Starting Discworld?

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Solid Freeman
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Starting Discworld?

Postby Solid Freeman » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:13 am UTC

I feel bad about making a new thread about this, but I want to mention that I've had a vague interest to read Discworld for a long time, and haven't gotten around to it yet. That said, I know only vague things about it, bits and pieces picked up from TV Tropes, and am otherwise a complete novice to the series. A close friend of mine gave me a Discworld book for Christmas; Wyrd Sisters, if memory serves. I have a strong desire to read any and all series in order; although I've heard that there's no actual chronology to the Discworld books overall, I still want to start with one that doesn't reference any prior books, and gives a good sense of what the world is like, rather than relying on prior knowledge of the setting. I'm a little concerned because Wyrd Sisters is the 26th or 27th book in the series by publication date, and that's a little...upsetting. :shock:

Do you recommend any books to start out with, and any books in particular? Should I stay away from any of the books? If this thread goes off on a general tangent about the books, feel free to continue it; I'll stop reading this thread but at least it'll have some long-term use. :)
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Nath » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:22 am UTC

http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/

So it seems like Wyrd Sisters isn't a terrible place to start. I haven't read that one, though, so I can't vouch for it personally.

I started at the beginning, with the Colour of Magic. Since then, I've read the directly connected novels in the correct order, skipping back and forth between the various story threads.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Oort » Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:50 am UTC

Started with Going Postal. Pretty good, didn't need to know about any other books.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Mzyxptlk » Sun Dec 28, 2008 11:42 am UTC

You can pretty much start anywhere, the books are pretty loosely connected. That said, like Nath, I started at The Colour of Magic, and I see no reason why you wouldn't either. If you can choose where to begin anyway, why not do so at the first book?
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby cypherspace » Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:41 pm UTC

Indeed, start at the start. You can read pretty much all of the Discworld books completely separately from each other and still thoroughly enjoy them, but there are moments in some books which are improved by knowledge of the event or person discussed - reading Monstrous Regiment without knowing the Night Watch series wouldn't be as good.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby eightysevendegrees » Sun Dec 28, 2008 6:50 pm UTC

Wyrd Sisters is a fairly early book in the series. It's the first of the witches plotline (though Granny Weatherwax is a main character in an earlier book). It's a pretty good one to start with. Moving Pictures, Pyramids, Small Gods or Going Postal are also good ones to start with because they're stand alone books and don't rely on any knowledge of any previous books.

I wouldn't recommend Colour of Magic. It's my least favourite book in the whole series. It's a parody of fantasy quest stories, whereas most of the rest of the series are a satirical style. Pratchett doesn't really settle into his style until about the fourth book in the series, Mort.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Nath » Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:41 pm UTC

Small Gods, incidentally, is probably my favourite so far, in addition to being quite stand-alone. If you're trying to decide whether it's worth reading more Discworld, that's not a bad one to start with.

If you're pretty sure you're going to read more anyway, then Colour of Magic is a reasonable place to start. I agree with eightysevendegrees that Pratchett was still getting the hang of things back then, but it was still quite an enjoyable book in its own right.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Gojoe » Sun Dec 28, 2008 9:42 pm UTC

Oort wrote:Started with Going Postal. Pretty good, didn't need to know about any other books.
This is exactly how i started. It was awesome! I have never looked back.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Solid Freeman » Mon Dec 29, 2008 5:47 am UTC

I guess this lends itself to a harder question; is reading the "best" books first a good idea? :P


Well, thanks guys for your ideas, I think I'll go with Nath's link as it mirrors the way I'd approach reading them. The only question I have is; which on that list are short stories? I'm colorblind, so I can't tell the difference between the "starter novel" and "short story" colors... they look exactly the same to me. :?

Also, glad to see there's not too much overlap between series, which was awesome for Irregular Webcomic! but would be incredibly confusing in books, given that I'd try and read them so each made perfect sense :mrgreen:
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Nath » Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:41 am UTC

Solid Freeman wrote:The only question I have is; which on that list are short stories?

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby eightysevendegrees » Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

Solid Freeman wrote:I guess this lends itself to a harder question; is reading the "best" books first a good idea? :P

Personally, I think the best book so far has been Night Watch. Everyone else has the right to disagree with me but that's my personal favourite. It's definitely not a good one to start with because I think you need some familiarity with the City Watch characters first. I wouldn't recommend reading Night Watch until you've read at least Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms and Feet of Clay (feel free to ignore Jingo, The Fifth Elephant and Thud because they're well below standard in terms of enjoyability).

I would say that Guards! Guards! is a pretty good starting point as well. It's the first book in the City Watch subseries.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby annals » Mon Dec 29, 2008 4:26 pm UTC

Yes, Guards! Guards! is definitely a good place to start, and Men at Arms contains the only spoiler I know of that carries through subsequent books, if that made any sense. So I would recommend reading those two before later industrial revolution or city watch novels.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Luthen » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:21 am UTC

My recommendation would be to start with Mort, its the fourth book but both the first DEATH series and when I think Pterry first got into the hang of things. I read them in publication order (as much as public libraries allow) and found gaps between each group of characters to be helpful. That said I'd read Equal Rites before Wyrd Sisters, if only because it kinda pales in comparison.

