Mon
Aug 25 2014 2:00pm

12 Reasons to Read and Love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett needs no introduction as one of the most successful fantasy authors the UK has ever produced. He’s written science fiction, both on his own and in collaboration, children’s books, essays and popular science, but he’s best known for The Discworld.

1. The Discworld

Terry Pratchett Discworld

This series of 40 books is set on a flat world that voyages through space on the back of four enormous elephants. These are in turn perched on the shell of a giant turtle (the Great A’Tuin). Believe it or not, Pratchett based his Discworld cosmology on actual ancient Hindu traditions that maintained the Earth wobbles through its existence on the back of an elephant, a turtle, or both.

Despite its outlandish geology, and a cast of inhabitants that includes wizards, witches, trolls and dwarves, the Discworld has much more in common with Charles Dickens at his comic and indignant best than it has with Lord of the Rings. The books may have begun as a clever deconstruction of the clichés of fantasy fiction, but they soon became something better: satisfying and witty moral comedies about human society and its frailties. Which is why Pratchett counts among his fans the novelist of ideas par excellence A.S. Byatt.

If all of this is making Pratchett sound a bit high-minded, however, don’t worry. He is also very, very funny. Plus, there are no songs. Praise be to the God of fantasy: there are NO songs, and anyone who says ‘ere’ when they mean ‘before’ gets a good poke in the eye from the author. On the Discworld, superciliousness is the deadliest of all sins.

2. He is the King of Ridiculous Fantastical Comedy

Before he became a full-time writer, Pratchett had already had a thorough grounding in unbelievable and ridiculous situations. He was a press officer for a nuclear power station during the days of the Cold War, Chernobyl and the time the Hartlepool Power Station visitor centre was open every day apart from Christmas Day.

It was an experience that taught him the virtues of scepticism, which shines through in his writing. He said: “Eight years involved with the nuclear industry have taught me that when nothing can possibly go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent.”

3. You don’t have to start at the beginning.

In fact I recommend you don’t. One of the intimidating things about a long series is the fear that it won’t make sense unless you start at the beginning. With the Discworld books, don’t worry. They’re all intended to make sense read as standalone novels.

The first book in the Discworld series is The Colour of Magic and it is nothing like the others. It’s less of a series opener than a lengthy preamble. Treat it like The Silmarillion—one for completists. If you want to read in sequence start with the second book, The Light Fantastic, which is where Pratchett starts to establish the tone, humour and storytelling style that made him so popular.

4. You have several different series to choose from

While you don’t have to read sequentially, there are distinct strands or mini-series within the Discworld books. For example, there is a series of books about the Witches of Lancre; another about The Watch, or the police force of Ankh Morpork (the Discworld’s biggest city); another that concerns the wizards of the world’s seat of magical learning, The Unseen University, and so on.

With these individual series you do get more out of them if you read them in sequence, but it’s not necessary. The best thing to do is to pick the one nearest to hand and see if you like it. Everyone tends to have a favourite, which brings me to….

5. But Granny Weatherwax is Everything!

Every Discworld reader will have the character they see as theirs. Some would fight to the death for The Watch’s Commander Vimes; others have a special place in their hearts for Rincewind, the Discworld’s most inept and cowardly wizard. But they’re all wrong, because Granny Weatherwax is the best Discworld character. End of.

Granny Weatherwax is the senior witch of the tiny mountain kingdom of Lancre—a place which comes across like Summerisle from The Wicker Man re-written by John Updike. She first appears as a solitary character with an unusual apprentice in the third Discworld book, Equal Rites, before acquiring a coven in Wyrd Sisters, where the witch series really gets going.

Granny Weatherwax is basically amazing. She can possess the bodies of animals (a practice called ‘borrowing), dig her own privies and magic a whole kingdom twenty years into its own future. Over the course of several books she faces down mad duchesses, evil elves, vampires, a fairy godmother gone to the bad and a Phantom of the Opera without once cracking a smile. It’s a crime of the highest order that Maggie Smith has never played her—though having seen Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones she’d make a good fist of the role as well.

