Discworld: The Color of Magic (1985), Mort (1987), Equal Rites (1987), Wyrd Sisters (1988), Pyramids (1989), Guards! Guards! (1989), Eric
Faust (1990), Reaper Man (1991), Witches Abroad (1991), Small Gods (1992), Lords and Ladies (1992), Men at Arms (1993), Interesting Times (1994), Soul Music (1995), Hogfather (1996), Feet of Clay (1996), The Last Continent (1996), Jingo (1997), Carpe Jugulum (1998), The Fifth Elephant (2000), The Truth (2000), The Thief of Time (2001), The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (2001), Night Watch (2002), Monstrous Regiment (2003), Going Postal (2004), Where's My Cow? (2005), THUD (2005), Wintersmith (2006), Making Money (2007), Unseen Academicals (2009), I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)
Discworld Story Arcs
Equal Rites (1987)
That has now been rectified.
This is, I believe, the third Discworld book, so the characters and world are still being developed, as is the style one expects from later books.
That doesn’t make this a bad book in any shape or form, it just makes it different from later books. Granny Weatherwax is different from later books, but her core personality is there from the start.
(S)he was opposed to books on strict moral grounds, since she had heard that many of them were written by dead people and therefore it stood to reason reading them would be as bad as necromancy.
Most of the magicians in this book are never heard from again, with, of course the exception of my favorite, OOK!.
Something to consider is that the biting social commentary which one expects from Terry Pratchett is still there, but its subject matter–at least for the British or American reader–is quite dated. So if you read this, you need to keep in mind the fact that it was written in the mid-80s. The time of Virginia Slims “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” ads.
The humor is still here though, which is the second reason why one reads Terry Pratchett.
“So you’re going to sort of die?”
“Oh yes.” The cat purred as the fingers tickled it behind the ear. The smith looked embarrassed.
The wizard thought for a moment. “In about six minutes’ time.”
“Don’t worry,” said the wizard. “I’m quite looking forward to it, to tell you the truth. I’ve heard it’s quite painless.”
The blacksmith considered this. “Who told you?” he said at last.
It’s interesting that we never really hear from Esk again.
If you haven’t read a Discworld book before (Why haven’t you? What is wrong with you?) keep in mind that this is one of the earliest books. It’s still very good, but he’s still developing his style.
Published by HarperCollins
Death takes an apprentice.
The horse entered the square by the Hub road, steam curling off its huge damp white flanks and sparks striking up from the cobbles beneath it. It trotted proudly, like a war charger. It was definitely not wearing a straw hat.
The tall figure on its back was wrapped up against the cold. When he horse reached the center of the square the rider dismounted, slowly, and fumbled with something behind the saddle. Eventually he--or she--produced a nosebag, fastened it over the horse's ears, and gave it a friendly pat on the neck.
The air took on a thick greasy feel, and the deep shadows around Mort became edged with blue and purple rainbows. The rider strode towards him, black cloak billowing and feet making little clicking sounds on the cobbles. These were the only noises--silence clamped down on the square like great drifts of cotton wool.
The impressive effect was rather spoiled by a patch of ice.
Then there is the idea of death working as a short order cook, completing orders in mere moments, just because he understands time.
Though I may just particularly love the books where Death is a main character. Your call on that.
Wyrd Sisters (1988)
The usual regicide and kingly succession in Lancre was going smoothly until the new king angered the local witches. When the new king decides that he doesn't like witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick take things into their own hands.
Unlike wizards, who like nothing better than a complicated hierarchy, witches don't go in much for the structured approach to career progression. It's up to each individual witch to take on a girl to hand the area over to when she dies. Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least with other witches, and they certainly don't have leaders.
Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn't have.
Teppic, son of the pharaoh of the Kingdom of the Sun, realizing that the kingdom perhaps needed an income to pay for all those pyramids, decided to get an education at Ankh-Morpork's assassins' school (Easy to get into, easy to get out of, although harder to get out upright). Does this prepare you for running a kingdom and making the sun rise every morning? Perhaps.
All assassins had a full length mirror in their rooms, because it would be a terrible insult to anyone to kill them when you were badly dressed.
Teppic examined himself critically. The outfit had cost him his last penny, and was heavy on the black silk. It whispered as he moved. It was pretty good....
He sighed and opened the black box and took out his rings and slipped them on. Another box held a set of knives and Klatchian steel, their blades darkened with lamp black. Various cunning and intricate devices were taken from velvet bags and dropped into pockets. A couple of long-bladed throwing tlingas were slipped into their sheaths inside his boots. A thin silk line and folding grapnel were wound around his waist, over the chain-mail shirt. A blowpipe was attached to its leather thong and dropped down the back of his cloak; Teppic picked a slim tin container with an assortment of darts, their tips corked and their stems braille-coded for ease of selection in the dark.
