Best and Worst Discworld

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Nautilus » Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:55 am UTC

I like all of 'em.

However, I just read Wyrd Sisters and Lords and Ladies just as we started a Shakespeare unit at school. It was great reading the actual plays and then the Pratchettized versions side by side.
Spoiler:
Wyrd Sisters is Macbeth.
Lords and Ladies is A Midsummer Night's Dream.


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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Deep_Thought » Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:00 pm UTC

Off the top of my head I think the worst of the lot is Monstrous Regiment. I got fed-up with the overused plot-twist of
Spoiler:
almost every man in the army actually being a woman. It worked to start off with, and then was repeated about eleventy-jillion times.


My favourite is hard to pick. Last Continent, Going Postal or Carpe Jugulum are all contenders. I'd really like Sir Terry to write one more Rincewind book, he really grew on me as a character in later novels.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby markfiend » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:26 pm UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:Off the top of my head I think the worst of the lot is Monstrous Regiment. I got fed-up with the overused plot-twist of
Spoiler:
almost every man in the army actually being a woman.
It worked to start off with, and then was repeated about eleventy-jillion times.

You maybe should have spoilered that? :wink:

I thought it was a bit like when you overdo a joke again and again it stops being funny but you carry on again and again and again and it starts being funny again.

Plus given that
Spoiler:
the war has been going on so long that practically all the men in the country are dead or too badly injured to fight, who would be left except the women?
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Nov 26, 2010 1:32 pm UTC

Oops, didn't think of that. Apologies if that is a spoiler for anyone.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby ozymandias87 » Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:55 am UTC

I have only gotten into Discworld recently, but I still managed to read all of them in the last 6 months (thank god for libraries)

The one I enjoyed the least was Pyramids. The characters and plot were both flat. Not that it didn't have some nice bits, the insight into life in the Assassin's Guild was worthwhile.

As for the best, my vote goes towards Small Gods and Guards! Guards!

I disagree with the opinion that Discworld has declines as of late, the characters Of Tiffany Aching and Moist have to be the finest heroine and anti-hero he has ever developed.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:21 am UTC

Deep_Thought wrote:Off the top of my head I think the worst of the lot is Monstrous Regiment. I got fed-up with the overused plot-twist of
Spoiler:
almost every man in the army actually being a woman. It worked to start off with, and then was repeated about eleventy-jillion times.

For the record.. that.. uh.. was the point. To take something that's overused but usually only for a single or small handful of characters, and have it apply to practically everyone. To be silly with it.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Deep_Thought » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
Deep_Thought wrote:Off the top of my head I think the worst of the lot is Monstrous Regiment. I got fed-up with the overused plot-twist of
Spoiler:
almost every man in the army actually being a woman. It worked to start off with, and then was repeated about eleventy-jillion times.

For the record.. that.. uh.. was the point. To take something that's overused but usually only for a single or small handful of characters, and have it apply to practically everyone. To be silly with it.


He overused the overuse of an overused plot device, as I am now overusing the word overused. Repetition for comic effect is a fine balancing act, and I think Sir Terry didn't get it right in this particular instance. It just became too obvious by the end. Usually amongst all the silliness involved in the Discworld there's a bit more subtlety waiting to be found.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Unbeliever » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:02 pm UTC

My favorite was Night Watch. Vimes was an amazing character even before that book, but he topped himself there. Some close runners-up would be Guards! Guards!, Interesting Times, Lords and Ladies, Reaper Man, Thud!, and Hogfather.

My least favorite was Pyramids. I just... didn't enjoy it, for some reason. It's been too long since I've read it for any specific complaints.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Sandry » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:26 pm UTC

RE: Monstrous Regiment - I didn't even think it qualified as a plot twist. The full phrase the title of the book alludes to includes "A monstrous regiment of women," so the title itself gives away the so-called twist.

I kind of want to re-read that now, but I didn't in any way think that was supposed to be unexpected any of the times it happened, so therefore couldn't see it as a plot twist to be overused, either annoyingly or ridiculously.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Hemmers » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:30 pm UTC

To add my tuppence, I'm quite a fan of the von Lipwig stories, but in part for the political satire that comes out in stories involving the Patrician. It's certainly lacking in some of the plot and character depth of other books. And I favour Going Postal over Making Money.
The Watch are legends, although of the books I've read most recently, I've developed a soft spot for the Tiffany Aching books, but then I'm a fan of fairy-lore as well, so that kind of figures.