As for The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, I'd almost counsel you not to read them. If you do I'd read them early on but not first.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Bingo Little » Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:00 pm UTC

I read Mort first. I can't get through the first two either.

The order really doesn't matter: I read them, and reread them, in very strange orders. Just read and enjoy - Weird Sisters is a very good place to start.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Jessica » Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

I read color of magic first. I didn't read pratchet again for a long time.
Then I read mort, and found how much I love pratchet.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby TaintedDeity » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:01 pm UTC

I second that, I read Mort first and loved it.
The Death character is fantastic in my opinion and really captures the discworld.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby MotorToad » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:46 pm UTC

I have been all out of order according to that guide. I don't think it hurts anything. I've only read 4-6 of the books in the "series," but they've been from various centers of that guide, none from the beginning, and never have I felt that there was inadequate background. And there's probably not anything in the series important enough to be considered a spoiler. IMO these books are much more about the reading than the compilation of fictional timelines.

If you can find it, read Strata. IIRC it's his second book, placed on a disc-shaped world but not on Discworld, and I thought it was a great insight to the early formation of his writing style.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby cypherspace » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:05 am UTC

Incidentally, Mr Pratchett is now Sir Terry Pratchett. About time too!
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Joeldi » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:18 am UTC

I think Wyrd Sisters is a grrat place to start, at least as good as mort. You never need to read the first three unless you are aiming for completeness. When I read them, Colour and Light weren't bad, but I was pretty young. The first one I read was Hog Father, and it started a trend of never being able to read them in the right order, which I'm unhappy with. Too this day, I haven't ever seen a copy of Reaper Man, depsite Mort and Hogfather (and Death in general) being my favourite books / character- so I'm firm in not going on to read Soul Music, Thief of Time etc till I have. Stupid Local Libraries and Book shops.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Luthen » Wed Dec 31, 2008 4:56 am UTC

Confession: when they were on sale for $12 at Borders, I almost bought the whole series. (Stopped myself at about twelve books, not sure where they are at the moment though)
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Brother Maynard » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:35 pm UTC

There's really no bad place to start. All the books are fairly stand-alone-ish.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Moo » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:42 pm UTC

There may not be a *bad* place to start but I do think some are worse than others. You don't miss significant plot lines but you will be depriving yourself of a few injokes and spoiling the odd surprise if you don't follow the individual character lines in order. You would find a much different Sam Vimes if you started with Thud! rather than Men At Arms and I think the character's development is a story in itself. Same with Death. I personally think it's worth starting each character set (Death, the witches, Rincewind, City Watch) at it's start and reading those books in order.

A lot of discussion about where to start is in the Best and worst discworld thread, you may find some more opinions there.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Brother Maynard » Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:49 pm UTC

Moo wrote: You would find a much different Sam Vimes if you started with Thud! rather than Men At Arms and I think the character's development is a story in itself.


I actually did this.

And granted, the development is interesting.

Now, as for actually saying where someone should start: I've enjoyed the Death and Moist books the most, so try Mort or Going Postal.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Save This Lady For Me » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:01 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:Incidentally, Mr Pratchett is now Sir Terry Pratchett. About time too!


How did I not hear about that? All my friends and I all love Discworld, I'll have to bring this up the next time we hangout.
The book I started with was Eric, which was a great story. But I'd have to say that Night Watch is probably my favorite that I have read so far.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby CVSoul » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:12 am UTC

I started with the Color of Magic, as it's the first in the series. But I'd say that it's not nearly as good as some of the later ones, as Mr. Pratchett wasn't yet as familiar with the Discworld.

in my opinion, Night Watch is the best book... but you can't start with that, because it doesn't make enough sense unless you're already familiar with the Watch. It's a good choice to read, say, Feet Of Clay or Jingo first.
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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby eightysevendegrees » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

CVSoul wrote:in my opinion, Night Watch is the best book... but you can't start with that, because it doesn't make enough sense unless you're already familiar with the Watch. It's a good choice to read, say, Feet Of Clay or Jingo first.

I agree about Night Watch being best, and about not starting with it, but if I had to order the series by preference, Jingo would be way down the list. Feet of Clay would be a bit better, but I would suggest Guards! Guards! or Men at Arms as better starts to the Watch sequence.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby Rysto » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:42 pm UTC

One thing I would suggest is reading the Death series in order(I think it's Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music and Hogfather). I felt that Soul Music in particular suffered from being read after Hogfather.

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Re: Starting Discworld?

Postby MotorToad » Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:35 pm UTC

It is now definitively published in image form. :)
I certainly didn't read the ones I've read (about 2/3?) in this order, and I'm way too lazy to think of trying to make a timeline like this myself, but here's someone's opinion.
297154_Discworld timeline.jpg
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