He winced, checked the blade of his rapier and slung the baldric over his right shoulder, to balance the bag of lead slingshot ammunition. As an afterthought he opened his sock drawer and took a pistol crossbow, a flask of oil, a roll of lockpicks and, after some consideration, a punch dagger, a bag of assorted caltrops and a set of brass knuckles.
Teppic picked up his hat and checked it's lining for the coil of cheesewire. He placed it on his head at a jaunty angle, took a last satisfied look at himself in the mirror, turned on his heel and, very slowly, fell over.
Guards! Guards! (1989)
That’s not to say I love all the books, but some of the character arcs in this series feature some of the best writing around.
Guards! Guards! is the start of the Night Watch story arc.
When we meet Captain Samuel Vimes, he’s drinking himself into the gutter to make dealing with his job even slightly tolerable. And of course there are the remaining two members of his squad: Sargent Colon and Corporal Nobby.
Carrot–a strapping young man who was adopted by dwarves is distressed to discover that he is not himself a dwarf, and that it would probably be best for everyone if he made his way out in the world for awhile, and through various circumstances, he ends up a lance corporal in the Night Watch.
I love all these characters, but even better, this book spends a great deal of time with my all time favorite Discworld character, the Librarian.
Very senior librarians…once they have proved themselves worthy by performing some valiant act of librarianship, are accepted into a secret order and are taught the raw arts of survival beyond the Shelves We Know. The Librarian was highly skilled in all of them, but what he was attempting now wouldn’t just get him thrown out of the Order but probably out of life itself.
Someone out there was about to find that their worst nightmare was a maddened Librarian.
With a badge.
I love the Librarian.
But of course, one of the strongest parts of the Night Watch arc (and really, of all Discowrld books) is the biting social commentary.
They avoided one another’s faces, for fear of what they might see mirrored there. Each man thought: one of the others is bound to say something soon, some protest, and then I’ll murmur agreement, not actually say anything, I’m not as stupid as that, but definitely murmur very firmly, so that the others will be in no doubt that I thoroughly disapprove, because at a time like this it behooves all decent men to stand up and be almost heard…
But no-one said anything. The cowards, each man thought.
Have you read a better description of how atrocities occur?
‘Well, well,’ he said. ‘So we’re privy councillors now. Just fancy.’
‘Hmm,’ said the assassin.
‘I wonder what’s the difference between ordinary councillors and privy councillors?’ wondered the merchant aloud.
The assassin scowled at him. ‘I think,’ he said, ‘it is because you’re expected to eat shit.’
And then there’s this:
‘I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people,’ said the man. ‘You’re wrong, of course. There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.’
Yeah, I love Terry Pratchett.
Published by Random House
Faust Eric (1990)
And it would have gone badly for him if the Librarian had been a human being. Fortunately, he was currently an orang-utan. With so much raw magic sloshing about the Library it would be surprising if accidents did not happen sometimes, and one particularly impressive one had turned him into an ape. not many people get the chance to leave the human race while still alive, and he'd strenuously resisted all efforts since to turn him back. Since he was the only librarian in the universe who could pick up books with his feet the University hadn't pressed the point.
The Librarian is one of my favorite characters in Discworld. However I think it would be difficult to write a book centered around a character whose dialogue tends to be "Oook!"
Moving Pictures (1990)
Reaper Man (1991)
Can you really fire Death?
The sun was near the horizon. The shortest-lived creatures on the Disc were mayflies, which barely make it through twenty-four hours. Two of the oldest zigzagged aimlessly over the waters of a trout stream, discussing history with some younger members of the evening hatching.
"You don't get the kind of sun now that you used to get," one of them said.
"You're right there. We had proper sun in the good old hours. It were all yellow. None of this red stuff.
"It were higher too."
"It was. You're right."
"And nymphs and larvae showed you a bit of respect."
"They did. They did," said the other mayfly vehemently.
Witches Abroad (1991)
It's not easy to be a fairy godmother, but Magrat tries, with the assistance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, as they travel to foreign parts.
When Desiderata Hollow was a girl, her grandmother had given her four important pieces of advice to guide her young footsteps on the unexpected twisting pathway of life.
Never trust a dog with orange eyebrows,
Always get the young man's name and address,
Never get between two mirrors,
And always wear completely clean underwear every day because you never know when you were going to be knocked down and killed by a runaway horse and if people found you had unsatisfactory underwear on, you'd die of shame.
