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Review: ‘Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography’ by Rob Wilkins

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Beloved author Sir Terry Pratchett had a long and prolific career. His absurdist fantasy series Discworld has sold millions of copies, in multiple languages, and delighted generations, but his passing in 2015 was a tragic loss. To this day, there are Discworld fans who say they can’t bring themselves to read the final book in the series, The Shepard’s Crown (published posthumously), because after that, there will be no more. Despite writing multiple books after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Pratchett’s own story remained unfinished when he died. Stepping in to the role as author, his long-time personal assistant, Rob Wilkins was able to take his notes and put together Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes, The Official Biography.

This whimsical biography gives Terry Pratchett fans a chance to get to know him a little better, and laugh with Sir Terry one more time.

Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes: a life of humor, recounted with humor

A defining trait of Terry Pratchett’s work is his humor. He was a funny guy and liked to see the humor in everything. So perhaps the best part of Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes is that Rob Wilkins strives to do the same. He has a very light, witty, conversational tone to his writing that makes this biography a story instead of a history book.

Wilkins had two great advantages when writing his biography of Pratchett. First, he was his personal assistant for many years, and the two became very friendly. A lot of Pratchett’s life Wilkins either he saw first hand, or heard about as the two talked over the years. Second, Pratchett had been working on his autobiography, so there were many notes already written out that Wilkins could use.

While this seems like a great way to get an accurate view of Terry Pratchett, Wilkins warns that Terry was more than a little lax with the truth. Not everything could be trusted to be 100% accurate. But since that just brought Pratchett even closer to us, it just enhanced the story telling.

One of my favorite parts of Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes is Wilkins’ liberal use of footnotes. This was done as a tribute to Pratchett. He loved footnotes (as do I, they’re the big brothers to parenthesis, and who doesn’t want a little more info?). So, of course, Wilkins uses them many times to clarify, expand, comment, and joke with us readers. It was a really great tribute to Pratchett that was also extremely useful in the context, double win!

Terry Pratchett: A life with Footnotes Official Biography by Rob Wilkins

A semi-non-linear format for A Life With Footnotes

Most biographies start at the subject’s birth, muddle through the childhood years with varying degrees of attention (many think these years are unimportant and skip them, it’s not like they’re formative or anything, right?), highlight all the subject’s accomplishments, and end with their death. But Wilkins takes a slightly different approach. Terry Pratchett’s life is told in a fairly linear way, only occasionally does Rob Wilkins hint at or reveal “future” events early.

But Wilkins hops back and forth between Pratchett’s life and current, or at least posthumous, events involving Wilkins that center around Pratchett’s life and career. This really created the illusion that Wilkins was having a conversation with us. We would listen to some of his story, then concern ourselves with the events around us, then go back to the story.

It was a fun and interesting way to frame the book. It honestly reminded me of how movies sometimes do that when an old character is recounting something from their past, and that’s what the whole plot of the movie is.

A fond farewell to beloved author Terry Pratchett

As fans, it’s always difficult to see the creator of our favorite worlds leave us. When someone is as prolific and entertaining a writer as Terry Pratchett was, it’s even harder. But this biography, written with such obvious love and affection by Rob Wilkins, gives readers a wonderful last look at the man who brought them so much joy. Fans of Pratchett will love reading about where he came from and everything that went into forming this beloved author. 

My Rating: 8/10

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography by Rob Wilkins is available most places books are sold. For more information on Terry Pratchett and all of his books, visit terrypratchettbooks.com 


*Footnotes on Discworld, from our Editor-In-Chief

Speaking personally, I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and am a big fan of Good Omens, which I first found through the Prime Video show starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen.

Regarding Discworld, however, I cannot recommend highly enough the newer audiobook versions of the books now available through Audible. These new versions, released between 2021 and 2023, have an absolutely stellar, delightful voice cast including Indira Varma narrating the Witches’ stories, and Peter Serafinowicz as one of the best (and most beloved) representations of Death that has ever been written. 

In addition, Andy Serkis skillfully narrates one of my all-time favorite Discworld books, Small Gods. Sian Clifford, Colin Morgan, Bill Nighy, and the rest of the voice cast in these audiobooks are all top-notch.

A poor quality narration can ruin even the best of books, but these are some of the most entertaining voice work on Audible I’ve ever heard, and I can’t recommend them enough. I think Sir Terry would have been very pleased with them.  You can find the Discworld series on Audible here. ~ Lizzie Hill


Book Review: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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Review: Good Omens 2 Returns to Prime Video

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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