6. Let’s talk about DEATH

The only character to appear in every Discworld novel is Death. A skeletal presence robed in black and carrying a scythe, he looks like he’s stepped straight onto the pages from a Medieval engraving. This is where the similarity ends, because Death is by far the cuddliest, sweetest and most downright decent of all Pratchett’s characters.

Terry Pratchett Discworld Hogfather DEATH (who by the way was talking only in capital letters nearly twenty before Caitlin Moran uttered her first SCREAM on Twitter) is a walk-on in every book but takes centre stage in his own series, beginning with Mort. The Death books tend to concern themselves with him stepping outside his role as an anthromorphic figure to protect the Discworld against the indifferent forces that rule the universe. But if Death’s principles are worthy, his actions are always funny. Perhaps the best example of this is Hogfather, where Death takes over from the Discworld’s pig-obsessed version of Santa Claus in a bid to save the concept of childhood from destruction.

7. And Ankh Morporkh

Ankh Morpork is Terry Pratchett’s Gormenghast: a labour of detail-freak love. The Discworld’s largest metropolis, Ankh Morpork bestrides the evil-smelling Ankh river whose waters have the consistency of a blancmange made of raw sewage. It’s a twin. The posher Ankh is home to the Discworld’s one per-cent, such as the Machiavellian city Patrician Lord Vetinari (and his toothless dog Wuffles). Meanwhile rougher, raucous Morpork is a city of whores and taverns which don’t so much sell beer as rent it to drinkers for the evening.

Obviously influenced by the London literature of Mayhew and Dickens, Ankh Morpork pervades the Discworld series like a cabbagy fart. It’s pungent and stays with you long after it’s finished.

8. And Religion

Pratchett is my kind of atheist, in that he won’t preach where he can gently mock instead. Richard Dawkins take note. Religion plays a prominent role in the Discworld series, where the world’s major Gods live in the mountaintop kingdom of Dunmanifestin. Pratchett’s are an unsophisticated lot who tackle the problem of atheism by smashing philosophers’ windows. So in most of his books, Pratchett employs the Gods mainly for comic effect.

There is one exception, however: Small Gods. This book, set in the theocratic state of Omnia, is remarkable for the seriousness of the themes underneath the jokes. It deals with religious fundamentalism, the relationship between man and God and the question of whether the con trick of religion is worth it if it makes people be more humane to one another.

Reading this book it’s not hard to see how Pratchett, or Wodehouse with witches, could go on to be a convincing advocate for assisted dying after learning of his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Put it on your reading list.

9. A note on the Dungeon Dimensions

Every genre novelist needs his stock ‘end of the world’ scenario, and for Pratchett this was the Dungeon Dimensions. These parallel universes, filled with creatures that would give H.R. Geiger a headache, exist beyond the edge of reality. However, as a world forever on the cusp of unreality itself, the Discworld is always one major magical event away from the Dungeon Dimensions breaking through and wreaking havoc.

No early Discworld book is spared the threat of an invasion of these monsters, which can feel a little wearing if you’re binge reading the series. Thankfully though, Pratchett learned to vary his peril as the series went on. If you’re keen to see a Dungeon Dimension breakthrough especially well-handled though, consider his spoof of the movie business, Moving Pictures.

10. Josh Kirby’s Covers

Terry Pratchett Josh Kirby covers

When they were first published, the cover designs (by American artist Josh Kirby) were a big part of what made Discworld books stand out in bookshops. Their weird, slightly fruity aesthetic (think Monty Python’s Flying Circus crossed with Flash Gordon with a pinch of Iron Maiden LP sleeves) were a witty and vivid prompt as to what readers should expect when they opened the books.

Readers who download the series to read electronically will, however, be bitterly disappointed by the 50 Shades of Grey-influenced drabness of the eBooks covers. Please don’t judge the books by those covers as they’re pish.

11. Quotability

Many comic writers can match Pratchett in terms of situational humour, but he has few equals when it comes to the bon mot. Each Discworld book contains at least two passages of such world-weary wit and wisdom that you will at least want to underline them and at most consider putting them in a t-shirt.

But don’t just take my word for it: read this.

