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Terry Pratchett


ankh-morpork and beyond

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I got started reading Pratchett's Discworld novels to Jane because I couldn't help myself. I'd start out reading silently, then hit a passage that was so hysterically funny that I had to share it with Jane. But first I had to explain what was going on, so that she'd appreciate it. She appreciated the humor, but depreciated the interruptions, and eventually it became easier to read them out loud from square one. He's written a number of other series and stand-alone novels as well.

The Discworld Series

Swimming through space in a universe other than our own is Great A'Tuin, a turtle of truly astronomic size. Standing on his back are four giant elephants whose names elude me at the moment; and resting on their backs is the Discworld, the edges of which glitter with the majestic rainbows of the Rimfall. On this truly absurd planet, orbited by its own tiny sun, are set the most consistently amusing and implausible collection of novels I know. The series is divided into several subseries; I'll take them in turn.

Rincewind

The earliest concern Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in the history of the Disc's great academy of magic, Unseen University. The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic concern Rincewind's travails while guiding Twoflower and his Luggage about the Discworld. Twoflower is the Disc's first tourist, a native of the Counterweight Continent; his Luggage is simply unspeakable. Also, hungry. These two books mostly poke fun at the sword-and-sorcery genre of fantasy, and are widely regarded as the weakest books in the series; Pratchett gets much better as he goes on.

The essence of Rincewind's life is survival; the essence of any book about Rincewind is the chase. We know he will somehow manage to stay one step ahead of those who want to kill him--or, at least, that he will escape in time. As a result, the Rincewind books tend to read as rather bizarre travelogs of strange people and dangerous places...or, more likely, dangerous people in strange places.

The Rincewind books are as follows:

The Colour of Magic
Reviews: 1 February 1998
The Light Fantastic
Reviews: 1 February 1998
Sourcery
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Eric
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Interesting Times
Reviews: 1 May 1997
The Last Continent
Reviews: 1 July 1999

The Witches

This subseries kicked off with the introduction of Granny Weatherwax in the third Discworld book, Equal Rites, hit its stride with Wyrd Sisters, and is still going strong. The series concerns the doings of the village witches of the Kingdom of Lancre, a small kingdom perched on the side of the Ramtop Mountains. The inimitable and crotchety Granny Weatherwax is the chief witch--or would be if witches held with putting on such airs, which they don't, at least while Granny is looking. Her close friend is the expansive and lusty Nanny Ogg, matriarch of the enormous Ogg clan. They are joined over time by two junior witches, Magrat Garlick and Agnes Nitt.

Over the course of the series the witches travel all over the Disc, but most of the books take place in Lancre itself, especially the priceless Wyrd Sisters. It's sort of like Macbeth, only the witches are the good guys.

The Witches books are as follows:

Equal Rites
Reviews: 1 March 1998, 1 April 2002, 1 July 2002
Wyrd Sisters
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 April 2002, 1 July 2002
Witches Abroad
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 December 2002, 1 January 2003
Lords and Ladies
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 December 2002, 1 January 2003
Maskerade
Reviews: 1 October 1997, 1 January 2003, 1 May 2003
Carpe Jugulum
Reviews: 1 June 1999

The Guards

These books concern themselves with the doings of Captain Samuel Vimes and Corporal Carrot of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch as they deal with dragons (large and small), golems, king-makers, evil weapons, assassins, and that most feared denizen of Ankh-Morpork, its ruler, the Patrician. As Pratchett himself says, Ankh-Morpork is governed on the principle of One Man, One Vote. The Patrician is the Man; he has the Vote. Titles include:

Guards, Guards
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 January 2003
Men at Arms
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 January 2003
Feet of Clay
Reviews: 1 January 1997, 1 January 2003
Jingo
Reviews: 1 July 1998
The Fifth Elephant
Reviews: 1 April 2000, 1 August 2001
Night Watch
Reviews: 1 January 2003

Death

Death has a walk-on part in every Discworld book; if anyone dies, Death is there to collect them, bones, hooded robed, scythe, and all. Riding his white horse, Binky. "Gosh!", they say, "Shouldn't there be harps and things?" NO, says Death, THERE'S ONLY ME. (That's how Death talks.)