And then Desiderata grew up to become a witch. And one of the minor benefits of being a witch is that you know exactly when you are going to die and can wear whatever underwear you like.
I really liked this book, probably the best of all the books with the witches. I love the interactions between the three, and I love the fact that I can't decide whether I like nanny Ogg or Granny Weatherwax better. (Sorry Magrat, you're just not old enough to have that kind of character.)
I'm particularly fond of their stop at a village where all the villagers seem afraid of the night and have a peculiar fondness for garlic.
Small Gods (1992)
This may be one of my least favorite Discworld books, but I am not sure if it is the story, or my reading that is at fault, though I think it's my reading. There is so much religious nastiness in the world right now--prominently on the front pages of papers--that reading about how nasty religious zealots can be, and reading about strife between different faiths is something that I get too much of in the real world, and would prefer to escape in my reading.
Lords and Ladies (1992)
He could shoe anything, could Jason Ogg. They'd brought him an ant once, for a joke, and he'd sat up all night with a magnifying glass and an anvil made out of the head of a pin. The any was still around, somewhere--sometimes he could hear it clatter across the floor.
But that was the bargain--you shod anything they brought to you, anything, and the payment was that you could shoe anything. There had always been a smith in Lancre, and everyone knew the smith in Lancre was a very powerful smith indeed.
Magrat gets married and the fairies come to Lancre. This is one of the few Discworld books where it really helps to have read the pervious books, especially Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad if you really want to understand things like why Magrat is getting married, and why that dwarf won't leave Nanny Ogg alone.
In this book we get the witches of Lancre AND some wizards from Unseen University, including my favorite, the librarian. (Oook!)
Men at Arms (1993)
Another reread and another Night Watch story.
This one also had several passages that stuck with me. Such as,
And this was right. And it was fate that had let Edward recognize this just when he’d got his plan. And it was right that it was Fate, and the city would be Saved from its ignoble present by its glorious past. He had the Means, and he had the end. And so on….Edward’s thoughts often ran like this.
He could think in italics. Such people need watching.
Preferably from a safe distance.
But the passage that comes frequently to mind is the one where Vimes considers the difference between the rich and the poor.
The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of okay for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. These were the kinds of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years time, when a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socio-economic unfairness.
That is so true it’s actually disturbing.
But there are still plenty of things that are true and hilarious.
…when you hit your thumb with an eight-pound hammer it’s nice to be able to blaspheme. It takes a very special and strong-minded kind of atheist to jump up and down with their hand clasped under their other armpit and shout, ‘Oh, random-fluccuations-in-the-space-time-continuum!’ or ‘Aaargh, primitive-and-outmoded-concept on a crutch!’
And I need to stop, or I’ll be here for hours typing in some of my favorite quotations.
Oh yeah. Captain Vimes is getting married, the Night Watch is being forced to integrate dwarves and trolls and someone has stolen a terrible artifact from the Assassin’s Guild.
Published by Random House
Interesting Times (1994)
No offense to Terry Pratchett, but Rincewind isn't my favorite character. Aside from that, that this was an excellent book. We get a long visit to the counterweight continent, where a subtle battle for the succession is underway between the five great families to determine who next will rule the empire. But Cohen the Barbarian and his band are also on the continent.
This is the butterfly of storms.
See the wings, slightly more ragged than those of the common fritillary. In reality, thanks to the fractal nature of the universe, this means that those ragged edges are infinite--in the same way that the edge of any rugged coastline, when measured to the ultimate microscopic level, is infinitely long--or, if not infinite, then at least so close to it that Infinity can be seen on a clear day.
And therefore, if their edges are infinitely long, the wings must logically be infinitely big.
They may look about the right size for a butterfly's wings, but that's only because human beings have always preferred common sense to logic.
Soul Music (1995)
Once again Death disappears for awhile, and it's up to his granddaughter Susan Sto Helit, to not only remember that she is the granddaughter of death, but to take over his duties for awhile. Meanwhile, there's a strange new phenomenon sweeping Discworld. It's Music with Rocks In.
"That shop," said Sergeant Colon. "That shop there....was it there yesterday?"
Nobby looked at the peeling paint, the little grime-encrusted window, the rickety door.
"Course," he said. "It's always been there. Been there for years."
Colon crossed the street and rubbed at the grime. There were dark shapes vaguely visible in the gloom.
"Yeah, right," he mumbled. "It's just that...I mean... was it there for years yesterday?"
Something has happened to the Hogfather; Something involving an unseemly assassin. Someone has to deliver the toys and pork products on Hogwatch. And it's up to Susan Sto Helit and the oh God of Hangovers to figure out what happened.
