Best and Worst Discworld

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Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Joeldi » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:27 am UTC

I searched, and although there were several threads sort of about Discworld, there were none dedicated to it in general. This is not that thread.

What's your favourite Discworld book, and were there any that you were really dissapointed by?

I have read them completely out of order, and still have a lot of books to read, so I'm not ruling on a favourite. The one I didn't like, though, was Equal Rites - I guess it was because the characters weren't developed very much, and some plot threads left untied.

And I really liked Wyrd Sisters, though I've read some animosity towards it.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby tiny » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:33 am UTC

Best: The books with the witches (bestestes: Maskerade). I love Granny.

Worst: I don't know, I haven't read any others yet.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Edawan » Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:02 am UTC

I've only read the first 22 books but here are my thoughts :

Best : Small Gods
This one seems to have a lot more meaning than average, while still being very entertaining.

Runer ups : Mort, Moving Pictures

Worst : I don't know, there's nothing really bad...
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Thadlerian » Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:42 pm UTC

I'm up to date in Discworld, and I've read most books twice or thrice.

I find the best ones to be Night Watch, Men at Arms and Masquerade. The former two for their suspense, and their rich feeling of Ankh-Morpork as a setting. As for the latter, I can't tell, it's just great for some reason.

The worst DW books are the most recent ones. From Monstrous Regiment and on (excluding the excellent A Hat Full of Sky), they've gone steadily downhill.

The all-time-low so far must be the most recent, Making Money. As I wrote in another forum:
But my problem with {the Industrial Revolution} books, perhaps unrelated to the facts of their setting, is that they're bringing about a new and unsatisfactory writing style. In Going Postal and especially Making Money, I feel Pratchett is leaving genuine character intrigue behind, and is reducing the stories to mere "clever versus clever" - impossibly ingenious characters pulling an endless series of clever tricks and counter-tricks against each other, and then that's that. Characters don't as much talk as endlessly spout immortal and insightful statements. New characters seem to be created not to play a role, or to relate to the protagonist, but merely to allow Pratchett to pull off some witty and intricate gimmick.

And in the end, I just don't care. Pratchett doesn't seem inclined to change the basic formula where books always end in "no harm done", with no major characters dead, nor with any substantial changes made, and with main conflicts solved in a way that requires the reader's sense of humour to be closely correlative to the writer's (just consider the Where's My Cow scene near the end of Thud! and Mr. Bent's coming to terms with his identity in Making Money). This makes it increasingly hard to feel involved with the story, which I haven't been since Night Watch and A Hat Full of Sky.

Also, seeing as we can expect more Moist titles in the future (Raising Taxes), I can't help but get the feeling that Pratchett writes these books more because he needs to implement these concepts in Ankh-Morpork, rather than because he has a genuine story which he wishes to tell us. With a writer of Pratchett's caliber, I think this is unfortunate.


Also, in Going Postal, Pratchett's ideological agenda is shining pretty brightly through, hurting the genuineness of the story.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby TheAmazingRando » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:05 pm UTC

I've only read a few of them, not enough to choose a favorite, but I didn't really like Equal Rites either. It just wasn't very interesting and I didn't care much for the characters.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Lycur » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:34 pm UTC

Thud was my personal favorite.

I didn't care all that much for Making Money (but I really liked Going Postal). If, however, the popular science books he coauthored count then I can parade out something I loathe.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby annals » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:30 pm UTC

Making Money is out? I didn't know that.

I also really liked Thud, possibly because it introduced me to the city guards characters (I read most of the books out of order).

I didn't think Monstrous Regiment was very good. Equal Rites was also a bit lacking for me. I wasn't sure if I liked The Colour of Magic/Sourcery at first--I read some of the later books before them and the change in style was pretty drastic, but I enjoyed them more as I went along and stopped expecting them to be Hogfather or Carpe Jugulum.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Mmmm, Pi » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:38 pm UTC

I really liked Masquerade, and Guards! Guards! was also a favorite of mine.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Zohar » Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:17 pm UTC

I think I read less than half of the books, but by far my favorite has been Small Gods.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby CHeMnISTe BOY » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:56 pm UTC

Thadlerian wrote:I'm up to date in Discworld, and I've read most books twice or thrice.

I find the best ones to be Night Watch, Men at Arms and Masquerade. The former two for their suspense, and their rich feeling of Ankh-Morpork as a setting. As for the latter, I can't tell, it's just great for some reason.

