Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Suggestion: The Discworld Series


I've recently rediscovered the Discworld universe and have since been submerged in the Ankh's murky depths, to the point of near obsession. While staying up way past your bedtime with a flashlight under the covers isn't nearly as frowned upon when you're an adult, it's still something my mother rolls her eyes at.

This is my attempt to get you, my reader, as interested in this amazing world as I am.

Welcome to Discworld

A new reader to the universe of the Disc, a world carried on the back of four giant elephants who ride on the back of the Great A'Tuin (an enormous turtle) through the depths of space, might at first be a bit overwhelmed. At the time of this writing, there are over 30 books in the series, focusing on several different main characters. Due to the enormity of Prachett's world, several reading list suggestions have been created, organized by either time or main character plot lines. One favorite, if not slightly out of date, reading guide is L-Space.org's Visual Reading Guide.

What I'd recommend for anyone dipping a toe into this vast world is to start at the beginning of one of the main plot lines. Below I outline each of the main character series, listing the books in order of publishing or suggested reading. Which series you start with is up to you!

Rincewind (& the Wizards)

Rincewind is the character that starts it all. His debut in The Color of Magic leads the reader on a wild adventure all around the Disc, giving them a simple taste of what this world has to offer. He's a Wizzard (yes, that's spelled right) who's only skills seems to be getting himself into, and then subsequently out of, trouble. The first novel he features in is the first of the entire series, where he ends up as an unlikely tour guide to the Discworld's first ever tourist, Twoflower. From there his adventures only seem to grow.

I recommend the Rincewind plot line for any reader looking for a hero with a little bit more cowardice, and an adventure with a lot more satire.

The Color Magic
The Light Fantastic
Sourcery
Eric
Interesting Times
The Last Continent
The Last Hero
Unseen Academicals

The Witches

Discworld Witches aren't what you'd normally expect from a fantasy series. They're better. Sure, there's flying brooms and cauldrons of bubbling liquid, but really that's just all to keep up appearances. These witches much prefer to use "headology" than magic to get things done, and it tends to work out for the better.

In the Witches plot line of the Discworld novels, you meet and follow the adventures of Granny Weatherwax and her unlikely allies in the battle against general ignorance. If you're looking for a series with a little bit of magic and some strong (that's an understatement) female protagonists, this is the one for you.

Equal Rites
Wyrd Sisters
Witches Abroad
Lords and Ladies
Maskerade
Carpe Jugulum

Death

Now there's a fellow who knows how to live. If you think I'm kidding, you're in for a treat when you read books starring the Disc's most prominent character. While Death makes an appearance in almost every Discworld book, he and his granddaughter (you'll find out), star in a subset of the novels, starting with when Death decides to take on an Apprentice.

I recommend the Death plot line for any reader with a darker side of humor and that can stand to look at humanity from a somewhat different, if not amusing, perspective.



The City Watch

Ankh-Morpork is the largest and most populated city on the Disc, and as such, is in a constant state of near-chaos. I say near-chaos as the system of weights and balances created by the guilds seems somewhat to keep it all working (there's one for each major city lifestyle: thievery, assassination, and clowning, just to name a few). In this subseries you learn about the internal workings of the big city, including the grease that keeps the gears running, the City Watch.

Led by the unlikely hero Sam Vimes and his even more unlikely crew of officers (including a werewolf and a secret king), the stories of the City Watch give you an inside look at what happens when a fantasy world and it's character hit the real-life problems of civilization.

I recommend this series for anyone that likes the tradition character types of the fantasy genre, but wants to see a more realistic telling of their coexistence. Also, anyone that loves reading. This might be a spoiler, but this is by far my favorite subseries in Discworld

Guards! Guards!
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
Jingo
The Fifth Elephant
Night Watch
Thud!
Snuff

Extras

There are a few other small subseries out there, including a young adult subseries that follows the adventures of a young witch named Tiffany (how perfect, right?). I've decided not to include these novels in my review because I feel that if you're going to jump into (or just taste) the Discworld series, the subseries outlined above are definitely where you should be starting.

Also, I haven't read them all yet, mainly because I'm afraid of finishing them and having nothing else to read. Sure, there's boardgames to entertain me, but it's just not the same as getting lost in a good book.