...The figure picked up the reins. UP GOUGER! UP, ROOTER! UP, TUSKER! UP, SNOUTER! GIDDYUP!
The four large boars harnessed to the sleigh did not move.
WHY DOESNT THAT WORK? said the figure in a puzzled, heavy voice.
"Beats me, master," said the sacks.
IT WORKS ON HORSES
"You could try 'Pig-hooey!'"
PIG-HOOEY. They waited. NO...DOESN'T SEEM TO REACH THEM.
There was some whispering.
REALLY? YOU THINK THAT WOULD WORK?
"It'd bloody well work on me if I was a pig, master."
VERY WELL, THEN.
The figure gathered up the reins again.
The pigs' legs blurred. Silver light flicked across them, and exploded outward. They dwindled to a dot, and vanished.
The Death of Rats, SQUEAK; the raven; and a brief visit with the Librarian, Oook! What more could we want?
Feet of Clay (1996)
Plus, the Watch continues to recruit more members, including dwarves who think it might be nice to maybe wear earrings and lipstick.
As usual, the best part of any Discworld book is the writing.
People look down on stuff like geography and meteorology and not only because they’re standing on one and soaked by the other. They don’t look quite like read science. But geography is only physics slowed down and with a few trees stuck on it, and meteorology is full of excitingly fashionable chaos and complexity.
(T)here were two good signs of a good alchemist: the Athletic and the Intellectual. A good alchemist of the first sort was someone who could leap over the bench and be on the far side of a safely thick wall in three seconds, and a good alchemist of the second sort was someone who knew exactly when to do this.
I, after hearing evidence from a number of experts, including Mrs Slipdry the midwife, certify that the balance of probability is that the bearer of this document, C. W. St John Nobbs, is a human being.
Signed, Lord Vetinari
This last made me think of my friend Gina:
There was no mention of hot smelly breath and great clomping feet like soup places on a stick. Cows, in Sergeant Colon’s book, should go ‘moo’. Every child knew that. They shouldn’t go ‘mur-r-r-r-r-m!’ like some kind of undersea monster and spray you with spit.
I did have a couple issues with the formatting of this book–one page was misplaced, so I was very confused to “turn the page” and see Captain Carrot “putting his uniform back on” after a seemingly normal boring interview with Dorfl. A couple chapters later this became clear, but was very confusing at the time.
I mean, Carrot isn’t LIKE that.
A new island has risen between Ankh Morpork and Klatch, and war seems to be the only way to determine who really owns the island.
Jingo features Commander Samuel Vimes and the Watch, including Sgt Colon and Corporal Nobbs, Captain Carrot and Angua, and Sgt Detrius. There are some others of course, but I have to admit that those are my favorites.
Well, because it is submersed in a marine environment "I've always called it the Going-Under-the-Water-Safely Device," said Leonard, behind him. "But usually I just call it the Boat."
I think what I like best about Terry Pratchett is that he gets to be political, but funny at the same time. I mean just look at the title:
Main Entry: jin·go·ism
: extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy
Of course now that I look at it, that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the book.
Carpe Jugulum (1998)
There were lots of tables [in Nanny Ogg's house], mainly in order to display the vast number of drawings and iconographs of the huge Ogg clan. At first sight these looked randomly placed, until you worked out the code. In reality, pictures were advanced or retarded around the room as various family members fell in and out of favor, and anyone ending up on the small, wobbly table near the cat's bowl had some serious spadework to do. What made it worse was that you could fall down in the pecking order not because you'd done something wrong, but because everyone else had done something better.
Part of me thinks that this would be a very good book if it were about a hundred pages shorter. I kept speeding along looking for the bits with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, almost skimming through other parts of the story.
I do have to admit that I did like the priest of Om, which surprised me, since Small Gods was not one of my favorite Discworld books.
For some reason part of the book feels like he was trying to cash in on the Buffy craze, than mock it. And since the witches of Lancre and (incidentally) dealt with a vampire before, it did make sense let Lancre and the witches be the ones to deal with the vampires.
All in all, this is not one of my favorite Discworld books. The secondary characters--the vampires--seemed rather flat and uninteresting, and I found the bit with the Wee Free Men unnecessary, and perhaps even uninteresting. That may be due to the fact that I have not yet read Wee Free Men, but even so, one of the things I've always liked best about Terry Pratchett is that his books can stand on their own, although they're better if you know the back story.
But, there were some very good bits with Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax, so the book is worth reading for that.