The worst DW books are the most recent ones. From Monstrous Regiment and on (excluding the excellent A Hat Full of Sky), they've gone steadily downhill.

The all-time-low so far must be the most recent, Making Money. As I wrote in another forum:
But my problem with {the Industrial Revolution} books, perhaps unrelated to the facts of their setting, is that they're bringing about a new and unsatisfactory writing style. In Going Postal and especially Making Money, I feel Pratchett is leaving genuine character intrigue behind, and is reducing the stories to mere "clever versus clever" - impossibly ingenious characters pulling an endless series of clever tricks and counter-tricks against each other, and then that's that. Characters don't as much talk as endlessly spout immortal and insightful statements. New characters seem to be created not to play a role, or to relate to the protagonist, but merely to allow Pratchett to pull off some witty and intricate gimmick.

And in the end, I just don't care. Pratchett doesn't seem inclined to change the basic formula where books always end in "no harm done", with no major characters dead, nor with any substantial changes made, and with main conflicts solved in a way that requires the reader's sense of humour to be closely correlative to the writer's (just consider the Where's My Cow scene near the end of Thud! and Mr. Bent's coming to terms with his identity in Making Money). This makes it increasingly hard to feel involved with the story, which I haven't been since Night Watch and A Hat Full of Sky.

Also, seeing as we can expect more Moist titles in the future (Raising Taxes), I can't help but get the feeling that Pratchett writes these books more because he needs to implement these concepts in Ankh-Morpork, rather than because he has a genuine story which he wishes to tell us. With a writer of Pratchett's caliber, I think this is unfortunate.


Also, in Going Postal, Pratchett's ideological agenda is shining pretty brightly through, hurting the genuineness of the story.


Well put, I totally agree. I can't quite see what he's going for by introducing all these real-world concepts into the Discworld, maybe he's just picked out something that a lot of people liked about his books and decided to run with it. Personally I don't find it that interesting and I think the out of the more recent books the best ones are the Tiffany Aching series, which are also the ones that are almost completely divoid of real-world concepts.

I think my overall favourites are probably Lords and Ladies, The Last Continent and Thief Of Time. I really liked how he played with the ideas of fame and glamour and made the elves right evil bastards. The Last Continent had some awesome magical/metaphysical ideas, I thought both the Australia side of it and the God Of Evolution side were really interesting. Thief Of Time is just really cool, it's the 'Matrix' of the discworld series.

What did people here think about the Sky One films? I just don't think it's possible to pull off Discworld style fantasy or humour in film form, but they made a pretty good go at it and other than some odd casting choices I can't really fault them.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Joeldi » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:49 am UTC

I thought Hogfather was amazing, and didn't even realise the others existed yet
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby CHeMnISTe BOY » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:04 am UTC

Joeldi wrote:I thought Hogfather was amazing, and didn't even realise the others existed yet


Oh yeah, they aired The Colour Of Magic over Easter weekend, it was a two-parter covering both The Colour Of Magic and The Light Fantastic. It had David Jason (the guy who played Albert in Hogfather) playing Rincewind. It was alright, they had to leave a fair bit out but they got the general gist of it all.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby existential_elevator » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:37 pm UTC

My favourites have to be the Witches and the Death sets.
I didn't enjoy the first few books, and I've really been finding the most recent ones unenjoyable too. I'm not a huge fan of the guards stuff, but in general I really think the more recent stuff is almost dumbed down compared to the stuff in the middle. For the same reason, I don't like the discworld children's books in comparison to Terry Pratchett's other children's books.

Wasn't hugely keen on the Sky One adaptation. Anyone see the cartoons they did? Those were pretty decent.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Of Negligible Mass » Sun Apr 20, 2008 4:40 pm UTC

IMHO the best has to be The Night Watch, or any of the others which revolve around Vimes. He's just such a fantastic character... Or possibly Mort.

Also really liked Going Postal, but wasn't as impressed with Making Money, though it wasn't a particularly bad read. We shall have to see about Raising Taxes.

I read the books completely out of order (Fifth Elephant first I think), and still haven't got round to reading the first few. Think I've got about 6 or 7 left to read through, but it's taken me long enough.

Currently reading Masquerade, and enjoying it thoroughly.

As for the worst, hmmm, difficult. Reaper-man didn't really impress me all that much (if I'm remembering it right), but again, it wasn't particularly bad...

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Ended » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

My favourite is probably Interesting Times. I think this is also the first one I read. It does a great job of integrating pure fantasy with the universe-which-is-like-ours-but-different thing. Also, I was quite young when I read it, and was so thrilled to find out that terracotta warriors actually existed.

