This week, we are into much better territory. There is not a bad book among these. They may have flaws and some may work better than others but you could safely hand any of these to a Discworld newbie and they’d enjoy it.
It’s a mix of later period and early Discworld. There is understandably a great deal of affection for Pratchett’s first forays into the Discworld but he becomes a much better writer in a very short period of time. Towards the end of his career (pre-Embuggerance), a curious inflexibilty of thought crept into his works. I doubt I am the only one curious to see where he would have went with that.
The oddest Discworld novel there is. This was a bit of a slog if I’m honest. Many Discworld novels I skipped through, excitedly underlining important passages or laughing at their clever wordplay or dreadfully awesome puns. Monstrous Regiment took longer than that, as I was beaten down with the oppressive atmosphere of Borogravian culture and its attitudes towards women.
The last quarter or so is golden, where your expectations are not just subverted but completely flipped onto their head. When you learn even those behind the war were women and many of the country’s leaders are female, you begin to question absolutely everything you have read. It’s a great twist and makes the book a much greater one to look back upon. It doesn’t help you wade through that first three quarters though.
The Tiffany Aching write-ups were infuriating because it became clear from my site’s statistics that fewer readers had read them compared to other Discworld novels. Of course, it could be the case that these write-ups were nowhere near as good as the others and it’s 100 percent my fault. But there’s no way that could be true.
I jest but these novels are a joy, especially if you prefer the early Discworld. Pratchett gives them a lightness of touch some of his later novels are lacking. Strangely, I Shall Wear Midnight ends on such a great conclusion for the novel, the character and this series, it seems weird there is another book to follow. We’ll discover what Pratchett had in store for Tiffany in a few weeks.
In the meantime, read these books if you haven’t already. There’s little to separate them in terms of quality but they have some of Pratchett’s warmest, funniest and darkest moments.
Read them. READ THEM. READ. THEM.
(Trust me on this)
A strange one, this. I prefer the Tiffany novels and probably Monstrous Regiment to this book. But back in the 1980s, Terry Pratchett was not the writer he was 10 years ago. By the time he hit his 10th Discworld novel, he had discovered how plot can enrich the intelligence and wit he had in abundance.
While his early novels lack that, it’s hard not to love the sheer sense of joy that spills out of every single page. Pratchett is throwing everything at these early novels, his love of genre fiction, his absurd Pythonesque sense of humour, his delight in the silly and the fantastic.
They are not great books but they are impossible not to enjoy.
Where it all began. Given it’s a set of long-form comedic set-pieces, it shouldn’t be as fun as it is. But like The Light Fantastic, there’s something endearing about reading a book where its author is clearly enjoying himself. It’s a giddiness, an attitude of ‘sod it. This amuses me so it’s going in’ that is present throughout.
It is lacking in the structure, the anger and the politics that made some of his best novels some of my favourite books. But who cares when the novel is this giddy?
One of Pratchett’s most beloved books and probably the first *real* Discworld novel. I loved Mort when I was a teenager. It was a bit silly and very funny, but it had a strangeness to it that other novels I was reading at that time were lacking. I’m unsure what was my first Discworld novel but this was one of them.
If anything, it was one of the books I was most afraid of revisiting, in case the endlessly reread story from my teenage years was a bit of a dud. It has its flaws – Death isn’t quite, um, fleshed out as a character yet and the third act is a total muddle – but this is the first in the series that truly hints at the delights that will follow.
A cigarette paper of quality separates this and Mort. It was another that was endlessly reopened as a teenager. I still had vivid memories as an adult of Granny, Eske and their quest to let women into the Unseen University.
Revisiting it now, it is lacking in structure and its ending is a bit of a blur. It is a considerable improvement in the first two books of the series. Reading Pratchett at this point in his career was a delight because he is making brave leaps forward in his writing with every single book. Mort is arguably where the series gets going but Equal Rites provides the foundations.
This conclusion to the Witches of Lancre series is one book too many, with a needless rerun of the Lords and Ladies plot, with a little bit of Small Gods thrown in for good measure. Early Pratchett was rather cheeky in its recycling of plots and themes but by this point in his career, he had largely stopped it.
One criticism of mine about Pratchett is that he held onto characters for too long. Vimes more than outstayed his welcome, becoming tedious and overpowered from Thud! onwards. Perhaps the signs were here in this book. It’s not bad by any means but when you borrow heavily from two of your best works, you really need to produce something of that standard. Carpe Jugulum wasn’t it.
I AM NOT KIDDING. READ THE TIFFANY ACHING SERIES.
Seriously. Read them. I’ll be here next week with numbers 20 through to 11 so you have plenty of time to do so.