Discworld discussion

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Reading order

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Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Hello there.
I was wondering about what is the best reading order of the famous Discworld novels?
I have not read any of them and there are so many by now. Does is make sense to read them in the order they were published or is there a different approach.
What is your advice?

Best wishes and a happy Sunday to you all.
Marcus


message 2: by Andy (last edited Oct 02, 2011 08:20AM) (new)

Andy Bird | 30 comments I would NOT recommend The Color of Magic, although it is the first, it is not the best and can put some people off. There is a great reading order guide on the lspace website. I would recommend Guards! Guards! as a good start. Have fun they are great books.


Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Excellent. Thank you Andy!


message 4: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I don't think it is best to begin with book number one. My first book in the discworld series was mort. Guards! Guards! is also a good start and if you start with that book, my advice is to read al the other nightwatch series after that. It's great fun. all of them.


message 5: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments Guards! Guards! is a good book, but as the first of the City Watch books I don't find it one of the best. for a pretty stand alone Discworld book The Truth is a good story.
That's the major problem with the Discworld, there is not an actual bad book, they are all good reads. Get a couple under your belt to get your feet wet, then head back to the Colour of Magic and read through them :)


Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Thank you so much.
I was drawn between the Death novels (I love the Hogfather movie) and the Night novels ...

There is an offer on Amazon.de right now: 3 english books for 15€ and I ordered the first three Watch novels. They were shipped this morning and I should soon be able to start reading ....


message 7: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 20 comments It's good to read in order of publication in general, but that doesn't mean you have to read them ALL (in order).

I would begin by reading Small Gods. I think it's the best starting point because a) it's completely stand-alone (it's barely referenced in the other books) and b) it's arguably the best.

The Watch books have the problem that they cross 'eras' in Discworld's writing style and content. ["Guards, Guards", particularly, is clearly from his early period, and I really don't think it's as good]. That said, it shouldn't be too much of a problem, and I don't THINK there are any major spoilers or confusions. Except for the character of Gaspode in "Men At Arms", who may strike you as a bit strange if you haven't read his introduction in "Moving Pictures". Then again, lots of Pratchett will strike you as strange no matter what you've read in advance.

The other good thing about your choice is that I think that "Men at Arms" and "Feet of Clay" are two of the best books in the series.


message 8: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments Enjoy your books then. And choose your own way in reading the books. Everybody thinks diferend about this subject. But I guess every choise you make is a good one


message 9: by nobody (new)

nobody (nobodyreads) | 2 comments there's series within the series that are best read in order, here's a nice graphical guide of different starting points, you can read from different series at once, but the series themselves are best enjoyed in order http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-o...


message 10: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments Andy wrote: "I would NOT recommend The Color of Magic, although it is the first, it is not the best and can put some people off. There is a great reading order guide on the lspace website. I would ..."

That reading guide is total garbage. It should be deleted. The correct reading order is the published order. Pratchett does refer back to earlier books and he does not recap. So you either miss stuff or spoil stuff. Starting with Guards! Guards! is a very bad idea. Start with The Colour of Magic as it is the first published Discworld book.


message 11: by JSWolf (last edited Oct 28, 2011 11:34PM) (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments Wastrel wrote: "It's good to read in order of publication in general, but that doesn't mean you have to read them ALL (in order).

I would begin by reading Small Gods. I think it's the best starting point because ..."


Yes, you do have to read in published order to get the best possible reading experience (at least for the first read). Terry even says so. Don't read out of order. I've been reading in published order (about to start Hogfather soon). Anyway, what happens is Terry plays off of what's happened before. He expects you to know things you won't know by skipping around. He doesn't recap. So you could end up spoiling other books and sometimes getting the old "huh?" as you haven't a clue what's going on when you would have a clue in published order.


message 12: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments Louise wrote: "Enjoy your books then. And choose your own way in reading the books. Everybody thinks different about this subject. But I guess every choice you make is a good one"

If it's not published order, every choice you make is the wrong one.


message 13: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments nobody wrote: "there's series within the series that are best read in order, here's a nice graphical guide of different starting points, you can read from different series at once, but the series themselves are b..."

GAH! That crap is flogged to death and it's just wrong! wrong! and even more wrong!


message 14: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments Marcus wrote: "Excellent. Thank you Andy!"

