A quick Discworld question

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A quick Discworld question

Postby Preacher » 23 Dec 2011, 20:04

So much to my shame, I have never read much Terry Pratchett, but I have been constantly told to read them. Discworld seems like a logical place to start, as it is the only series I know of his. What I know of the series is that its not a single story line but many books broken into serveral character stories. So does that mean starting at the first published and going through to the latest won't work? Is there some particular order I must read them in, or just start at the start of a character series and go from there?
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JustAName » 23 Dec 2011, 20:06

I personally started with Equal Rites (a friend gave it to me), then went back to Color of Magic and worked my way along. However, it is worth noting that Color of Magic is not one of the best, and if you feel you'll need convincing about the series, maybe start with a more recommended one. My favorites are Thief of Time (needs a lot of others for backstory, though) and Monstrous Regiment.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby theDreamer » 23 Dec 2011, 20:17

Thief of Time is good.

I liked the Color of Magic.

Tis the perfect time to read Hogfather.

Which, I just realized, I deleted about 2 months ago for space (the movie, not the book).

I so could have been watching it RIGHT NOW.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Master Gunner » 23 Dec 2011, 20:20

I started with Guards! Guards!, then went back and read through most of Rincewind's series (which starts with Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic), along with some more Guards books, before going back and reading through the whole series in chronological order (now that I have them all).

Guards! Guards! is fairly self-contained (at that point in the series), and certainly a damn good book, so it's a pretty good starting point I think, to see if you like PTerry's type of humour, before reading the rest.

If you wish to read each sub-series separately, there are charts such as this one, to show which ones are in which series, and how they crossover.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JayBlanc » 23 Dec 2011, 20:34

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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JackSlack » 23 Dec 2011, 20:50

Meanwhile, I'll argue a different set and suggest The Wee Free Men as the first one to go for.

The reason for this is that it's the last book he wrote as a 'starter' novel*; it began the Tiffany Aching sequence of books. Terry Pratchett himself didn't fully 'get' Discworld early on, even he admits it. The Color of Magic, certainly, is vastly different from the tone it would eventually settle upon, and I personally don't think that Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! even completely were all the way there. But The Wee Free Men was. He had the tone and mood and idea down. It's an introductory book, assuming no knowledge of the world for a reader. And, for my money? It gets the basic thrust of the Witches sequence even better than the Witches sequence does.

In addition, it uses chapters, something his adult books don't. This is quite handy to ease a new reader into his world.

* Duckay points out that you could instead consider Going Postal as the last 'starter' novel. To which I say: Stop confusing the issue, Duckay.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 23 Dec 2011, 20:53

What good timing - I was watching the adaptation of Going Postal (with Jeff from Coupling as Moist) when this went up.

I started with Wyrd Sisters and was a bit "meh", and then moved on to Guards! Guards! and then Mort, and came to love the series as a whole. Currently, my favourite is probably Going Postal, which wouldn't be a bad starting point, but may not be one of the best, either.

I'd recommend Guards! Guards!, personally, but it does depend a little on your style and what moves you. You might also like to start with something like Pyramids or The Truth, which I really enjoyed.

It should possibly be noted that the "Industrial Revolution" books defined above share similar themes, but they're fairly self-contained, with the exception of Making Money which is very much a sequel to Going Postal.

ETA: You know what, I love that we're almost all in complete disagreement. But please, don't be discouraged! Honestly, you could start with just about any book, even if there's ones in the same character series before it, because they still are more or less self-contained and you'll not feel at too much of a loss for important context.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby auberginequeen » 23 Dec 2011, 21:14

JackSlack wrote:Meanwhile, I'll argue a different set and suggest The Wee Free Men as the first one to go for.

The reason for this is that it's the last book he wrote as a 'starter' novel*; it began the Tiffany Aching sequence of books. Terry Pratchett himself didn't fully 'get' Discworld early on, even he admits it. The Color of Magic, certainly, is vastly different from the tone it would eventually settle upon, and I personally don't think that Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! even completely were all the way there. But The Wee Free Men was. He had the tone and mood and idea down. It's an introductory book, assuming no knowledge of the world for a reader. And, for my money? It gets the basic thrust of the Witches sequence even better than the Witches sequence does.

In addition, it uses chapters, something his adult books don't. This is quite handy to ease a new reader into his world.

* Duckay points out that you could instead consider Going Postal as the last 'starter' novel. To which I say: Stop confusing the issue, Duckay.


My dad is really into Terry Pratchett and I found The Wee Free Men to be the most approachable as well. I tried starting at The Colour of Magic and Mort but found them a bit hard to get into. Had a difficult time relating to any of the characters, the tone was kind of dry, etc. The Wee Free Men, conversely, was rather exciting and colourful, and was definitely the one I found easiest to understand/appreciate even without all the necessary background knowledge.