Also, Feet of Clay. Golems ftw!

There are none which I actively dislike, although I've found some of the more recent ones (Fifth Elephant, Thief of Time off the top of my head...I'm not really up to date) to be a bit unmemorable.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby The Hyphenator » Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:02 pm UTC

Thadlerian wrote:I'm up to date in Discworld, and I've read most books twice or thrice.

I find the best ones to be Night Watch, Men at Arms and Masquerade. The former two for their suspense, and their rich feeling of Ankh-Morpork as a setting. As for the latter, I can't tell, it's just great for some reason.

The worst DW books are the most recent ones. From Monstrous Regiment and on (excluding the excellent A Hat Full of Sky), they've gone steadily downhill.

The all-time-low so far must be the most recent, Making Money. As I wrote in another forum:
But my problem with {the Industrial Revolution} books, perhaps unrelated to the facts of their setting, is that they're bringing about a new and unsatisfactory writing style. In Going Postal and especially Making Money, I feel Pratchett is leaving genuine character intrigue behind, and is reducing the stories to mere "clever versus clever" - impossibly ingenious characters pulling an endless series of clever tricks and counter-tricks against each other, and then that's that. Characters don't as much talk as endlessly spout immortal and insightful statements. New characters seem to be created not to play a role, or to relate to the protagonist, but merely to allow Pratchett to pull off some witty and intricate gimmick.

And in the end, I just don't care. Pratchett doesn't seem inclined to change the basic formula where books always end in "no harm done", with no major characters dead, nor with any substantial changes made, and with main conflicts solved in a way that requires the reader's sense of humour to be closely correlative to the writer's (just consider the Where's My Cow scene near the end of Thud! and Mr. Bent's coming to terms with his identity in Making Money). This makes it increasingly hard to feel involved with the story, which I haven't been since Night Watch and A Hat Full of Sky.

Also, seeing as we can expect more Moist titles in the future (Raising Taxes), I can't help but get the feeling that Pratchett writes these books more because he needs to implement these concepts in Ankh-Morpork, rather than because he has a genuine story which he wishes to tell us. With a writer of Pratchett's caliber, I think this is unfortunate.


Also, in Going Postal, Pratchett's ideological agenda is shining pretty brightly through, hurting the genuineness of the story.

Agreed as well. Making Money is definitely my least favorite Discworld book, but still a good book in general if only because of the humor. I also didn't enjoy the Tiffany Aching books as much as the rest, partly because I can't seem to shake the "written for children" feeling off but mostly because I couldn't stand seeing Granny Weatherwax out of the lead role :(

One thing I don't like about Discworld in general is how he repeats the same ideas over and over again in many of his books. Example: how something can be so <adjective> that it approaches <opposite of adjective> from the other side. It gets old if you've read it before in many previous books, and are now reading it again in this one.

As for the favorite, I really don't have one. Each "mini-series" has things I like: characters in the Vimes series, ideas in the Death and Witches series's (grammar?), and puns in the Wizard series*. The stand-alone books are usually good in characters and ideas. Plot's not a huge thing in Discworld, IMO.

*Puns, or, of course, punes, are my one weakness. Recipe for a good book: interesting characters + original ideas + plot twist(s) + lots of puns.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby 4=5 » Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:12 pm UTC

I love how he repeatedly references the feeling of pissing your pants in the first day of third grade, it spans many many books.

my least favorite is equal rites because nothing really happened. and there are no real characters

what is really to bad is that almost none of his covers are correctly designed, I'm pretty sure his sales could greatly by simply having better covers.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby dbsmith » Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:44 pm UTC

Best: Feet of Clay and Thief of Time

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:09 pm UTC

Re: Covers
Am I the only one who prefers the Harper Collins covers? Josh Kirby was a great artist, but I really like the uniform simplicity of the American paperbacks. They look nice next to each other on a bookshelf.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby existential_elevator » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:16 pm UTC

I really miss the Kirby covers. I used to spend ages looking at them as a kid, trying to identify the different characters and plot references...

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Wormwood » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:16 am UTC

I loved the first Discworld books I read. For a long time, he was my favourite author, and whenever I went to the library, I'd get a Discworld book out, regardless of whether I'd read it before. He's still in my top five, but his newer books just don't have the same effect. I just get the feeling that he's thinking "People like my books, so I need to write more of them" instead of I am a good, imaginative writer, who needs to write more books". And he does do some ideas to death. I'm sick of reading about Disorganisers (is that what they are called? The imp powered PDA analog), especially as I can't relate. I'd be happy if I never saw the phrase "Mr Insert-Name-Here" again.

My favourite character set is the Guards, with Vimes and Vetinari being the most awesome. The witches I liked, but I didn't really get the same effect of character development over the books involving them.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby b.i.o » Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:24 am UTC

Thud! is my favorite. I like the city watch storyline the most in general.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Various Varieties » Mon Apr 21, 2008 5:44 pm UTC

Glad to see so many people are saying nice things about the Witches books. They don't seem to be as appreciated on certain other forums as the others in the series - probably because the maiden, the mother and the other one practicing Headology isn't quite as immediate as, say, Vimes vs werewolves. (Though that was pretty cool...)

My favourites include, in no particular order:

- Night Watch
- Lords and Ladies
- Thud!
- The Fifth Elephant
- Small Gods
- Hogfather
- Jingo
- A Hat Full of Sky

There are a few I wasn't quite so keen on, at first reading: Soul Music (possibly because when I read it I didn't know quite so much about the history of rock as I do now - though the band name puns were great) and Witches Abroad (though I've since re-read it and enjoyed it much more) spring to mind. However, none of them are actually bad. Even the first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, which more than any of the others are "just" collections of jokes and parodies of very specific fantasy novels, are amusing.

Finally, I notice that Terry has posted a news update on Paul Kidby's site: the BBC are doing a documentary about his Alzheimer's disease, although as he notes, "I never intended that I would be some kind of AD spokesman, but the world seems to be deciding otherwise."
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Stereo » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:08 pm UTC

I find it easier to choose least favourites... I don't really like the early Death books (Mort & Reaper Man). Maybe I was just introduced in the wrong order, or I don't understand the farm culture, they just don't mean much to me like the other ones do.

I don't really like how the more recent books are moving in the direction of "epic quest" style fantasy, the earlier books seem to meander around and eventually get where they were meant to without ever feeling like they were headed in that direction.



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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Thadlerian » Tue Apr 22, 2008 5:21 pm UTC

CHeMnISTe BOY wrote:Well put, I totally agree. I can't quite see what he's going for by introducing all these real-world concepts into the Discworld, maybe he's just picked out something that a lot of people liked about his books and decided to run with it. Personally I don't find it that interesting and I think the out of the more recent books the best ones are the Tiffany Aching series, which are also the ones that are almost completely divoid of real-world concepts.

It's not that I dislike the new concepts -- the clacks, the bank, the subway, and whatnot. I think it's pretty cool to see a Fantasy setting that is actually developing technologically. The problem is more that they seem to be his basis for writing. Stories like Going Postal and Making Money seem to be written to realize the idea, not to tell particular stories.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby cephalopod9 » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:52 am UTC

Where's a good place to start? I've only read Interesting Times, and was thinking about getting one or two to share with my brother.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby existential_elevator » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:06 am UTC

I think it depends largely on what you enjoyed about interesting times, and what kind of books you read normally :) I reckon that, from this information, between us lot, we'd be able to give you the best recommendation.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby btilly » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:08 am UTC

My favorite is Small Gods, though I love many others as well.

I agree that quality has been going down. I have to wonder whether his early onset Alzheimer's is partly responsible.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Moo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:16 am UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:Where's a good place to start? I've only read Interesting Times, and was thinking about getting one or two to share with my brother.
This opinion is entirely biased because the reason I like the Watch books best is most probably because they were the first ones I read. But they're a little grittier, and rarely lack proper plot like some of the others can do. So my opinion, which you are completely unobliged to listen to, is to start with "Guards! Guard!".

As to favourites? Well as mentioned above, I love the Watch books. "Guards! Guards!", "Men At Arms" and I really really liked "Thud!" There are many that I thought were lacking one of the magic elements that make a truelly good Pratchett read - plot, good puns, a few ammusing real world concepts only with imps but not too many - but even those are still an ammusing read. I read Interesting Times most recently and found it to be that, but no more. I am rubbish at remembering much futher back than that.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Firnagzen » Thu Apr 24, 2008 8:41 am UTC

I can't say which is my favourite... I can only say which aren't: The first three. (The colour of magic, The light fantastic and Equal Rites) and I'm not so sure about Soul Music (Because I don't understand most of the music references...). But that's all.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Thadlerian » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:48 pm UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:Where's a good place to start? I've only read Interesting Times, and was thinking about getting one or two to share with my brother.

There are various starting points:
Rincewind: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic
Death: Mort
Witches: (Equal Rites - I thought it was pretty sweet, but it is more of a stand-alone), Wyrd Sisters
Watch: Guards! Guards!
Industrial Age: Moving Pictures, The Truth

I recommend Mort. It's one of the best Discworld books overall, combining humour and serious themes.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Various Varieties » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:59 pm UTC

There are various Discworld reading order guides here.

But personally I'd recommend reading a few of the following "starter" books, and then following on which series you like:

First Death book: Mort
It's the one I started with, and usually recommend first.

First Watch book: Guards! Guards!
The Watch series is very popular. But please don't skip ahead to any of the later ones until you've reached Men At Arms; it'll lessen the surprise of a certain revelation about a certain character...

First Witches book: Wyrd Sisters
Well, OK, Granny Weatherwax first appears in Equal Rites, but this is the first "proper" Witches book with all three of them (Granny, Nanny Ogg and Magrat). The young adult books in the Tiffany Aching series (which begins with The Wee Free Men) are another route into the Witches books.

Other good starter/stand-alone books:
Small Gods (religion)
Moving Pictures (parodies of Hollywood movies)


Oh, and it's not Discworld, but read Good Omens while you're at it, too. :wink:

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby cathrl » Fri Apr 25, 2008 3:58 pm UTC

My favourite would have to be one of Guards! Guards! and Pyramids, and my least favourite is the one set in not-Australia, which I found unfunny in the extreme.

And I loved Sky One's "Colour of Magic" sufficiently that I'm considering rereading the book to see if I like it any better now. It's far from my favourite at the moment.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Rodan » Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:50 pm UTC

I really need to read these.
post haste

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby lesliesage » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:34 pm UTC

I'd never heard of Pratchett in the US, and when I came here, to describe him someone said, "Terry Pratchett is the kind of author read by people who don't like books. Like Dan Brown."

Anyone else feel like that?

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby The Hyphenator » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:39 pm UTC

lesliesage wrote:I'd never heard of Pratchett in the US, and when I came here, to describe him someone said, "Terry Pratchett is the kind of author read by people who don't like books. Like Dan Brown."

Anyone else feel like that?

NO. I'm sure you can tell by my avatar that I do not look favorably upon that comment.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby btilly » Tue Apr 29, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

lesliesage wrote:I'd never heard of Pratchett in the US, and when I came here, to describe him someone said, "Terry Pratchett is the kind of author read by people who don't like books. Like Dan Brown."

Anyone else feel like that?

No matter how stupid the opinion, you can always find someone, somewhere, who believes it.

Most of the Pratchett fans that I know, including myself, like to read. A lot.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby existential_elevator » Tue Apr 29, 2008 9:34 pm UTC

lesliesage wrote:I'd never heard of Pratchett in the US, and when I came here, to describe him someone said, "Terry Pratchett is the kind of author read by people who don't like books. Like Dan Brown."

Anyone else feel like that?


Pratchett is a modern-day Aristophanes. In his better books.
Yes, a lot of jokes can appeal to the lowest-common-denominator [so to speak] or are at least written in such a way as to be accessible to people who are not the most literary affluent. At the same time, there's a whole other level of joking [again, in the better books], which is almost a bonus level, I kid you not, that you attain by having been very well read. The Witches are funny, yes, but they get at least a thousand times better after you've read a crapload of shakespeare. There are tonnes and tonnes of literary references scattered throughout Discworld, but that one is the most obvious. Especially if you read.. I think it's the first witches novel of the series, and Hamlet side by side. The referencing is pretty sweet.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby justaman » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:59 pm UTC

I haven't read all of them, but I do love the discworld. My favourites are "Thief of Time" and "Hogfather". I don't think I have really been disappointed by any of the ones that I have read, though I did find "Colour of Magic" hard to get into. Having said that, I did enjoy seeing where a lot of the other books start, and it cleared up most of the character development for later books, especially that of the Luggage and Twoflower.

My favourite parts are the puns and the footnotes, as well as the recurring themes poking fun at a whole heap of things.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby annals » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:13 am UTC

lesliesage wrote:I'd never heard of Pratchett in the US, and when I came here, to describe him someone said, "Terry Pratchett is the kind of author read by people who don't like books. Like Dan Brown."

Anyone else feel like that?


Terry Pratchett is the kind of author who can be read (and enjoyed) by people who don't like books. People who love reading can enjoy him just as much.


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