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.
Wizards: These books focus on the wizards of Unseen University, especially Rincewind, the Discworld’s worst wizard. He’s cowardly, incapable of magic, and much put upon. He’s more acted upon than active, but he has a slapstick kind of humor if that appeals. In this case, I’m more fond of the later books, which seem better developed, with more rounded characters. However, any reference to the Luggage definitely makes me smile.
Color of Magic–Ankh-Morpork has its first tourist, a man named Twoflower. And Rincewind the world’s worst wizard is charged with keeping him safe–a difficult task in a city that’s perfectly willing to kill the naive. (You’ll want to read the next one when you get to the end.)
Light Fantastic–A sequel that follows closely the previous book, one of the few Discworld books that does so. It’s hard to describe without spoilers, then–consider it the further misadventures of the cowardly wizard Rincewind, who would love to run away, but his troubles follow.
Sorcery–The eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard. And then that wizard has eight sons… which results in a sorcerer. Sorcerer’s are powerful and rare, and very dangerous. Discworld might not survive.
Eric–A demonologist summons a powerful demon to get three wishes. Instead, he gets Rincewind, an ineffective wizard. This does not go as he expected.
Interesting Times–The old curse says “May your live in interesting times,” and Rincewind the wizard really wishes he wasn’t doing so. Twoflower wrote about his vacation to Ankh-Morpork, and now his home country is in turmoil. And somehow, Rincewind is supposed to fix the problem.
Last Continent–One of the wizards of Unseen University is missing from all the way on the other side of the Disc, on the continent labeled on maps as Xxxx, or Fourecks. They send a team to go find what happened, dragging along a very reluctant Rincewind.
Last Hero–Cohen the Barbarian has outlived his legend. He’s missing his teeth, and doesn’t look quite the same in his loincloth, but he’s determined to get the crew together for one last mission–to return what humans stole from the gods. But if he succeeds, he’ll destroy the world. Rincewind plays a smaller role in this one, but is still present. Shorter, but beautifully illustrated.
Unseen Academicals–The wizards at Unseen University have been lax in putting together a football team, but if they don’t do one now, they’ll lose a substantial chunk of funding. The problem is wizards aren’t usually athletic–they’ll need to use the talents of some rather peculiar university staff, and they’ll discover the game is about much more than football. This is my favorite of this series, with old favorite characters and some interesting new ones.