So basically +1 to what JackSlack said.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Ahlir » 23 Dec 2011, 21:18

I started with Wyrd Sisters, but that was because I used to watch the cartoon of that and Soul Music on TV. I personally think any book is a good starting point. Monstrous Regiment is an interesting stand alone book. I've always loved The Last Continent, but I guess that one is only really good if your Aussie or know a lot about Aust.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Ottoman » 23 Dec 2011, 21:18

Duckay wrote:We're almost all in complete disagreement.
I'll help! I mean, actually help, by thirding the recommendation for Guards! Guards!. [EDIT: And Going Postal, which I totally didn't forget, because how could I, it's bussing amazing.]

While The Colour of Magic / The Light Fantastic is among my personal favourites, the universe is still poorly-formed and nebulous at that point, and the writing is quite different from almost everything that comes afterwards.

If you know you're going to have plenty of time, I'd start at the beginning regardless, and progress chronologically. Afterwards, you'll probably want to go back and re-read them, and the second time through you should try doing one arc at a time.

You'll have diminishing returns after that, but two times though is definitely a must.

Also, the Chalk arc isn't really a part of the main Discworld series, so hold off on those ones until later, and don't read The Last Hero until you've gone through all of the main arcs.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Avistew » 23 Dec 2011, 23:34

I tried reading some pratchett (the Colour of Magic and Good Omens) and I have to say I don't like his style.
Weird thing though, I love his stories. If someone else reads his books and tells them to me I can't get enough of it. But his writing just doesn't seem to do anything for me.

I have the opposite issue with Douglas Adams. I adore his writing style, but I couldn't care less about his stories or characters. I don't care about what happens, I just want to know how he'll tell it.

Lots of people told me the Colour of Magic isn't that good so I should base my opinion on that, but I actually liked it more than Good Omens, so I don't think I'll love his other stuff. And I love Neil Gaiman's stuff so I really don't think it's his part of Good Omens I didn't like. Really, I read Good Omens and the Colour of Magic in a similar fashion: wanting to know what happen next but unable to get myself to keep reading. (Yes, it does mean I haven't finished either).

Anyways. I would usually recommend reading books in the order they were released because 1) you get a progression of the author's style and 2) the books were written knowing exactly what was in the previous books, but not in the following ones. And it probably assumes, to some extent, people having read them.

For instance, I might be wrong, but it seems it would be incredibly obnoxious if every Discworld book re-introduced the world with the whole explanation, every single time.
Sure you can pick up stuff from context, but then when you read the first book it will be explaining a lot of things you already know and that might be annoying too.

Anyways, I hope you like the books wherever you decide to start.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 24 Dec 2011, 03:05

I just love the Vimes novels. And Reaper Man. Those are the ones I've re-read the most.

I don't like the live-action adaptations as much. Maybe it's because I'm always thinking "It's not Discworld enough".
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby iamafish » 24 Dec 2011, 03:17

I personally started off with The Wee Free Men, then read Witches Abroad, then Mort, the Colour of Magic and finally Going Postal (which i am currently reading), so I'm pretty new to the series as well.

I loved the Wee Free Men and reinforce the recommendation. Don't be put off by the fact that it's a YA book, because it's really good nonetheless, and the fact that it's a YA book means that it is somewhat introductory and doesn't assume any prior knowledge.

That being said, Pratchett is pretty good at making sure his books stand alone. Witches Abroad is in the middle of a series and I found it perfectly accessible.

While I enjoyed Mort and The Colour of Magic, I thing Going Postal is one of the best ones I've read so far and I'll probably start my mum off with Going Postal - she's expressed a desire to give them a look. I think it will be a good intro for her because it doesn't go into the science of the world too much, which can get a bit odd.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JackSlack » 24 Dec 2011, 03:19

Ottoman wrote:Also, the Chalk arc isn't really a part of the main Discworld series, so hold off on those ones until later, and don't read The Last Hero until you've gone through all of the main arcs.


For the clarification of the OP, the Chalk arc is the Tiffany Aching sequence of The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. I also disagree with Ottoman that they're a bad place to start (I think they're an excellent place to start) but that's a matter of opinion.

iamafish wrote:While I enjoyed Mort and The Colour of Magic, I thing Going Postal is one of the best ones I've read so far and I'll probably start my mum off with Going Postal - she's expressed a desire to give them a look. I think it will be a good intro for her because it doesn't go into the science of the world too much, which can get a bit odd.


That reminds me: Do check out The Science of Discworld at some point. It's really, really good. But it's not a 'core' Discworld book by any means. A wonderful diversion, though, and very educational!
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JustAName » 24 Dec 2011, 03:45

I'll chime in on the Going Postal front. Can't believe I forgot about it.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Keab42 » 24 Dec 2011, 05:28

Going Postal, The Truth, Pyramids or Small Gods are all fairly self-contained.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby LogicSword » 24 Dec 2011, 05:47

I'll echo all the "Going Postal"s in here, it's fantastic and it was the one that got me into the series.

Or you could watch the Hogfather adaptation, which is brilliantly done and might serve as a nice introduction.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby The Jester » 24 Dec 2011, 06:33

I disagree with the Hogfather adaptation. I didn't like it.