Don't listen to Andy. Listen to Terry Pratchett who says the correct reading order is in published order.


message 15: by Gomez (new)

Gomez Addams | 15 comments Blimey, Wolfie, that's a VERY passionate defence of the chronological approach to the Discworld universe, a view I entirely share, indeed, but it came out a tad "imposing", perhaps, don't you think?

To me, approaching a serialised work, where characters and situations develop within a continuity in chronological order makes plain sense but, as Pratchett himself teaches us in his little moral tales, while all people (and all "creatures", indeed :-)) were created equal, we weren't created all the same, thank goodness, and if that approach doesn't work for some, so be it, I'd rather have people (or creatures :-)) jump right in the middle than have them put off reading Pratchett at all and never know what they'd be missing...

That said, I think it's a bit of a mistake to focus too much on characters alone, in Pratchett's work, I don't think the best characters are Vimes, the Witches, Rincewind or anyone else, the main protagonist and "best character" here is the Discworld itself, and a good idea for starters is probably to get acquainted with said environment first, where the best choice would probably be, a view shared by many, to start with one of the "one-shot" books rather than any of the sub-series, and again there seems to be some agreement on "Small Gods" being among the best choices, I'd also add "Thief of Time" as another good candidate.

Most important thing is, NOT reading Pratchett, ANY of it, would certainly be wrong, wrong, WRONG! (Remember Terry Gilliam's cartoon with the big hammer? ;-))


message 16: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I still think everyone should make up his own mind about the book he want to read first. I began with book number 4 and I haven't regretted it for one moment. Okay with the series in the serie, it's not wise to begin with the last one for example, but one of the books that stand on its own. no problem. Nobody not even the writer himself can tell me where I must begin to read. That is totally up to me.


message 17: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 20 comments I think it's ludicrous to insist on chronological order - and even more ludicrous to actively discourage people from reading Pratchett by yelling at them and haranguing them if they don't read it the way YOU want them to.

You exaggerate massively the effect of reading out-of-order - all you'd miss is the occasional mostly-self-explanatory in-joke.

More importantly: if you tell people "you have to read this series from the beginning. Don't worry, after reading the first ten novels, you'll get to ones you might enjoy - and by the way, the ones you'll be reading first have zero stylistic continuity with, and very little shared setting with, the ones you'll be reading later on", then people aren't going to read any of them. Or they're going to read The Colour of Magic and then give up. Because TCOM is ENTIRELY different from later books.

So, I agree that chronological order makes most sense IN GENERAL. But it also makes sense to a) let people start with books they'll enjoy that will hook them in, and b) let people avoid books they don't like.

So I say: read some stand-alones to get the feel of the place, and if you like it, go and read from Mort onwards (or maybe Equal Rites), but feel free to skip a book if you don't like the characters or setting.


message 18: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments Yes exactly


message 19: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments I will start by saying I think you do get more from reading the books in order.
when talking about the Discworld Pratchett says it is better to read in release order to get the greatest depth from the stories, HOWEVER he says that reading them in any order still works just fine.
I think, SJWolf, that becoming a Disc zealot kind of misses the point of the books and the true spirit of Pratchett. In fact I'm pretty sure more than one of the stories laughs at people become totally tied up in everything being just so.


message 20: by Marcus with a C (new)

Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Very interesting to read all your comments. I feel I hit a bee hive with my question ;-)

I have the first three Watch novels and once I finish my current book (short stories by Patricia Highsmith), then I will start reading - as it looks tomorrow.


message 21: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments Make sure you read them in the correct order!!!


message 22: by Marcus with a C (new)

Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Niall wrote: "Make sure you read them in the correct order!!!"

I do my best!


message 23: by D.L. (new)

D.L. Morrese (DL_Morrese) | 52 comments Marcus wrote: "Niall wrote: "Make sure you read them in the correct order!!!"

I do my best!"

Come now people, let's be civilized. This is not an either or situation. You can read them in ALL orders. I've read them chronologically a couple times, and I've also read all the "witch" ones in order, all the "Watch" ones, and just whatever I happened to grab off the shelf. :-)


message 24: by James (new)

James | 21 comments I began with "Witches Abroad" and immediately became a fan. But, the more I read, the more I realized I was missing some of the back story, so I started filling in my collection in chronological order.

I have read all the Discworld Stories at least three times each (favorites more often), and want to start on the Tiffany Aching/Nac Mac Feegle series.

They all stand alone well, but are better if you have the full back story.

But, that's just me.


message 25: by Anna-louise (new)

Anna-louise | 2 comments I started from the beginning because i figure thats a good place to start :-) i'm now on Snuff, on and off its taken me 10 years to get up to date!

