I've not read any of his books, but like a couple of his quotes I have read on this forum and have decided that I really should read some.
Where do I start or doesn't it matter?
All of the disk world series are brilliant and with a few exceptions they don't need to be read in order. The later books are much better than the early ones , I'm especially a fan on those featuring Sam Vimes and the city watch.
Mort or Guards Gaurds. Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic, seemed to be ticking off a list of cliches, that needed to be done for me. They still have their moments, but certainly aren’t the best in the series.
If you go for the discworld, then I probably wouldn’t start right at the beginning. I always felt like there was a bit a few books in where you could tell he thought he could make a real go of this, and things started to stabilise a bit in terms of the geography and some of the core character set.
Whilst the first two books are technically the start of the Rincewind arc of stories (there are about half a dozen parallel story themes that work through the books, so most books are predominantly about one group of characters or another), the rest of the core “wizards” character set doesn’t really stabilise until a few books further down the line.
Chronologically, the third book Equal Rites is the start of a storyline , probably more recognisably so than the first two, but personally I would probably echo Dale and go for either Mort or Guards Guards. Death and Vimes are two of his best characters I think.
By chance, I read Mort first which resonated because of my age at the time. That hooked me into the series. You can take a scattershot at the books and read them in any order you like without missing too much nuance. I find the earlier books to be more poetically engaging and the later ones more ingeniously crafted. The very last ones change in tone again because (I'm presuming here!) of the author's illness to the extent that I couldn't read The Shepherd's Crown, I found the experience too sad.
They're great fun, and as Forest Dump say's "At the start!" is probably a pretty smart idea!
Slightly controversial suggestion: to see if you like the style, try Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman. It's not set in the Discworld and is standalone, but if you like that, then you are very likely to enjoy the Discworld.
More sensible suggestion (as others have said): skip the first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. He really was just finding his feet then. You don't really miss very much and you can always go back if you really like the Rincewind storyline.
There are several groups of books in the series - one set follows the witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Another follows Death (the character). There's the City Watch, and Rincewind and the other wizards. Later you get the Moist von Lipwig novels and the Tiffany Aching novels. So you could pick one of these themes and work through (in which case I might suggest the City Guard, and start with Guards Guards).
But actually I would probably go in chronological order which means starting with Equal Rites, where you get to meet the witches. Mort is book four, and the first of the Death books, and is also absolutely brilliant...
> The very last ones change in tone again because (I'm presuming here!) of the author's illness to the extent that I couldn't read The Shepherd's Crown, I found the experience too sad.
I had to leave The Shepherds Crown for quite a long time.
Without any spoilers, I understand that what got into the final book and what Pratchett actually intended were quite different; both Neil Gaiman and Pratchett's assistant have said as much. I almost wish that Gaiman had stepped in and tidied it all up before publication.
As recommended already, Guards, Guards!, Equal Rites and Mort are the best places to begin. One of the stand-alone stories, Small Gods, would also be a good introduction. Avoid Pyramids which, in my edition at least, contains an egregious error guaranteed to annoy climbers and which was most untypical of the author.
The later stuff, say from Unseen Academicals, is best avoided completely if you're a new reader. They aren't all bad, far from it, but decline had set in and I couldn't finish the very last one, Raising Steam, as it just didn't read as it should have read. The first two, the Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, were essentially written as piss-takes on the Fantasy genre. Worth reading, but not the best place to begin.
Whilst Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, Death and the Archchancellor are all fine characters, I've always been fond of the Patrician.
Interesting choices - mainly because I found I couldn't really get into Small Gods and loved Pyramids.
My other favourites are Guards! Guards!, Soul Music, Lords and Ladies, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, Masquerade and Carpe Jugulum.
Of the later ones, Thief of Time, Going Postal and The Last Hero.
And then you're into the Tiffany Aching ones...
I'd agree that he was still finding his style in the early hills, BUT they were still great reads.
