So I'm finally trying out some Pratchett ...

Just for a change of pace from the steady diet of D&D/Dragonlance novels I’ve been reading lately, I picked up Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal yesterday. It wasn’t until after the purchase that I discovered it is the 29th Discworld book (nothing on the cover said anything about Discworld).

Are these Discworld books generally readable/understandable as standalone novels, or would I be better off going back and starting with whichever book was first in the series?

Pratchett uses a few different distinct sets of characters in his books, and books featuring one set of characters tends to have little interaction with other sets. Going Postal introduces a new set (well, mostly just a new character, in the person of Lipwig von Moist) so it’s a reasonably good place to start. Generally speaking, though, you can pick up any Discworld book and just start reading. You don’t really need to know what has gone before to enjoy a particular novel.

This wikipedia entry is a pretty good explanation of the different storylines in Pratchett, and which books belong to which set of characters. Generally speaking, the most popular storylines are the Death and Guards stories, with the Witches being a close second.

In my personal opinion, Going Postal marks the beginning of the downhill part of the Discworld series. The Fifth Elephant and Nightwatch are the high point, although both of them have more impact if you have first read the ‘guards’ series from the beginning.

Pyramids and Small Gods are often recommended as starters, because they are both stand-alone works and pretty good reads. After that, I would say go on to either Guards! Guards! which is unsurprisingly the first book in the ‘guards’ series, or Lords and Ladies, which is one of the later book in the ‘witches’ series, but perfectly readable as a stand-alone book.

Going Postalwas my first Pratchett book (other than Good Omenswith Neil Gaiman, and it’s what got me hooked on the whole series. I’ve done most of the Watch books, a couple of the Death ones, a couple of Wizard ones and I’m just starting on my first Witch book, Carpe Jugulum. I’ve found enough explanatory text in each to follow along, although sometimes things from an earlier read make more sense with background from a late read, but earlier written book.

Just go buy all of them now and avoid multiple trips to the bookstore. :smiley:

Discworld is not tied together tightly but there are some sets of the books that feature the same main characters. Going Postal is the first book in a new one it’s my second favorite of the recent Discworld novels (Night Watch is better but it’s not the book to start with).

I wrote a post on this a couple days ago but when it comes to Pratchett I strongly recommend skipping the first several books in the series. He didn’t really hit his stride until about six books in. Before that he was kind of a fantasy Douglas Adams; not bad but wouldn’t be worth recommending to everyone you meet. Going Postal is not a bad place to start but my recommendations are Guards! Guards!, Reaper Man, and Small Gods.

You have to read Good Omens.



I’ve read a few Discworld novels between other books and not having sat down and read them in an order that resembles the publication order (except for having bought the first four together in a sale) never hurt my enjoyment of them.

Remember that Rincewind is a terribly successful coward, the luggage follows him everywhere and that Death TALKS IN CAPITALS and you’re pretty much sorted.

And here is the interesting thing about Terry’s books, in that I disagree. I dislike Fifth Elephant and Night Watch a lot, they are at the bottom of my list of Discworld novels, and I found Going Postal to be an excellent and fun book to read. (I didn’t like Making Money, though).

I am more a fan of the Witches (and Tiffany Aching), the Wizards (and Rincewind), and Death (and Susan), much more than I am of Vimes (though I like the Watch).

I also liked Nation.

Thanks for the comments and recommendations. I guess I’ll see if I like this book (I do so far) and then decide where to go from there.

I guess that’s where David Morgan-Mar, the guy who does Irregular Webcomic got his inspiration. Except the various Deaths only talk in ALL CAPS when mortals are present. They speak normally amongst themselves :stuck_out_tongue:

I like Going Postal. I think von Moist is a fun character, and the opening parts feature Vetinari and his highly effective methods at his finest.

Like virtually everyone else my favourites are the Watch books,I enjoy Von Moist and anything set in Uberwald.

I am not a great fan of the witches,wizards or the “industry” based ones Soul Music etc. but you’ll find that even Pratchetts bad books are excellent.

Moist Von Lipwig…

Thank you! I was about to come here and point out that someone early on in the thread had made that mistake, then all sorts of weird permutations and combinations came crawling out of the woodwork. I’m so glad I’m not alone in being horrified by this mangling of the name of what has come to be one of my favourite DW characters. Minor nitpick, though - it’s Moist von Lipwig, with the emphasis on the lower-case v.

I like Going Postal - I think it’s well-structured (chapters! omg!) and well-written. It lacks, perhaps, the zany inventiveness and poking fun at society that characterises his other books, but I enjoyed it. Since it involves a new set of characters and settings, it’s as good a place to start as Pyramids or Small Gods.

Personally, I enjoy any of the Discworld books/stories where Death makes an appearance.


I’d be interested in hearing why this is. I just read these two, and I also didn’t really like them, though I have always liked Discworld books before. I found these two to be, well, sort of plodding and pretentious if you can believe that. I did not recall Pratchett being like that in other books. However, it had been years since I’d read Pratchett, so I wasn’t sure if it was Pratchett that changed, or me.

Favorites of mine have been Pyramids and Small Gods. It’s been about four years since Pyramids, though, and eight since Small Gods. So who knows what I’d think on a second reading.


Didn’t like “Wee free men” then, huh? :eek:

“Going Postal” was my first. I’m a retired mailman and I got a kick out of the way he nailed some of the attitudes I saw in postal management while I was working.

I usually suggest the Tiffany Aching YA books for a start:

*The Wee Free Men
A Hat Full of Sky,
Wintersmith *
and The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which is a stand-alone YA novel.

But … but I’m an old adult! :smiley: