I’ve seen a bunch of people mention they haven’t read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and that they’d like to start, but are intimidated by the 41 books he’s published in the series.
It’s a lot of books, true. And if you’re one of those people who must do things in order, they’re numbered–good luck!
This post is for everyone else. The series arcs are character-focused, so you can read one and then move onto another without missing anything. Or only read the character arcs that appeal, since there are only so many hours in a day.
Small Gods–Om should be a big god, powerful and strong–except all his followers aren’t really worshiping him any more, so he has dwindled. Only Brutha, the novice, has true faith–and it will be up to him to save his god. Brutha is a kind, easy to relate to without being annoying perfect kind of character, and the discussion on religion versus faith is interesting.
Monstrous Regiment–Polly Perks needs her brother to run the family inn, so she cuts her hair and dresses as a boy to join the army as “Oliver” to find him. Fighting alongside trolls, zombies, and vampires, the regiment has plenty of secrets beside “Oliver’s” identity. This one has a lot of funny moments and judiciously placed socks–watching Polly try to be a boy has the typical moments of overcompensation, but she learns some things about gender and personality.
Moving Pictures–Holy Wood has developed a new technology, and the alchemists are messing with images and reality, as if there’s no possible consequences. On the Discworld, magic has a peculiar way of warping and changing reality in unexpected ways. This is one of the weirder ones, where Pratchett’s typical quirky humor swerves more towards the odd than usual–but explores fame and the movies in an amusing fashion.
Pyramids–Teppic isn’t quite sure what to do as pharaoh–he has to build a burial pyramid for his father, deal with some spectacularly crazy priests, and uncover some secrets in his kingdom–tasks he’s not well prepared for, but has to tackle nonetheless. This is probably my least favorite by comparison, but has some things to say about culture clashes.
Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents–Maurice the cat and several rats are intelligent animals, working with a human boy named Keith to ‘infest’ a town, then Keith and Maurice removes the rats for a fee. Then they find a town already infested with rats, and some truly frightening rat-catchers. (Warning: though this has the typical humor, it’s also a bit darker in places.) I like this one for its twist on the Pied Piper story, and the rodents and cat are well developed and fascinating people in their own rights.