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Book Chat - Fiction > A Guide to Reading Discworld.

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message 1: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
The Discworld Series, by Terry Pratchett is my favorite. He is a prolific writer, and his books are very clever. But it can be a tough nut to crack as there are so many books.

And they aren't really serial. Often, the only thing the books have in common is that they all take place on a flat world on the back of a space turtle. And often, that detail isn't important to the story.

What is important is that his books are about stories and people. It is a strange thing, but the books do put an emphasis on what we perceive things to be, and how stories work. And, he makes his characters vibrant. Even the throwaway characters are nicely fleshed out.

So, to aide anyone that might be interested in reading these books, I figured I'd throw together a small guide to help you get started. And we'll start at the beginning.

The best introduction of the series is with the first two books: The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Now, to be honest, these aren't even close to the strongest books of the series. You can tell that they are written by an inexperienced writer. But they do a great job introducing the reader to the whole world. And they are the first two books in the Rincewind & Wizards series.

A quick note: While these books aren't really serial, there are little groups of closely related books in them. Now, often you get crossover from characters, in appropriate settings, but each little sub-series has it own motifs and themes. And this is just how I organize it in my own head. There's no official groupings at all.

Since it starts withe Rincewind, the first sub-series I'll explain is the one I think of as Rincewind & Wizards. These books are The Color of Magic,The Light Fantastic,Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent, , and Unseen Academicals. I haven't read the last one, as it was just released. Now, these aren't my favorite books, but they do give you a nice wide view of the Disc. And there's a bit of poking at academia in there. And one book features an atheist God of Evolution.The Last Hero: A Discworld Fable

Next up is the group I think of as the Witches Group. They are very good, and they are about stories more so than the others. In general, they take place near a place called Bad Ass, named so for a disobedient donkey. The setting is rural, and there's some fun with that as well. Everything from fairy tales to Macbeth is used to make some great books. This sub-series starts with Equal Rites. It goes on with Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum. There are some young adult books that are related to this series, but I've not read them yet.

Death is also important to the books. Death, as a character, appears in each and every book. And he gets his own sub-series as well. Often, Death deals with change and family, with a bit of what an identity is. Very good books in here as well. The last few especially are good, and they focus more on Death's granddaughter, Susan. It starts with Mort, and continues with Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time.

Now, we get to my favorite sub-series. The Watch series. These center on the Watch of the Disc's central city, Ankh-Morpork. The first book is dedicated to those, in your standard fantasy novel, that are readily dispatched by the villain or hero, however the case may be. The hapless guards. But they don't behave like the hapless guards in these books. And they start my favorite character, Sam Vimes. Great books, definitely some of my favorite. Begin with Guards! Guards!, then go on to Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, Thud!, and though it isn't really one I'll add in Monstrous Regiment.

Now, that last one didn't really fit in, and there's many books like that in this series. Some of the books that don't fit in anywhere else are great too. And they cover things like religion, Egypt, and even movies. Here's a few books that just can't really fit in with the others: Small Gods, Pyramids, Moving Pictures, The Truth, Going Postal, and Making Money. Now, the last two I would read in the order given, as they are closely tied together.

Those are the books, that I've read mostly, of the Discworld. I tried to make sure that I gave each little sub-series in the correct order. If you haven't tried Terry Pratchett, I do hope you give him a go. He's got some great and fun books. If you are still wary, check out Good Omens. This is a novel about the anti-Christ by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

And there are other books out there, but since he's based out of England, I haven't gotten my hands on some of the odder fare, such as the books on Science and the Disc. Which I hope to get someday.

I'll do my best to clear up anything, and if any other fans of the series want to chime in, please do.


message 2: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (last edited Jul 22, 2010 07:32AM) (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
I'll have to The Color of Magic a try, see what all this hoopla is for the series. Tons of books in the series doesn't make it a daunting task to start it - it just means there will be more to read if I really enjoy the series.


Also, you can get the Science of Discworld books on Amazon for about $7-11 each, that's with shipping international too.

Nice guide too, I'd have no idea where to even begin with this series, especially since it's not all one set story.


message 3: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
I'll say this: don't give up with the Color of Magic.

I mean, I love it, but it just is an early book. Terry Pratchett himself said that it wasn't until his third book, Equal Rites, that he discovered "the joy of plot."

And you can really read them easily in any order. That's what I did when I got into it. But you'll get more out of it if you read it in the tentative order I gave, as you'll be introduced to characters properly and see their story arc develop in the sub-series.

And, there's a great site, L-Space. A wonderful resource, with some great annotations, since he makes references to everything.(L-space is based on the idea that knowledge=power=energy=mass, so bookstores and libraries twist space around, like a genteel black hole.)


message 4: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
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message 5: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
It's understandable that first books aren't always the best, heck Jim Butcher's wasn't the greatest, but I stuck with it and love the series now.

There's definitely a difference between a book being terrible and a book just being the first the author has written. If it's got some flaws in the latter case then I'll stick with it because not everyone is going to right an amazing novel their first try. If it's the former, well, then I'll still give the next book in the series a try, but I'll be a little more harsh.


message 6: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
That's right. I mean, I got the impression from Butcher that he was a good story teller.

And as he wrote more, he got better. There's a few series that I've given up on because I never felt there was any progression to the writer's skills.


message 7: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
And then there are authors like Patrick Rothfuss who just nail it on their first shot.