Death's primary difficulty is that he wants to understand people. He's been watching them for the entire history of the Disc, and he wants to be like them. He's no good at it, although he does acquire a fondess for cats and curry (though not together). Hogfather, the most recent Death book, may be the best Discworld book to date. Titles include:

Mort
Reviews: 1 March 1998, 1 April 2002
Reaper Man
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Soul Music
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 February 2004
Hogfather
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 February 2004
Thief of Time
Reviews: 1 June 2001, 1 July 2001

Other Discworld Books

There are also a few standalone novels in the series; while involving continuing characters, they aren't really part of any of the continuing series.

The Discworld Companion, written with Stephen Briggs, is a sort of dictionary of all things Discworld.

Moving Pictures
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Pyramids
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Small Gods
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Thief of Time
Reviews: 1 June 2001, 1 July 2001
The Last Hero
Reviews: 1 November 2001
The Discworld Companion
Written with Stephen Briggs. Reviews: 1 February 1999
The Science of Discworld
With Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen Reviews: 1 November 2000
The Truth
Reviews: 1 September 2002
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Reviews: 1 May 2003
The Wee Free Men
Reviews: 1 August 2003, 1 June 2004
Monstrous Regiment
Sam Vimes has a Cameo Reviews: 1 November 2003, 1 January 2004

The Entire Discworld

The series as a whole was written in the following order:

The Colour of Magic
Reviews: 1 February 1998
The Light Fantastic
Reviews: 1 February 1998
Equal Rites
Reviews: 1 March 1998, 1 April 2002, 1 July 2002
Mort
Reviews: 1 March 1998, 1 April 2002
Sourcery
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Wyrd Sisters
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 April 2002, 1 July 2002
Pyramids
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Guards, Guards
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 January 2003
Eric
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Moving Pictures
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Reaper Man
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Witches Abroad
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 December 2002, 1 January 2003
Small Gods
Reviews: 1 April 1998
Lords and Ladies
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 December 2002, 1 January 2003
Men at Arms
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 January 2003
Soul Music
Reviews: 1 May 1998, 1 February 2004
Interesting Times
Reviews: 1 May 1997
Maskerade
Reviews: 1 October 1997, 1 January 2003, 1 May 2003
Feet of Clay
Reviews: 1 January 1997, 1 January 2003
Hogfather
Reviews: 1 April 1998, 1 February 2004
Jingo
Reviews: 1 July 1998
The Discworld Companion
Reviews: 1 February 1999
The Last Continent
Reviews: 1 July 1999
Carpe Jugulum
Reviews: 1 June 1999
The Fifth Elephant
Reviews: 1 April 2000, 1 August 2001
Thief of Time
Reviews: 1 June 2001, 1 July 2001
The Last Hero
Reviews: 1 November 2001
The Truth
Reviews: 1 September 2002
Night Watch
Reviews: 1 January 2003
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Reviews: 1 May 2003
The Wee Free Men
Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg have cameos. Reviews: 1 August 2003, 1 June 2004
Monstrous Regiment
Reviews: 1 November 2003, 1 January 2004

The Truckers Trilogy

The Truckers Trilogy is also known as the Nomes trilogy or The Bromeliad; it concerns a race of little people who have built a high civilization within the walls of a department store, and what happens to them when the store is closed and they have to move Outside. The books are intended for younger readers, and while humorous don't have the over-the-top kind of satire one expects from the Discworld.

Truckers
Reviews: 1 June 1998
Diggers
Reviews: 1 June 1998
Wings
Reviews: 1 June 1998

Johnny Maxwell

Like the Truckers books, the Johnny books are juveniles; entertaining but not as satirical as the Discworld books. They concern schoolboy Johnny Maxwell and his friends in a variety of odd situations.

Only You Can Save Mankind
Johnny and the Dead
Johnny and the Bomb
Reviews: 1 June 2000

Other Books

The Carpet People
Reviews: 1 April 2001

Links of Interest

Just about anything you'd want to know about Pratchett and the world of Pratchett fandom you can find on the L-Space Web.


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