Wednesday 18 March 2015

Getting Started with Pratchett: A Beginners Guide

In case you've not heard yet, this week is Terry Pratchett Reading Week here at At Armchair by the Sea, celebrating the life and work of a great author. Today's post has been written before in many variants throughout the blogosphere, so I'm going to attempt to round up some of the most helpful posts I've found along with my own pointers for the Pratchett newbie (of which I know there are a few floating around!). If you've never read Pratchett before it can be easy to be intimidated by the sheer amount of books available, and everybody will give you different advice on where to start and which is their favourite so here's my opinion! 

Discworld Reading Order Guide 2.2 (English) for 2013. Please share :-). Write me an email to make a translation.
Click the link to see it bigger and for the image credit
There are many articles available which will give you details breakdowns of all the various mini series and characters, and in the interest of not writing something that's already been written I shall just point you in their direction.

Various starting points suggest themselves and I'm sure others will have their own suggestions, which I hope they'll share in the comments! My suggestions would be...

The Bromeliad (Truckers, Diggers & Wings) - this is where most people I know (but not me) started with Pratchett. I'm reading Truckers for the first time this week and I can see why - it's light, a little bit satirical and generally hilarious. Full of fantasy but so related to reality that at time, as often happens with Sir Terry, you forget it's fantasy you're reading.

The Wee Free Men - The first book in the mini series about Tiffany Aching (a 9 year old witch) and the Nac Mac Feegle. This series is technically YA and the tone is a little more accessible if you're not used to Pratchett's writing. It's also hilarious (of course), and the Nac Mac Feegle are as full of drinking and swearing and general debauchery as you'd wish for little leprechaun type characters to be. After you've read this and the other three Tiffany Aching books (A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight) you can head backwards and read the rest of the Witches books (starting with Equal Rites). 

Hogfather - A really good introduction to the characters of Susan and Death and a satire of Christmas and particularly Father Christmas. You can also watch the Sky adaptation starring Ian Richardson and David Jason which is pretty good. It's also pretty easy to go backwards from here and acquaint yourself with Susan's backstory via Mort

Going Postal - Although this comes relatively late in the series it's as good a way as any to acquaint yourself with the Discworld. Moist von Lipwig, a conman, is saved from the death penalty by Ankh-Morpork's ruler, Lord Vetinari, and put in charge of restoring the Post Office to all its former glory. Hilariousness (and a few assassination attempts) ensue! You can follow it up with Making Money if you like, and there's also an adaptation of this too - worth a watch. 

So those are my recommendations. I'd love to hear yours, or what you're planning to start with if you're new to this wonderful world! You can link up your posts this week here and use #pratchettreadathon on twitter and instagram! 


  1. Another excellent post! :D
    I really wish I had time this week to post stuff too, but if I did that I would have no time for reading! Stupid work suddenly becoming stupidly busy, grumble grumble. I'm at least going to try to get a round-up post up on Friday!!

    Although I've only read the Hogfater out of the books you recommend to start with, I agree with that one so I'm sure the others are good suggestions too!

    I think you could also start with the Johnny books, (with Only You Can Save Mankind being the first), if any of those sound interesting!

    I think that one of the beauties of the discworld books is that you can pretty much start anywhere and enjoy it! I have to say, now that I've finished The Colour of Magic (and am onto The Light Fantastic) I do think that the beginning in this case is not a very good place to start. The book isn't bad or anything, but it doesn't capture so much of what the best discworld books do. Although there is some continuity between all of the books, most of the time it just provides background information rather than being vitally important to the future books. Although The Light Fantastic appears to be a direct continuation of The Colour of Magic, so maybe don't start there!

    But yeah. Apart from what you've suggested, as I said yesterday I think you could just pick a series of novels in the discworld books and start at the beginning of it and be happy. I would probably personally recommend Mort, but I think you can probably go for whatever series sounds most interesting to you.

  2. The first time, I tried to start at the beginning with The Colour of Magic and just could *not* get into it. Second time around, I began with Wee Free Men, and I fell in love. I really love how his Discworld books can be read in just about any order or no order at all.