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Old 11-28-2015, 03:06 PM   #1
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Discworld Reading Order

I'm about to start reading the Discworld books. Is the publication order the better way to read them, or should I read by thread or inner chronology?
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Old 11-28-2015, 03:23 PM   #2
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Does http://www.lspace.org/books/reading-order-guides/ help?
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Old 11-28-2015, 03:57 PM   #3
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Shhh... Jon will hear you...

There's a lot of discussion on the proper reading order. Publication date versus story arcs. Problem is that even Terry Pratchett said that the first two novels (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) are not a good place to start. There are a couple of nearly standalone novels in the series if you want to get a taste without committing yourself to series. Small Gods is a good place to start for a taste (and yes, the History Monks are in other novels, but the lack of background doesn't make this any less readable). One of my favorite books in the series. Thief of Time is a good standalone and Guards! Guards!, though it's the beginning of the Watch arc is a good book on it's own.
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Old 11-28-2015, 04:48 PM   #4
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Standalone, nope. None are.

For the first time, publication order is the proper reading order.
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:27 PM   #5
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I haven't read them all so take this as you will.

I read Pyramids one day because it sounded like fun. Understood it fine.

So after that I've started a couple of story arcs and read a few of each arc. I guess I might have missed some in jokes or references etc but never had any trouble understanding anything or feel as if I've missed something big that I should know.
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Old 11-28-2015, 09:09 PM   #6
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You really could read any of them and understand it, most of the Discworld books work well enough standalone.

But I would heavily recommend reading them according to chronological order, as laid out in the L-Space guide.

One more recommendation (to add to jgaiser's) to hold off on the first two books -- the #1 reason for people getting put off of the Discworld books permanently (at least, in my experience), is reading The Color of Magic, and assuming wrongly that all the other books are like it.


Personally, I would start with Guards, Guards, Small Gods, Going Postal, or Hogfather.
Okay, I'm breaking my own rule with that last, but meh, it's worth it. Hogfather is one of the all-time bests. And it's not as connected as the other Death books anyway... (OK, now I'm just trying to convince myself. )

...

Feel free to do a re-read of the whole series in publication order afterward, if you like...
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Old 11-28-2015, 09:21 PM   #7
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Standalone, nope. None are.

For the first time, publication order is the proper reading order.
Jon... You never disappoint...

Jon says the author doesn't know what he's talking about. Ignore the author and listen to Jon.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:02 PM   #8
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I have read them in publication order (because I read the books when they were published ). But as others have said, nearly all books can be read stand-alone. But of course it makes sense to read the subseries beginning with the first book. If you like some subseries, no problem to read just that. Maybe one could argue, that the later books playing in ankh-morpok should be read in publication order, because they all intertwine. And as was also mentioned, there are some totally stand-alone books, some of them are among Pratchetts best: Small gods, The Truth, Monstrous regiment, Pyramids. Oh, and of course all the first books of the subseries are great, that's why they became series So reading Wyrd Sisters, Guards! Guards!, Mort and the first book makes sense, to get a taste of the different series.
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:03 PM   #9
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Thanks. I think I'll start with Guards!Guards! or Small Gods (and maybe do Hogfather for a Christmas read).

When does it make sense to read The Colour of Magic?
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Old 11-28-2015, 10:59 PM   #10
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Thanks. I think I'll start with Guards!Guards! or Small Gods (and maybe do Hogfather for a Christmas read).
Excellent choices! Small Gods especially, is a completely standalone read, in addition to being one of his very best, and incidentally a book with a very deep message -- optional, this. But some people like that kind of thing.

Quote:
When does it make sense to read The Colour of Magic?
After you've read some of his other books, and won't be thrown off by the fact that they appear to be written by someone totally different, and with a different sense of humor.

That being said, I did enjoy the first two books as well, but it's a totally different type of story. And not necessarily one that appeals to everyone who enjoyed the rest of his books.


You could also view it as Discworld archaeology ("this is what it looked like while the series was still forming").

All in all, it's not exactly the most suitable material for beginning the series.

Last edited by eschwartz; 11-28-2015 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:43 AM   #11
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Thanks. I think I'll start with Guards!Guards! or Small Gods (and maybe do Hogfather for a Christmas read).

When does it make sense to read The Colour of Magic?
It makes sense to as the first book. You learn a lot of information thjat comes in handy for later books.

Picture Discworld as a place with the same background and the same extras but with different main characters. You see the progression of the places and the people behind the main characters. That's how Pratchett wrote the series so it is a progression as you read in written order. Pratchett does not recap. So what you've not read, you won't know.Some of the jokes and situations rely on your having read what comes before.

This is why published order the best way to read Discworld for the first time. You see, the ones recommending to spoil the series have already read it.

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Old 11-29-2015, 04:44 AM   #12
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Luckily, enough of us did like the first two that he got to write some more.

It seems to me that publication order can never be wrong. It might not be the "best" order to read something in, usually because the first-written books are weaker, but the people telling you that probably read them (or wrote them) in that order.
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:49 AM   #13
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Luckily, enough of us did like the first two that he got to write some more.

It seems to me that publication order can never be wrong. It might not be the "best" order to read something in, usually because the first-written books are weaker, but the people telling you that probably read them (or wrote them) in that order.
There are lots of series where you get told to keep reading as it does get better.
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Old 11-29-2015, 08:17 AM   #14
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There are lots of series where you get told to keep reading as it does get better.
I'm not going to extend an author that much latitude. If I'm not hooked with the first book, I'll move on.

I'm usually all over published order as the preferred reading chronology, but I made an exception with the series I just started, Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books, after taking opinions here. Don't shoot me, foolish thought, but I think the literariness of the books in question is a factor. Are you there for serious purposes or for the ride?

In any case, the OP wanted opinions and it seems as if the consensus from those who have read them is to start with something other than the first book. The OP can make of that what he will. As for me and Sharpe, I ended up starting with neither the first book published nor the first book in Sharpe's chronology.
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Old 11-29-2015, 09:54 AM   #15
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I think from memory I started with Pyramids, then I think Sourcery, then Guards! Guards!, after which the fog sets in. I have read them all, not counting the YA stories.

I agree that the first two books -- three novellas, really, per volume -- should be left till later. Pratchett hadn't yet developed his world, and was satirising other sf fantasy books rather that the modern world at large. As soon as I read the first para or two of book 1, I said, aha, Frfhard and the Grey Mouser...
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