I’m always pleased to join in with March Magics, which celebrates favorite authors Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett. Both departed this life in the month of March, leaving us readers sad yet grateful for all the wonderful books they gifted us with over many years.
For this 11th session of MM, I picked up some tales for younger readers that I had not read before. Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of stories that Pratchett wrote as a teenager when working for the Bucks Free Press, finally published in book form late in his career (I believe some further volumes were published posthumously). The stories are slight, silly and effervescent, already demonstrating the interest in exploiting the conventions and tropes of fantasy literature that would make the Discworld books such a joy, but with less maturity and incisive humor. But hey, not bad for a 17-year-old! Most interesting for the glimpse they give into Pratchett’s early writing talent, more than for any special merit in the stories themselves.
From one author’s first stories to another’s last, I went to Jones’s Earwig and the Witch, published posthumously as a standalone with illustrations by Paul Zelinsky. A tale of an feisty orphan adopted by a horrid witch and her menacing companion, it was a delightful sketch, but also slight in comparison with the author’s more substantial work. I wish it could have gone on a bit longer — I especially wondered what happened to the person who dropped Earwig off at the orphanage with a note promising to return — but we have to be grateful for what we have.
Have you read either of these? What are your favorite books by Pratchett and Jones?