12. And finally, he keeps boys reading for pleasure through the dark, lonely days of adolescence

We worry a great deal at the moment about men and boys not reading. Some of it has to do with a mistaken cultural assumption that reading novels is something girls and women do. Some of it has to do with the fact that many books published for adolescents are a bit… well, adolescent.

Thankfully, Pratchett perfected the tricky balance between the fantastical and the world-weary early in his career. Reading him feels like talking to the smart and funny older brother or best friend that you feel you deserve aged 12 but don’t have. Thus he is perfect reading for the ‘I know it all and I hate it all’ phase that starts when your voice breaks and ends around the same time as your first co-habiting relationship.

If there is an teenage boy in your life—and if you’re worried he doesn’t read—buy him a Discworld book. It may see him through.

 

Pre-order Terry Pratchett’s A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction, available September 23rd from Knopf Doubleday.
This post was originally published on the Tor UK blog.


Chris McCrudden handles the technology, publishing, arts and Cher jokes at Midas PR. Speed-reader. Always skips the poetry in fantasy novels. Follow himon Twitter @cmccrudden.

51 comments
Austin C.
1. Austin C.
Point six is a little off. Death is not in Wee Free Men and Snuff. It's the only two novel he does not appear in. Also, Tiffany Aching for best chacarter! Love the Wee Free Men books!
Austin C.
2. J.P.
Starting with The Light Fantastic is a weird suggestion, as it's a direct sequel to The Colour of Magic an thus probably the only Discworld novel that's definitely not standalone. I would suggest starting with the third, Equal Rites, or - even better - the fourth Mort, as that's where Terry really begins to hit his stride.
Austin C.
3. Random22
The posher Ankh is home to the Discworld’s one per-cent, such as the
Machiavellian city Patrician Lord Vetinari (and his toothless dog
Wuffles). Meanwhile rougher, raucous Morpork is a city of whores and
taverns which don’t so much sell beer as rent it to drinkers for the
evening.
I wish to object here. The Patrician's Palace is clearly on the Morpork side, and Vetinari spent his youth in the Assassins guild school which is Morpork again. The guy is clearly a Morpork boy made good.

As far as reading order goes, I'd say treat everything before Wyrd Sisters as the prologue. Personally I think that is where it made good. Then stop reading after Making Money (maybe include I Shall Wear Midnight, but definitely skip Unseen Academicals), his characterisation goes haywire, and the continuity errors and plot holes are are abundant in his most recent works. His editor really ought to have stepped up more to help compensate for his health issues.
Austin C.
4. Athreeren
When will we have a Discworld reread?
George Jong
5. IndependentGeorge
Guards! Guards! is the best book to start with, because (1) it is a police procedural at its heart, which helps ease people into the glorious weirdness of the Discworld, (2) it's Ankh-Morpork centered, which helps ease people into the glorious weirdness of the Discworld, and (3) it's Vimes centered, which helps ease people into the glorious weirdness of the Discworld.

May any who disagree have their figgins toasted and set on spikes for all the world to see.

We can debate Granny Weatherwax vs Vimes vs Death vs Vetinari all day, but my favorite 1-book wonder (well, 1 and a smidge) remains Lu-Tze. Never forget Rule One.
Austin C.
6. ad
@6

The reason to read Guards!Guards! is that it is absolutely hilarious.

Definitely the funniest book in the series.
George Jong
7. IndependentGeorge
You know what would have made Guards! Guards! better, though?

One. Thousand. Elephants.
Austin C.
8. GuruJ
My first Discworld novel was Small Gods, which was simultaneously the strangest and the best place to start reading.

But chronologically, I second the nomination of Mort of the first recognisably-Discworldy Discworld novel.
Austin C.
9. Jeff R.
My own recommended reading order is "Start with Mort, skip Sourcery and Eric. When you get to Interesting Times, go back and read The Color of Magic and the Light fantastic first. (Alternatively, stick them between Small Gods and Lords and Ladies). After you're completely done, go back and read the remaining three books in order. (Equal Rites and Sourcery are inessential and weak for Pratchett, but still okay by overall standards. And Eric is good enough that it'll end you up on a high note.)
David Thomson
10. ZetaStriker
Night Watch was actually my first Discworld novel, and then I jumped back to the beginning after that because it was such an amazing read.
Bill Stusser
11. billiam
I had never read any of Pratchett's books before a week ago when I bought Guards! Guards! and I'm loving it. It took me a little while to get used to Pratchet's style of writing. I am so used to the limited third person or first person POVs and Terry just kinda jumps all over the place. But it has had me laughing out loud a few times.

