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Terry Pratchett

I remember staggering back from the library at the age of 13 with all three volumes of the saga. I read them in 23 hours, with a brief break for sleeping. I had never come across anything like it before. It had maps, it had runic alphabets, it had its own internal history, it was a real fictional place. In the afterglow I would have been quite happy to vote Tolkien as the greatest writer ever. I wouldn't do so now, but this is because I suspect such a poll would be as sensible as The All-Time Greatest Piece of Jigsaw Puzzle.

The style is ponderous at times, although Tolkien handles it better than many of his imitators. True, sometimes the scenery has more character than the characters, to the extent that the true hero of The Lord of the Rings is Middle Earth itself. True, there are practically no women, no sex and, by the standards we're used to today, no violence. But the book has a huge appeal in this complex century. It unfolds a world more genially ordered than this one. It runs on the rules we hope and wish are true - that the small but good can beat the big but bad, that the universe is tough but ultimately benign towards those prepared to make the heroic gamble, that Evil has a map reference.

The Lord of the Rings possesses...magic, of the same sort that is possessed by a great painting or sculpture. It's open to critical analysis, but not to critical control. Literature, it reminds us, is not a matter of prescription, but of acclaim over time.

Terry Pratchett
(excerpted from The London Sunday Times, August 8, 1999)

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Current Tribute
  •  Robert Godwin

Past Tributes
  •  Lillian Stewart Carl
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  •  David Brin
  •  Gene Wolfe
  •  Gregory Keyes
  •  Guy Davenport
  •  Patricia A. McKillip
  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Terry Pratchett

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Douglas Anderson

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Robin Hobb

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Harry Turtledove

  •  Meditations on Middle-earth:
Lisa Goldstein

  •  Terry Prachett
  •  J.K. Rowling
  •  Christopher Kenworthy
  •  Charles de Lint
  •  Christopher Lee
  •  Douglas A. Anderson
  •  Sean Stewart
  •  Robert Burchfield
  •  Ursula K. Le Guin


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