Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Folklore of Discworld” as Want to Read:
The Folklore of Discworld
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Folklore of Discworld

(Discworld Companion Books)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,589 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Terry Pratchett joins up with a leading folklorist to reveal the legends, myths and customs of Discworld, together with helpful hints from Planet Earth.

Most of us grew up having always known when to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are beginning to be forgotte
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published October 7th 2008 by Doubleday (first published 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Folklore of Discworld, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Folklore of Discworld

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,589 ratings  ·  190 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing

The magpies in the image are so important because of how this book came to be. In order to understand Sir Terry, his motivation, the deal with the magpies and why I've cried reading even only the first two pages, please read an excerpt from the author's introduction to this book:
Not long after this I did a book-signing on the south coast, when I took the opportunity to ask practically every person in the queue to say the magpie rhyme (I was doing research for Carpe Jugulum). Every single one of
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This could also be titled Folklore AND the Discworld.

Sir Terry Pratchett teams up with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson (I want to be known as a folklorist – maybe that can be my new introduction – “please meet the imminent folklorist Lyn”) to describe how folklore on the Discworld and on Earth have influenced each other.

Like shadows of the multiverse crossing lines, folk tales and folk stories on each world have come to be as an amalgam of myth, legend, popular stories, tall tales, bold faced lies
I wavered between 3-4 stars on this one, but I'm nothing if not a bit generous when it deserves it.

My main concern was that this was another book cashing in on the huge popularity of Pratchett, and it is, but it didn't dim my enjoyment.

I love folklore and myth and this one is full of a bunch of mirroring of both, breaking down examples of how Pratchett twists and captures the spirit of so many legends... (mostly English or within that scope, which is also large). Is it good? Sure, if you like a
Mar 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, non-fiction
I've read a few of the non-fiction books associated with Terry Pratchett's Discworld books but somehow missed this one when it first came out, which is a pity because I have an interest in mythology and folklore.

The book itself is lightweight and doesn't really add that much to knowledge of either Earth or Discworld folklore, it is just a simple comparison between the two worlds and notes where there are similarities.

Where it does have a lot of relevance is the way in which Terry Pratchett meti
This is really a 3.5, but I'm rounding up. If you have read the Discworld novels and have a good working knowledge of folk and fairy tales much of this book isn't anything new. Undoubtably, you made the connections yourself. There are some interesting tidbits, like the ballad about the dragon who was killed by a kick up the rump (must track that down); however, most of the information isn't really new. It isn't presented dully. It is an interesting book to read because of Pratchett's style (yes ...more
Moira Russell
This book was a little bit of a mixed bag: if you're familiar with Pratchett's Discworld novels, a lot of this will not be new and the extensive quotations might irritate you after a while (they did me). If you aren't familiar with Discworld, I can't imagine this book making much sense. However, the comic ways in which Pratchett riffs on Earth folklore, mythology and urban legends are explained well, and the style is very amusing. I guess I was looking for something a little more dense, especial ...more
James Kemp
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of both Terry Pratchett and folklore. I definitely learnt some things, but also knew quite a lot of it already, which perhaps reflects the four star rating rather than the five one might otherwise expect given my stated interests.

You don't need to have read all the discworld novels to get this book, but you do need to be a discworld reader or a large chunk of it will be lost on you. This book is a reference list that explains how earth's folklore (primarily British, but not exclusivel
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Discworld companion for the die-hard fans. Particularly useful for the non-British readers who are not so familiar with the British traditions and might have missed some of the customs referred to in the series.