The Fifth Elephant (2000)
Instead, it was about the Watch and Commander Vimes, and Captain Carrot and Angua. It also is a good look at how power corrupts, even on a small level. That was probably the most disturbing part of the book--watching Sgt Colon go straight over the edge. How could there not be repercussions from that?
Commander Vimes is being sent to Uberwald to attend the coronation over the Low King, except that as with anything that involves Samuel Vimes, intrigue and chaos ensue.
It seems to me that the character of Commander Samuel Vimes is getting more and more serious. Not that this is a bad thing, but it seems like Terry Pratchett is more and more using Sam Vimes to address the more difficult issues--although he's still on the wagon, there's discussion of alcoholism. (I'm not sure how I feel about the discussion--maybe it's better to have him living be example rather than talking about it. Then again new readers wouldn't know about Commander Vimes past, so should it be mentioned? I don't know.)
I also like the fact that Carrot gets taken down. I mean, he's a great guy, and you really have to like him, but maybe it's good to see him not able to succeed at everything he does.
Is this a good book? Yes. Is it a great book? I don't know. I'm not that fond of Uberwald and the vampires, although I found them far less irritating in this book than in Carpe Jugulum. If you like Discworld, and you like the Watch, you'll like this book, but it seems to be reaching the point that you really would need to go back and read some of the previous books to really understand what's going on. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just... different.
And I really was upset that there really weren't any elephants.
The Truth (2000)
I seem to have developed a somewhat insane relationship with Terry Pratchett novels. I’ll read one, remember how awesome they were, then read a whole bunch more, move onto something else, and then at some point pick up a new novel and put of reading it for months and months, due to some fear that it won’t be as good as I want it to be; as good as all his past novels.
So I’ve had The Truth sitting on my shelves for about six months. (I don’t automatically pre-order Terry Pratchett, so sometimes books slip through the cracks, especially when I’m in the “move onto something else” portion of my Pratchett reading cycle. I took it on both trips with, but never started it. Mostly because I’ve been on a mystery reading jag.
But, I finished up the mystery series I was reading, didn’t have a new mystery that enticed me, and so picked up The Truth.
William de Worde, son of Lord de Worde, makes his living writing gossip letters. Well-to-do individuals want to keep up with the happenings in Ankh-Morpork, and as a literate and unneeded second son, William de Worde found his niche.
However, things change significantly when he runs across some dwarves who are selling cheap printing with a newfangled “movable type” press. Before you know it, the Press has taken over his life, and he ends up mixed-up in a terrible scandal involving Lord Vetenari.
As usual with Pratchett novels, the strength of the book is found in the characters: Otto Chriek–the black ribboner vampire photographer; Sacharissa Cripslock, granddaughter of the engraved William de Worde used before he came across the dwarf printing press; Gunilla Goodmountain, the dwarf with the printing press who wants to turn lead into gold; and Foul Ole Ron and Gaspode, who might change the life of Ankh-Morpork’s lowest class.
Although William de Worde is the titular main character, I think that at times Otto Chreik sneaks front and center and steals the show. And of course we get to spend time time seeing Commander Vimes and some members of the Watch from the outside, which I always find fascinating.
In summary, as usual it’s an excellent Discworld book. It’s also a place where you could start the series if you have not read any previous Discworld books.
The Thief of Time (2001)
I have no idea how I’d missed this book for so long. It came out in 2001, which was when Michael & I were buying our house, but you’d think I would have noticed long before now there was a Discworld book I hadn’t read.
Especially since every time I put off reading a Discworld book, I end up wondering why on earth I did, since they’re always good.
Lobsang Ludd has been apprenticed to the Monks of Time, after it was discovered he was able to slide time without any training. Jeremy Clockson makes clocks, and is asked to create the perfect clock. Unfortunately, doing so may lead to the end of the world. Susan Sto Helit is a teacher, but she is also the granddaughter of Death, and he isn’t pleased with the idea of the end of the world, and so asks Susan to look into things.
First, Death is my second favorite character in Discworld. (My favorite is the librarian: OOK!) Second, since we had Death, we also had the Death of Rats, who amuses me immensely. I am also fond of Susan Sto Helit, who is most definitely a no-nonsense kind of woman, and the perfect elementary school teacher. Plus, a cameo appearance by Nanny Ogg!
As far as the other characters, I liked them, but I didn’t love them the way I do the various members of the Watch or some of the witches. But that was okay, because we got to spend time with Death and the other Horsemen and Susan and even an Auditor.
As far as the story, it was good, but I have to admit that some of the parts involving the Horsemen felt very similar to Good Omens. This wasn’t a bad thing at all, but it was a bit distracting.
You’ve probably already read The Thief of Time, but if you haven’t it has an all-star cast of characters, and is well worth checking out.
