Terry Pratchett holds a place in the hearts of many for creating a fantasy world of characters and places so distant from the world you know yet somehow so familiar. Unlike other series, you don’t need to read all of the books from start to end. Rather you can follow certain characters along their paths and use them as introductions to Discworld. In fact, many think it is best to start later on in the chronology, when Sir Terry Pratchett knew his world more and had perfected his flow. Here are the books to pick up if you’d rather not start with The Colour of Magic.
5. Guards Guards
The first of the City Watch books, it follows the story of a dragon invading the great and odorous city of Ankmorpork and the efforts of the police force to stop it. One of the first books of Discworld, the book does an amazing job at introducing you to the city and its politics through the eyes of a Dwarf named Carrot. To tell you more of it would give away too many aspects of the mystery, but suffice to say it contains murder, suspense, cults, explosions and a million-to-one chance which just might work. Even if it’s not the first book you pick up, add it to your list. You won’t regret it.
4. The Wee Free Men
Tiffney Aching’s training as a witch starts at age nine in The Wee Free Men and continues until she is a capable young woman in The Shepherd’s Crown – the last book Terry Pratchett wrote for Discworld before his passing. The series starts off as Young Adult but continues into a full adult series by the end. Although I would hold off on reading The Shepherd’s Crown until you have read at least every Witches story as well as every Tiffany Aching story, I can think of fewer books better for introducing his world than her first outing. A witch of the chalk, and someone not to be messed with, she comes up against the Queen of the fairies with little more than her wits to help her. That little more being the Nac Mac Feegle, a group of rough Scottish fairy folk led by the enigmatic Rob Anybody. When it comes down to it, I know this will be one of the books I read to my children someday.
3. Wyrd Sisters
The three witches in Macbeth give witches a bad name. They aren’t all cackling evil beings. Some are important pillars of the community. And none come more stony and important than Granny Weatherwax. Weatherwax was Terry Pratchett’s favourite character, and it’s easy to see why. When the king dies and his brother takes over, she knows something must be up. And it’s not just Nanny Ogg’s knees when she’s had a few. The story is solid, the world well built, and the land is just as much a character as the protagonists’ themselves. Filled with clever references and characters that jump off the page, Wyrd Sisters shows that stories have power and that you don’t have to be a knight in shining armour to save the day.
4. Monstrous Regiment
In a one-off story set in a far off land on the disc, a young woman runs off to join the army; except women aren’t allowed in the army and this is not a Disney kind of war. It’s muddy, and bloody and most people don’t come home. Going by her brother’s name, with her hair cut short, she is placed into a regiment of outcasts. A troll, a vampire and an arsonist make up some of the regiment she must fight with and the people they are fighting are far more powerful and backed by far richer nations than their own little rural state. This is a book I’ve reread at least five times since I first picked it up, it is one of the best places to start to get into his writing style, his character creation and the wider world of the disc.
Mort is considered one of if not the best Discworld book. It focuses on Death, and his search for an apprentice so that Death could finally enjoy living a little. Death was one of if not the most prevalent and human characters Terry Pratchett ever wrote. He wasn’t evil, or cruel. His adventures raged from saving the Discworld version of Christmas in Hogfather to playing guitar in Soul Music, but this is the story that defined him. It ranges across the Disc, visits many different religions and made me laugh enough for me to drop it at one point and spend a few minutes teary-eyed trying to find my place. Read this book.
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