I seem to be alone in not enjoying Small Gods as much as most people seem to have.
I mean it wasn't bad - none of them are really, but I didn't enjoy it as much as stories set in Ankh or the Ramtops where you've got a rich environment and (IMO) better characters.
Plus religion is a bit of a turn-off for me. That said, Small Gods is probably also quite an important unit in terms of understanding Discworld as a whole, as it fills in a lot of background about the gods, their followers and their existence, which is only referred in passing in many other stories. It puts a lot of the religious stuff into context and helps it all gel together.


BTW, technically the Treatise that Monstrous Regiment was named after is actually entitled
"the monstrous Regimen of Women"

It is only later corruptions and misquotes of the title that changed Regimen to Regiment.
It wasn't really bad, but it certainly wasn't up to his usual standards, and you knew where it was going once the plot twist had unfolded for the second or third time.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby markfiend » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

Hemmers wrote: I favour Going Postal over Making Money.

Well, given that, to all intents and purposes, Making Money is just Going Postal rehashed, I would tend to agree. :|
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Moo » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:37 am UTC

Hemmers; you're not alone. I've only listened to Small Gods as read by Tony Robinson but it has failed to inspire me into wanting to read the book. I will, at some point, but only once there's nothing good left.

In other random news I have a Kindle (whooooooo!) but the footnotes in Maurice aren't coming up properly :( I feel robbed! I love TP's footnotes.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Zohar » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:52 am UTC

Huh. I haven't read all of Discworld, probably around half, but Small Gods is my definite favorite of them all.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby podbaydoor » Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:04 am UTC

I just re-read Night Watch, read Monstrous Regiment, and re-read Thud, currently working on Jingo. Yeah...I would just like to take this moment and re-affirm my raging crush on Sam Vimes. And honestly, I think Night Watch is hands-down the most wide-ranging novel with the best depth of plot and characterization. I think the only other book that took its subject so seriously and darkly was Small Gods. I wonder if there are any in-universe groupies for "those damn Coper Barstuds" because if there were, I'd be one of them.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby GraphiteGirl » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:24 am UTC

podbaydoor wrote:my raging crush on Sam Vimes

Why am I not surprised that this came from Oregonaut's girlfriend? :P

Also, I've just finished the Tiffany Aching series, and wish to reaffirm that choosing favourites from amongst the Discworld oeuvre is really difficult.
Spoilers for Tiffany and Agnes books, also a little Vimes:
Spoiler:
It seems like there's more hope and less resignation with the 'way of the world' in Pratchett's YA fiction. Comparing Tiffany's development and romantic subplots with Agnes' in Carpe Jugulum and Maskerade, for example, it's interesting to note that both of them are preoccupied with the notion of not being the blonde, perfect girl and becoming a witch because their ordinariness means they don't fit into the conventional 'heroine' mold - for Tiffany, the girl central to most fairytales, represented by Letitia in I Shall Wear Midnight, and for Agnes, the opera star, represented by vacuous Christine in Maskerade. But Agnes is more thoroughly defeated by her designation as witch rather than heroine, whereas Tiffany actively prefers the witch role, even if she occasionally craves some of the perks that come with being a Letitia (and, as it turns out, Letitia feels equally constrained, until Tiffany encourages her to break out of her fairytale-mandated role and be the witch as well as the wedded waif.)

Tiffany also has the only romantic plot Pratchett's written that really left me with an uncomplicated happiness for a character - unlike, say, the Vimes and Sybil relationship, which bothers me because it feels like a marriage of convenience, or consolation, or at least like there's a lack of passionate love. I identified a great deal with Tiffany's confusion over Roland, and her eventual recognition of the fact that even though they were both different to the other youths of the Chalk, they were not made of the same internal stuff, and her reluctance to recognise this because it might mean being alone forever (a distinct possibility in a village culture, where there are really only so many people to meet). Preston's appearance... well, I could see people finding him too convenient, but when he showed up and had the same tendencies toward protection, overthinking and wordplay as Tiffany, I felt so relieved on her behalf, and I suspect that sort of possibility of intellectual connection would be a really powerful thing for young nerdy misfits to read. I know that when I was 16, I would have read the appearance of Preston with an anxious sort of vicarious hope - maybe if a misfit can find someone who is the same kind of strange as her, it's ok to want that, to expect it and hold out for it.


