Speak to me of Pratchett, please.

I will start off by saying that my only familiarity with Terry Pratchett is from Wikipedia’s page on him (first looked at a scarce minute or two ago) and from the, shall we say, rabid support of many fans who can’t seem to grasp that I really have never – no, not ever – no, never EVER EVER – I haven’t read a single one of his books.

It’s not because I dislike his work; I have no idea what he writes or how he writes it, and for whatever reason I’ve yet to pick up one of them. That’s it. I’m about as unbiased as you could ask for.

Anyway, what prompted this is a gift. An inheritance, would be more accurate. My uncle passed away a year or two ago, and with this and that, it’s taken a while for the estate to be processed (I won’t go into the petty infighting my relatives have been engaging in). It was all settled a short while ago and the dust seems to have died down. While I was visiting over the weekend, my mom said my uncle wanted me to have ‘a few books’ and handed me a large plastic bag literally bulging with paperbacks and hardcovers.

Most of which were Pratchett. I haven’t gone through them yet to find out exactly which ones they are – I’ll post a list later if anyone’s interested – but, my god, there are a lot of them. He’s a prolific author, heh.

So. Tell me about Pratchett, would ya? Should I bother cracking them open, or are they better served on eBay or a friendly neighborhood used book store?

Well, I’d say that your best bet is to open a book and read a few chapters. Personally, I think he’s fantastic, but I also dig mathematics and card tricks, and appreciate that some of my preferences are in the minority. I’m fairly sure that I’m in the majority with the Pratchett thing though.

Well, it depends on your taste. But I’d say–grab the copy of Good Omens out of that bag and see if you like it. Then give a Discworld book a try.

If Guards, Guards is in the bag, I think that’s a good one to start with for the Discworld books. But the topic of which book to read first is endlessly debated among Pratchett fans. The only real consensus is not to start with the first one (The Colour of Magic.

Your uncle sounded like a cool guy.

I started reading the Discworld books in publishing order. You don’t have to read them in published order. I like them all and I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head which are the best. There’s quite a few discussion threads here you could probably find by searching CS for Pratchett.

Well, there’s several “mini-series” inside the Discworld books. Nightwatch, Witches, Rincewind are three.

My Fave are his YA series, set in Discworld. I suggest you read those first. “Amazing Maurice…” is a stand-alone, and “Wee Free Men” is the first of a 3 book mini-series.

Ooh, go on, try them. It sounds as if you have quite a pile of them there, so won’t it be fun to know that you can just stick your hand into the box/bag and see what randomly jumps out?

Easy to dispose of them later in a charity shop or Ebay if you find you don’t like them. Isn’t it a happy feeling to know that just as the bad cold weather starts, you now have quite a supply of books to dip into when the mood strikes you?? :slight_smile:

I won’t recommmend any particular ones, though, because it often seems to me to be a matter of being just in the right mood for whichever book.

The Unseen University people are quite a laugh.
(Oops, thank goodness for the “preview” facility. My first attempt seemed to suggest that one of our esteemed “mods” might strike you, and I am sure they would do no such thing. :slight_smile: )

I really like Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. The Discworld stuff I can’t really get behind, and here’s why: I love the first third of each book. The second third starts to spiral out of control as multiple threads and storylines got whizzing and popping all over the landscape. The third third, he always (well, always in the half dozen I’ve read) seems to get lost himself, and in the final ten pages simply grabs at all the threads, wads them up into a handful of string, like an errant kite dragged in by a panicked child, and presents the tangled mass to the reader with an odd mix of shame and glee. Each book is like a journey through bipolar disorder.

Even Good Omens suffers from the Pratchett Syndrome. But less so than his solo works.

But I am definitely in the minority here, so I also suggest you just go ahead and read some and see what you think. They’re not exactly a grueling read.

Aye, I read The Colour of Magic when it was first published and it was so blah, that I did not bother reading more Pratchett until this year. **QtM ** & **Silenus ** convinced me to give him another try. I pretty much ran through every Discworld book. The books about the City Guard and the Witches are the ones I enjoyed the most.

Start with a book written in the 90s. Avoid the Rincewind books and anything from the 80s to start. He went from week Parody to strong Satire in my opinion.


Some of them are sort of sequential, where characters grow and develop from book to book. I’d suggest you might want to start with one like Small Gods.

I’m not as big a fan of Good Omens as others (it’s good but not something I’d tell you to start with), but I’ve always been amazingly impressed with the Discworld series as one of the extremely rare series by a prolific author that doesn’t masturbate itself into the same book over and over. As noted, that’s because he has a number of sub-series (and stand-alone) books all set on a world that can support literally anything. (Probably because the world itself is on no firm foundation. You’ll get that when you read the books.)