Not saying you must start at the beginning because i feel you could pick up any book and it be a great story! but you get to know the world better and sometimes characters pop up and make no sense unless you have read a previous books, to me this is annoying i like back stories and they were only captured obviously in the books before.

I'm a chronological order kinda person :-)


message 26: by Soan (new)

Soan ^Even I started with beginning and felt it gave me better understanding of world.
Plus, I like things in order as well :)


message 27: by D.L. (new)

D.L. Morrese (DL_Morrese) | 52 comments James wrote: "I began with "Witches Abroad" and immediately became a fan. But, the more I read, the more I realized I was missing some of the back story, so I started filling in my collection in chronological o..."
The Tiffany Aching books are wonderful. The Wee Free Men is my personal favorite of the series I suppose. At least today.


message 28: by Victoria (last edited Nov 01, 2011 07:45PM) (new)

Victoria (Victoria-Jane) | 1 comments I have no clue where i started as it was so so long ago now! I'm re-reading them in publishing order at the moment, but i say Colour of Magic IS a good place to start if you intend on reading all of them eventually, as it gives a bit of background information that isn't always covered in the other books. But starting wherever you want is often the best way to get you hooked on a series, i've found! You can always go back and read the ones you skipped over in order to better understand the background of the story :)


message 29: by Andy (new)

Andy Bird | 30 comments I would normally advise people to read series from the start, however i know 3 people who started with Colour of Magic and did not like it and then they wouldn't read any more Pratchett. As Colour and Light are a little bit different i would recommend starting with one of the others, more mainstream, which more people will like then they can go back to Colour when they fall for the Discworld magic.


message 30: by Huw (last edited Nov 09, 2011 04:20PM) (new)

Huw Evans (DocHuw) | 16 comments I was fascinated to read how fundamentalist people can become over the "reading order" of the Discworld novels. If there is one theme that is consistent throughout the Discworld novels it is the objection to fundamentalism of all types (Jingo, Small Gods, Unseen Academicals, Interesting Times, Snuff). pTerry was certainly much less polemic when asked the same question at a (bar-based) question session at DWCon 2010. There are some advantages to reading them in chronological order, even though there are arguments that certain books overlap, and that the Tiffany Aching series does not fully become Discworld until "I Shall Wear Midnight". Ironically we are all in danger of creating a belief in the system rather than the deity (cf Small Gods, perhaps). I wonder whether pTerry's incitement to read them all in order of release (I hesitate to use the phrase chronological) was an ironic attempt to increase his book sales?

I would have difficulty advising anyone to start with TCOM - personally I didn't think it very good and was lucky to be able to go straight onto the next, having been advised to buy both for exactly that reason. If I wanted to get somebody to enjoy Discworld as a whole, I would want them to read something that made them laugh and made them think. For this reason I would have to recommend one of the stands alone books. If they enjoyed that sufficiently to read more then starting at the beginning would be appropriate.


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul | 6 comments Well said, Huw. Agree with you 100%, especially with TCOM & LF needing to be read together.


message 32: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments D.L. wrote: "Marcus wrote: "Niall wrote: "Make sure you read them in the correct order!!!"

I do my best!"
Come now people, let's be civilized. This is not an either or situation. You can read them in ALL order..."

IT was A joke. :-S I thought the fact that I mentioned Discworld zealots in an earlier post would have made that obvious. deary me


message 33: by Sffgeek (new)

Sffgeek I started with TCOM, and that's what got me hooked on Discworld. It made me laugh out loud more than any other book I've ever read - and that includes Wodehouse!

I do agree, however, that the first two books are only (extremely) funny. Whereas the later books get progressively deeper and cleverer.

I would definitely recommend reading in publication order (but possibly skipping the juveniles).


message 34: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I'm glad I did not begin whit the first book, because I probably wouldn't read more of Pratchett. It's hard to get in the story. And about the publication order, the last two books I bought were Unseen Academicals and Making money. In the translated version I read are all the covers the same. My problem is I don't know if Unseen Academicals is part of the series or is it not. They used to do different covers for the series and for the other discworld books. But now even Good Omens has the same cover. This is not about any reading order but about the order on my book shelves


message 35: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments I saw the good omens cover, which thru me, as it has nothing to do with the disk. Unseen Academicals is part of the Discworld and was the book before Snuff


message 36: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I know it has nothing to do with the discworld. I read it. My book has another cover but the new copys are in the same white cover as the discworld books. In Dutch translation that is. Wrong wrong wrong. And thanks about my other issue. My book shelves order is just how its supposed to be.


message 37: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments There is a lot of good information in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic
As I've said before, Terry doesn't recap. He expects you to have read what came before.



message 38: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I did it wrong then. I read de first book after one or two others. Oh my, am I a bad pratchett reader now?


message 39: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments Louise, I will have to reevaluate you now. You mean to say you read some books randomly, without following the holy ordering of the classes? If you don't follow the hidden pattern or the reading orders then Offler will bite your head off when you sleep


message 40: by Huw (last edited Dec 27, 2011 12:04PM) (new)

Huw Evans (DocHuw) | 16 comments I think the best way to do it is to throw the from collected oeuvre from the top of a long staircase. Go to the bottom of the stairs and read them in the order that they fell onto the stairs as you re-ascend. The only problem is that the books' covers and spines tolerate this approach very badly so only use someone else's copies when trying this method. However, using this selection process allows The Lady to make the ordering decision for you.


message 41: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I will take my chances with the Gods.


message 42: by Niall (new)

Niall | 129 comments Huw, I like that idea, I may refine it slightly and put the names in a hat
Louise, gods are always more forgiving than zealots and rabid fans :)


message 43: by JSWolf (new)

JSWolf | 63 comments Louise wrote: "I still think everyone should make up his own mind about the book he want to read first. I began with book number 4 and I haven't regretted it for one moment. Okay with the series in the serie, it'..."

But when people who have read the series and you have not says that starting the series from book one is the way to get the most enjoyment from the series, you listen because they have the experience of having read what you have not.

When people say the first two books are not all that good should then have just given up and gone away instead of trying to screw up the series for people who have yet to read.


message 44: by Andy (new)

Andy Bird | 30 comments You are missing the point that a; a LOT of people read TCOM and don't like it so DON'T read any more Discworld, b; these people then tell others that Discworld is rubbish and put even more people off reading them.

TCOM/LF are a lot different from the rest so i would rather advise people to read one they are more likely to enjoy than put them off entirely.


message 45: by Louise (new)

Louise | 63 comments I never tell people what they should read or not. It's up to them. But in my case I began with the fourth book because all those years ago the bookstore had only that copy in store and no other. after that I just got what copy there was in store and so on.


message 46: by Andy (new)

Andy Bird | 30 comments Just seen that Amazon UK currently have the first 7 guards books on offer for £9.99 - what a bargain and a great start to a Discworld collection.


message 47: by Marcus with a C (new)

Marcus with a C (marcus_with_a_c) | 8 comments Andy wrote: "Just seen that Amazon UK currently have the first 7 guards books on offer for £9.99 - what a bargain and a great start to a Discworld collection."
Fantastic offer, what I pity that I got the first three books already a short while ago. :-/


message 48: by nobody (new)

nobody (nobodyreads) | 2 comments people are so pedantic, just read what you want and laugh at people whose blood pressure is rising cause you're not reading them in the mandated order. at worst you might slightly spoil part of one of the other books, or not quite get 10 or 15 of the hundreds of jokes in any given book


message 49: by Lacie (new)

Lacie | 1 comments My first was Reaper Man. Colour of Magic was hard for me to get into and it was probably my 10th discworld book.

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on where to start.


message 50: by D.L. (last edited Dec 29, 2011 02:09AM) (new)

D.L. Morrese (DL_Morrese) | 52 comments Wow! I can't believe the seriousness of some of the comments here. This isn't science and it's certainly not religion. I didn't discover Discworld until Hogfather. A copy was given to me by my ex-sister-in-law who was a secretary for SFWA at the time, I think. She didn't care for it. I loved it. But earlier Discworld books were not available yet in the U.S. so I read those I could find here and ordered the earlier ones from the U.K. and Canada. Then I read them, and reread them all - in publishing order - but I think you can read any one first and enjoy it. They are all stand-alone stories although, obviously, the more background you know about the characters from previous books, the more enjoyable it will be. Discworld is wonderful no matter where you start. Saying you MUST start with TCOM is like saying you can't enjoy Beethoven's fifth symphony until you've listened to all his earlier works. Nonsense!


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Guards! Guards! (other topics)
The Color of Magic (other topics)
The Truth (other topics)
Pyramids (other topics)
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (other topics)
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Fritz Leiber (other topics)