I'm getting rady to start the Discworld series...

…and I just wanted a few opinions about where I should begin. I’ve checked out the first two from the local library (The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic), but I’ve read in earlier threads that some fans of Terry Pratchett aren’t particularly fond of his earlier works. Maybe they just don’t like it as much as his later stuff, I’m not sure.

So, am I on the right track? I just don’t want to be soured on a series due to the fact that I began with some of its weaker material.

Thank you, in advance.

Pratchett maintained a consistently high level throughout the entire series, which now contains more than thirty books. All of them are entertaining. The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic are only farces, while the later books are more sophisticated satires. Mort would also be good places to start, since the plot is relatively straightforward and there are no references to anything that happened in the earlier books. (Mort is officially number four.)

Those two books are arguably the weakest books in the series. While, sure, they’re the first two books in the Discworld universe, I wouldn’t recommend that you start with them.

My favorite, and the one I recommend to most people, is Small Gods.

Do not under any circumstances start with either of those two. They’re weaker than the rest and will put you off the series. Personally, I’d reccomend Guards! Guardsi or Equal Rites as a good introduction. The former will introduce you to The Watch and Ankh-Morpork, the latter to Lancre and the Witches… Take your pick… :slight_smile:

The first few books aren’t considered as good because Terry’s concept of the Discworld, as well as his writing style, hadn’t been fully solidified yet.

If you’d like to read them in published order as closely as you can while still getting good writing, I’d suggest starting with Pyramids or Guards! Guards! If you’re not terribly concerned with reading them in order (and truthfully, the way Pratchett structures his stories, it’s not actually a requirement for most of the books), then Small Gods is an excellent introduction to the setting. Hogfather is also an excellent one-off.

More generally, stick to the novels between 7 and 20 of this list and you’ll get a feel for the setting and characters. I find it’s better to have a fondness for the characters already in place before going back and reading the early stuff so you can mentally adjust for the writing. Most stuff after 20 is more ‘advanced’, and is better helped by having a good understanding of the setting already in place (except for the Tiffany Aching series, so I’m told, but I haven’t read those). That’s all just my opinion, of course, and probably more overly analytical than you’re really looking for. :slight_smile:

I’d recommend starting with Mort, and then skipping to Guards! Guards!, and then skipping again to Reaper Man and going onwards from there. You don’t miss a whole lot in between those–a good Pratchett book is on par with a great normal book, but if you want the very best, start with those.

Trust me, just read them in order. Everyone has their own opinion on where to start, but the discworld evolved throughout the series, and the only way to follow that evolution, and therefore understand all the references and events in later books is to read them as they were written.

And it’s fun ride. All the books are great, though some are better than others.

Alrighty. I’m a bot confused about the various story arcs and/or “groups” after reading about the series at Wikipedia. I think the consensus seems to be to start at Mort, or Guards! Guards!, with one or two votes for just plowing through everything in order.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I’m going to finish my current book, and make a decision when that one has been returned to the library.

What to read when.

I’m a bitconfused.


Thanks. I’ve bookmarked this.


Would this be the wrong place to point out the spelling error in the title of the OP?


I ahve no idea what you’re talking about.

In all seriousness, Firefox’s spellcheck feature has made me a very lazy proofreader.

The first time I heard about Pterry was on a usenet group dedicated to Heinlein. Someone pointed out that the libertarian view in many of RAH’s works was only found in the description of Ankh-Morpork by Pratchett.
This aroused my interest and I bought *The Colour of Magic * and was totally underwhelmed.
ff some ten years and I’m in a bookstore, looking for something to read. On a whim, I picked The Fifth Elephant and fell in love. I’ve been buying it all since then.

My piece of advice is to start with CoM and move on. I think you’re going to appreciate how much Pterry has evolved as a writer if you read them in order, in stead of cherry picking the best books. I wasn’t too crazy about his latest effort (Making Money) but I’m confident that the overall treand will be strong and that the future* writings are as exponentially good as writing has been so far.

  • the prospect might be bleak, but I ain’t crossing any bridges till I have to.

Man, am I jealous.

I wish I were finding pterry for the first time, not knowing anything about it, just picking up the book Good Omens and not putting it down for 12 straight hours.

Then I read it again, straight away. I’ve never done that with a book before.

I’ve only found a handful of authors who I ran out to buy everything I could find after reading one book or short story. Pratchett and Gaiman were two, Charlie Stross, John Scalzi, and George Saunders are on that list, but no one has hooked me like pterry did, and as a rule I don’t like fantasy. Dragons, trolls and wizards? Meh.

But reading about the discworld was an amazing period of discovery.

My advice would be to read one of the one off books first. Moving Pictures, Pyramids, or Small Gods would all be good choices. I’ve used Moving Pictures to get people hooked on PTerry and it’s worked pretty well. Personally, I started with The Last Continent after picking it up on a whim, which is close enough to a one off. Use that first book to decide if you want to read the whole damn series or not. If you really like it, I suggest starting from the beginning and reading all of them in published order. You’ll notice a lot more references that way. If you’re kinda “Meh” on PTerry, then from there I’d recommend reading Guards! Guards! and the rest of the city watch books, since I think most fans agree that’s the best series. If you just don’t like his work, then oh well, to each his own.

And I also envy the OP. In the last year I’ve read the entire series, except the Tiffany Aching books, and crave more. Too bad about the recent news, though.

That’s funny. After thinking back on some of my favorite authors, ones I wish I could read again for the first time, I was motivated to start with a new one.

I completely agree with most of the posters here. I read both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic as they were released. I was not impressed, in fact, those books were selected for recycle by donating them to the local library. Flash forward 15 years. I’m in the local bookstore, and pick up a copy of Small Gods. Looks interesting, I think, and pick it up. Holy shit, did that guy learn how to write. I’ve read all his books since, and had to go back and repurchase the first two just to fill out my library. Do not start with the first two.

Just wanted to chime in and say I’m considering starting to read Terry Pratchett, and am also bewildered as to where to start. I don’t like the idea of trying to start anywhere other than the beginning, though it seems in this it’s possible to do that in the case of Discworld.

FTR, I normally despise fiction, especially bad science fiction, but if it’s funny and not full of geekiness, I might can stomach it. Having said that, where should I start, or should I not bother? :smiley:


(I’ve always been curious about this and noticed the raves Pratchett gets here on the SDMB, but never had the gumption to start a thread like this. Thanks, Labrador Deceiver!)

See my above link. Then start with either Guards! Guards!* or Wyrd Sisters**. Or maybe Moving Pictures***.

    • It was possibly the most circumspect advance in the history of military manoeuvres, right down at the bottom end of the scale that things like the Charge of the Light Brigade are at the top of.

** - In fact, no gods anywhere play chess. They prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight to Oblivion; a key to the understanding of all religion is that a god’s idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs.

*** - No-one would have believed, in the final years of the Century of the Fruitbat, that Discworld affairs were being watched keenly and impatiently by intelligences greater than Man’s, or at least much nastier; that their affairs were being scrutinised and studied as a man with a three-day appetite might study the All-You-Can-Gobble-For-A-Dollar menu outside Harga’s House of Ribs…