?Sir Terry Pratchett is a god – a small one, at least. He’s created whole worlds and filled them with people, and managed to draw in millions of readers with his wonderful plots, fascinating characters, and beautiful story endings. The most well-known of these creations is the Discworld. Now that Pratchett’s in talks about a possible Discworld television show, what better time than now to reflect on some of the Discworld’s most awesome characters? Specifically, the greatest non-human characters?
Now, before some of you PTers rush through the list and start frothing at your keyboards, allow me to clarify that to keep the list from being all monsters, these are the 10 most awesome non-human Discworld characters that do not pass as human. So as formidable and talented as Angua the werewolf is, she’s not on the list. The same goes for Sally or any of the other vampires. Though Reg Shoe is valuable member of the Watch in spite of his tendency to lose body parts at random, he’s still – ahem – differently alive. Instead, this list is in celebration of characters of other races, or species, or . . . whatever it is that they happen to be. Is this list extremely, almost bizarrely esoteric? Yes it is. But whatever. A note to those of you who may not have read Pratchett’s books – this list may contain spoilers! Sorry. But it might help you realize what you’re missing.
10) Dorfl, a Golem
?Golems are beings made of clay, bound into service to humans by the sacred words written on rolls of paper in their heads. In Feet of Clay, the golems of Ankh-Morpork conspired to free themselves – with disastrous results. Dorfl, the golem that worked in one of the Ankh-Morpork slaughterhouses, was at first set free by Captain Carrot Ironfounderson, but made his freedom his own in his effort to make things right. Because he doesn’t ever need to stop to eat or sleep, Dorfl gives new meaning to the phrase “working full-time”. After becoming a member of the Watch, Dorfl used his earnings to purchase the freedom of the other golems. Remember: when buying your freedom, always be sure to get a receipt. Dorfl is also awesome for being a lightning-proof atheist. When you’re made of ceramic, it’s hard to be effectively smited for non-belief.
9) Detritus, a Troll
?Detritus first appeared as a splatter for the Mended Drum tavern in Guards! Guards!, but later became a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in Men at Arms as part of Lord Vetinari’s insistence upon the Watch being more representative of the different races of the city. Also, Detritus’ girl, Ruby, thought he needed a better job than just hitting people for a living. Turns out his change of career was more of a lateral move in that sense. Though at first he had a little trouble adapting to his Watch duties (saluting was a struggle for him) and co-workers, Detritus proved himself a capable officer, especially at lower temperatures. And all of the city trolls know that Detritus is not to be messed with when it comes to his campaign against selling Slab to young trolls (it melts their brains, and gets Slab-dealers’ ears nailed to the walls).
8) Cheery Littlebottom, a Dwarf
Cheery Littlebottom, whose father was Jolly Littlebottom and whose grandfather was Beaky Littlebottom, came to Ankh-Morpork and joined the Guild of Alchemists. She soon found that it wasn’t for her (and a massive explosion at the Guild headquarters also had something to do with ending her career as an alchemist) and instead became the forensics department of the City Watch in Feet of Clay. Though dwarf society frowns upon female dwarfs acknowledging their gender in public, Cheery flouted convention in the city and started wearing high-heeled steel boots, earrings, and lipstick. She declined to shave her beard, however – she is still a dwarf, after all. She brought her radical publicly-female-dwarf ideas to Uberwald when she accompanied Commander Vimes on a diplomatic mission to the new dwarf king (The Fifth Elephant).
7) Gaspode, A Dog
Gaspode is a scruffy, flea-ridden stray dog of indeterminate breed that typically roams the streets of Ankh-Morpork. What makes him unusual is that he can speak Human, which is sometimes a side effect of foraging for scraps around the Unseen University. Though humans don’t realize that he can communicate with them (everyone knows dogs can’t talk) Gaspode puts this ability to good use, manipulating kind-hearted citizens into giving him tidbits. Those who are less kind, or more inclined to kick a dog before feeding him, are left with sudden, inexplicable itches and a feeling of what a bastard they are. Gaspode made himself useful when the werewolf Angua came to Ankh-Morpork in Men at Arms, giving her the inside scoop on the workings of the city. He’s also acted as a Thinking Brain dog to some of the dimmer beggars that walk the streets (Feet of Clay).
6) Maurice, a Cat
Another casualty of the Unseen University’s leaky, leftover magic, Maurice also gained the ability to speak Human along with a colony of rats. Together, Maurice, the “educated rodents”, and a young kid named Keith made quite a bit of money by going from town to town on the Discworld. The rats would invade the town, and Keith would play a tune on his pipes, leading the rats away – for a fee. Though it might seem odd for a cat to be a willing partner to its natural prey item, Maurice prides himself on never eating anyone who can talk back. He’s very firm on that. He always checks. And when the unlikely band of money-makers tries to do one last job in the town of Bath, Maurice briefly indulges his better nature and goes above and beyond to help his partners out of trouble (The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents).
