A quick Discworld question

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empath
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby empath » 24 Dec 2011, 21:45

No, no - if you wanna start with something like Thud! or Unseen Academicals or - what's that new one I saw in hardcover while calendar shopping? - you're perfectly entitled to do so. And more power to ya!

And actually, your summation sounds like a good distillation of all of our collective advice! (either that, or I've gone and gotten it all wrong, too - which is especially funny as I gave some of that advice ;) )
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Ottoman » 24 Dec 2011, 22:17

No worries, you're right on.

I thought of something else when you mentioned skipping to Guards or Postal, though. (Seasoned Pratchettfags, back me up here.) Looking at a chronological list, it seems like the first four novels can be truncated with relatively little consequence. Technically, they are the beginnings of the Rincewind, Witches, and Death arcs, but they're all sort of distantly connected compared to the rest.

Colour / Light is quite self-contained, in that a big ol' reset button gets punched at the end, and all that comes out of it is The Luggage and some setup for Interesting Times.

Equal Rites isn't really about the Witches as they appear later, and of course the MC never returns, so there's that. The Coven isn't properly introduced until Wyrd Sisters.

Finally, Mort is unique among the Death arc because Mort is actually in it, rather than Susan; it gets alluded to in the rest of the arc, but numerous flashbacks and whatnot do a good enough job of explaining the key points for someone who hasn't read it.

Actually, even Sourcery could be left off; Eric wouldn't make much sense, but Rincewind doesn't show up again until much later anyway, and by that time he gets reintroduced nicely.

That leaves only two other novels to be skipped by starting at GuardsPyramids and Wyrd Sisters. The former is a one-off, but the latter is some serious introduction to the Witches.

Anyway, Preacher, nobody recommends skipping these, but if you really can't stand his earlier writing style, then you won't really disadvantage yourself story-wise by moving ahead.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Fezzul » 25 Dec 2011, 00:42

If you just want to get a feel for what the series is like, 'Amazing Maurice' is a great place to start. All the Discworld themes and characterization style, but not much cumbersome backstory. Very nice introduction.

It's also short, so less of a time commitment if you don;t like it.

I can also highly recommend the audio books read by Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick). That way you can read whilst on the subway or in the car. He reads beautifully, gets the characters perfect, and I believe unabridged versions are available.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 25 Dec 2011, 03:05

Ottoman wrote:Equal Rites isn't really about the Witches as they appear later, and of course the MC never returns, so there's that.


Technically, she does, 30 books later, in I Shall Wear Midnight. But yes, I very much see your point.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby plummeting_sloth » 25 Dec 2011, 09:09

Yeah... I understand the frustration. Honestly, it's hard to make a truly bad choice here. It's really about how far along you have to go before you get really hooked in. That chart above is a really good resource though. If you're just not feeling the book on one of those tracks, jump down to another and see if that strikes you any better. There's actually a pretty good quote data-base for Pratchett I'll list below. If anything there strikes you as awesome, maybe check that one out first.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Discworld
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 25 Dec 2011, 10:13

"and say fare-thee-well to thine eyebrows" :D
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Smeghead » 27 Dec 2011, 17:04

Personally I would advice starting with Guards! Guards! Because it is the starting point for the city watch, and they will appear in a majority of the books.

Also if reading the older ones you have to "forget" a lot of the rules and stuff that are introduced in them, because after a while Pratchett seems to have gone back over them and decided to toss them out the window and pretend they didn't happen.
For example in the early books its mentioned that wizards fear the number 8 (which is ironic considering that in the early books a wizard has to be the 8:th son of an 8:th son), but neither of these things will be mentioned again (Sorcery is probably the last one with the 8:th son rule).

In making money its even mentioned that "wizards aren't suppose to marry" but that is scoffed at and explained away with saying something along the lines "Marry; yes. Getting girls; no" which is something you wouldn't have been told in the earlier books since in them; wizards having children might lead to sorcerers.

Also, in the earlier books its mentioned that Death doesn't show up for everyone, and instead have his servants do the job. That idea kind of disappeared after a while and death shows up for everyone (and besides; Death doesn't have any servants except for Albert)
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 27 Dec 2011, 22:21

Smeghead wrote:In making money its even mentioned that "wizards aren't suppose to marry" but that is scoffed at and explained away with saying something along the lines "Marry; yes. Getting girls; no" which is something you wouldn't have been told in the earlier books since in them; wizards having children might lead to sorcerers.


