Terry Pratchett

I came late to the world of Sir TP, indeed I’ve still only dipped my toes into the very edge of his vast ocean. Before being persuaded to read my first one, I’d simply say “I don’t do fantasy” when offered a copy. To me, he was that bonkers bloke who dressed up and told wild stories about made-up worlds and made-up people. People told me that they were funny, that I’d love the wit, the gentle humour, the cleverness. But I was stuck in my world of literary fiction and I was not to be shifted. I watched “The Hogfather” on television one Christmas and was simply bewildered and bemused. I assumed I just didn’t “get it” and so did not change my mind.

The TP I knew best was the man who become a mental health activist. A man who’s Alzheimers diagnosis wasn’t allowed to dim his vitality, his vibrancy, his desire to change the world for the better. I admired him enormously, but still …

Then my sister-in-law selected a book with the specific intent to entice me in as a reader. Clever girl that she is, she suggested “Monstrous Regiment” … and I absolutely adored it. Indeed, I’ve subsequently read some of the work he wrote (or co-wrote) post diagnosis. It made me do that “if only I could write a fraction as well with my full capacities” thing. Well, as full capacities as one can have having turned 60.

Since then, the world of the fantastical – be that fantasy or science-fiction – has intruded into my previously literary-fiction-only world. It now forms a significant part of my reading. More and more of this genre appears on my read, and my to-be-read lists than I ever imagined possible, or probable. And they’re not there because I feel I ought to read more widely. Nope, I read them for the usual reason – because I hope to enjoy them and largely, I do. I really do.

Yes, there’s a cleverness that I never expected. I don’t mean the display of vast tracts of knowledge – no, I mean the use of those vast tracts to entertain (whilst educating). With this cleverness comes humour – wit in fact. Of course there is some science fiction which is heavy and serious, but much seems to come with a tongue very firmly in cheek, with an ability to laugh at oneself. And oh, isn’t that such fun to read?

There’s still vast swathes of TP that I’ve not ventured into, but now the only reason I hold back is there’s just so many of them. At my age and with my TBR pile/list teetering dangerously, that many books could be seriously life threatening.

So I’ve decided to ask for recommendations. A recommendation based upon what you know of me. A recommendation to entice me. Or just your most favourite ever.


© Debra Carey 2017


6 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett

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  1. I started with Mort, a novel in which Death, who is a regular character in this universe, decides to take an apprentice so he can have a break, and hopefully to introduce to his adopted daughter. And the apprentice stuffs up his first round completely…

    Or there is Guards! Guards! his first City Watch novel. If you like it, there are several others following. Or the witches novels, starting with Wyrd Sisters, a parody of the Scottish Play, and the three witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick( her mother misspelled “Margaret” on the birth certificate and she is stuck with it. Later in the series, when she has a baby, it ends up stuck with the name ” Esmerelda Margaret Note Spelling) appear in several more novels.

    There are plenty of standalone novels, but these ones are better places to start. Whatever you do, DON’T start at the beginning, with The Colour Of Magic and The Light Fantastic! They are not as good as those that follow. Even TP admitted it. I heard him speak in Melbourne once, and, while waiting, I chatted with the lady next to me, saying this and that I had begun with Mort. And what did he say when he came on stage? “Don’t start with The Colour Of Magic, start with Mort.” The lady grinned at me.

    Hope this helps. He was a wonderful writer! Lucky you, discovering him for the first time!


  2. Let’s face it Debs, your TBR pile, like mine, is never going to be finished. It can only be prioritized. 🙂
    Having got that out of the way, one of my early favourites is Small Gods. Now Pratchett disclaimed any religious belief, but there is some really good theology in Small Gods which goes by almost unnoticed. He thought he was being satirical, but nevertheless he got the theology right! Of the later books Going Postal is a hoot.


  3. Well, it seems I chose the right graphic then Sue! Oddly, the Folio Society produced a beautifully bound and illustrated edition of “Mort” not long ago and I wondered why they hadn’t started at the beginning. Being the one the great man himself recommends makes sense. The Wyrd Sisters sound up my street too, especially as a long-time lover of black cats and all manner of witch related humour as a result! Thanks so much Sue, this has helped to whittle down the pile!


  4. Spot on there Alan!

    For some reason I hear a little voice in my head saying “just because it’s satire, no excuse for being sloppy with the detail”. I’m not suggesting that I’m channelling the great man (oh that I could) but it does seem like the sort of thing he might agree with being all too well aware of how annoying it is when a writer is sloppy with detail.

    Thank you for the suggestions – that *huge* lump Sir TP could add to the pile is being whittled down a bit 🙂


  5. I had intended to offer my 2p long before this but…life isn’t cruel, just very busy! I have given up on the Sky adaptations. Despite the cameo appearances of the author, the excellent actors etc etc, there is something essentially soulless about them – and a lot of the special effects are ridiculously bad.

    Mort is potentially good place to start: the first to are essentially a collection of parodies and you really have to know your fantasy to get the full benefit, to appreciate just how much fun he is having subverting the genre. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you of the first ten books, there are two that everybody should try and three that are worth a read if you develop a taste. What is a shame as that three of the ten have Rincewind as a main character, but for some reason whilst the character is popular, the books he is in are less so.

    For me, Wyrd Sisters is the real beginning point, the parody (in this case of the Bard) is just right, contributing to the enjoyment of a completely original story. The Three Witches arrive almost fully formed but with room to grow – and I think you will like them.

    Guards! Guards! is, similarly, a good beginning point – a real gem, which, again, I think you will like. You do need to bear in mind that Vimes is closer to Pete Postlethwaite than to Clint Eastwood (despite some of the artwork)…

    Both Wyrd Sisters and G!G! are the beginning of long running arcs – worth it, but be warned.

    Mort is good, but more importantly I would suggest that it lays the ground work for Reaper Man which is EXCELLENT.

    Pyramids and Moving Pictures are quite fun and have the benefit of being far enough into the series that it is much more typical of his writing, and are essentially stand alone.

    I completely agree with the comments about Small Gods – the world would be a better place if more people were to read it and act on the sentiment.

    Going Postal is indeed a hoot, but one of my absolute favourites, which I think can be read without prior knowledge, is The Truth – you can see the origin story for William de Worde and Sacharissa Cripslock here.

    I would love to say that the whole series is brilliant, but even TP had off days, although of course different people will argue about which books are duff. Personally I find Soul Music a bit flakey, but you might quite like it.


  6. Ah, I’m somewhat relieved to hear you remark thus about the Sky adaptations – I thought it was just me.
    You also seem to have confirmed four, even if you’ve added another two 😀 I shall put in my request list forthwith …


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