This is a series that’s just what it says on the tin: authors I love.
These aren’t just authors that I read; these are authors I follow, whose books I buy as soon as I get a chance. These are the authors for whom I’ll read everything they write just because they’re the ones writing it.
For this post, we’re going back to the fantasy genre and Terry Pratchett!
What does he write?
Comedic fantasy; specifically the Discworld series.
How did you first hear about him?
I can’t even remember. I’d heard about Discworld for years thanks to the Internet, but had never picked it up. Finally, somebody at a NaNo get-together told me about the whole “series within a series” aspect of it, and described the Night Watch books. I thought those sounded pretty funny.
And after I read and loved Good Omens (which is by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), I felt like I kind of had to pick up Discworld.
What was the first book of his you read?
Guards! Guards! It’s the first book in the Night Watch arc.
How many of his books have you read?
Thirteen and counting:
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Fifth Elephant
Where’s My Cow? – yes, it’s a picture book, but it counts, believe me.
Why do you like him so much?
He’s hilarious. I described him to my friends as “Douglas Adams does fantasy,” which does a good job of describing his early work, but Pratchett becomes so much more than just that. His stuff moves from just straight parody of fantasy and its tropes to some excellent satire, and he has such an amazing way with words that I usually have to stop several times to read a passage aloud because it’s so. Damn. Funny.
He also creates wonderfully memorable characters in every story. You have the regulars like Sam Vimes, Carrot, Colon and Nobby, Lord Vetinari, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat, and Death, and then those who show up for just one book like Eskarina (Esk) in Equal Rites or Polly in Monstrous Regiment or Glenda in Unseen Academicals.
None of them are perfect; they have flaws and foibles but they also grow and change over the course of their stories, whether it’s just one book or eight. I love the characters with a capital L.
Also, his worldbuilding? Unexpectedly awesome. Discworld feels like a fully realized world, even amongst (or perhaps even because of) its ridiculousness.
I think any fan of high fantasy needs to read at least a few Discworld books.
What’s your favorite book of his?
Men at Arms. It’s the second in the Night Watch arc and it is absolutely fantastic. Vimes and Carrot are my two favorite characters in the entire series, and this book showcases both of them excellently.
Not to mention there’s an amazing scene between Carrot and Lord Vetinari at the end that is just phenomenal. I had to reread it about four times because I loved it so much.
What’s your least favorite book of his?
It’s a toss-up between Monstrous Regiment and Unseen Academicals. In the case of Monstrous Regiment, the beginning of it (in particular) was a lot darker in tone than I was expecting, so while it wasn’t bad, it really threw me. However, it picked up a lot more near the end.
With Unseen Academicals, it was merely good, whereas most of the rest of the books I’d read had been great. It was really interesting to see the City Watch from the viewpoint of the street characters who’d be taken in for questioning, though.
I feel I should point out, though, that both of those books are still very, very good.
Where should a new reader start?
Since I’m partial to the Night Watch, my recommendation would be Guards! Guards!. It’s a great jumping-off place, a perfect introduction to the city of Ankh-Morpork, and is overall a lot of fun. Plus, this is the book that introduces you to Sam Vimes and Carrot Ironfoundersson, who are easily my two favorite characters in the series.
However, you could also start with Equal Rites, which is a standalone but introduces Granny Weatherwax (who is amazing and one of the main characters of the Witches stories). There’s also Mort, which is the first book in Death’s arc.
You could also start with Wyrd Sisters, which is not only the first book of the Witches series, but can best be described as “Terry Pratchett does Macbeth.” It’s pretty much as good as it sounds.