Although interlinked you have several character sets (witches, guards, rincewind, Tiffany) and their respective books are best read in order.
mort, witches abroad, pyramids, small gods, guards guards, colour of magic
I got into Pratchett via the kids books - Johnny and the Bomb, and the Bromeliad Trilogy - having suitable kids at that time. From the adult series I loved Soul Music, Mort and Small Gods best but all of them apart from Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic are great, even including Unseen Academicals. I used to treat myself to re-reading Small Gods every Xmas, forgot last year but thanks for the reminder! And agree that Good Omens is brilliant, and a great TV series as well.
The best Discworld book to my mind is certainly Night Watch which has a bit of a darker tone. To get there, though, you should definitely read all of the watch series, starting with Guards Guards and then Men at Arms, and then several others. All worth it.
I was going to mention Small Gods as very good and fully stand alone, but I see it’s already had five mentions…. Worth reading along with Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” for two divergent takes on the same concept.
Honestly, it's like picking your favourite child...
I started with Feet of Clay, purely as Mum bought it back from a charity shop one day, and it was SO good, I had to find others.
Agree with the majority here; the actual first two; Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic aren't actually the best place to start, so I'd just go into a charity shop, and find as many Pratchett's as you can and read them in publication order.
In terms of themes:
The city watch / Vimes series are crime novels, but more about social inequality
The Rincewind series are slightly more magical/farcical and possibly more anti-establishment
The Death/Mort series tend to be more bigger-picture commentaries
The Moist con Lipwig series are more anti-capitalist leaning. They weren't my favourite, but did have some excellent lines in.
Tiffany Aching, is aimed at "young adults", but still worth reading - but do tend to be geared towards youth going through some things.
It was my daughters Masters Maths graduation day at Warwick.At the cermony there was one Ian Stewart who has collabarated with Terry Pratchet and is an "Honoray Wizard of the Unseen Universe". He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick. He was being awarded another prize by the Uni.
The guy is clearly a character, blowing kisses at his wife from the stage etcetc. Just a pity he did not make a speech. There were alot of disappointed students ( and parents as well) as he is considered to be a bit of a star.
You forgot the witches, possibly some of the best characters and very relatable for younger readers who have less life experience so might miss the humour in other books.
Personally I am not a great fan of the Von Lipwig books. Less fantasy and magic, even though they do have stronger story lines.
> What age kids are the kids books suitable for?
I was 10-11 when I first started reading them. Do pick the right books though, some rely very heavily on life knowledge to fully appreciate the humour (I struggled with moving pictures and soul music).
Tiffany Aching books are targeted at younger readers. Generally the witches books (especially witches abroad which pulls heavily on fairytales) are accessible. I avoided Wyrd systers as was doing Macbeth at school, a bit of knowledge of this play will help with appreciating the book.
Susan Sto Heilt books aren't my favourites, but again are probably very relatable to younger audiences. Maybe try Hogfather.
Kid's books - 10 upwards, according to my ex-primary teacher missus, maybe a bit younger for a good reader. Try lovereading4kids.co.uk for professional guidance - I'm pretty sure my younger lad was working his way through the adult books by 11 because they were in the house already..
As other's have said, I'd certainly avoid starting with the Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic but go with the Witches 'trilogy' first, ie. Equal Rites; Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad. The Witches crop up in later books but after those first few (assuming you liked the first one), you can go back to chronological order and explore the other characters and themes. The Watch and Death series are favourites of mine and evidently of many others too.
This is a good thread and the purist in me agrees with those saying 'start at the beginning' (with or without the first two books) but, let me offer a potential alternative:
Hear me out! This is, in my view, one of the stronger 'standalone' TP novels which I think requires little in the way of prior knowledge of the world or its characters but does a very good job of introducing new readers to the themes and style of the series at large without going full-on fantasy mode which I know puts some people off! Yes I know Vimes features in this and that fact alone may hold some potential spoilers but if the OP is willing to overlook that then I think this book might be a very friendly and not over-committing entry into the series.
Discussions/berating/denouncements of my terrible recommendations most welcome
Whereever you start I'm just jealous that you're going to get to know the discworld from the beginning. It's such a vivid world and it's been part of my life since I was 8 or 9.
Also, the truckers trilogy is brilliant no matter what age you are. When I was a kid I loved the Johnny books as well.
Like a few of the books I found monstrous regiment significantly more enjoyable on the second read than the first.