I haven't finished it yet, having an eleven year old daughter home all day for summer break while working 10 hours a night five and sometimes six days a week doesn't leave much time for reading, but as soon as I do finish it I will be buying another discworld book. Probably either Mort or Wyrd Sisters. Any other suggetions?
Austin C.
12. J. Z. Belexes
Actually, there ARE songs, among them Nanny Ogg's favorite, "A Hedgehog Cannot be Buggered."
Brian R
13. Mayhem
@11
Pratchett's best books are in no particular order imo
Night Watch
Mort
Small Gods
Going Postal
The Truth
Thief of Time
The Last Continent

Go with any of them and you'll enjoy it. Then pick up whatever takes your fancy. I'd also suggest getting The Wee Free Men - then you can accidentally leave it lying around for your daughter to find, and that buys you time to read more :).
Theresa Wymer
14. Tekalynn
@11: If your daughter is interested, maybe you could read aloud to each other. Then you could both enjoy the book and have quality time together.
Austin C.
15. evert
Josh Kirby's art was always brilliant, and I think played an important role in my becoming a fan of the Discworld. Weirdnesses such as Twoflower's "four eyes" not withstanding.

The point about him being Pythonesque is well made. I went to an exhibition of his art a while ago (shortly after he died IIRC) - where I learnt he actually created a (unused) poster for the Life of Brian, based on Breugal's Tower of Babel.

It is really nice to see "in the flesh", being packed full of tiny details that relate to incidents in the films. Unfortunately I cannot find any decent resolution pictures from a cursory Google search.

Also, I'll add my tuppence for where new readers to start with Discworld:
Men-at-Arms and Guards! Guards!. (Guards! Guards! is the better book, and could probably be read on its own, but it seems neater to read Men-at-Arms first).

I haven't read The Colour of Magic for a while, but I did watch the adaptation recently. I fear it has not aged terribly well.
George Jong
16. IndependentGeorge
@11 - I think your two best options are to either (a) go back to Mort, and start reading chronologically from there onwards, or (b) go on to Men-At-Arms and continue with the City Watch series. This is a handy chart detailing the order of each sub-series, but I would amend it in one way: Night Watch should always be read immediately after Thief of Time. It's not necessary, but the events of Night Watch overlap with Thief of Time, with some being concurrent.

@12 - Don't forget A Wizard's Staff Has a Knob On Its End. Patrick Rothfuss wrote his own lyrics to it - there's video somewhere of him reciting it.

@15 - I think you've got it backwards; Guards! Guards comes first chronologically, but Men-At-Arms is probably the stronger book. The third Watch book, Feet of Clay, ranks as one of my favorites in the entire series.

I tried my best to come up with my Top 10 Discworld novels, and the sheer impossibility of the task made me realize just how much I love the series as a whole. While of course there are some weaker works (I dislike The Last Continent and Snuff in particular), I positively adore the vast majority of the series.

1. Thud!
2. Night Watch
3. Thief of Time
4. Small Gods
5. Reaper Man
6. Feet of Clay
7. Lords and Ladies
8. Witches Abroad
9. Sourcery
10. Hogfather
Austin C.
17. Russ Cook
At the end of the day they are all good. Just some a better than others, and a few are brilliant.

A great entertaining comedy mind. His health issues make that a double tragedy.
Paul Duncanson
18. MrDalliard
Ankh Morpork is Terry Pratchett’s Gormenghast

Surely you mean Lankhmar.

... taverns which don’t so much sell beer as rent it to drinkers for the evening.

This is true of all taverns. Nobody owns beer. Once freed of its bottle you get one use and then it's gone.

