Review: The Compleat Ankh-Morpork

The Compleat Ankh-Morpork is one of those spin-off books that exists purely to delight the obsessive fan in all of us: a map of the chief city of Terry Pratchett’s absurdist high-fantasy Discworld, accompanied by a wealth of tourist information including a list of pubs, adverts for various businesses and several suggested walks.

I can plausibly imagine how something like this could do actual work, building on an author’s themes and worldview (Christopher Priest’s The Islanders comes to mind; or even Pratchett’s own Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook), but The Compleat Ankh-Morpork is not that kind of book. It’s a bit of fun, world-building ephemera for superfans only; a quick trip through a much-beloved city, laced with the broad, unsubtle humour typical of very late Pratchett, humour which occasionally borders on the racist or sexist in its descriptions of Klatchian curry houses and the like. It’s at least not as egregious as The Compleat Discworld Atlas.

Still, if you’ve got the energy and the will to ignore this, the book itself is a beautiful object in all its mock-Victorian steampunk glory. And visiting this bustling, vital, topsy-turvy city is always a joy, even in this imperfect manifestation. This is a book for a rainy winter afternoon, with tea and chocolate and the smell of pine needles, and preferably a cat on hand too.

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