Friday Faceoff – My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. (Joan Jet)


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is guitars, so I’ve chosen Soul Music – Book 16 of the Discworld series by the late, great Terry Pratchett.


This is the go-to cover, as far as I’m concerned. Produced in September 1995 by Corgi, it is certainly the cover of my copy of Soul Music – funny, anarchic and brimful of movement and madcap detail, but with more than a hint of darkness. While I’m not a fan of solid panels of colour for the title and author name, this probably just about manages to get by without messing up the artwork too much.



This edition, produced in May 2003 by HarperTorch starts off well enough. I rather like the quirky font and eye-catching red background. I’m a tad more dubious about the record, but the depiction of Susan is when the cover becomes unacceptably inaccurate. Since when did Terry write her as some curvy bimbette who pouts at us over her shoulder?



Published in October 2009, this is okay, I suppose. I find the background and title font flat and uninspiring, while the skeleton guitar is too small and strangely unappealing. The only part of the cover that really works are those blue-edged notes which are the only clue we get about the fun and energy within the book.



This cover, produced by Gollancz in December 2013, is the only one that comes close to the original in effectively depicting the fun and quirkiness of the story. I love the sweeping lines and the clever addition of the title and flowing author signature. However, why, why, why are the colours so dreary? This is a story full of zest about what transformative magic is to be had in music – gloomy shades of brown with the occasional tasteful orange accent simply doesn’t reflect the verve of the content.



This dreary, generic effort was produced by Corgi in October 2005 – what a difference a decade makes! Given they also used that wonderful original cover, I’m wondering if in the interim to save a couple of quid they got rid of their cover design department and instead asked someone’s younger brother if he could rustle something up using Shutterstock for a bit of pocket money – it certainly looks like it. Which is your favourite?  Do you agree with my choice – or my rather grumpy opinion of the rest of the covers?

30 responses »

    • Yes – I wouldn’t have minded the skeleton guitar – but it should have been more extreme and less timid. Though I’ll grant you, it is certainly weird – but then so is the book! Have you read any of the Discworld books, Laura?

  1. Oh, yes, the original Josh Kirby cover (#1) is the best — as was the case with all of Terry’s covers: I don’t think any subsequent artist, either for reprints or for novels published after Josh’s death, came anywhere close to that original exuberance that so well captured the OTT vigour of Terry’s work. About the only person whose work I know who might have come close was Paul Sample, who was doing the Tom Sharpe covers at (I think) roughly the same time. (And who, I mention in the interests of full disclosure rather than because I’m name-dropping, you unnerstan, did a couple of my own covers.)

    I trust all copies of Soul Music with cover #3 were restricted to the top shelf. I mean, blimey, phew, symbolic or what?

    • lol… top shelf is right! I had to blink twice, convinced I needed to clean my glasses again…

      And I agree with your observation regarding the Josh Kirby covers, along with Paul Kidby, who also did a great job.

      I recall the Tom Sharpe covers – they were impressive. So you namedrop away – when in company like that, you’re entitled to sling said name into almost any conversation you like:))

  2. My favourite cover is the Corgi one from 1995 – it’s just so fixed in my mind as a Terry Pratchett cover. I really like the Gollancz cover too – I’ve not seen it before but it’s great. I don’t get the later Corgi cover at all – it just doesn’t give any indication of what the book is about and it seems really dull and flat. The 2009 cover reminds me a little of some of the covers for Robert Rankin’s books, it doesn’t make me think of Terry Pratchett’s writing. I do love seeing some of the different covers for a book though, it’s always really interesting to see how covers change over the years.

    • Yes – I find it rather depressing that with the passage of years, Terry Pratchett’s covers have slid from their marvellous anarchic splendour into generic mediocrity:(…

    • Hm. I’m fairly underwhelmed by the more modern English ones. I’m finding it a HUGE struggle NOT to grump, ‘Covers to these books were better back in the day…’

  3. I think I like the 2nd to last cover though I do wish the colors were brighter. The first is probably the most fun. I’ve yet to read this series though I want too. I love comparing all the different covers! I do this some with my Agatha Christies. There have been so many over the years!

    • Thank you Katherine. Yes – what a shame the colours are so dull… This series is great fun – to be read when you need cheering up. And you are right with the Agatha Christie covers – I’m aware there are loads! It must be huge fun comparing and contrasting them.

  4. What a great choice – I don’t know what you mean about not liking the covers, they’re not bad (well, not all of them) – I like the Gollancz one but I always have to go for the iconic Pratchett covers tbh.
    Lynn 😀

    • I may be a bit biased – but other than the first one, I just think they simply don’t sufficiently reflect the fun of the book – though I’m prepared to admit I may have become just a tad ranty about this one. The Discworld series has a special place in my heart…

  5. I’ve never read this, but from the covers alone, I would have assumed it was a dark and dreary book – thanks for letting me know it’s actually a fun and zesty story! Like Lynn, I like the Gollancz one as well.

    • There are a couple of slightly darker Discworld novels – but particularly the earlier ones, are funny, anarchic and full of sharp observations about the world in general:). I hope you’re having a great week-end.

  6. I’m with you on that fourth cover, Sarah. Oh, the first is my favorite by far, and I think, as you pointed out, the sin of the color block for text is slightly less egregious because the font itself feels in tune (ha ha) with an assumed-normally-dower character like Death. Plus there’s a star perkily sparkling on the block, so that makes it better!
    Anyway, I think the fourth cover has all the right elements: the curious Death creature, the author font, the guitar. but you’re right: why the lack of color? Even if you want to keep it simple, a couple strong contrasts would have done the trick…and make that title’s font like the author, for pete’s sake…

  7. When I saw Paul Kidby’s cover at the top, I almost skipped the rest of them: nothing and no one matches Pratchett’s unique style than he does. Out of the four remaining ones, I think only the Gollancz’s one (2013) is trying to capture the writer’s spirit, and the three other… well, pardon me, but they’re simply horrible.

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