I started with Guards! Guards! and I think it's a good entry point. Wyrd Sisters would also be good. From there, I'd say follow the character series (as perfectly illustrated in the chart that JayBlanc posted), and maybe intersperse that with some of the self-contained ones, like Pyramids.

The thing about Going Postal is... while it's very good, it's in a much more developed, refined and established universe than Guards! Guards!, so if you read it then go back to some of the earlier ones it might be a little disorienting.

The Tiffany Aching ones (Starting with Wee Free Men) could also be a good entry-point, but if you read them first (or at least, before the Witches ones) you won't understand the significance and threat of the Elves, nor Granny Weatherwax's importance.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby asrz » 24 Dec 2011, 07:48

I started with Going Postal which I loved and would definitely recommend and then proceeded to read whatever I could get from the library, which in no particular order has been Mort, The Colour of Magic, Guards, Guards, Making Money, Equal Rites and Unseen Academicals. All of which I've greatly enjoyed.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby plummeting_sloth » 24 Dec 2011, 08:19

I think a good starting point depends on other interests you might have. I would suggest:

If you like intrepid reporter stories, check out The Truth

If you like "How they made it" musician stories, Soul Music

Fan of mid-life crisis fiction? Check out Reaper Man

Like Chandler-style detective pulp? Any of the Vimes books are good. They start with Guards, Guards, but I think Night Watch is a great place to start. Also good if you like books about revolution and ideals

Gender-Theory studier? Monstrous Regiment and quite of few of the Witches books.
Speaking of those books. If your a Grimm deconstructor, definitely grab Witches Abroad while Shakespeare fans should head toward Wyrd Sisters

Heist/Conman story fans should check out Going Postal and anyone with an economic bent should hit Making Money (which I've heard is referenced in more than a few econ classes)

Studier of religion? Absolutely read Small Gods. (IMOP the best Discworld book)

Finally, just want to make fun of Australia? Grab The Lost Continent
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Keab42 » 24 Dec 2011, 08:57

Andrew Loyd-Webber fans should check out Masquerade...
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby empath » 24 Dec 2011, 10:18

The thing to remember about the Discworld is "it is a world and a mirror of worlds" - specific books are focused to satirize and deconstruct specific topics; tCoM (and its second half, tLF) were parodies of the fantasy genre itself.

Looking back over the shelf and a half of novels I've got, Pratchett's style evolved and grew quite a bit; in all honesty, the references and gags in the first book were much less subtle and...well, amateurish. That may be the reason The Colour of Magic isn't a great book to start things off with. Equal Rites or Guards! Guards! can be good starters, although they're still early along that 'evolution of Discworld style' scale, too.

On the other hand, as admirable as Going Postal would be as an introduction (the reader follows this new character of Moist Lipwig as he encounters 'the old denizens' of Ankh-Morpork for the first time himself), it also leaves off a LOT of events and character development that could otherwise leave someone puzzling over idiosyncrasies that people exhibit, only to read earlier books later and go "ohhhh! THAT's why..." a fair bit. :)

Most of the suggestions here are good, though. And if you promise to be careful with 'em,, I could even see about helping you out by loaning a book or two out of my collection.


Anyways, in closing, I'll just say:

"See you later, Civilized!" ;)
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 24 Dec 2011, 14:45

If I had to recommend one I'd say Feet Of Clay. Sure it's a long way down the Watch arc but it's still a great murder-mystery and doesn't really require any previous reading.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby plummeting_sloth » 24 Dec 2011, 19:28

I would also add that, even though they're already my favorite series in the collection, if you like really a good, fleshed out character arc, read the Vimes series. He really is probably one of the most fully realized people in the books, and I think functions as a great check on any goody-two-shoes ideas of a heroic character.

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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Preacher » 24 Dec 2011, 21:38

So let's see if I've got this right. (Feel free to read this in a high pitch frantic voice...)

The Series as a whole is a mirror of our world, mocking set ideas and such, like religion, the fantsay genre itself. The first couple of books, like Colour of Magic and The Fantastic light are not the best and differ vastly in style to his later books, as the universe has only just begun and Pratchett is still getting things in order and figuring out what to do with the series. There doesn't seem to be any mandatory starting point, as in a book that must be read before all others to understand the verse. The Science of Discworld is an offshoot, not madatory to read in terms of the series but still a good read none the less. There are, for want of a better term, stand-alone books that can be read without prior backstory as the plot is fairly self contained. The likely canditate you all seem to think is a good introduction to the series is Going Postal or Guards, Guards as the style is appropriote for those new to the series and they start an arc, or are self contained.

(And breathe...)

In Summation to this question I am quickly regretting asking. Starting at the start, while it may differ in style, and quality, getting to know the characters idiosyncrasies, and see there devolpement, seems to be the way to go, as I find the idea of watching an author change and shape his creation over time appealing. But if I find Colour of Magic too annoying, again for want of a better word, move on to the aforementioned Going Postal or Guards, Guards.

I've just got it all wrong, haven't I? Or did I just disregard all your advice, if so, sorry.
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