Talking cats, talking rats, and an appearence by Death (as well as by the Death of Rats). Aside from being slightly shorter normal, this is a typical Discworld book. Although there are two "young adults", the main characters are Maurice the cat, and the talking rats, especially Dangerous Beans and Peaches. (The rat's first reading material was old cans.)
I really like Maurice. He's quite cat-like in a way that Neil Gaiman's 'A Dream of a Thousand Cats" is cat-like, only funnier, and far less threatening.
Interestingly, although the rats and Maurice lived near the Unseen University, we never learn precisely why they developed their intelligence, and I'm curious as to whether Terry Pratchett left this up to our imaginations, or whether the reason is in one of the Discworld books on my "to read" list, or whether it's something I missed in an earlier book.
I think my favorite bits were the names of the rats: Peaches, Dangerous Beans, Sardines, Hamnpork, Nourishing. It was reminiscent of the names of the members of the Witchfinder's Army in Good Omens--but better.
I think this might be a good introduction to Discworld, for someone who knew nothing about it. There is mention of some of the important parts of Discworld, such as The Unseen University, the Watch, Death, and most importantly, The Death of Rats. You're introducted to the area and some of the main characters, but like every other Discworld story, is self-contained. You don't have to know anything about Discworld or Discworld characters to enjoy the story, but it whets the appetite for more stories.
Night Watch (2002)
(He) started in the wrong place. He didn’t look around, and watch, and learn, and then say, “This is how people are, how do we deal with it?” No, he sat and thought: “This is how people ought to be, how do we change them?” And that was a good enough thought for a priest, but not for a copper.
It wasn’t just that the city was lawless. It had plenty of laws. It just didn’t offer many opportunities not to break them.
So, good, but not one of my favorites. (It must be because there is no librarian.)
Monstrous Regiment (2003)
I love Terry Pratchett’s books. However, I’ll frequently go long periods where I don’t read his books, despite his prodigious publication rate, because once I get started I frequently read a lot of his books, sometimes going back and re-reading much of the series. At which point I get tired of Discworld and don’t want to read any more about it for awhile. However, I’ve apparently reached thepoint where I want to read about Discworld again, and so picked up Monstrous Regiment.
This is, for the most part, a Discworld book with entirely new characters. Samuel Vimes and some of his Watch make a small appearance, but for the most part the story is focused upon Polly “Oliver” Perks and the others who also sign up to join the Borogravia army–an army in the middle of a war that no one wants to admit that they seem to be losing.
If I hadn’t checked the copyright date, I would have assumed this book was written in direct response to the US and England going to war in Iraq. Terry Pratchett has a lot to obliquely say about governments and their willingness to go to war, regardless of the costs. However, it was published in 2003, to any relation to our current political fiasco is purely conicidental.
As with all Discworld books, it’s hard to pin down what I liked best: Polly’s attitude, the rest of her regiment, or the socks. (Okay. It’s the socks.)
I also like his attitude about women in the military–that they wouldn’t necessarily do things any better or even differently from the men. The status quo is something that has to be overcome, and it’s not necessarily easy to do so.
As far as enjoyment, I wouldn’t say this is my favorite Discworld books. I liked Polly and the other characters well enough–enjoyed them even, but I didn’t really want to read all the political statements I found between the lines–not because I disagreed with them, but because I’m just a bit tired of war and politics right now.
Re-Read: September 2015
For some reason I got Monstrous Regiment stuck in my head and just had to re-read it.
Like most of his books, it’s a keen political satire (“armies don’t do much for agriculture except marginally raise the fertility of the battlefield.”) wrapped in a marvelous story. Polly Perks, resident of Borogravia, has decided to go off to war, to search for her brother. So she pays attention, cuts her hair, and then sets off for the recruiter.
Young men swung everything, from the shoulders down. You have to try to occupy a lot of space, she thought. It makes you look bigger, like a tomcat fluffing his tail. She’d seen it a lot in the inn. The boys tried to walk big in self-defense against all those other big boys out there. I’m bad, I’m fierce, I’m cool, I’d like a pint of shandy and me mam wants me home by nine…
Once there she discovers just how far a pair of socks can take you.
First, there’s Borogravia. A war like state that believes firmly in the self defense of getting your punch in first.
It was very patriotic. That is, it talked about killing foreigners.
Oh, we also have Vimes (on of my favorite characters) making occasional appearances to provide his usual observations on the world.
You take a bunch of people who don’t seem any different from you and me, but when you add them all together you get this sort of huge raving maniac with national borders and an anthem.”
But mostly, there’s Polly.