I usually recommend starting with Mort, Small Gods or Guards Guards. Each stands alone quite nicely. A stand-alone Discworld novel is about as silly an idea as a single-peanut snack but it helps sell the idea of starting on a 40 volume series to a wary reader. They go in thinking they don't have to continue if they don't like it. Mostly they learn better.
Austin C.
19. Megpie71
There are a few stand-alones in the Discworld series. If you're a film buff, have a dekko at "Moving Pictures" (which is technically in the "Wizards/Ridcully" continuity). If you're a fan of Egyptology (particularly popular Egyptology) have a read of "Pyramids". "Small Gods" stands alone, although it is referenced back to later in the continuity (I tend to think of this one as being something like a lynch-pin in a cartwheel - holds a lot of things together later, but doesn't seem essential at first). "Reaper Man", while it is technically in the "Death" continuity, can stand quite successfully on its own, and really I'd point to it as being the best explicator of Death's motivations. "The Truth" is another which stands alone (and deals with the newspaper business), as is "Monstrous Regiment" (which becomes inexplicably more hilarious if you've read various Napoleonic-era war series such as the "Sharpe" books or even Georgette Heyer's books about the Napoleonic wars). There's also "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" which is intended for younger readers, but is a stand-alone book.

(For very young readers, there's "Where's My Cow", which is actually a tie-in with "Thud", but doesn't need to be...)
Austin C.
20. LucyLastic
Minor point, but it kind of jumped out at me (you can tell the dedicated Pratchetteers, we get a bit picky lol) but point 6 - it's the Ankh river, not Morpork - too thick to drink, too runny to plough
Austin C.
21. Nop
No songs? Pish! Who could forget the Hedgehog Song, or Wizard's Staff? :)
Austin C.
22. Random22
@18. True. His Gormenghast is in Lancre. Although he admits he really didn't really have the special effects or construction budget :)
Steve Taylor
23. teapot7
I never liked Josh Kirby's cover art for Discworld, so I'd prefer to replace 10 with:

10: Pratchett actually *likes* his female characters. This should be unremarkable, but is not.
Steve Taylor
24. teapot7
> But chronologically, I second the nomination of Mort of the first recognisably-Discworldy Discworld novel.

I started with Mort and it worked well for me. I'd decided to try Pratchett out after reading an interview with him in Interzone - which is actually a bit of a strange way to discover someone like him.
Austin C.
25. Athreeren
@23: Me neither. On the other hand, I find Paul Kidby's art so brilliant I bought The Art of Discworld.
Bradley Schenck
26. Bradley W. Schenck
Songs? I see your "Wizard's Staff" and "Hedgehog Song", and I raise you with "Gold": just thinking about it brings a tear to my eye.
Austin C.
27. ChrisMc
Hello! This is Chris, the author of the piece here. Thanks for all your comments.

I suggested Light Fantastic IF you've decided to read in chronological order. The reader is, of course, free to begin whenever and wherever they want.

@AustinC - good point, well made. For reasons of my own sanity I put the Wee Free Men out of the scope of this article, but thank you for correcting me about Snuff.

@LucyLastic - you are right! I'll try to get that point amended

@ everyone who remarked about the songs. I hadn't forgotten The Hedgehog Song, nor the Wizard's Staff (which has a knob on the end). I was more rejoicing that the songs aren't spelled out in poem form in the text, which is a device I personally find deathly dull. Pratchett succeeds in making those songs funnier by making us imagine most of the lyrics.

Glad I'm not the only one who mourns Kirby's artwork as well. Thanks for reading.
Austin C.
28. seralphia
Can I second the Discworld re-read idea?
Austin C.
29. dwndrgn
I'd definitely be on board for a re-read!!
Deana Whitney
30. Braid_Tug
No love yet for Going Postal?
I might not like the other Moist books a much, but you have to admit that Going Postal is a really fun ride.
George Jong
31. IndependentGeorge
@26 - "Gold" has carried me through some rough times. To this day, I can't make it past the third stanza without tearing up a bit. Just thinking about it makes me emotional.

