30 April 2015

An online "guide to Discworld"

"Terry Pratchett’s Discworld might look intimidating — there are 40 books, and they’re humorous fantasy, which seems like it could be an acquired taste. But everybody should read at least one Discworld book, because they’re wonderful, and there’s something for everyone. Here’s our complete guide to Pratchett’s masterwork."
There must certainly be an abundance of sites online that can serve as an introduction to the fictional world created by Terry Pratchett.  This one at io9 seems to be particularly well done (and designed more for the newbie than for the aficianado), though there are Pratchett enthusiasts among the readers here who can offer a better-informed opinion than I can. 


  1. I adore Terry Pratchett -- he was a brilliant man and an author who managed to achieve the all-too-rare accomplishment of being amazingly prolific while also not falling into a formula. Most of his books occupy the same "universe" (in terms of specific cities and countries) and characters sometimes appear in multiple books, in various permutations but the stories themselves are always unique and ALWAYS make serious and underlying commentary about our own world.

    For those who have difficulty with the "fantasy" aspect -- honestly, don't worry, the various "races" (golums, werewolves, goblins, dwarves, etc.) are simply and obviously metaphors for our own various human ethnicities and cultures. (e.g., golums' move from owned "property" to freedom is a subtle narrative about slavery (Feet of Clay), a movement among a segment of dwarves toward fundamentalism (Raising Steam) obviously reflects the activities of extremists in the Middle East, and issues about both war and feminism are made by (mostly) humans (Monstrous Regiment.)

    Every book has at least one deeper theme. BUT they can also be read just for the EXCELLENT storytelling and humorousness (which comes in the form of both obvious jokes and subtle wordplay.) Honestly, there's something for everyone.

    There are also two basic children's/YA series -- the Johnny Maxwell books (which take place on our earth), which (again) are great stories but have underlying themes (Only You Can Save Mankind -- videogames and war (why the "enemies" in both games and reality don't exist only to shoot, and have their own perspective; Johnny and the Dead -- the power of one voice to change things, and also the importance of remembering those who came before us (whom only Johnny can see, at a cemetery the town wants to destroy) ; Johnny and the Bomb -- a fun exploration of time-travel and the reality that people in "history" were as real as we are (when Johnny and his friends try to stop the death of the people in their town who were bombed by the Germans in WWII.)

    And the Tiffany Aching, 4 book series that begins with The Wee Free Men (which takes place on Discworld with most of the Pratchett stories) that provides a strong pre-teen to teenage heroine, some great storytelling, and, again, lots of deeper meaning, should you choose to see it.

    My "gateway" book into Terry Pratchett's world was The Hogfather -- the Discworld's version of Santa. It's very accessible and I'd recommend it as a good starting book. (They, mostly, don't need to be read in order.) Going Postal might be a good one for men/boys to start with though, since it has a male protagonist.

    /End rant

  2. Some issues with Elagie's comment above: while the sentient species of the Discworld certainly illuminate human interracial experience, they are not "simply" anything, and in my opinion trying to reassure someone who "has issues" with fantasy just gives them a legitimacy that they do not deserve. Equally unworthy of respect is anyone whose enjoyment of a story depends on whether or not they share the gender of the protagonist. People like that _deserve_ to miss out on good things.

    Oh, and another series set on Earth and aimed at a younger audience (and thoroughly recommended for adults as well) is the Bromeliad trilogy. I'm not sure if the title is Terry's or the publisher's (since of course Terry originally wrote it as three separate books), but it's a good one — referencing the Bromeliad plant that provides the central metaphor of the plot while also containing echoes of _The Illiad_, which is appropriate because on the relevant scale it is a truly epic tale.

    1. Also, I feel the need to add that the new Captcha challenges are FAR too difficult and often ambiguous.

    2. As far as I know, I have zero control over the Captchas that Blogspot uses.


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