Would I like Terry Pratchett's Discworld series?

I’m normally not much for sci-fi or fantasy, but having read various threads and posts, I have to wonder if I would like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

I love Douglas Adams mainly for the humor, and I know Discworld has a lot of that, too.

And which book should I read first?


I think it sounds as though you’d like them. I also don’t get much into the actual sci-fi or fantasty of anything. Indeed, I’ll tend to mentally “glaze over” the details. But Pratchett does some terrific humour mixed with sharp and obvservant social comment.

Do give it a try.

I can’t tell you which one to start with, htough - I only get books as and when they become available in library or thrift shop, so I have read many of them more or less at random…

Try them, though. :slight_smile:

Douglas Adams was a poor man’s Terry Pratchett. He had the wit, although not in as great a measure, but could never really pull off plot or character in a genuinely satisfying way. Pratchett is a master story teller in all respects. Aside from being laugh-out-loud funny, his books are strongly plotted, with deeply resonating themes and ideas, and his characters are among the most strongly defined and memorable in fantasy/science fiction literature. Heck, any literature.

In short, yes, you’ll like him. Go. Read. Any book. Order doesn’t really matter, although the earlier books tend to be weaker. This site list the Discworld novels in order, and which group of characters the novel follows, but again, you can read the books entirely out of order without seriously harming your enjoyment.

If you want my pick for best place to start, check out Small Gods. Totally stand alone, and the funniest, most intelligent of the bunch. And that is saying quite a lot.

I started with the YA discworld novels Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky. I’m now reading The Color of Magic (first of the adult books) and it’s much slower going. I hear the series picks up considerably at some point though.

If you’re reading them in chronological order, the general consensus is that he doesn’t really hit his stride until the fourth book, Mort. The first three books, he’s still sort of finding his feet. Personally, I feel that the sixth book, Wyrd Sisters is where he really takes off.

Not to say that the first three aren’t worth reading. They’re still funny books, they just don’t amount to much more than funny books, is all.

It’s interesting you would say that. Frankly, what turned me off about Pratchett was that his style seemed to be aping Adams’s style to a large degree. His novels struck me as overly “cute,” if you understand what I’m saying.

As for whether the OP should read them, sure. Give them a try. You may not love them to the degree that some people here do, but I’d be surprised if you disliked them.

Start with either Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! Both are quite adequate introductions to the Disc. Then try Moving Pictures or Small Gods or Reaper Man.

I’m with Miller. I never found Adams to be even remotely amusing. I find Pratchett to be freaking hilarious, as well as being guilty of Literature. Plus he has personally signed over a dozen books for me! :smiley:

I just finished reading Night Watch, myself. It’s a powerful novel in its own right, and doesn’t lean on the humor as much as his other books, but his mastery of writing shines through just as strongly. I would not, however, recommend that you read it first. I’d suggest some of the earlier Night Watch subseries, as it’ll make Night Watch all the more potent. Guards! Guards! and Men At Arms are somewhat weak, but they do set the stage well.

Other than that, Pratchett provides enough exposition in all his books that you really can jump right in anywhere and gradually get a feel for the world he created.

Start with Mort, definitely. I’m not a Pratchett expert by any stretch, but when I first read him, I started with The Colour of Magic and was really nonplussed as to what all the hubbub was about.

Then I read Mort and understood. It’s fantastically funny.

The first three books were closer to fantasy parodies than fantasy novels. Still good, but I tried “Color of Magic” first, set it aside, then tried again later and got hooked. My problem was that I had been such a hardcore fantasy reader years ago that Color of Magic bored me.

Perhaps a good way to start would be by subject matter.

If you’re interested in China, read “Interesting Times.” If you’re a fan of Australia, try “Last Continent.” There’s a lot of references to each country in them.

Like an parody of opera and ALWebber’s “Phantom of the Opera”? Read “Maskerade”

Newspaper journalism? “The Truth”

Macbeth? “Wyrd Sisters” That’s a good place to start for the witches series in general.

I would recommend “Guards! Guards!” if you’re interested in Ankh-Morpork and the Watch.

