For those who love Discworld already, and those who have wondered “what the hell is that about and where do I start!?”
My dad has long been nagging me to read his beloved Discworld novels. I tried reading the first book: The Colour of Magic when I was around 14, and I just couldn’t get into it.
I picked up my first Discworld- which I would devour and love- around christmas time 2012, Hogfather- because it amused me that Death would ever want to be Father Christmas. I immediately got sucked in. Throughout 2013, I continued to read the first 18 books of Discworld. In order to review them all decently, I would have to re-read them all, which no doubt I will do “soon” (like so many of my books). However, I still have at least 20 more Discworld books I’ve not yet read, and I really wanted to do a post for those of you who have been wanting to try Discworld but are daunted by the sheer volume of books, or those who have no idea what it is about and want to know where to start! So here is my brief guide to Discworld Series, by Sir Terry Pratchett (also fondly known as Pterry).
Discworld is a fantasy series, set around the bizarre and weird happenings which occur on the Discworld, a flat planet, which rides through space balancing on the back of four elephants, which are standing on the back of a giant turtle- The Great A’tuin.
Now, the stories tend to follow the lives of the citizens who reside in the city of Ankh-Morpork, full of weird, colourful, and strange characters. Although occasionally you do get glimpes of other cities within the Discworld, such as Djelibaybi (take a minute and say it aloud!) and the small moutain village of Badass.
The book themselves are split into genres and each book follows a specific set which allows the series to be split into “Arcs” easily, and you can read the entire series out of order if you wish to, or as I tend to- by Arc.
The Main Arcs are as follows:-
–The Unseen University Arc– following the Academic Wizards and the Librarian (who is now an Ape due to a magical mishap and if you call him a Monkey, you are in trouble.)- oh, and a walking suitcase named Luggage with behaviour often like a faithful Labrador.
–The Witches Arc: following three witches who fit the female dichotomy where women are presented as either the Maiden, the Mother or the Crone- everyone in their right mind should fear Granny Weatherwax!…and probably Nanny Ogg’s cooking.
– The Death Arc: my favourite, following the character of Death- who in this series, wishes to understand and empathise with humans, so much so he tries a couple of career changes, including Father Christmas and a Farmer.
– The Guards/City Watch Arc: my second favourite arc, following the adventures of Ankh-Morpork’s greatest police officers. A force now made up, due to equality, of dwarves, golums and werewolves. Oh, and er…be careful, here be dragons- lots and lots of Dragons!
Along with the Arcs, Pratchett also writes the occasional stand-a-lones, like Good Omens with Neil Gaiman co-writing (click the link for my review of that one!), and the more recent release of Dodger. There is also a “young adult” string of Discworld, following the growth of a young witch named Tiffany Aching, who is learning her trade.
Pratchett is probably one of the greatest English writers, especially within the realms of fantasy. He took the bar to a whole new level and just blew audiences away. I highly, highly recommend this series, and honestly, the earlier books (see books 1-5) are a little slow and rocky, because there is a LOT of world-building within those novels and Pratchett was finding his feet- but my god, once the stage is set, he takes it and just makes it amazing! His writing is so humourous that often I wouldn’t be able to turn the page for five minutes due to fits of laughter!
I’m currently collecting the new pretty “collector’s library” editions of these books, which are hardback but perfect bag size, so I’m planning on re-reading these books on my train journeys- when I start this, I plan to review each and every one, and I am going to set up a Discworld index all to itself here on thebookheap! But I figured this was a good way to summarise my thoughts on the first twenty books of Discworld I have read without clogging up my review index ;3
Here are five of my favourite quotes from Discworld, to give you a taster of Pterry’s humour and sentiment:-
“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it “
(Book 11: Reaper Man- the Death Arc)
“She walked quickly through the darkness with the frank stride of someone who was at least certain that the forest, on this damp and windy night, contained strange and terrible things and she was it.”
(Book 6: Wyrd Sisters- The Witches Arc)
“They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they want to. This book is dedicated to those fine men”
(Book 8: Guards Guards- The City Watch Arc)
“This is space. It’s sometimes called the final frontier.
(Except that of course you can’t have a final frontier, because there’d be nothing for it to be a frontier to, but as frontiers go, it’s pretty penultimate . . . “
(Book 10: Moving Pictures – Unseen Univeristy Arc)
(Note: a spoof on making movies!)
“Nanny’s philosophy of life was to do what seemed like a good idea at the time, and do it as hard as possible. It had never let her down”
(Book 18: Maskerade- The Witches Arc)
(Note: a spoof on Phantom of the Opera!)