5) The Luggage, Sapient Pearwood
?Arguably one of the most fearsome objects in the Discworld, The Luggage is a trunk made of sapient pearwood that follows its owner around on many little feet. It first belonged to the tourist Twoflower in The Color of Magic, and made an indelible impression on Ankh-Morpork citizens that were a little too curious about where Twoflower stored his gold. It wasn’t uncommon for would-be thieves to be swallowed whole, their last sight nothing but a large red tongue surrounded by huge blunt teeth. If The Luggage was ever separated from its owner, it would leave a path of devastation in its eagerness to find him. The Luggage was eventually given to the wizard Rincewind, whose adventures provided ample opportunities for it to cause untold mayhem. In Interesting Times, The Luggage encountered another sapient pearwood trunk, and appeared later in the story accompanied by its mate and the pitter-patter of little Luggage feet (best not to ponder the mechanics of how this happened). It was also briefly worshipped as a god in the Tezuman Empire (Eric).
4) The Nac Mac Feegle, Pictsies
?All right, the Nac Mac Feegle aren’t a single character, but since they almost always act as one, it hardly matters. The Nac Mac Feegle are clans of pictsies. They are gnome-sized (about six inches tall), but they’ll be the first to correct anyone who mistakes them for gnomes. Each clan consists of hundreds of little blue men with red hair, led by a large female called the kelda. Despite their size, the Nac Mac Feegle are fierce and strong, and fear nothing but lawyers (they use too many words). Their favorite activities are drinking, fighting and stealing. Or stealing, drinking and fighting – sometimes they like to mix it up. Since there are so many of them, their imaginations are quite taxed when it comes to names (for example: Rob Anybody, Slightly Mad Angus, and No-As-Big-As-Medium-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock). Though they tend to keep to themselves, they have been known to assist certain people if approached correctly and if the price is right. They are most present in the Tiffany Aching books: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. They also appear briefly in Carpe Jugulum.
3) Om, a God
?A small god from the desert, Om started out with a single shepherd as a worshipper. Then belief in him spread like a fire, and eventually a massive religion and country was built around him. Om had everything he wanted, until one day he decided to manifest himself as a mighty bull or eagle, and instead ended up as a one-eyed tortoise for three years. Humbled by his circumstances, Om begins a quest to find out how he was trapped in this form and to find a single believer in all of Omnia, Om crosses paths with Brutha, a novice priest in the citadel. It turns out that the religion of Omnia is alive and well, but people have transferred their fear and belief to the institution, rather than to its god. Together, Om and Brutha make their way to Ephebe in order to get some philosophy and find out about the nature of the relationship between gods and their believers. Om’s largest role is in Small Gods, but various Omnians appear in a few different Discworld books: Carpe Jugulum, Feet of Clay, and Jingo.
2) The Librarian, an Orangutan
?The only character on this list to have begun his life as a human, the Librarian was once a wizard at the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork. A wave of unstable magic accidentally transformed him into an orangutan, and he has vehemently resisted any and all attempts to turn him human again. And really, who can blame him? What librarian would give up the advantages of massive strength and opposable toes to navigate the stacks (and the vast unknowns of L-space)? The Librarian’s primary concern is the care of the books in his charge, but it’s not uncommon to find him down at the Mended Drum having a pint and some peanuts. No one really minds him, and he always stands his round. He’s also acted as a Special Constable for the City Watch when needed. Do not, under any circumstances, make the mistake of referring to the Librarian as a monkey. Orangutans are apes (!!!), and a slip of the tongue could get you an impromptu lesson in zoology in the form of being bounced upside-down by your ankles (Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms).
?Death is easily the most well-traveled of any Discworld character. He has many appointments all over the world, and he keeps them. He’s appeared in almost every Discworld book, and always SPEAKS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. He rides a pale horse named Binky and sometimes carries a scythe, sword, or the hourglass-shaped Lifetimer of the person with whom he is to meet. Death never takes pleasure in his appointments, although at times – with the deaths of certain people – he does feel satisfaction. Death is not someone to mess around with, though some people have tried. In Reaper Man, Death was accused by the Auditors of having lost his objectivity and briefly relieved of his duties. A world without Death can never last, however, and Death resumed his role in helping life forces move on. Death is not alone in his work – he had an apprentice called Mort, and shares his work with the Grim Squeaker, the Death of Rats. As previously mentioned, Death appears in almost every Discworld story, but he plays his largest roles in Mort, Reaper Man, and Soul Music.