In Mort, even, it's suggested that it's "bad for the magic", which could be taken as simply an old wives' tale to prevent wizards trying anyway and making a sorcerer, except at the end of the book, it's stated also that a wizard who has ended up in a relationship "doesn't do much magic" any more. So it's all a bit ambiguous in the early books what the "celibate wizard" thing actually means.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 28 Dec 2011, 01:45

I should point out that in the books it's not "sorcerors" it's "sourcerors". Whether it's a type by Mr Pratchett or it's a hint that they are actually a source for magic there it is.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 28 Dec 2011, 01:51

You know, I almost typed "sourcerers" for that reason, and then I reread Smeghead's post and thought, "hang on, am I getting myself mixed up?". I knew that the book Sourcery was spelled that way, but I couldn't for the life of me remember any further than that.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Cybertrash » 28 Dec 2011, 04:39

I actually started with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic and absolutely loved them, I'm surprised to see that they're considered among the weaker books. I later went on to read Moving Pictures, Guards, Guards! and Mort, in which order I can't remember, this was all a few years ago.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Smeghead » 28 Dec 2011, 04:57

Yeah I kind of wrote that in the middle of the night and didn't bother with a spell-check.

I didn't actually know about Discword until I saw the animated adaptations of Wyerd Sisters and Soul Music, but then I noticed that my brother had a few of his books and I started to read them, and been hocked ever since.

One of the reasons why i recomand starting with Guards! Guards! (followed by the other City Watch books) is because unlike a lot of the other early books, the City Watch books are rather streight forward. No concepts or ideas taking form to kill people or anything.

They are "easy" like that. Although Nightwatch took a sudden turn and went to some really dark places.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JustAName » 28 Dec 2011, 05:31

Not necessarily dark so much as sombre? Anyway, yeah, Guards! Guards! is a good starting place.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Drunk On Mystery » 28 Dec 2011, 09:30

The important thing to remember is that with only a few exceptions(like the later Rincewind books and Moving Pictures) there's not really a BAD place to start, only places that aren't necessarily as good. There's nothing to stop you from reading Jingo as your first Discworld novel. It's a great book! I liked it a ton.

Of course, you simply won't understand it or enjoy it as much if you don't know who Sam Vimes, and Carrot Ironfounderson, and Angua, and Detritus, and Fred and Nobby, and the Patrician all are and what their back-stories are. Without that knowledge, it's a very funny send-up of wartime jingoism and the stupidity it brings. With that knowledge, it's all that but a lot funnier too.

So your best option, in so much as their can be a "best" option, is to either decide on which plot chain you want to start with and pick up the first book of that series, OR to pick up one of his stand alone books and start there.

The image JayBlanc posted is a good reference, and picking any of the 1st books in those chains makes for a good reference. Like folklore? Go with the witches books. Like noir? You'll LOVE the City Watch books. Like general fantasy trope satire? Have fun traveling the world with Rincewind. Like existentialism and philosophy in your fantasy novels? Read the Death books.

If you're interested in starting with a standalone? I think Small Gods is not only the best book Pratchett ever wrote, but it's one of the best commentaries on organized religion I've ever seen. If I'm picking a starting point for people, that's the one I tend to recommend. It's also the first or second book chronologically, since it takes place several millenia before the rest of the series. I think Pyramids takes place earlier, but I'm not 100% on that. However, Pyramids and Small Gods are thematically similar, but Small Gods is a superior novel.

A couple things I would say about that image though:

1. The image lists Equal Rites as the first witch book. I'd say it's really more of a stand alone. The Wyrd Sisters is what I'd consider the first witch book.

2. What the image lists as the "Industrial Revolution" books is really not a chain so much as it is a collection of individual, one-off novels that share a few characters. The only two that are really a sequence are Going Postal and Making Money, which both star Moist Von Lipwig. Those books, though, have little to do with Monstrous Regiment or the Truth, other than the fact that the newspaper industry exists.

3. The people before who were confused were correct. It's "Sourcerers", as in people who are themselves sources of magic. The best way to think of it is that wizards can control magic that already exists on Discworld, but Sourcerers can simply create as much of it as they want/need at any given time, allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want(except avoid being hit in the face with a sock full of coins).
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Merrymaker_Mortalis » 28 Dec 2011, 11:41

What!
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 28 Dec 2011, 14:24

Drunk On Mystery wrote:It's also the first or second book chronologically, since it takes place several millenia before the rest of the series. I think Pyramids takes place earlier, but I'm not 100% on that. However, Pyramids and Small Gods are thematically similar, but Small Gods is a superior novel.