Unfortunately, Pratchett's involvement in this book is limited to extracts from his books.
Nick Phillips
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It would be impossible not to give this five stars. It is so much more than just a look at the folklore behind Pratchett's Discworld series, as with his Science of Discworld books it is also a detailed look at the folklore of our world, both obvious and obscure and stretching back some 4500 years, but unlike those books which sort of follow a new narrative line The Folklore of Discworld acts as a greatest hits of around 40 of his books with quotes and passages littered throughout the text to ill ...more
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mickey
I love Sir Terry Pratchett's work and I am very interested in folklore, so this book hit all the right buttons. Sir Terry and Jacqueline Simpson have written an interesting, fun, and informative text which tells of the myth, legends, and lore that inform the Discworld series. No dry, dull scholarly work here, oh no. The usual wit and levity Sir Terry brings to his fiction is reflected in this volume, enhanced by Simpson's expert knowledge of her field. A jolly good read.
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A superb companion to Sir! Terry's incomparable Discworld series. If you ever wondered about the mythic parallels drawn between Discworld and our world; if you're just a folklore buff and enjoy reading up about beasties, odd traditions, and historical flights of fancies: this is the book for you. Now expanded to include the events of Raising Steam, it's well worth the read.
Eustacia Tan
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting a long time to read this book. I first saw it last year, but decided not to borrow it because I had exams. And then, I didn't go to Jurong Regional Library (where I saw it) for quite some time. And now, I've finally borrowed (and read) The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson.

At first, I was a little disappointed because it kept talking about the folklore of Earth. But gradually, I came to understand that the inside jokes about Discworld (and the folk
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
In a collaborative effort with folklorist Jacqueline Simpson, Terry Pratchett have put to print some of the inspirations (tip: most of them actually derive from our Roundworld, who would have known?) for the tales that take place on the Discworld.

In the funny and quirky way that is common practice for Terry Pratchett we are led through some well known (for us Roundworlders) tales of myth and legend and what role they've had in influencing what takes place on the Discworld. Some concepts of myth,
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Folklore of Discworld was a lot of fun to read, with a good mixture of the pleasure of being able to think, "I knew that!" and the pleasure of actually learning new things. I found the late origins and development of the triple goddess and Herne the Hunter to be particularly interesting. The book is designed to be a very brief overview of a very broad variety of folklore, and there were times when I found myself thinking, "Yes, I know all about the Discworld version, please tell me more abou ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
This book is such fun to read! The way it's set out makes it easy to dip into every now and then; as there's no plot to follow, you don't lose the plot. However, it would also be just as easy to read straight through - and every bit as enjoyable as any of Pratchett's novels.

The folklore of Discworld takes all the myths, legends and rituals of Pratchett's now famous discoid world and links them all back to their "round world" counterparts and holds the reader's interest from start to finish - per
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a perfect distraction from the craziness of the real world! Listened to it on while riding home Upstate NY from Thanksgiving in PA. Perfect fun, tongue in cheek and lots of very real folklore history from around the world (Earth-world as well as Discworld). You do not need to know about the actual Discworld series to enjoy this "companion" book. I had only read two Discworld books before but now have downloaded two more. Fun!
Vibha Vajpayee
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book has everything a folklore book should have...filled nautical lores. Fascinating accounts on Hogswatch, Kings and Heroes. Legends of Phoenix, sphinx, vanishland, vampires, Werewolves, witches and elves. What an awesome read! If you are into folk tales, legends and mysticism, pick it up,read.
P.S I also loved the way its written, very vivid, descriptive and funny at times!
Martyn Stanley
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-read
I've always had an interest in folklore, that's partly why I chose to write my short story The Lambton Worm which is based on a tale from old English folklore but with some modern twists.

My biggest recommendation for this book is to other authors. It's interesting, and exposes the origins of many of the strange myths and other aspects of English folklore. There's not much of a plot, there isn't one - but it isn't about that. Having finished this for a second time, I'm inclined to keep my copy on
Alexander Landerman
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are moments where it gets a little hard to follow only because of the speed in which the information comes at you. I've been working on my master's thesis (I'm an illustrator and painter) and it's largely based on family folklore. So I spent a lot of time re-reading and googling stories brought up in the book.