The trouble with Discworld is that there are so many awesome side characters that they can't possibly make an appearance in every book, and yet I always miss them when they're absent. I want to know more about Detritus & Ruby, and Mrs. Cake, and Dibbler, Cohen, etc. I generally find the wizards somewhat tiresome, but the Ridcully/Stibbons dynamic is just plain awesome.
Austin C.
32. a1ay
He also wrote one discworld novel which isn't a Discworld novel - Strata. I've always had a soft spot for this one because it's essentially early Terry Pratchett rewriting Larry Niven's Ringworld. There's a big dumb object (disc-shaped rather than ring-shaped) that's explored by a collection of aliens - the immortal and world-weary Kin Arad, the psychotically violent Marco (a sort of frog version of Speaker-to-Animals but even more aggressive) and the polite, self-effacing and occasionally (and apologetically) man-eating Silver. But it's got the Pratchett weirdness too. The history of the world involves Remus, not Romulus, founding Rome (sorry, "Reme") and a Viking/Native American alliance reconquering Dark Ages Europe - which seems like mere whimsy but becomes vitally important at the end of the book.

And a fossilised dinosaur holding a placard reading "End Nuclear Testing Now".
George Jong
33. IndependentGeorge
Also, that actually reminds me.
Rincewind, the Discworld’s most inept and cowardly wizard.
You spelled "wizzard" wrong.
alastair chadwin
34. a-j
I think where to start depends on your other reading habits. If you're up on fantasy then The Light Fantastic is a fun send up of many of the genre's clichés. Otherwise, I normally suggest Wyrd Sisters as that draws more on well known folklore and of course, Shakespeare. If I had to choose one over all the others, and I'd really rather not, I'd go for Small Gods as being one of the funniest and the wisest. Hogfather, meanwhile, contains one of the wisest discussions about belief I've ever come across. It's amoungst the quotes if you follow the link in the article

One thing not mentioned yet is Pratchett's strong moral sense and genuine anger at aspects of humanity and the modern world. It's particularly noticable in Going Postal and Thud! but it runs through a great many of his books.
lake sidey
36. lakesidey
I'd second "Guards, Guards" or "Men at Arms" as a good place to start. But I'd also throw out a left field candidate - though it is over 30 books into the series, I feel "Going Postal" works surprisingly well as a starting point. Except for the lack of a Kirby cover.

As for the best of them all? Wow, that's a tough one :) I would go for "Thief of Time" by a slim margin over "Going Postal" and half a dozen others. I love nearly all of them, but these are the two I re-read bits of when I am depressed and need solace.

And in case anyone's counting - one more resounding "Aye" for the (putative) re-read!! That would be so awesome....

~lakesidey
Austin C.
37. kimikimi
@18 The key word is rent, as in own for a portion of time and the return. Ew.

I'd also love a re-read, if someone would be up to doing one :)
Austin C.
38. l0b0
http://www.co.uk.lspace.org/fandom/songs/index.html
Austin C.
39. Raskos
Josh Kirby is British, I believe, and not American.

And without a reading of The Colour of Magic, one will go through the rest of the series wondering who Bel-Shamharoth is and why he should have a Young Men's Association.
Pamela Adams
40. Pam Adams
The problem with starting at the beginning is that they aren't really representative of the rest of the series. I started with Colour of Magic and got bored- it was like reading one too many Xanth books. I avoided Pratchett's work for years. I finally got restarted with Wyrd Sisters, read through the canon, and went back to TCOM to decide that I had been right- it just wasn't that good.

My favorite- Night Watch.
Austin C.
41. Steveastrouk
Josh Kirby was an Englishman from Liverpool, not American.
The latter covers of by Kidby are as witty as the books, particularly Night Watch.

Night Watch is just out there are one of the best books about "revolutions" ever written. I've recommended it to Libyan and Egyptian friends.
Austin C.
42. lizzzy
'Boys' reading? Why arae we gender-ing this? Oh, I forgot, we put a gender to everything. I wanted a nice light hearted artical about an old favourite and now you've depressed me. Gee, thanks.
Austin C.
43. Lungfish
I have always been a fan of another non-discworld book called "The Dark Side of the Sun". A slim, stand-alone book that, nevertheless, is detailed enough to spawn its own series. Also, it's sci-fi. Definitely worth a read.