ETA: Also, I'm seeing Pratchett speak next Tuesday. I am a swooning puddle of fangirl right now.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Jumble » Mon Apr 04, 2011 9:04 pm UTC

I'm deeply relieved to hear that. My 10 year old daughter took to the Tiffany Aching like a hydrophile to water. She's dark haired, smart in a studious, somewhat geeky way, not naturally tall, sporty or any of the other things your supposed to be when you are 10. To throw that into stark relief she has a younger sister who is bouncy, blonde, athletic, etc. I think my 10 year old was delighted to find a heroine who was happy rebel against the simpering blonde princess genre. She even went to a fancy dress as Tiffany, and I have to say it suited her.

She's read 'I shall wear midnight' and loved it, whereas I've not found time to read it yet. My only disappointment is that she is struggling with 'Feet of clay' which I thought was pretty good (although, on reflection, maybe not one of his best). I was trying to get her to read that as a precursor to Night Watch, which I agree is a close a Pratchett had got to truly great literature.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby charliepanayi » Mon Apr 04, 2011 10:03 pm UTC

The City Watch books might be a little heavy for a 10 year old, especially from Jingo onwards.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Apr 05, 2011 3:29 pm UTC

Pssh, at 11 I was reading Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and Anne McCaffrey. The thing about child brains is that things they're not ready to understand will likely be glossed over - hence all the "why did I never realize this before??" moments you get when you re-read something later on in life. I didn't understand any of the sexual innuendo in McCaffrey's stuff until I hit puberty, which then led to a lot of facepalming. Oh, and also, lots of children get started on reading the Bible before they can even read. I've never been all that sympathetic to the idea of keeping dark themes away from children precisely because of this.

For sure, the City Watch books have many references and dark scenarios and irony that will unfold for you only as you acquire experience and education, and your sense of humor evolves. I still wouldn't call them too heavy for a 10-year-old.

I just finished Jingo last night.
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Re: Vimes' romantic life
Spoiler:
Huh, I guess I didn't view Vimes/Sybil quite like that. Granted, I read the City Watch books completely out of order (I started with Night Watch), and I haven't yet managed to read the one where they met and got together, so I have no idea how their courtship went. But remember, they seem to have gotten married when both of them were older and less susceptible to the drug-like hallucinatory quality of love between hormone-prone young people.

But also? I suspect that the comfortable aspect of the Vimes/Sybil relationship merely means that the Vimes/Vetinari subtext just stands out more. :P I had my slash goggles on while reading Jingo, and there were some pretty choice moments between those two at the beginning and the end.

Edit: I just noticed the little argument up there about Small Gods. Yeah, I think you have to have a certain worldview or mindset, plus cynicism, to really enjoy it - Pratchett's own opinions on religions shine through pretty strongly. I can look back at my journey through various stages of religion, and there were times where I would've taken the whole thing with a lot of defensiveness. Since I did wind up reading it after my deconversion, I really loved it whole-heartedly since many of the themes and opinions resonated with my current views.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Jumble » Tue Apr 05, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

With you all the way, Pod. I gave up trying to judge my daughter's reading age when she was 9 and she filched my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, and read it faster than I did (although it led to some interesting discussions explaining some of the concepts). She has now finished Feet of clay, and declared it 'really good, but slow to get going'. Night Watch next, I guess (although I had started re-reading it myself).
Spoiler:
I like the Vimes - Lady Sybil marriage. It strikes me as real in a way that most fiction marriages are not. They like each other, they are friends first and then love grows. Thunderbolts and celestial choirs would just be the gods playing silly buggers again.
Spoiler:
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby GraphiteGirl » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:15 pm UTC

Jumble, podbay, I would probably agree with you if only I hadn't read Guards! Guards!.
Spoiler:
The way Vimes views their courtship really did bother me (whereas Sybil always seems more like she wants it and less like it's an inevitability. But maybe I read it too cynically, and there's some sweetness in him seeing her as a refuge from loneliness.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Kewangji » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:13 am UTC

I was bothered by the way their courtship went, as well, but I don't remember enough of it to pinpoint what I didn't like. Their marriage now seems fine.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Moo » Tue May 24, 2011 12:04 pm UTC

For Discworld fans not aware:
http://www.squidoo.com/wear-the-lilac

As well as being Towel Day, it's also a day on which a lot of Disworld fans choose to wear a sprig of lilac (or, I imagine, the closest equivalent they can find) in honour of Sir Pratchett and Alzheimer's.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Nat » Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:51 pm UTC

Best is probably Reaper man, foollowed colsely by night watch. Worst is Unseen academicals (by a wide margin, it really seems like alzheimer's getting to him).