When did you first start reading the Discworld series?


message 8: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
In about 2000. I ran into a book being sold for 3.99 on a large display about something called "Discworld."

I had never heard of it, so I checked it out. I got a few laughs, but didn't think much about it. Later on, I tried a few more.

And soon, I was hooked. The books just got more clever quickly. And I've always been a sucker for wordplay and illogically logic.


message 9: by Keith (new)

Keith (oafaye) | 60 comments I have bought the first 2 Diskworld Books a while back and still haven't read them


message 10: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
For what they are, they are very good.

The Light Fantastic is much better than the Color of Magic, but neither of them reach it to great status really.

Now, I love them, but that's mostly because of a nostalgia/got me into something I love factor.


message 11: by Keith (new)

Keith (oafaye) | 60 comments lol, well I do plan to read the all one day, I just have a habit of buying books faster than I read them, so I have a bunch of books I haven't touched yet


message 12: by Katt_goddess (new)

Katt_goddess | 267 comments You don't read Discworld. Discworld just sort of slides up to you at the bar, buys you a few drinks, and the next thing you know, Discworld is crashing on your couch.

Picked up the 'Rincewind the Wizzard' collection in omnibus form a few years ago and ended up picking up a few more Discworld books here and there as they appeared and I had the means. I still haven't read all of them but I'll get there one day.


message 13: by Lolo (new)

Lolo | 20 comments Ah geez. Thanks so much for this.

I've been trying to start Discworld based on a recommendation back in May. However I got really confused after my friend told me that you DON'T read the books in order. She told me to start out with Going Postal (I've been slowly going through it for a while now....) My mind has been wandering whenever I read it though, but after reading this maybe that one wasn't the best one to start out with.


message 14: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
@Katt: That's right. It just wiggles its way in and stays there in your head. But I did love how it went form a fun, if unremarkable, parody into satire so seamlessly.

And I've not read them all yet. There's just so many. But I've read all the ones I have multiple times.

@Lolo: Well, I got my wife into the same way I got into it, haphazardly. I started her with Small Gods. It is great stand alone book, and it only has a couple of reoccurring characters in bit parts. If you aren't a fan of fantasy, I'd start there.

Otherwise, the beginning two books are the best place to start and are much more enjoyable if you've cut your teeth on a lot of fantasy.


message 15: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
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message 16: by Dian, Crazy Nooooob Mod! :D (new)

Dian | 440 comments Mod
When I see someone this dedicated to a series it really makes me want to read it. Mainly cause there has to be something good to warrant it. I might not get to this series for awhile. I honestly didn't realize how many books i have on hold to read till i updated my "to read" list. But next time i have decent funds i will def check it out


message 17: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
Oh, it is a great series. And it is one that ages well. In fact, it gets much, much better as it goes on.

And the fact that it takes the Simpsons approach to continuity makes it easy to keep up with.


message 18: by Dian, Crazy Nooooob Mod! :D (new)

Dian | 440 comments Mod
Nice. I might actually check the libraries for it


message 19: by Sean (new)

Sean (reckless_kelly) | 35 comments I have nothing much to contribute to this discussion other than to say I LOVE DISCWORLD SO MUCH.


message 20: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
It is great.

I have thought about doing a character guide, but that would contain so many spoilers, it wouldn't help those I would be intending it for.


message 21: by Sean (new)

Sean (reckless_kelly) | 35 comments This is a good point. <_<
Besides, Pratchett's characters have a lot of depth to them, really. They'd be difficult to summarize.


message 22: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
Oh yes. And then you start considering the growth they show... it would let the cat out of the bag too often.

But.... we can have another picture.




message 23: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
For some reason I started with Night Watch. I don't know where I got the idea that that was the place to start. >_<

I think I'll put this book on hold until I read more of the series.


message 24: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
That is one of my favorites in the series.

And you can jump right in with that one, but you'll get far more out of it, if you read the others in that sub-series first.

Start with Guards, Guards, if you can. Then Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, and then Night Watch.

Of course, you can skip around if you just start with Guards, Guards and Men At Arms. Those two do the most to establish the characters and motifs of the sub-series.


message 25: by Jamie (JK), Houdini Mod (new)

Jamie (JK) (eimajtl) | 703 comments Mod
I think that's why I read it actually, because in another thread you said it was your favorite of the series. I think it was the Favorite Author thread actually.

I'll try to get my hands on those others in the series. Either that or I'll get The Color of Magic and start from there.


It's not that I'm not enjoying this one, it's just... I feel like I'm missing something.


message 26: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
Once you know the history of the main character, and some of the others as well, it will make more sense.


message 27: by Katt_goddess (new)

Katt_goddess | 267 comments I'll be getting 'Unseen Academicals' in the mail tomorrow. There was a special '3 for $33 + no shipping fees' sale at SFBC so I basically got a hardcover for $11. :P


message 28: by Glodson, MIA Mod (new)

Glodson | 235 comments Mod
I am going to wait until it comes out in paperback, so it will look nice on my overflowing shelf of Discworld Books, which even includes Where's My Cow?, which is a children's book. The little one doesn't read that just yet, as she's really grabby.


message 29: by Katt_goddess (new)

Katt_goddess | 267 comments One of these days I might actually take a pic of one of my bookcases. There's no way to make things look 'nice' , just 'pretend organized'. :D


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