Post updated: September 2019
It’s high time I update this post. I began the journey of reading The Discworld Series late 2017. I wrote the first version of this post early 2018, with the intention of reviewing the books along the way.
Obviously I read a lot faster than I write having read the entire series, but only reviewed seven books.
The Discworld series is now one of my favorite literary worlds of all time, I’ve already reread some titles not once, but twice.
So, in the spirit of Great A’Tuin the Star Turtle, the reviews will continue, slow but steady.
THE DISCWORLD SERIES
The Discworld series, written by the English author Terry Pratchett, contains forty-one novels. Five of them are YA/children’s books. The first book was published in 1983, the last posthumously in 2015. Sadly, Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007 and passed away in 2015.
No more novels will be released in the series. Honoring Terry’s wishes, his former personal assistant ran over his hard drive, containing at least ten unpublished books, with a steamroller.
There’s no one central protagonist (or antagonist) for the entire series. The Discworld might be flat, but it’s inhabited by a plethora of characters, creatures, and cultures. Instead, it follows different themes with recurring characters appearing through the series.
Most of these themes can be seen as specific genres within the series, for example, the novels starring Commander Vimes can be seen as crime novels, while books focusing on the character of DEATH are philosophical books, discussing and exploring human nature.
Depending on the protagonist and subseries, the style of humor will range from slapstick to sharp-tongued sarcasm. All are funny, but in different ways and you might find that you dislike one theme but enjoy another.
STYLE AND FORMAT
One thing to note about these books is that few of them follow a traditional chapter format; Terry Pratchett disliked them.
Some like, The Color of Magic have chapters, some are separated into parts, but most don’t have any at all. It can throw you a little, but once you get into the story, it’s not something you think about.
THE DISCWORLD COLLECTORS EDITION
There are too many editions of these books to count. If you plan to invest in the complete series, I suggest you research what edition will suit you best.
Should beautiful books be unimportant to you (you heathen), then you can get your hands on a simple paperback copy for around eight or nine dollars/pounds without looking too hard. A preowned copy will cost s little as two or three pounds/dollars.
Personally, I’ve begun collecting the Discworld Library Collectors Edition. However, it’s worth noting that this collection will not include the YA Discworld novels.
The collection is released chronologically in installments of two to four books. As of September 2019 the collection is complete up to the thirty-second novel. The last two are now available for preorder and will release in November 2019.
The books are hardback but in a standard paperback trade size at 130mm x 198mm. The cover illustrations are by Joe McLaren. The covers have a textured, almost a textile feel, and some details have been embossed in a shiny foil. All books have a different color scheme, including the foil details, but are the same size and style, making it a cohesive collection.
These books are reasonably priced at around ten to fifteen pounds/dollars at various retailers.
I read the series in it’s publication order, but they can all be read as standalone novels. However, there are many funny easter eggs and hints to previous books and characters that you won’t notice if you read them out of order.
If you’re daunted by the thought of forty-one books, another option is to read them thematically. Because Terry Pratchett revisited many characters in several books, The Discworld Series can be divided into subseries.
Those subseries are most commonly divided into seven collections: The Unseen University Collection, The Death Collection, The Gods Collection, The Witches Collection, The City Watch Collection, The Tiffany Arching Collection (YA) and The Industrial Revolutions Collection.
In the Collector Library Edition, books belonging to a specific collection will have that written out on the spine beneath the title. But there are many ways and orders to read these books. For more suggestions on how to approach this series, take a look at THIS list.
If you choose to listen to the audiobooks, you need to keep an eye on which version you pick. It’s not just about the narrator, it’s also about content since one version is abridged.
In the unabridged recordings books 1-23, except for books 3, 6 and 9, are read by Nigel Planer. Book 3 and 6 are read by Celia Imrie. Book 9 and most of the books from 24 onward are read by Stephen Briggs. The abridged version is read by Tony Robinson.
I really like Nigel Planners narration. He has a voice made for the irony, satire, and sarcasm that flows through the books. Some people seem to dislike Celia Imrie’s narration, I quite like it, it’s more dramatized than Nigel Planners, but I enjoyed it.
Stephen Briggs is an equally talented narrator, however, if you listen to the series in chronological order, the change from Planer to Briggs in book 24, might be a bit challenging at first. There are certain characters that the two narrators have a very different take on, and it might take you a while to get accustomed to the different characterizations.
From what I can tell from the samples I’ve listened to with Tony Robinson, his version is more comedic, but the abridged versions really are only half the book, literally!
The Color of Magic: Nigel Planner: 6h 52m – Tony Robinson: 3 h 4m
The Light Fantastic: Nigel Planner: 6h 46m – Tony Robinson: 3h 2m
I haven’t listened to the abridged version, but these books are three-four hundred pages at most, I really can’t see how you could cut out half of that and still have a cohesive story.
One negative thing to note is that some of the early books have poor audio quality. It’s not terrible, and I didn’t find it too distracting. But, if like me, you’re sensitive to bad audio quality it might be something to consider, maybe use a streaming service instead of paying full price for a copy.
ONE LAST THING
This is something that I touch upon in my reviews as well, but it’s worth to remember that this is a long series, and it’s creation spans over thirty years. This series follows the evolution of a writer as much as his creation.
It’s fair to say that the first couple of books are, not bad, but not nearly as brilliant as they will get. I believe the first few books are worth a read just to get the complete story, but the quality of the writing begins to vastly improve by book four.
When you reach book seven and eight, that’s when you start to really see the magic. So, if you pick up one of the early books and find that you really don’t like it, jump a little further into the series and give it another chance.
BOOKS I REVIEWED IN THIS SERIES
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