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Old 09-09-2019, 07:46 PM
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Thanks for telling me about Terry Pratchett, folks!


A few years ago, I read some things Dopers wrote about Terry Pratchett's books. I picked up Feet of Clay in a used bookstore, and the hook was set. Since then, I got a Kindle, and I'm up to 25 or 30 of his books. I went back to the first Discworld novels, and I worked (frolicked?) my up through Wintersmith, with a few detours such as Truckers and Good Omens. Somehow, I missed Hogfather, and I'm reading that now.

Rather than getting completely fantasticated, (is that a word?) I mix in mysteries and the occasional political book. These days, it's hard to tell fantasy from politics, sometimes.

Thank you.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:09 PM
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Some lesser-known Pratchett books (insofar as he's best known for Discworld) include
The Long Earth (SF, co-written with Stephen Baxter)
Dodger (Dickens' Artful Dodger)
Nation (set on an island that seems to be in the South Pacific, with natives and Englishmen etc.).

All well-written and very, very, very different from Discworld.
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Old 09-10-2019, 08:27 AM
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The Truckers series, too; I think that was his first published books.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:13 AM
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I just noticed 2 Discworld series on Amazon. Going Postal and Hogfather. I enjoyed Going Postal, but found Hogfather tiresome. I go to Discworld for the small people trying to get by in Ankh-Morpork, not the unseen academy. I live in a college town, don't need useless professors in my fiction.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:26 AM
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I'm sure it's been linked to before in other threads, but this chart displays the various (sub)series of Discworld books in order.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:53 AM
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Ah, so that chartt is finally updated. And I now see that there are a few short stories in there I've missed.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Some lesser-known Pratchett books (insofar as he's best known for Discworld) include
The Long Earth (SF, co-written with Stephen Baxter)
Dodger (Dickens' Artful Dodger)
Nation (set on an island that seems to be in the South Pacific, with natives and Englishmen etc.).

All well-written and very, very, very different from Discworld.
More SF: Strata and Dark Side of the Sun

The Carpet People is a fantasy, Pterry's first published novel, and he reworked it later.

The Johnny Maxwell books are absolutely brilliant.

The Unadulterated Cat is a delight for any cat people.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-10-2019 at 12:19 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:22 PM
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I've never read any Pratchett and that chart is confusing. Which is the majority view on where to start on Discworld?
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:26 PM
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Nation (set on an island that seems to be in the South Pacific, with natives and Englishmen etc.).
Just one note - it's clearly set on an alternate Earth, not ours. History is a bit different.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-10-2019 at 12:30 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:30 PM
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I've never read any Pratchett and that chart is confusing. Which is the majority view on where to start on Discworld?
Start with The Color of Magic and read in order, any other reading order is ... too fussy.
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:37 PM
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If you do start with The Colour of Magic, keep in mind that he... was not at the peak of his writing skills yet. The first few really aren't that good compared to his later magic.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:04 PM
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The point of that chart is that Discworld isn't really one series; it's several different series set within the same world. The stories interact in some ways, but mostly only with the other ones in the same series. So if you read, say, a later Witches book before an earlier one, you might get confused, but you could (if you like) read through all of the Witches books but none of the Rincewind ones, and only miss a few minor references.

There are a few ways you can go with a reading order:
1: Read them all in publication order (which starts with The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic). Even though it's not actually necessary, some folks (myself included) insist on reading series in this way (though I won't insist that others do). If you do this, be warned that (as Malleus, Incus, Stapes! points out) the first couple are sub-par: Not bad, precisely, but much more frivolous and less-developed than his later works.

2: Read the first book of each sub-series (in any order), and then if you like it, read the rest of that sub-series (which will mostly feature the same characters).

3: Start with Small Gods, which is one of the better ones, and which is also relatively unconnected to most of the others, so it'll matter very little when in sequence you read it. After that, proceed to one of the other orders for the rest.

4: Start with the young adult novels, optionally The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and then the Tiffany Aching books (which start with The Wee Free Men). TAMahER is another stand-alone, and not bad, but most of the Aching books are better. You'll miss out on a bit of context by reading the Aching books before the Witches books, but probably not too much (all you really need to know is that every witch on the Disc has a strong respect for Granny Weatherwax). And you probably should read the other Witches books before reading The Shepherd's Crown, the last Discworld book Pratchett wrote before his death.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:21 PM
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Or read them the way I did; lend, borrow, and finally buy any copy you can put your hands on. Reading foreign stuff in the dark age before internet and amazon really was fun!

I cannot remember the order I originally read them in. I started with pyramids, then Good Omens then Rincewind then Small Gods after that I can’t really remember. I did re-read them in publication order a while back. Sadly after endless rereads there isn’t much surprise left. I would read Pratchet’s shopping lists at this point.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:04 PM
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I just noticed 2 Discworld series on Amazon. Going Postal and Hogfather. I enjoyed Going Postal, but found Hogfather tiresome. I go to Discworld for the small people trying to get by in Ankh-Morpork, not the unseen academy. I live in a college town, don't need useless professors in my fiction.
I was lucky enough to be an extra on Going Postal. The set was amazing! It felt like really being in Ankh-Morpork!
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:13 PM
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Nation (set on an island that seems to be in the South Pacific, with natives and Englishmen etc.).

All well-written and very, very, very different from Discworld.
I would say Nation was very similar to a Discworld one-off book. I wrote after I read it that I felt with some re-arranging a bit, it could have been a pretty good Discworld book.

I did like Nation, but not as much as some(I think Pratchett thought it was his best book).

I think his best books are Small Gods, The Truth, and Lords and Ladies.
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Old 09-10-2019, 03:14 PM
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I've never read any Pratchett and that chart is confusing. Which is the majority view on where to start on Discworld?
Screw the chart.