“The captain looks bad,” he said. “What did he try to do to poor little you?”
“Patronize me,” said Polly.
Jackrum put up with Blouse because you’ve got to have an officer, Polly thought. If you don’t have an officer, some other officer’ll take you over. And a woman by herself is missing a man, while a man by himself is his own master.
What I love is that although there is plenty of commentary about the status of women throughout history and across cultures “It was women’s work, and therefore monotonous, backbreaking, and social,” Pratchett doesn’t idolize women, and believe that if women were in charge everything would be sunshine and roses and rainbow farting unicorns.
It is a marvelous Discworld story, and makes me grieve the loss of Terry Pratchett all over again.
Published by HarperCollins
Going Postal (2004)
Going Postal is the next Discworld book in line, and like Monstrous Regiment, the primary characters are new ones. Although other characters continue to make an appearence, and Lord Vetinari plays an important part in the story, like Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal requires no previous knowledge of Discworld, which makes it a good entrance if you’ve never read a Discworld book.
Moist von Lipwig’s past has finally caught up with him, and now that he’s been hung, he finds the afterlife quite unexpected–specifically, it’s the before life, and he’s now expected to run the Ankh-Morpork Post office, which hasn’t functioned in decades. To keep Moist from skipping town, Mr Pump, a golem, has been assigned to make sure that he sticks around to complete the job.
What he didn’t expect was that the post office–full to the brim of undelivered letters–would have a life of it’s own.
As with all Terry Pratchett books, Going Postal is part fantasy, part social commentary, and all comedy. Because the underliying theme–financial misconduct–is less dark than that of Monstrous Regiment (war), the story is somewhat lighter, and the comedy is a little easier, i.e. it’s not quite as black. Because Moist as a huckster and charlatan is by definition a likable character, it is relatively easy to deal with his past and the fact that he has done many pretty awful things. He also become more likable when he gets sucked into the idea of the post office, and excited about getting it to work. It’s a challenge, and it’s just the kind of challenge he needed.
However, I have to say that I think my favorite part is how Vetinari fills the ranks of the Civil Service. It’s very a Lord Vetinari thing to do.
The only down side is that this is the second novel in a row with nary an “ook” and really, we need more about the Librarian.
If you are a Discworld fan, then you’ve probably already read Going Postal. If you’ve never read a Discworld book, then this works as a perfect introduction to the series. Many regular characters are here, but you aren’t expected to know anything about them, and you’re introduced to Ankh-Morpork, which is really the heart of Discworld, despite what the other cities say.
Where's My Cow? (2005)
First of all, it has an award, "Children's Winner of the Ankh-Morpork Librarians' Award. OOK!"
Also, it has blurbs on the back, "'...wonderfully instructive' Tuppence Swivel, the Times of Ankh Morpork" and "'...Are we not all, in some way, looking for our cow?' Brian Yeast, Ankh-Morpork Literary Gazette and Paradigm Shifters' Monthly"
And if that doesn't convince you, it's a book about Samuel Vimes reading a book to his one-year old son, Young Sam. With appearances by several Ankh-Morpork characters, such as Sergeant Detritus.
I love Samuel Vimes. He is my favorite Discworld character (followed closely by the Librarian. Ook!). And I love the fact that he comes home every night to read to Young Sam. That's exactly what I would expect from Samuel Vimes.
But that's not what's so great about this book. What's great about it is all the little details you'll notice as you read the book, like the cover of the book Samuel Vimes reads to Young Sam.
Is this book appropriate for those who don't know Discworld? Although they'll miss all the Discworld references (which is a big part of the fun) I think they'll enjoy the story within a story. But if you read Discworld, you won't want to miss this book.
I’m not sure what it is about Terry Pratchett. I’ll see a new Discworld book, and think, yeah, he’s good, but I’m sure it can’t be as good as I remember, and so I’ll put off getting or reading the book for awhile, till several have backed up, then I’ll decided I’m in the mood for funny one day, and then wonder why I put off reading his books, because they’re even funnier than I remember.
Though it could be due to the fact that I’ll often go on binges and read large chunks of the series until I’m sick of it. And since it’s a very large series, it’s very easy to read large chunks.
But onto this book.
Samuel Vimes, Commander of the Watch, has a problem. There are rumors that a dwarf has been murdered, but the dwarf community wants to hide the death from the watch. This murder, coming up on the anniversary of the Battle of Koom Valley, has every dwarf and troll in the city riled up, and the watch is ending up right in the middle. Add to this, Samuel has a very important appointment to keep–and one that won’t wait for anything.
