“In the days of King Arthur there were no newspapers, only town criers, who went around shouting the news at the tops of their voices.”
The sad demise of Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the wonderful Discworld books, there was a small flurry of collections and other works released in the period leading up to his death – with hindsight, the timing makes it hard to imagine that he wasn’t aware that the end was near and undergoing a sort of ‘clearing the decks’, perhaps.
Three books of shorter fiction were included in this: A Blink of the Screen, collected short fiction (2012), A Slip of the Keyboard, collected non-fiction (2014), and this, Dragons at Crumbling Castle, a collection of work aimed at young readers, and first published in a small newspaper back in the 1960s. It seems, perhaps, an odd choice of material to resurrect, hence my opening comment (which is less cynical than any hints re marketing, tbh!).
The age and humbleness of the story origins is worth bearing in mind when reading, I think: there is something a little twee about many of them, but it’s a quaint old-fashionedness, mainly stylistic, rather than actually dated in feel. They are the sort of nonsense (in a good way) yarns that one might spin for a small child (if, of course, ‘one’ had the talent of PTerry!). There’s also an early story of The Carpet People.
The book also contains many illustrations, which weren’t best-served by my elderly e-reader, by Mark Beech, whose work here reminds me of Quentin Blake, perhaps – no bad thing!
Despite taking my time reading it, the stories are all short and quick to read. The audience is mostly likely to be Pratchett completists, but the material really is for kids.
Kindle: 352 pages / 14 stories
First published: 2014
Read from 3rd January – 11th February 2016
My rating: 6/10