A Beginner's Guide to Terry Pratchett

I only heard about Pratchett from these boards, and have gotten around to reading a couple of his books. I’d like to learn more, but there are so many Discworld books that I’m really not sure where to begin.

Can someone enlighten me?




Start with the reading guides, then move on to the annotations.

I would not recommend starting with the 1st 3. I would say start with Mort. Follow this up with Pyramids, Wyrd Sisters and Guards Guards. If you like these you can go back and fill in with Colour of Magic, Light Fantastic, Equal Rites & Sourcery.

Good Omens, his collaboration with Neil Gaiman is also excellent.

You’re not the first to ask this.

Discworld. You guys win. Now, what order would you recommend?
I’m getting rady to start the Discworld series…
Speak to me of Pratchett, please.
So I’m finally trying out some Pratchett …


BTW, the one I just picked up at a bookstore was Going Postal, which seems fairly deep into one of the L-Space flowcharts. Means I’ve had to infer a lot about some characters, but at least I’ve had enough previous exposure to not be totally scratching my head.

So maybe I’ll start at the end and read my way forward.

Well, at least I’m consistent. I recommended lspace in all 4 of the previous threads. :smiley:

Shib, you could do worse. At least Going Postal is the start of a new sub-series. Might I suggest going back to the start of the City Watch books, and seeing how it all developed. Then take on the Witches. Somewhere in there be sure to read Good Omens, which isn’t Disc but is excellent.

For anyone who cares about such things, the audio version of Good Omens was just released a few days ago.

In my experience, starting at the beginning is actually the best way; not necessarily for reasons of continuity, but rather in the way the writing evolves. The first three or four books are ok to pretty good depending on your mileage, but the ones after that are excellent, thus making the first ones look rather sad in comparison if you read them later.

But you don’t need to read the first few books. The only thing they are necessary for is to set up the relationship between Rincewind and Twoflower so that Interesting Times makes sense. But you can pick up the info elsewhere and save yourself some slogging. Not that the first few books are bad…just not nearly as good as those that follow.

I always recommend starting with Guards Guards! or* Wyrd Sisters*.

True. I am a completionist though, and once I’d started nothing would suffice but that I read them all. My suggestion is for those who suffer a similar compulsion. :slight_smile:

I hear you. I’m that way with music.

I’m glad I started with Going Postal, and I am just not sure if I would have given Pratchett another chance had I started with The Colour of Magic. My second read was Thud!, and I do wish I’d have read other Vimes books before I had read that one. Nevertheless, I think starting with a later book, where Pratchett shows improved storytelling, may be better than starting at the beginning.

I’m no expert though. I’ve finished a little under half of the Discworld books, as well as Nation, and I’ve done a lot of jumping around. When picking a new Discworld book it is hard for me to go back to the earlier novels because they are far inferior in quality than the later books in my opinion. Right now I am about a third of the way through Small Gods. I chose it solely because of the high ranks it got in the Discworld poll thread a while back. So far it is only so-so. Well, it is really good, but so-so compared to other Pratchett books, imo.

For me the best* is Going Postal, followed by Making Money, followed by the Vimes (City watch) series. The Wizards just don’t stand up in terms of quality for me.

*Excepting the Tiffany Aching series, which is the second best fantasy series written, second only to The Lord of the Rings.

Personally, I can’t stand to read a series in anything other than publication order, so I did read The Color of Magic first. But I agree that the first few aren’t as good, so if you go that route, don’t judge the series too quickly.

Equal Rites, the third book, was actually pretty good, but it doesn’t really seem to be in the same continuity as the others. The Unseen University faculty, and their relationships with the witches, doesn’t match at all between Rites and, say, Lords and Ladies.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that starting with “Small Gods” was a mixed blessing for me. It worked very well as as standalone entry point into Discworld and I absolutely loved it. Not only did I find it hilarious, I was really surprised by its philosophical depth. Unfortunately, I decided to follow that up with “The Colour of Magic” and “Mort”. I found those so underwhelming that I actually gave up on the series for several years.

Thankfully, I tried again a couple of years ago and I’ve been in love with Discworld ever since. The City Watch and The Witches stories are my favourites so I’d recommend starting with “Guards Guards” and “Wyrd Sisters” and working my way up. I also really get a kick out of Moist Van Lipwig and I hope that there’ll be a follow-up to “Going Postal” and “Making Money” some day.

“Raising Taxes” is allegedly on the way. No release date, but I Shall Wear Midnight–Yea Tiffany!–will be next.

I also read Going Postal first.

I had seen Prachett books often at bookstores and libraries, but something about the description of a world balanced on the back of elephants standing on a giant turtle turned me off. No thanks, I always thought.

But then there was a tread here about funny lines in books and so many were from the Discworld ones that I thought, “Give it a chance.”

So very very glad I did. I read them all in about 6 months.

For first timer, I’d go with Small Gods. Then Guards Guards to get into the series element.