpet, but they are also at war among themselves. Each race has its own attitudes toward warfare for its own sake and for the sake of expanding a totalitarian Empire, but there is emerging among the more thoughtful individuals a radical idea that peace and self-governance might not be a bad thing. To achieve this goal, however, they must defeat the nasties who seek to enslave as many people as possible to work [End Page 233] the grit mines and convince the mystics to seize their own destinies rather than give in to their deterministic visions. There are hints of Tolkien but also of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King and even Adams’ Watership Down (BCCB 4/74); indeed, all of the big political ideas of mid-century epic fantasy are here writ literally small and carried along by Pratchett’s signature wit and flawless pacing. Subtle drolleries adorn profound ideas and challenge conventional wisdom, and character types—the sniveling accidental emperor, the unrepentant warrior king, the reflective wanderer—all bring their diverse talents to the fight and uncover surprising new aspects to their personalities as they do. For readers who are attracted to epic but not quite ready for the weightiness of Tolkien, this is a perfect entrée; for those who have loved or will love Pratchett, it’s simply a must read. Bonus material includes Pratchett’s charming pen and ink spot art as well as full-color insets (not seen), and reprints of the original columns from the Bucks Free Press that formed the basis of the novel.