Plus, if you're into the Discworld novels there is a mud (multi user dungeon) at: http://discworld.atuin.net/lpc/
It's an ongoing text based multi-user game that been continuously developing for around 20 years. It contains nearly every character and major city from discworld and is funny to boot. I play as a witch and Granny Weatherwax taught me everything I know.
Ben McSweeney
44. Inkthinker
doublepost. Sorry.
Ben McSweeney
45. Inkthinker
Why would you suggest that someone start with a book that's a direct sequel to the book you just recommended they skip? The Light Fantastic starts literally moments after The Colour of Magic ends, and it follows characters and circumstances explained in the first book. It's certainly more a Disc book and less a generalized parody of heroic/epic fantasy, but it's still a damned silly place to start.

Many others have recommended Guards! Guards! as a better start, and I think they're right if you're handing it off to a boy who likes boyish things. If you have a girl who maybe is into stronger female leads, start with Equal Rites, or perhaps Wyrd Sisters or The Wee Free Men. Basically the difference between starting with The Watch or The Witches.

Also, linking to a Buzzfeed list? And a barely readable one at that? Shame.

http://www.lspace.org/books/pqf/
Percy Sowner
46. percysowner
I started with Mort and found it to be okay. Not bad and interesting enough that I kept reading Discworld, but not great. Fortunately I read Reaper Man next and THAT pulled me into Discworld. I agree The Colour of Magic is not the best place to start. I personally am not a Rincewind person. If you want to read chronologically, Guards, Guards is a great introduction to The Watch part of Discworld. Wyrd Sisters is a good intro to The Witches side although I prefer Witches Abroad. Reaper Man actually covers 2 parts of Discworld, Death and The Wizards. It's one of my favorites.

I'll put in a vote for a Discworld reread here. That would be great. I will also note to anyone who isn't a Pratchett fan, Good Omens, while not a Discworld novel, is one of the best and most quotable books I have ever read.
Austin C.
47. Loobylou
Just another quick point I don't think has been mentioned - DEATH is actually an anthro-po-morphic personality
Austin C.
48. leftoverrecipes
What? No Monstrous Regiment? this is imo one of his best books, in that it's funny and satirical and only after you think about it a bit you realize how heartbreaking it is. Also, it's one of the few books I read that describe situations that most women go through *all the time* and make you notice how absurd they are.
Austin C.
49. CHip137
"Lancre -- a place which comes across like Summerisle re-written by John Updike."

All of your reasons for loving Discworld are valid, but tThis is a horrible thing to say and is about as far from the facts as you could get.

Have you \read/ any Updike? He hates fantasy and hates his characters; I gave up on The Widows of Eastwick a couple of chapters in because reading it seemed pointless (unless I wanted an excess for suicide). Pratchett gives us psychos and idiots, but he also gives us characters he likes -- and makes us like them too, warts and all.

Summerisle was faked up out of one man's delusions; Lancre is a real community, with people who aren't fooled by pretty stories -- see, e.g., the competition between Granny Weatherwax and the goth witch-wannabe in Lords and Ladies).

PS: I'm glad to see the shout-outs for Strata, which I read before the first Discworld book was published in the U.S.; but has nobody else read Johnny and the Bomb and sequels, and the Nomes trilogy? (Think of the Borrowers without the twee.)

PPS: it's H. R. Giger -- the artist is not related to the counter.
Austin C.
50. NicoleWilliams
Wait, Guards Guards is the funniest one? I'm trying to read it now, its my first Discworld book, and really I'm bored to death with it.... I keep trying hoping it gets better but it just isn't. I don't know what I'm missing.
Austin C.
51. kedaly
@50 Hate to say it, but you may be like me and just not find Terry Pratchett all that funny. I've read 5 or 6 of his books, and the only one that made me even chuckle was Maskerade (and that had more to do with the opera setting than him trying to be funny). Humor is one of those things that varies between people. As much as I like the concept behind Pratchett's books, I have epic amounts of trouble reading them and so don't try most of the time.

And I will agree with anyone that says don't start at the beginning. I read Color of Magic first on a recommendation at approx. age 10, and prompty refused to read anything else by the guy for the next decade. Which is also an endorsement to be careful which Pratchett books you hand to young kids...

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