After the Librarian, I think Samuel Vimes is one of my favorite Discworld characters–and considering the number of book starring the watch, I think I’m not the only one.
This may be one of the best Discworld stories Terry Pratchett has written in years. Everything is spot on–Samuel Vimes, the Dwarfs, the Trolls–everything is just about right in this book.
The funny thing, is that when I was reading this book, a character would wander onto the set, and I’d think, “Lord Vetinari, I love reading about him–he’s such an unusual character,” then we’ll move on and suddenly, I’m all, “It’s Detritus! I love Detritus!” and then it’s Carrot and Angua…. and then I’m wondering how he’s going to have time to write all the stories I want to read. Let’s hope that his Alzheimer’s is slow onset, and that someone will find a cure soon.
So back to Thud. As Commander Vimes attempts to clean up the brewing situation between the dwarfs and the trolls, he’s drawn under the city, where he discovers that there are things going on under his feet that he could never have imagined. But really, the thing that ties the whole story together is his commitment to be home every single evening to read Where’s My Cow to Young Sam at six o’clock. Neither crime nor riots will stop him his appointed time with his son (And really, he does makes an excellent point: once you’re a minute late, then it’s easy to be five minutes late… and down the slide you go. If you’re going to do something, then DO it. Don’t make excuses why you can’t do it today, just do it.)
Vetinari waved a languid hand. ‘But full cards congesting the street, Vimes, is a sign of progress.’ he declared.
‘Only in the figurative sense, sir,’ said Vimes.
‘All right,’ said Vimes, in the ringing vacuum. ‘Who’s going to be the first to tell me a huge whopper? Corporal Nobbs?”
‘Didn’t know what’d hit ‘em, eh?’ said Vimes.
Detrius looked mildly offended at this. ‘Oh no, sir,’ he said, ‘I made sure they knew I hit ‘em.’
Although, like most books in the Discworld series, you can start anywhere and be fine, with Discword it’s always more enjoyable to have read the past books, not only because of the subtle jokes, but also because it’s fun to see characters pop in and out of the stories, so you can see how they’re doing. But really, if you aren’t reading Discworld–what’s wrong with you?
I tend to be quite fond of young adult books, and Terry Pratchett is no exception; not that his adult books would be unacceptable for young adults, it’s simply Tiffany Aching is a Teenager.
Tiffany is sent to learn from Miss Treason–sort of a witch apprenticeship. Unfortunately, she unable to restrain herself when Miss Treason takes her to see a Morris dance that’s out of season, and Tiffany attracts the attention of the Wintersmith, and not even Granny Wetherwax and Nanny Ogg can solve her problems for her.
Published by Harper
Making Money (2007)
Which is why I’ll never understand why I put off reading them.
My guess is that I want to save them for a time when I want a new book to read that I know is going to be good. And Discworld books always fit that bill.
Moist von Lipwig is about to be given another offer he can’t refuse: take over the Ankh-Morpork mint, where it costs more to make money than that same money is valued. Considering the miracles it took to get the Post Office running, it’ll be a wonder if Moist comes out of this scheme alive.
OK. Negative point first: Although his presence is known, we don’t see the Librarian, nor do we get a single OOK. Boo!
Moving on, what’s good about Making Money is it’s everything I’ve come to expect from a Discworld book: great characters, great story, and funny. We get Lord Vetinari, an Igor, the Watch, and even a brief appearance by DEATH. However, despite these appearances, this book belongs entirely to Moist–and to Mr. Fusspot, the bank manager.
We also get Golems and Adora Belle Dearheart (Moist’s chain smoking fiancee) and even a mad scientist of sorts (who is assisted of course by the Igor). It’s Discworld as I love it (even though it needed more OOK.)
Unseen Academicals (2009)
Although there were parts of this story that I loved, there were other parts I was less sure about–it may just have been my interpretation, but parts of it felt a little bit too heavy on the moralizing.
But I loved Glenda.
Published by Harper
I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)
But she also has a past, and it looks like someone is riled up about her past adventures with the Wintersmith, and is going to make her life–and the life of all other witches–miserable.
I don’t know what it is, but I had a hard time getting into this story. I liked other Tiffany Aching stories, but I had a hard time getting into this one.
In fact, there were only two passages that I took note of while reading (on my kindle, which makes making note of passages very easy.
…then there was the throwing of the rice, followed of course by the careful sweeping up of the rice, because it is wicked to waste good food.
That is a fabulous passage.
So, it was good compared to a lot of other fantasy out there, but for a Terry Pratchett book, I found it a bit disappointing, even if I’m not quite sure why it didn’t hold my attention as tightly as Discworld books normally do.
Published by HarperCollins