That's one of the great things about the books though, each time you read them you find new humour/depth to the writing - this is especially true if you are lucky enough to pick up the books at a young age, as much of the humour is based around life knowledge so may be missed by younger readers who will be in for an extra treat when they revisit the books later in life.
> That's one of the great things about the books though, each time you read them you find new humour/depth to the writing - this is especially true if you are lucky enough to pick up the books at a young age, as much of the humour is based around life knowledge so may be missed by younger readers who will be in for an extra treat when they revisit the books later in life.
I’d definitely second this. I started reading them quite young and loved them, particularly the silliness and wordplays. As and when I re-read them as an adult I was delighted to find that there were whole new levels to them. It was like reading an entirely new book in some cases.
For me, one of Terry’s great qualities is being able to write books that can be accessed and enjoyed on multiple levels and can be read time and time again, often improving with each reading.
So one thing: it is not entirely obvious from the text that Lord Vetenari is the Patrician.
I say this just because GG was my first Discworld, many years ago, and I still remember getting slightly confused until I realised they must be the same character! I think it's made perfectly clear in earlier books...
Trust me, start at the start with the colour of Magic and follow the order. The first few are far from the best but you will get much more out of the ones to follow with a good grounding.
I started with Soul Music, I think it was book 16 when I was in hospital for a night with nothing to read, I decided it was crap.
Someone convinced me to start at the start so I did, when I got back up the list to soul music it was brilliant the second time round. I was used to the wrighting style and got all the in jokes.
Well this thread has just prompted me to start reading Equal Rites to my 8 year old tonight.
So far she's really enjoying it, although we stopped on occasion to clarify the odd thing and there's loads of it that is basically over her head but the characters and story have her gripped. It's definitely a read to her book rather than one for her to read to herself. If it goes well I'll look at the children's books for her to read herself.
If she likes the Discworld, perhaps The Wee Free Men would be a good one to read together. It's the first of the Tiffany Aching series aimed at 'younger' readers (but maybe not quite that much younger) and Tiffany herself is only 9 at the start of the story.
I'm not sure but I'd guess the Nac Mac Feegles' dialect might be a bit tricky for her to read by herself, and you could have a lot of fun doing the voices.
Another vote for Hogfather. There is also a TV movie with the same name on Prime which is excellent; Vadim Jean (director / script writer) really understands the material, and Terry has a cameo part in it.
It doesn't matter where you start. Don't expect to understand everything that's going on for the first few books! Terry had a mind of his own ...
There are also TV adaptations of The Colour of Magic/The Light Fantastic and Going Postal. Whilst all of them are nowhere near as detailed as the books, they're very good with a splendid cast. The last in particular is excellent.
TP had a cameo appearance in them all, I think.
Good choice - I'd have recommended that or Mort
However, I started with Colour of Magic then Light Fantastic and still enjoyed them all so would also recommend that
I must start again!
And I definitely agree with deepsoup's Wee Free Men recommendation for 8 year olds
So, lots of recommendations for what I would agree are his better books but, I still say colour and light because you have the excitement and vastness of a new world and author. Don’t read the best stuff first, I think you’ll miss out!
It is worth bearing in mind that Terry was strongly of the opinion that children's stories should be a bit dark, in the tradition of the original Grimm fairytales. The Tiffany Aching series have baddies that I as an adult find a little creepy, and The Amazing Maurice is genuinely unsettling.
Truckers has some dramatic tension but is pretty much just pure fun.
As a child I actually liked The Colour of Magic most of all his then books, it is an episodic story so the plot is a bit less complex.
Personally I'd say start at the beginning with CoM and TLF.....
....but, what you make of them will depend on what your background reading has been.
The first two books were targeted at an audience who had read a lot of fantasy/swords and sorcery books back to Fritz Leiber and Robert Howard. Probably the D&D folk too. They were really a madcap satire of the genre.
It's quite common to see people starting to read Pratchett saying that these books are not very good (they definitely feel very different to what came after) but I suspect a lot of the jokes are simply passing people by if they haven't read around that genre.
Subsequent books used the Discworld vehicle to satirise aspects of the real world, and therefore most of the humour is easily accessible.