If you are more visually oriented, check out “The Last Hero” a novella published in a coffee-table size version with tons of color illustrations.

Don’t worry too much about reading out of sequence. If you’re hooked, you can always go back and start at the beginning.

Hm. I started out a devoted Adams fan (and still admire his work quite a bit), but once I discovered Pratchett, I felt he more often was able to cut straight to the heart of the matter, where Adams remained out dabbling in the periphery (while missing deadlines.)

And Pratchett’s first work, The Carpet People, came out in 1971, long before Adams’ works achieved their their exposure. So while they share certain stylistic characteristics, I think it’s rather unfair to accuse Pratchett of aping Adams.

In short, I recommend strongly that you read Pratchett’s discworld. And you needn’t feel you must read them sequentially. The first 3 are rather “meh”. But when he hits his stride, he’s awesome!

I can definetly see that, and there’s absolutely no doubt that Pratchett was hugely influenced by Adams, but Pratchett goes much further beyond what Adams did, and in so doing, showed how limited Adams talents really were. Adams wasn’t a storyteller, he was an observationist. Last Chance to See was superb, and I think it’s kind of a tragedy that he went into fiction instead of something more suited to his talents. Pratchett, on the other hand, is a first-rate novelist. He could easily have become successful writing “serious” literature, and not goofy fantasy novels.

After seeing Qadgop’s post, I looked at publications dates, and have to withdraw the above. Adams and Pratchett are too contemporaneous for one to have been a major influence on the other. I wonder if they’re both inspired by the same snarky British ur-author.

True, true. I didn’t intend it to sound like I thought Pratchett was deliberately copying Adams’ style. That just happened to be one of the first thoughts that struck me as I was reading him for the first time - “Hmmm, this style really reminds me of Douglas Adams.” I was a bit let down when I found I didn’t like him as much.

That’s fair, although I disagree. I’ve never disliked Pratchett’s work, but it’s not been anything I would go out of my way to read or buy, that’s all. But I’m not opposed to picking up a book if I see it lying around and I have few other options. I like him better than Stephen King… :slight_smile:

It comes from the British humorists’ hive mind.

Ditto for me. In fact I’d reverse the statement you were replying to and say Pratchett is a poor man’s Adams. The utterly insanity and sillyness, without any attempt to really tie together the plot (the whole point basically - ie, the universe isn’t supposed to make sense in HHGTTG), elevate Adams over Pratchett to me.

It gets funny? It’s not funny so far, at about 80 pages in.

I’d say that the early Pratchett books read like a poor man’s D. Adams. But around the time of Mort, that starts to change.

No, not really.

I’ve read roughly the first half of the series, and IMO they’re okay as airplane books but that’s about it. Obviously, other folks have differing opinions.

I seem to recall reading that Adams admitted that he was simply to lazy to write a plot, but then, I’ve never been one to pay much attention to authorial intent. :smiley:

One of Pratchett’s recurring themes, actually, is just that: the universe isn’t supposed to make sense. But humans keep insisting that it does, and after a while, the universe feels sort of obliged to comply. Which is just Pratchett being metaphorickal so he can go places with the concept that Adams never bothered to explore. Namely, how humans cope when confronted with the whole illogical mess of the universe, how we categorize it and explain it with myths and stories and religions, and how doing that both limits us, and makes it possible for us to change the world. As insights into the human condition go, I think it’s all a lot more interesting than, “Digital watches are kind of stupid.”

I seem to remember that it gets funny. Maybe I’m wrong. Of all the Discworld novels, the only ones I’ve only read once are the first three and the last two, and the only reason I haven’t reread the last two is because I haven’t had time yet. If you want to skip ahead, no one’s going to blame you.

Personally, I found the Discworld novels much more funny and engaging than Adams’ work. I think when it comes down to it, the debate as to which is better is mostly a matter of opinion- they’re both good authors in their own right, and prefering one over the other depends on your own tastes.

That said, you should definately read some Discworld books. Guards! Guards!, Wyrd Sisters, Interesting Times, Small Gods, and The Truth are all good places to start- pick up the ones that look interesting to you.