I’m interrupting my normal blog to pay a brief tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett who died today at the far too early age of 66. Normally I try to avoid repeating a word, but I shall be using the word great a lot in the next few lines. Pratchett was a great Fantasy author and a great champion of Fantasy as literature. Endlessly inventive, he forged his own style and broke every literary rule with irreverent glee. He was, and probably always will be, the foremost writer of Comic Fantasy but his books are never just funny. They are full of wisdom and compassion as well as wit. His humour may often have been broad but his humanity was always deep.

The Discworld novels mock many of the conventions of High Fantasy but they are also one of the greatest feats of world-making in all Fantasy. Pratchett created a huge number of memorable characters. I particularly love many of his witches (see my February 2014 post on `A Hat Full of Sky’) and his version of Death is high on my list of all-time great Fantasy characters. In the last few years, Pratchett faced his own impending death with wonderful courage and characteristic humour. Anyone who has a friend or relative suffering from dementia (as I do) must be grateful to him for his work to raise the profile of Alzheimer’s Disease and encourage research into possible cures. Sir Terry’s death has made me sad but his books have made the world a funnier and more bearable place.