It would appear I am a little over half way through my full reread of Discworld so perhaps an update post is the right thing to do.
The shape of my reread has changed quite a bit during this process. When I first started I envisioned myself slowly making the reread into a giant Discworld Wiki of sorts, cataloging first appearances and running gags. The first couple reviews were followed by some more general thoughts on the series thus far. Well, that was a hell of a lot of work. To the surprise, I am guessing, of no one I don’t take notes when I read. On my Kindle I occasionally highlight stuff, and if I see a quote I want to maybe use later I rip up my bookmark and leave a small one. So by about the forth book I was already loosing track of what characters I had seen where and just gave up that thought. Instead the Discworld reviews have evolved with my others, and I have reviewed them more on an individual basis. Still, it is pretty cool to see when someone gets on the site and goes through every single page of the review, so it is a project I am ecstatic to continue with.
A few thoughts thus far
What is the best Place to Start? Let’s be honest, this is THE frequently asked question and very fair. I could make a whole FAQ page, but it would only consist of two questions. There are well over forty books now and it can be intimidating. And there is no shortage of opinions on this, though I don’t think mine are that far outside the common thinking. The short answer is this; a person could start with ALMOST any of the books in the first half of the series. The absolute no way would be the one that acts as a sequel to others; The Light Fantastic is the second half of The Color of Magic and would make a horrible starting point. Likewise several of the books fall into the ‘subseries’ and it would be best(though not necessary because in some cases I didn’t) to start with the first of the arc. But I do have a few recommended starting places.
–The Color of Magic – Very different from the rest of the series but still a good book. As the first book it is an obvious place to start, but acting as more of a strait up fantasy parody (with typical Pratchett hiding of deeper stuff all over) it tends to get a bad rap from some. It is where I started, but isn’t a required starting place. Introduces Rincewind, a man who for a while looked to be the closest thing the series has to a main character, though his appearances slow then stop after a while.
– Mort – The first book of the Death story arc. It is a standalone, short and well crafted, and shows a lot of the humor style that Pratchett starts to rely on later. If you want to know what happens when Death takes a vacation, here it is.
–Equal Rites and Wyrd Sisters – The Witches of Lancre is my favorite of the Pratchett arcs, and really either of these is an acceptable starting place. For those that want to jump right in to what becomes the main story Wyrd Sisters, though the later book, is actually a better starting place. But I found I enjoyed Equal Rites much more than I did the first time, and I suspect that if a reader wants to just read one Prachett book then walk away for a while it may be the better choice.
–Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms – I know this to be true because it is how I started reading them, Men at Arms was my first book of the guards story arc and I suffered not at all. Vimes gets some growth between the two, so Guards! Guards! should be the first choice, but Men at Arms shows the style that the guards books will follow down the line a bit better.
–Small Gods – Considered by most to be one of the top two books of the series I can think of no reason to not just start with it if one wants. While it carries on some running jokes and has some hidden Discworld allusions it is a unique cast and follows no other stories, perfect for the person who only wants to read one. Then reread if you happen to read more from the series to see what you missed.
–The Wee Free Men – While I have not got to it yet on this reread it has been pointed out that this actually makes a good starting place. It is the first of the Tiffany Aching series of YA books set in Discworld. And while technically it fits under the Witches story arc, it really sits kinda on the side of it and does its own thing.
I heard Night Watch is the best book of the series, can I start there? Sorry, not a chance. While I don’t think a person would have to read the entire arc of City Watch books before it to enjoy it it is the single most dependent book in the series outside of The Light Fantastic. It is a book about Samuel Vimes, and requires some time to spent following the man to really make since and shine.
Biggest surprise of the first half? Probably Feet of Clay. Most of the books I had a good bead on my memory, if I liked it I remembered liking it. But Feet of Clay was so much better than I remembered. I thought of it as just another Vimes book, but it was surprisingly solid. Much better than Men at Arms, and I think even better than Guards! Guards! In fact, if it wasn’t for the brilliant Night Watch coming up, I would consider it the best Guards book.
Favorite Book thus far? Hard to pick, and pick I better because outside of Night Watch I am going to guess that my top five Discworld books all fall in this first half. Small Gods is an obvious choice, but Wyrd Sisters and Lords and Ladies both are making a run at that. And where do I fit in my new crush Feet of Clay?, which is only the second book I gave five stars to in this read. But let’s just go with Small Gods, it is too good to not be the best of the first half.
Least Favorite? Easy choice, Soul Music. Too much easy joke and bad parody, not enough anything else.
Most infuriating? Reaper man. Like many of Pratchett’s books there are multiple story lines in play. And the story actually dealing with Death is one of the best in the series, bar none. But it had a infuriating non sequitur of a story involving the wizards that just confused me.
Outside of Night Watch, which story from the second half am I looking forward to the most? Tough choice. I can’t wait to get to the Aching books, I particularly remember Hat Full of Sky as being something special. I also have fond memories of The Truth. On the other hand I really do feel that we lose some of the quality in the later books, Making Money is one I read not all that long ago, and the football one joins it in pure ‘meh’ territory.
So there it is, a quick recap full of absolutely nothing new. A waste of a post, but something I wanted to do to get my thoughts in order. Thanks to the people who have stuck with this reread from the beginning and those that joined me in progress. Hope the people out there who haven’t read Pratchett don’t get tired of hearing about him, because I still got a lot of his stuff to read for this site.