Discworld Latecomers Ongoing Discussion (open spoilers)

33 sounds like the number that had been published when I first started reading them. (If not 33, then close enough.) I binged them all in about two months.

I obviously take my time. Right now, I 'm doing another re-read of Lord of the Rings and that will take some time. I just kind of meander my way through.

I re-read UA over Christmas and liked it a lot more than I did first time.

All the stuff about class, the crab bucket, the tension between the crowd and the authorities is excellent; the running gag about the rivalrly between UU and Quirm is fun, Glenda is a great character in her own right and well placed to voice/observe the streets vs authority theme. The apparently pre-ordained linkage between the star footballer and the glamorous model felt a bit of it’s time - there was a point where WAGS were a thing, and you hadn’t made it as a footballer till you had a model/pop-star partner, but that seems to have faded now.

The clunky bit that put me off on my first read was Nutt. He’s fine in himself and I didn’t feel the same frustration this time round but there had been a lot of Discworld books structured around: “Here’s a new mythological species, observe how they are downtrodden by society, yet rise above this to display the values of secular humanism”. And I liked this structure! It’s what makes Pratchett so great. But eventually it begins to feel a bit mechanical and well trodden, and in all honesty Nutt didn’t do anything that Dorfl didn’t. The “aha, these monsters were built from humans, the true monsters” reveal at the end was a bit ho-hum.

But with the advantage of time, that feeling of retreading old ground wasn’t so prevalent, and I could enjoy the good bits more.

I think I disagree - Dorfl wasn’t solitary and pulled out of his isolation by human relationships, the way Nutt was. They’re fundamentally different stories to me in that way.

I’m not sure if you are implying that TP invented the crab bucket metaphor, but it predates his use.

OK, that is a distinction, but for me not enough to make the difference. But I’ve been thinking about it and my main issue is that the whole Nutt plot could be excised from UA and still leave you with a really good story about class and the tension of social mobility and What Football Really Means. Whereas you couldn’t take the golems out of Feet of Clay or women out of Monstrous Regiment*. By contrast, the whole Black Ribbon piece is never more than a subplot in The Truth, and that works fine too. But Nutt takes up a lot of space to deliver nothing very new.

The best bit with Nutt is the scene where he flees AM pursued by the Furies and the ordinary AM folk talk him down from despair and give him hope of fitting in. But that’s because the focus is on the functioning of prejudice among ordinary folk - it’s really striking that in the same scene everyone takes against the Furies, who are themselves exactly the kind of monster who Pratchett could have put at the centre of the monster plot, which I thought showed just how arbitrary the decision to accept outsiders into the in-group could be. But again, that’s not very different to what we’ve already seen with Vimes acceptance of trolls/dwarves/werewolves etc. into the Watch while barring vampires, or Colon’s revelation about Klatchians in Jingo.

*Incidentally, using the whole “oppressed creature rises above oppressive society” template but making the oppressed creature “women” was a brilliant example of an author subverting his own work.

No, wasn’t trying to imply that. I’d heard it before too.

I was with you until you said “very good story.” The Nutt plot was repetitive, redundant and stupid, and anything involving football in any form can be excised from existence for all I care. Which is why I rank this book even below Eric.

YMMV, which is what makes Pterry such a great author. Something to argue about for everybody!

Unseen Academicals is my least-favorite of the Discworld books, but for me, it’s because it felt like it came out of nowhere. In UA, the whole theme is that football is the center of everyone’s existence in Ankh-Morpork… but it’s barely even mentioned, ever, in any of the other books. It’d have worked a lot better if we had previously consistently seen Colon and Nobby ducking out of work early to catch the Big Game, and Carrot volunteering as a coach in a youth league, and Vetinari giving a big speech before the start of a game to guarantee a large audience, and so on… but we didn’t.


That wasn’t so much a “league” as it was a couple of street gangs. Your point still stands, however.

It’s not the centre of everyone’s existence, it’s the centre of the common working people’s, who we don’t really see as viewpoint characters in A-M up to now* - which was… kind of one of the main points of UA. Think of it as a “Lower Decks” for Discworld.

*No, the Watch don’t count.