So, I'd say start at the beginning, but don't give up after the first two if it's not your cup of tea.
Just an update on reading Equal Rites to my 8 year old.
She _loved_ it. We walked into town earlier she taking the part of Esk while I was left with the part of Granny Weatherwax. I say walked but actually we mostly flew after having to bump start our broomstick by running along holding it at head height.
We also brought some (imaginary) bananas to give to the librarian on visiting the library.
Maybe 'Mort' next, I remember that being good.
Just about to start reading the Tiffany aching books to my 7 yr old.
I would start at the beginning with colour of magic personally for the whole series.
I loved unseen academicals, found feet of clay to be properly creepy and i love all the watch ones. Oh and soul music is fantastic.
Whoever recommended the monstrous regiment to be read more than one, thank you. Will go back to that
Thanks all for my regular reminder of what a fine man Sir Terry was and that he is no longer with us and that we are a poorer people without him. It's bittersweet. Every time I see mention of him or his books I think, "for f**k's sake, Terry Pratchett is dead".
I started in order and can't actually remember the specifics of a lot of the books, they've all blended into one. Happy memories.
All of Pratchett's writing rewards the reader's good-faith effort, fairly or exquisitely and, more often than not, much more than many authors but, in all honesty, the very early books and characters -- and Rincewind -- require just that much more investment on the part of the reader to realise this reward.
> More sensible suggestion (as others have said): skip the first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. He really was just finding his feet then. You don't really miss very much and you can always go back if you really like the Rincewind storyline.
Vimes & the Watch, however, and, later, Moist, almost read themselves!
Start with them, fall in love, become invested as a fan and then go back to read the rest for full enjoyment.
But... I think, for adults, Vimes & the Watch are the most approachable from the outside, followed, probably, by the Witches. For kids -- certainly Tiffany, which has a lot of cross-over with the Witches, I guess...
I've had this debate with many friends, on many a long evening. It's one of our favourite "pop. culture" arguments, actually.
And, then, there is also the Librarian as a strong character. And we've been enjoying free organ concerts, here in Kempten (Allgäu), during the summer, which features truly stunning organs in old cathedrals, churches and basilica ....
I mean... I just want people to start at the point that is most likely to get them hooked and lead to a future in which they read all of it and, frankly, I think that point features Vimes and the Watch.
Agree - Sam Vimes is TP's most rounded character and Vimes' character arc makes a brilliant read. I also agree with someone above (sorry can't recall who - as well as Neil Gaiman) who rated The Night Watch as a favourite. It's a bit of an outlier in terms of the other Discworld books in many ways but it's a proper piece of literature and a work of art (never fails to bring a lump to the throat "All the little angels rise up, rise up...").
Also love the way that Ankh-Morpork develops as a messy but functional multi-species society over time and Terry's takes on themes like multi-racial tensions and extreme religions (ie Grags=fundamentalist Islam). All done with lots of humour, common sense and humanity.
This thread has prompted me to start re-reading the Death series (and looking forward to getting to Thief of Time and Ron the milkman). The Witches up next.
Years later I still can't believe that Terry has gone and there will be no more discworld books (just doesn't seem right). And sometimes I wonder what poor little Gaspode and Foul Ole Ron are up to, out there in the multiverse down another leg of the trousers of time.
I liked Gaspode. What was the line? Something like: 'He had his own moral code. Whilst he had often been a naughty boy, he had never been a bad dog'?
And Grebo: 'Many vampires have risen from the dead, none has ever risen from the cat.'
> Grags=fundamentalist Islam
Do you think the analogy is that narrow? I think they're fundamentalists of any religion. There's certainly something of the strict Orthodox Jew about them. There are probably links to be made to fundamentalists of all kinds outside religion as well.
> Agree - Sam Vimes is TP's most rounded character and Vimes' character arc makes a brilliant read.
Very closely linked I think the Detritus arc is also rather good although, slightly controversially, I do like Susan's story line with her struggling to retain her humanity vs her parents overly ambitious rational training.
The later Ankh-Morpork books are definitely an interesting take on the industrial revolution and associated changes. I do wonder how he would have managed hitting the present day and going beyond.