The books I use to hook students on Pratchett are Guards! Guards! and Wyrd Sisters. Your choice between a police procedural (with dragons!) or a definitive deconstruction of Shakespeare. That gives intro into The Watch series and The Witches series. Save Rincewind for after you are hooked. Especially the first two. They are...not peak Pratchett.

Some of the later Watch books (Night Watch in particular) benefit from having worked your way into the characters' lives. But there are singletons that can be read in any order: Pyramids and Small Gods, for example. But people have started with just about any book at all and had a wonderful time on the Disc.

Last edited by silenus; 09-10-2019 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 09-10-2019, 04:53 PM
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If I had to pick just a few to introduce somebody to Pratchett's world, the first pick is The Truth. It starts you without needing to know the existing characters from previous books. It's really funny, and the story is wonderful.

Moving Pictures is another fine adventure that takes place mostly outside the realm of established Ankh-Morpork stories, so you don't find yourself thinking, "Am I supposed to know who this guy is?"

However, my first Pratchett book was Feet Of Clay, and Pratchett made me feel right at home in Ankh-Morpork, with the odd and lovable people and creatures who live and work there.
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Old 09-10-2019, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
Some lesser-known Pratchett books (insofar as he's best known for Discworld) include
The Long Earth (SF, co-written with Stephen Baxter)
Dodger (Dickens' Artful Dodger)
Nation (set on an island that seems to be in the South Pacific, with natives and Englishmen etc.).

All well-written and very, very, very different from Discworld.
I thought all of those were meh.

But The Wee Free Men series is his best yet, and Maurice and his educated rodents is quite good.
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:13 PM
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Color of Magic is also in large part a batch of fantasy in-jokes and references, so if you haven't read a lot of other fantasy written before 1983 a lot of it's going to just sail past.

I'd be inclined to recommend starting with Truth or Guards, Guards or The Amazing Maurice or Wee Free Men. But I don't think there is any consensus; except maybe that some of the subseries are best read in order.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:08 PM
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If you do start with The Colour of Magic, keep in mind that he... was not at the peak of his writing skills yet. The first few really aren't that good compared to his later magic.
The first two are just a send up, a parody of standard heroic fantasy books. As such they work. They are Ok, but only the barest hint of the greatness to come later.

It's later he delves into the richness of characterization and less puns and wordplays.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:06 PM
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Adaptations available on YouTube:

The Colour of Magic

Wyrd Sisters

Hogfather

Soul Music
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:49 AM
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Oh, that reminds me, Truckers had a Cosgrove Hall stomo adaptation, but it's not on youtube.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:21 AM
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I started with "Guards, guards" because it was the one being advertised at the time I met and was picked to escort Pratchett & wife in a literary convention (I was the only member of the public to understand his opening remarks before the translator's equipment got fixed). Why no, I never tire of trotting out that story, why do you ask?
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:05 AM
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But The Wee Free Men series is his best yet
Agreed. These are the only ones of his books that I'm super enthusiastic about--and I do think they're marvelous.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:10 AM
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Color of Magic is also in large part a batch of fantasy in-jokes and references, so if you haven't read a lot of other fantasy written before 1983 a lot of it's going to just sail past.
A lot of the world of Conan goes in there, though the parody character Cohen appears much later.

But the ones who think it's not as good are wrong. It's just different. He turned more general on some subjects later, and specific on some genres (movies for instance). It's good to have been introduced to death via the earlier novels before you get to read his own set of novels. The Watch is an organic development from the main set of novels too...
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:31 AM
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But the ones who think it's not as good are wrong. It's just different.
I agree with this.
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Old 09-11-2019, 09:41 AM
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Yes, but according to the chart, even Pterry thought you should skip the first two books. His rec was to start with Sourcery. And really, the first two aren't as good. They are episodic, skimpily developed in places and and lack the characterization that Pratchett excelled at later on. Not saying CoM and TLF are bad, just not as good.

I also disagree with those who are suggesting the Tiffany Aching books as starters. They are excellent in their own right, but reading them to the finish will absolutely ruin the Witches series.

Last edited by silenus; 09-11-2019 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:12 AM
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The Atlanta Radio Theater Company did a great audio adaptation of Guards! Guards! - dunno if you can still get it via podcast (this was 8-10 years ago).
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Old 09-11-2019, 11:55 AM
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I started with "Guards, guards" because it was the one being advertised at the time I met and was picked to escort Pratchett & wife in a literary convention (I was the only member of the public to understand his opening remarks before the translator's equipment got fixed). Why no, I never tire of trotting out that story, why do you ask?
Nice!
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:06 PM
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I've never read any Pratchett and that chart is confusing. Which is the majority view on where to start on Discworld?
My recommended starting points:

Small Gods is an easy first, because it's completely standalone and top-tier on most lists. Only caveat is that it's not AS funny as many of the others.

Guards Guards is great if you like police procedurals or urban fantasy.

Wyrd Sisters is great if you like more classic medieval fantasy / romance. Or Shakespeare references.

Wee Free Men is an okay choice if you prefer YA-style writing and only intend to read a handful of books.

And if you're somehow already completely onboard, just start with Colour of Magic and read in order. You'll get the best experience of watching Pratchett figure things out and there's a certain rhythm natural and meandering of topics that works nicely. Just know that the first few books are the roughest of the bunch.
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:52 PM
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Thanks! I'm looking for an audio book version, so cross your fingers.
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:50 PM
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Thanks! I'm looking for an audio book version, so cross your fingers.
The unabridged audio versions of (most of) the earlier Discworld books are read by Nigel Planer (best known to some as Neil from The Young Ones), and the later ones are read by Stephen Briggs. Both do a fine job.
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