That's kind of ambiguous, really. Pratchett went on record saying all the books are in chronological order in terms of history, but Small Gods takes place over a hundred years. When asked if that means the events are a hundred years in the past, or if the ending is a hundred years in the future, and what that means for the fact that some of the philosophers from Small Gods appear in Pyramids (despite the Ankh-Morpork sequences seeming fairly modern), but the character of Brutha is a historical religious icon in later books... he had no real answer.

This would all be pretty unremarkable as a "well, clearly Pyramids and Small Gods are the exceptions or something", except the whole thing was referenced later in Thief of Time.

Thief of Time wrote:Seen through her business eye, history was very strange indeed. The scars stood out. The history of the country of Ephebe was puzzling, for example. Either its famous philosophers lived for a very long time, or they inherited their names, or extra bits had been stitched into history there. The history of Omnia was a mess. Two centuries had been folded into one, by the look of it, and it was only because of the mind-set of the Omnians, whose religion in any case mixed the past and future with the present, that it could possibly have passed unnoticed.


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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 28 Dec 2011, 15:18

That book was fairly useful from a retcon/reboot point of view. Maybe DC Comics could use it as a model for the next Crisis :D (but that's by the by)
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby plummeting_sloth » 28 Dec 2011, 15:39

Drunk On Mystery wrote:2. What the image lists as the "Industrial Revolution" books is really not a chain so much as it is a collection of individual, one-off novels that share a few characters. The only two that are really a sequence are Going Postal and Making Money, which both star Moist Von Lipwig. Those books, though, have little to do with Monstrous Regiment or the Truth, other than the fact that the newspaper industry exists.


Well... it's not so much about continuing characters as certain thematic elements that link them together. They're all about the coming of a new age to Discworld through technological, sociological and governmental changes. The each pick a certain change and base a plot and characters around it. I think it's important that the one character who could really foresee and interfere with these changes if he wanted to, Vetinari, is featured in all of them.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby JackSlack » 03 Jan 2012, 15:31

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


No no, you don't.

Given your preference for starting as early as possible in the series, I'd do it this way.

Step 1: Attempt Colour of Magic (1st book).
IF you enjoy it, THEN finish it and move on to The Light Fantastic then continue on down the line;
ELSE move to step 2.
Step 2: Attempt Mort.
IF you enjoy it, THEN finish it and move on to Sourcery then continue on down the line;
ELSE move on to step 3.
Step 3: Attempt Guards! Guards!
IF you enjoy it, THEN finish it and move on to Eric then continue on down the line;
ELSE move on to step 4.
Step 4: Attempt Going Postal.
IF you enjoy it, THEN finish it and choose another damn book, whichever one you damn well please;
ELSE Move on to step 5.
Step 5: Accept Pratchett isn't your thing; enjoy life.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby RedNightmare » 04 Jan 2012, 00:21

Read the first 20ish pages of Jingo, fall in love with Samuel Vimes and then start the Watch series with Guards! Guards!
Thats what I did and Vimes is my favorite novel character of all time. (I combined him with Jack O'Neill to create my current D&D character)
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 04 Jan 2012, 06:03

I would agree with the Lawful part. The Good part I would debate though. He comes across as straddling the line between Good and Neutral. He does good things but he's not really a good person (compare Carrot who is the epitome of Lawful Good).
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Geoff_B » 04 Jan 2012, 14:07

It was indeed and it was only Carrot (lawful good) who was able to talk him down from it.

I don't know why but I just thought of the scene from Batman: Hush where Jim Gordon has to talk Batman down from killing the Joker. Maybe Batman and Vimes have something in common?
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Duckay » 04 Jan 2012, 14:10

I don't know. In general, I think Vimes is a very good person. He's not necessarily a nice person and he's a long way from being a perfect person, but he's ultimately good.

But then, this is why alignment is an imperfect system.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby The Jester » 04 Jan 2012, 15:12

The darkness in Vimes is what makes him such a damn good policeman, and the reason he was so incredibly on edge and on a hair trigger in Men At Arms was because he was a recovering alcoholic in it, and was dealing with the stresses of kicking off the expansion of the Watch.
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Re: A quick Discworld question

Postby Merrymaker_Mortalis » 04 Jan 2012, 17:57

In Snuff he acknowledges that he can easily think-like a murderer. It makes his job easier at catching them, but it also disturbs himself at how much he knows because of how he would do things.

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