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Ulc » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:07 am UTC

Nat wrote:Best is probably Reaper man, foollowed colsely by night watch. Worst is Unseen academicals (by a wide margin, it really seems like alzheimer's getting to him).


Is it actually worse than Eric?

Holy damn, because Eric really wasn't worth the time spent reading it.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Thadlerian » Mon Aug 01, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

I disagree about it being the worst. The first half or so was very good. Many interesting character insights. The slow unveiling of Mr. Nutt, however, feels like a theme Pratchett has explored half a dozen times already, and the outcome was perhaps not quite as unpredictable as intended.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby charliepanayi » Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

I think the best bits of Unseen by far were the bits involving the wizards and the Patrician, it was with the new characters that things felt a lot more unsure (and I couldn't stand Pepe). Plus the plot peters out somewhat. Hopefully Snuff, with a return to the City Watch, will be better. And I liked I Shall Wear Midnight, albeit not as much as Wintersmith.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby ConMan » Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:02 am UTC

I'm holding back my judgement on UA until I read it a second time, although I agree I didn't enjoy it as much as most of the novels. I don't mind Eric, but like all the Rincewind novels it is a bit light in the complexity that, for example, the Vimes and Witches books have, and for a story so short it jumps around a lot. For me, the weakest novel has always been Moving Pictures - I find that the humour in it falls flat most of the time, and the characters are generally pretty weak. Best is a tricky one, but I think Night Watch just manages to win the race - it's funny, it has some great characters, and Vimes gets to be more like both the Vimes of Guards! Guards! and later novels at the same time.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:07 pm UTC

Honestly, I'm still having trouble getting into the non-Vimes books, and lately, the non-Moist books. I read Lords and Ladies, and while I enjoyed it a lot, and it is a good book, I felt that the jumpiness of the style prevented Pratchett from really digging into the meat of any of the characters. I would have liked to get a closer look into the elves' minds, too.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Jorpho » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:45 am UTC

I did not much care for Lords and Ladies, really. Witches Abroad was rather better.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby charliepanayi » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:15 am UTC

I loved Lords and Ladies, though it may explain why I always view the Elves in Lord of the Rings with some mistrust! That said, Carpe Jugulum is probably my favourite witches-centric book.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby PeteP » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:53 pm UTC

So since it has been out for a while now, what do you all think of Snuff?
Spoiler:
Can't say it's my favorite Vimes book. But I liked it. The antagonist side of the story wasn't all that interesting, the son of Lord Rust didn't do anything and the killer guy was the usual slightly crazy killer.
But we all know what the real topic of the story was. Pterry's endless hate against goblins!

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby VectorZero » Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:33 am UTC

I had completely forgotten about it; had a browser tab opened to bookdepository preorder page for months, never bothered to click.

I've got all hardcopies for the last 12 years or so, is it worth getting or should I just get the kindle version and save myself the money?
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:15 pm UTC

I had no idea it had come out. I haven't seen it in the bookstores, for some reason. Will have to get my hands on it.

(I'm re-reading Night Watch AGAIN and I swear I never get tired of it.)

(I'd like a hard-boiled egg.)
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:11 am UTC

Just finished Snuff this morning, and to me it's the worst discworld novel since Monstrous Regiment. How he can veer wildly from the brilliance of I Shall Wear Midnight to this is somewhat odd. All said and done, I still enjoyed a lot of it, because, well it's Pratchett and he can spin a good yarn. But so much of it felt like lines of dialogue rehashed from earlier books, the overall idea
Spoiler:
tackling racism under the guise of fantasy-world specie-ism
has been done to death by Pratchett in previous books, as recently as Unseen Academicals.

But above all, it really needed a strong editor to sort it out. There's scenes where characters who have hitherto not been mentioned suddenly speak up, or things are referred to as having just happened without any sort of prior warning or description, or characters appear out of thin air without so much as an explanation only to disappear immediately again. Really fundamental writing errors, ones that could be excused from Pterry himself considering his illness, but certainly one an editor should have highlighted and fixed.