So use Wiki or some fan site to figure out the sequence of the various sub-series and start with one that looks good. The standalone books aren’t usually as good as the series books because they tend to take a piece of satire and slap you in the face about it, while the series focus on real characters and puts them into situations, most of them satirical.

Pratchett is probably the best writer as writer of the name bestsellers and his satire is sharp, penetrating, and witty. He’s one of a kind. Despite being an sf reader for 40 years, I’m not much of a fan of most of the people in the field whose names are recognizable to the general public. Pratchett is an exception because he is really that good.

He was also the bestselling writer in the U.K. until J. K. Rowling came along. And I don’t mean bestselling f&sf writer. I mean bestselling over all.

And he’s better than J. K. Rowling. :slight_smile: Ooh, yes!

Hey, her first book was better than his first book.

Actually his first 7 books: The Colour of Magic – The Light Fantastic – Equal Rites – Mort – Sourcery – Wyrd Sisters – Pyramids

Crap - Crap - Granny’s first appearance, good - Death’s first appearance, but weak, Rincewind’s best book, average - The Witches, very good - Blah, not very good.

So Pratchett’s first seven probably were not as good as J.K. Rowling’s first seven.

He really did not come into his own until the 90s.


Good Omens is far from representative of Pratchett’s work. It’s more in the style of Gaiman. (And it really, really sucks too.)

As for Discworld, I would suggest you start with the “Susan” books, Soul Music and then Hogfather. Most of the Death books are quite good. Then a steep step down to the Watch books. Then a drop off the cliff to the Witches and Wizards books. Avoid those. (Wikipedia categorizes them for you.)

There might not be newer books, which is good. While “Going Postal” was good. The more recent sequel is a flop. Basically, a run of bad writing lately.

Really, you though puns about Buddy Holly were the height of Pratchett’s writing? I really like the character Susan, but the supporting cast in *Soul Music * dragged that book down a bit. The Watch books are actually the books where he uses the least parody and shows off his actual writing skill.


Heh heh heh.

Dude, when somebody dies and leaves you his Pratchett books, you gotta at least give 'em a try!

I don’t know of any author who’s more popular here on the SDMB than Pratchett. Do a search and you’ll turn up tons of old threads on him.

My own personal opinions:

Yes, he is definitely worth reading.

Good Omens and Small Gods, though good, are probably overrated (at least here on the Dope). IMHO Pratchett (and, in the case of Good Omes, Gaiman) has done better work elsewhere.

The first two Discworld books aren’t as bad as everybody says they are (although they certainly aren’t his best), but it really helps if you’re familiar with the Swords & Sorcery stuff he’s parodying in them.

Don’t dismiss his “juveniles.”

And now I’m curious as to what the other, non-Pratchett books were.

His first attempts at Discworld were obviously someone learning his craft: good ideas but somewhat weak in the execution. Along about book 3 or so, he hit his stride and hasn’t looked back since. I love PTerry’s writings.

Thanks for the suggestions, all. I’ll be starting one either tomorrow night or on Turkey Day while enduring the in-laws’ house.

Here’s that list I mentioned. Is there any consensus on which, of these, is best for someone who has never read Pratchett, or am I best off just closing my eyes and drawing one at random? :slight_smile:
[li]*Sourcery (x2)[/li][li]Jingo[/li][li]The Light Fantastic[/li][li]Maskerade[/li][li]Wyrd Sisters[/li][li]Thief of Time (x2)[/li][li]The Fifth Elephant (x2)[/li][li]Hogsfather[/li][li]Mort (x2)[/li][li]Small Gods[/li][li]The Color of Magic[/li][li]The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents[/li][li]The Wee Free Men[/li][li]A Hat Full of Sky[/li][li]Soul Music[/li][li]Going Postal[/li][li]Feet of Clay[/li][li]Reaper Man[/li][li]Witches Abroad[/li][li]Night Watch[/li][/ul]
The non-Pratchett books (just to be complete) were:
[li]Chaining the Lady – Piers Anthony[/li][li]*Tunnel in the Sky, Time Enough for Love, * and Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein[/li][li]All These Earths – F. M. Busby[/li][li]Grey Lensman – E. E. “Doc” Smith [/li][/ul]

Try those three first. Remember those are his YA books.

Another vote for starting with Guards, Guards. It’s the first one I read and completely hooked me. Read the Watch books in order, and you’ll see marvelous character development over their course, particularly of Sam Vimes and the Patrician.