Well worth the read!
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What could be better than reading a book based on the Discworld? The answer is reading a book about the Discworld! The Folklore of Discworld is written by Sir Terry Pratchett and a folklore author and researcher named Jacqueline Simpson (who also happens to be a Pratchett fan herself) The book flows like a normal book so you can never be sure who wrote what but no true Pratchett fan could fail to notice his trademark wit and whimsy. This is without a doubt the most interesting book I've ever rea ...more
James Adams
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does what it says on the tin, really.
This book is about all of the myths and folklore that Pratchett has adapted, adopted, borrowed or outright stolen for use in his Discworld series, and if you count yourself as a fan of both Pratchett and folk traditions, this is a good thing. If your main interest in such a book would be the insights into the workings of the Disc, it's still a good time. If folklore is what interests you here, don't bother; there are many books better suited to you elsewhere.
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually this is a fairly scholarly exploration of folklore, mythology, and some actual history throughout the multiverse as defined by Pratchett. The Discworld examples and excerpts keep it light but I learned a lot about folklore from all across this planet as well. Pratchett and his co-author cover all of the expected topics: witches, elves, wizards, orcs, dwarves, and dragons. They also delve into the nature of death, heroes, kings, and religion. I listened to this as an audio from the libra ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: discworld
I can't say I was overly impressed with this. Some parts of it were very interesting, but at times there was almost too much focus on the source material; for example quotes included that only echoed a point that was previously outlined, or detailed plot summaries taken from particular books. For someone who knows the books well (or in my case the majority of them, since there are some I don't care much for) it at times gets boring since it's just going over what you already know and/or assumed.
Dustin Reade
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
patrycja polczyk
It's an ok book, but some parts were bit too slow. Some other parts were a lot of fun and quite informative too. I don't think I would read it again as a whole but some parts yes.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good book comparing the folklore of the Discworld with our own folklore here on Earth. I enjoyed it very much, though it's more an educational than an entertaining real.
Rick Yagodich
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As is to be expected of anything Pratchett, this volume contins a good doxe of humour. It is an enjoyable read, most of the time.

As a collaboration, it covers far more than just what is in Discworld, fairly comprehensively comparing Discworld folklore with Earth folklore… thereby demonstrating the degree to which Pratchett derived his work from what would be, to a greater or lesser extent, at least peripherally familiar to the reader (it's amazing how few people seem to know so much of "what eve
This was great fun, but definitely only of interest to the author's fans. It was very interesting for me, since I have gone through periods of reading a lot of folklore and mythology. There are so many things in the Discworld that seem sorta like they are probably based on something real but not anything in particular that I was familiar with, so it was interesting and delightful to hear about all these traditional customs, mostly from rural or historical Europe, that I hadn't come across before ...more
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s worth listening to the audiobook as there is an epilogue with a lovely 20-minute conversation between Pratchett and the co-author. Even if you’ve read all the Discworld books, and found many of the allusions via the l-space web community, there are still surprises in this book of VERY old British and European folklore that Pratchett incorporated into his novels. As an American I’d heard almost none of it before.
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A guide to some of the races of Discworld and to their folklore and beliefs. Lots of parallels with Earth and suggestions that ideas permeate through the multi verse which in itself links to Terry Pratchett's Long Earth series. The book is interesting in that we see where many of the ideas contained in the Discworld series may have originated, but I am left not really knowing whether it's intended to be taken seriously or not.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Turtle Moves!: Discworld's Story Unauthorized
  • The Leaky Establishment
  • The Colour of Magic: Graphic Novel (Discworld, #1)
  • My Favorite Fantasy Story
  • Carpe Jugulum: The Play
  • Legends Volume 2
  • The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy II
  • The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories
  • Stars and Stripes Triumphant (Stars & Stripes, #3)
  • The Complete Peanuts, 1950-1954
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy
  • Footrot Flats One (Footrot Flats, #1)
  • Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird
  • Knights Of Madness
  • 28 Days Later, Vol. 4: Gangwar
  • Terry Pratchett's Hogfather: The Illustrated Screenplay
See similar books…
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, i

Other books in the series

Discworld Companion Books (1 - 10 of 22 books)
  • Discworld Companion
  • The New Discworld Companion
  • Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion . . . So Far
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld
  • The Art of Discworld
  • The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide
  • Nanny Ogg's Cookbook
  • Discworld's Unseen University Diary 1998
  • Discworld's Ankh Morpork City Watch Diary 1999
  • Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000
“Legends don't have to make sense. They just have to be beautiful. Or at least interesting.” 18 likes
“Rings try to find their way back to their owner. Someone ought to write a book about it.” 18 likes
More quotes…