Other grievances I had include:

Spoiler:
The bizarrely changed character of Wilikins. It's mentioned that he's a good fighter previously, though a slightly stuck-up butler to the aristocracy. Suddenly he's this rough and ready cutthroat who is on matey terms with Vimes? I'm all for character development, but this just felt weird.
The convenient appearance of the Summoning Dark, which is barely mentioned in the latter half of the book, and is a plot thread just ignored completely by the end.
The fact that the ostensibly primary villain of the piece, Lord Rust the Younger, has no dialogue, and in fact is not in a single scene and is only mentioned in the third person, means it's hard to care about him one way or the other. And the actual main villain, Stratford, is only in a handful of scenes towards the end of the book, and poses no real threat since Vimes is one step ahead of him the whole time. Very much a let-down.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:47 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:
Spoiler:
The bizarrely changed character of Wilikins. It's mentioned that he's a good fighter previously, though a slightly stuck-up butler to the aristocracy. Suddenly he's this rough and ready cutthroat who is on matey terms with Vimes? I'm all for character development, but this just felt weird.
The convenient appearance of the Summoning Dark, which is barely mentioned in the latter half of the book, and is a plot thread just ignored completely by the end.
The fact that the ostensibly primary villain of the piece, Lord Rust the Younger, has no dialogue, and in fact is not in a single scene and is only mentioned in the third person, means it's hard to care about him one way or the other. And the actual main villain, Stratford, is only in a handful of scenes towards the end of the book, and poses no real threat since Vimes is one step ahead of him the whole time. Very much a let-down.
Not exactly, no. Just not as explicitly mentioned.
Spoiler:
In THUD, for instance, Wilikins took on a group of dwarves armed only with an ice carving knife
Now that being said
Spoiler:
I don't recall him being so... Right-Hand-Man-y as he was in this one. But I don't know how much of that is "wrong" characterization, and how much is character development that just wasn't on screen. I mean, the events of THUD are spoken of as if they happened several years ago, so there is that.


That being said, I can't really fault your other complaints. It... wasn't as well-written as his other works, and redoes themes from the previous book, only a bit more simply.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:47 pm UTC

That seems sad. Vimes and the Watch are such an awesome set of characters, I would hope that he could mine so many more stories out of the concept. Guess I'll just re-read Thud! to make up for it.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby HungryHobo » Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:26 pm UTC

Fav book of all: good omens but that's not a discworld.

My favorite discworld: Small gods though there's a few other contenders like Lords and Ladies.

some of his recent work has had weaker plots, snuff was fun to read but I have to agree with the earlier criticisms.... it felt a little disjointed.

The Science of Discworld III is the only one I really hated. I couldn't even finish it. it seemed to drop the science in favor of dawkinesque preaching. It's sad because I so so so loved the first Science of Discworld.

Making Money was fun to read but suffered because of the lack of any credible opponent. Cosmo was painted as a fool right from the start so he never felt like any kind of threat to moist.
It felt more like fanfiction of going postal. At least in going postal his opponent was an even greater conman.
Spoiler:
That and the massive deus ex machina with the golems turning up and pretty much sorting out their problems


I think it's that while a lot of the older books have clearly been gone over again and again and again draft after draft cleaning things up he can't actually re-read his books as he's writing them any more so we end up with books which feel a lot less polished and without the many layers.

Spoiler:
Does anyone else get the impression that he's tying up some of the series with their "perfect moment"?
The end of thief of time felt like an ending to the susan/death books while the end of I Shall Wear Midnight felt like a proper ending to the witches with granny passing the torch and the dance with the bees.
While Rincewind is still the butt of the occasional cosmic joke he's finally a real wizard, has a safe quiet life and potatoes.

The watch and industrial revolution novels feel like the only series which don't feel like they have an ending, at least while focused on the traditional characters.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby PeteP » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:35 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
I think it's that while a lot of the older books have clearly been gone over again and again and again draft after draft cleaning things up he can't actually re-read his books as he's writing them any more so we end up with books which feel a lot less polished and without the many layers.

I think "I Shall Wear Midnight" was the book before Snuff and if I remember right I didn't consider it unpolished.

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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:22 pm UTC

That is true, I guess they vary.
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Re: Best and Worst Discworld

Postby Thadlerian » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:27 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
Spoiler:
Does anyone else get the impression that he's tying up some of the series with their "perfect moment"?
The end of thief of time felt like an ending to the susan/death books while the end of I Shall Wear Midnight felt like a proper ending to the witches with granny passing the torch and the dance with the bees.
While Rincewind is still the butt of the occasional cosmic joke he's finally a real wizard, has a safe quiet life and potatoes.

The watch and industrial revolution novels feel like the only series which don't feel like they have an ending, at least while focused on the traditional characters.

Yeah, I've been having similar thoughts about Unseen Academicals, even though it had mostly one-shot characters.


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