What is the deal with Terry Pratchett?

Sorry, but from what I gather he writes books, and lots of folks around here seem to love his work dearly. What am I missing out on here? Who is Terry Pratchett?

Until J. R. Rowling came along Terry Prachett was the single best-selling writer in the U.K.

His home page.

How short can I make this? His Discworld series of humorous fantasies are brilliant parodies of the fantasy genre, British culture, popular culture, and general human behavior. Not necessarily in that order. They started out as light comedy and are the only series in the history of mankind that keep getting better, deeper, and more interesting and original as the series continues into the dozens of books.*

He also has written prize-winning children’s and YA fiction and various other assorted books, including some with Neil Gaiman.

Different people will suggest different starting places for him. I wouldn’t start at the very beginning of Discworld unless you’re compulsive because they were kinda thin. Better to pick up pretty much any of the Discworld books from about ten years ago and work forward and backwards.
*OK, the 87th Precinct books of Ed McBain did this until he became a bestseller and every one of his thin brilliant individualistic books became fat bloated and indistinguishable. And Ellery Queen’s middle period is his best, with each book both great and totally different from one another, but his last half dozen or so were extremely weak. Pratchett may yet fall into one of these two fates.

You’ve got the general idea. He writes books, and lots of folks love them dearly. Desn’t seem all that incredible now that you think about it.

Well, they’re really GOOD books! Go read some! Right now! Scoot!

Terry Pratchett is a hugely successful novelist in the UK, and more of a cult phenomenon in the US.

He’s written a lot of books over the past few decades, but the ones you’ll hear the most about are those in his longrunning “Discworld” series. The series started off as a parody of the fantasy genre, but quickly matured into something even more interesting.

The setting is always the fantasy world of the Disc, a flat, pizza-shaped planet supported by four elephants on the back of a giant turtle that swims through outer space. The books do not all feature the same characters. There are several sub-series that deal with reoccuring characters in different parts of the Disc, and others that are completely stand-alone. The Disc is home to witches, wizards, dragons, trolls, werewolves, and plenty of magic, although in some of the books these fantastic elements are more important than others. For instance, there’s a sub-series of books about a coven of no-nonsense rural witches who naturally do plenty of magic, but another sub-series is about the City Watch of the great metropolis of Ankh-Morpork and these novels are of a grittier mystery/crime/intrigue variety.

In any Discworld book, and pretty much any Pratchett book in general, you can expect a solid plot, interesting and well-developed characters who are also funny, plenty of jokes both obvious and obscure, and some excellent satire. Pratchett has aimed his pen at targets ranging from opera, rock and roll, and Hollywood to Greek philosophy, Christmas, and monotheism.

I can’t say it any better. Terry is the best author around.

I can’t say it any better. Terry is the best author around.

His work is worth checking out - but don’t start with his first book. I just read it and was bored out of my mind. Try some of his later work - I wish that I had taken the advice of people from this thread and started in the middle.

Terry Pratchett is the guy that makes people look at me funny on trains, because I’ve suddenly started snorting and generally trying not to burst out in hysterical laughter. I just finished “The Truth”, then ran and bought “Night Watch”. It’s British humor, though, not everyone is vulnerable to it. And what sad lives those people must lead.

Read Good Omens, a novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s a hilarious story about the Apocalypse.

Truer words were never spoken. Terry Pratchett is simply one of the most brilliant writers today.

Not that they’d ever admit to doing any of that, whaddayercallsit, magic stuff.

Pah! What do rural witches know about magic! Everyone knows the real magic is done at UU! The greatest achievement of humankind to date is the High Energy –

Oh, hi, Granny. Didn’t see you there. Hey, I didn’t mean to – hey, wait –

Ribbit.

Would. You. Dopers. Stop. It.

Every time I settle myself nicely into a new author that you folks recommend me into leaving me quite some time to read said new authors works throughout the long, cold winters.
YOU.DO. IT. AGAIN.

I cannot possibly read so many great books in a reasonably amount of time unless I take a mixture of expresso-crack-speed daily and ignore all my other duties ( which I do do anyways because of siren’s call of SDMB.)

You are costing me money.

Bastards! But in the nicest sense.

Seriously. He can write gut-busting hysterical, like The Truth and then he can write a very good novel with some funny bits, like Night Watch, and those all take place in the same place with mostly the same characters.

Here’s a second for Good Omens, especially if it starts your Neil Gaiman habit.

What gets me about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books is that, underneath the hilarious parody, there is some seriously solid wisdom hiding in there (witness the whole “Personal is not the same as important” thing). In addition, the obvious endings hinted at never happen, with the narrative rug pulled out from under you when you least expect it. And the regular cast of characters get more interesting the more you encounter them.

Not all the books are high quality, but enough of them are to establish Pratchett as a master of his craft. Once you’ve read the Discworld books, also check out the Science of Discworld books (both of them) for some interesting essays mixed in with the usual Pratchett humor.

I guess I’ll have to be the lone dissenter.

My wife and daughter just love Terry Pratchett’s work. So in keeping with family harmony I read a few of his books (okay,2 ).

While I didn’t hate them, I found the humor to be what Monty Python would have done had all the members been really full of themselves. Sarcasm for sarcasm’s sake.

I’ll wait for the new one and I guess I’ll try again but I’m not hopeful.

Neil Gaiman, on the other hand, is excellent.

Please see this thread from just two days ago (OP by kabbes) regarding Pratchett’s latest book.

In that thread I ask for and receive a lot of feedback about where to start if one is a Pratchett novice. You might find it interesting and helpful. I did.

Oh, be brave, just go and try one or two or them. Tolle lege!

Magic? For witches? Are you mad?

It’s all headology.

I second the reccomendation of starting with ‘Good Omens’…

It’ll introduce you to two great novelists (Gaiman and Pratchett).

I’ve sometimes referred to Pratchett as my favorite philosopher, and I have an actual degree in philosophy so people have to pretend to take me seriously when I say things like that.

In fact, I quoted Hogfather in my thesis.

Pratchett is indeed very good at the truly unexpected, but not contrived, plot twist.