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.
It’s a lot of books, true. 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, and work well without any other background. Here’s some of my favorite characters.
Death: Someone has to do his job, and he does it well–everyone sees him, eventually. Surprisingly funny, he strives to be human, and often fails. Fond of cats and his famous white horse, Binky.
- Death’s apprentice, Mort. Starts out as a pretty average young man, but ends up with an interesting job, to say the least.
- his adopted daughter, Ysabell. Someone told Death that the best age for children was teenagers, so she’s been a teen for a very… long… time.
- his granddaughter, Susan. Probably my favorite, beating Death by a narrow margin. She’s practical, smart, and awesomely sarcastic.
Mort (#4). Death decides to take on an apprentice, in Mort. However Mort soon discovers that it isn’t so easy to fill Death’s robe, and the consequences are far-reaching. This book shows Death as a developed person, with quite a personality–and because it introduces a bunch of new characters, it stands well on its own.
Reaper Man (#11). Death gets fired–the effects are like when he went on his vacation, only much worse. What happens to the dead when there’s no Death? Introduces a new villain, and like everything Pratchett, it’s a mix of serious and hilarious.
Soul Music (#16.) This one is less about Death, and more about Susan, who is introduced in this book–but Susan is so spectacular you shouldn’t skip it. Susan is at a boarding school, and her bland school life is made interesting by a quartet of wizards playing a new kind of music…music with rocks in.
Hogfather (#20). Susan never believed in the tooth fairy, or the Hogfather (a version of Santa Claus with a sleigh pulled by hogs)–she simply knows they exist. And anything that exists can be destroyed–so Susan, her grandfather, and an odd collection of beings will have to save the Hogfather, or Hogswatch will be ruined.
Thief of Time (#26). More Susan as an impressive school teacher, History Monks, and the Fifth Horseman, Ronnie, who left the group before they got famous. But someone is building a clock that is perfectly accurate, and the last time someone tried that, it broke time–a second attempt might shatter time beyond repair.