Discworld is one of the most remarkable fantasy series ever created. I honestly hope that Terry Pratchett, RIP, has no skeletons in his closet because I would hate to retract that pronouncement. Please stay gold, Terry, in the afterlife and in our memory.
Each book takes place on the flat Discworld, on the back of a turtle. This turtle floats along in space, and its inhabitants work to make their worlds better or live their lives. Kings die, the policemen watch the streets, and sometimes Death has to step in when the Auditors want to wipe out life.
There is the traditional Discworld reading order, which is listed here, which is the order Terry wrote them up until his death. There are 47 books in the series, several short stories, and supplemental books like The Science of Discworld, Where’s My Cow, and The World of Poo. I read them out of order, depending on what was at the library and know there is more than one Discworld reading order, depending on your preferences. Here’s where I suggest starting.
The books always start with this perpetually unlucky wizard. Rincewind, who hates adventure but always gets drawn into it, appears in the following books:
To be honest, Rincewind isn’t my favorite character, although he is a good one. He’s certainly compelling as a reluctant hero who has to bluff all the time because he has no choice. When cornered, Rincewind proves to be dangerous.
Death, remarkably enough, stole the show more than a few times. The Grim Reaper has to visit everyone because, as he testily puts it, “There is no justice. Just me.” He appears in every book, remarking on the situation of each person’s reaped soul and death.
Yet Death wants to be normal. He wants to give up his duties, settle down in a fish shop, maybe have a family. His attempt to set up a replacement goes south, but he gets a granddaughter, resourceful Susan. Then when the Auditors replace him, Death fights to get his old purpose back. Susan can’t replace her grandfather, but she can invite him for tea and biscuits and help him stop apocalyptic threats.
Granny Weatherwax owns the Disc, except for the one time she doesn’t. She doesn’t like to talk about that time, because witches never admit defeat. Instead, she focuses on how she has to be the good witch, and right all the time.
The witches of Lancre also include Nanny Ogg, Magrat, and later on Agnes/Perdita. They work hard to make sure that order is kept on the Chalk, that people don’t need to make the hard choices, and to discourage girls from wanting to learn magic, because witchcraft is a lonely business. Nanny Ogg also enjoys telling bawdy jokes and can never resist one.
The books in this sub-series include the following:
Terry Pratchett didn’t expect Sam Vimes to rise to the occasion. He planned for Carrot Ironfoundersson, a human foundling raised by dwarves, to enter the city, rescue the citizens from the dragon, and take over the story. That didn’t happen. Vimes decides to take charge before Carrot gets in trouble arresting the Thieves Guild, and when a dragon attempts to usurp Patrician Vetinari, the leader of the city. They learn to work together; Carrot reminds Vimes why he became a policeman in the first place, and Vimes grounds Carrot to adjust to the city’s morally grey area.
The Watch, of course, has more leaders than Vimes and Carrot. We have Angua, a werewolf lieutenant that stays far away from silver, Detritus the troll who hasn’t quite mastered Mr. Crossbow, and Nobby Nobbs, who is well, Nobby Nobbs. They would follow Vimes to the end of the Earth, and sometimes they very well do. While they can’t keep complete order in the city, they try their best.
The books include the following Discworld novels:
Moist Von Lipwig runs scams. It’s what he does. At least, until Vetinari hires him to run various institutions in Ankh-Morpork that have fallen by the wayside. He starts with the defunct post office. Then he moves on to the bank. And each time it’s thrilling, for him at least. He needs the challenge to entertain him. And all the while, he starts to make amends for his actions swindling people out of money, in another past life.
One has to admit Vetinari is good. The Patrician knows how to use a man with useful skills. Moist proves he’s up to the task because he doesn’t want to die. But soon it becomes more than that.
Moist’s books are as follows:
Tiffany Aching is one of the best protagonists a book could have. She becomes a witch not because she wants the power or the glory, but to protect her home. This starts with protecting her brother from the fey, talking down a hive mind and the physical manifestation of winter.
I adore Tiffany because she takes no nonsense, like other witches. She doesn’t need Granny Weatherwax’s stern nature, however, or Nanny Ogg’s drinking. All she needs is mettle, a brain, and her community.
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