Susan Sto Helit goes to a boarding school, and for the lessons she’s less interested in, she has a tendency to fade into the woodwork – literally. Susan has the ability to fade away, should she so wish it. Turns out, this is because her grandfather is none other than Death, and when he goes missing, Susan, as his closest relative, is required to take over his duties for a while. Being deeply pragmatic and rational, thanks to her first rate education, it takes Susan a while to be persuaded, even when a tiny rat skeleton with a cloak and a scythe and a talking raven, not to mention the big white horse, shows up on her doorstep.
While Susan gets reacquainted with the family history her parents tried to keep from her, something new is sweeping through Ankh Morpork – the Music with Rocks in it. The young bard Imp Y Celyn (who looks a bit Elvish) and his band mates, Cliff the troll and Glod the dwarf become unbelievably popular in record time, thanks to the guitar Imp discovered in a mysterious little music shop shortly after he arrived in the capital. The music is something new and different, it has a beat and you can dance to it, and it makes almost everyone who hears it, completely obsessed. This includes many of the esteemed wizards at the Unseen University. Ridcully, the Arch-Chancellor , is curious and unimpressed, and determined to get to the bottom of what is making his faculty and the majority of citizens in the city to behave so strangely.
Soul Music was the very first Discworld novel I ever read. I found it at my local library, which in the mid-90s didn’t really have all that many English books and certainly not a great selection of fantasy. The unusual and colourful cover appealed to me and I suspect the blurb on the back made me curious. The book came out in 94, and since I read the trade paperback, I must have discovered Pratchett sometime after 1995, probably before I’d even started high school. It was a completely different reading experience for me. I remember that I kept reading until far later than was sensible on a school night, because the book didn’t have chapters, and as such, it was difficult to force myself to put the book down and stop. Soul Music is not one of the truly great Discworld books, but it will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was my first introduction to the writing of Terry Pratchett.
Full review here.