The wonderfully talented and beloved author Terry Pratchett’s recent passing has left a void in the literary landscape. His wry approach to Fantasy and Science Fiction comes through strong and clear in his humorous Discworld series of novels, and now that the series’ publisher is offering many of the Discworld books at discount prices it’s a great time to dig into this bestselling, award-winning series at last.
Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.
The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.
Amazon reviewer Eileen Rieback says:
Fantasy has never been one of my favorite genres, but I decided to give the magical world of Discworld a try at the suggestion of several friends. I am very glad I did. This turned out to be a very different kind of fantasy, in spite of its wizards, trolls, and dragons. Discworld is a flat planet resting on the backs of four elephants riding on the back of a turtle that slowly makes its way across the universe. As strange and steeped in magic as Discworld is, it seems suspiciously like our own world. Its inhabitants have some very familiar vices and pastimes. Author Terry Pratchett is a wonderful cross between Douglas Adams, Piers Anthony, and Mark Twain, and his Discworld novels are full of great fun, inventiveness, and wicked satire.
“The Color of Magic” is the first story in the series. This paperback edition comes with an appendix that makes a handy travel guide for first-time tourists of Terry Pratchett’s amazing fantasy land. It includes a brief musing on Discworld, a synopsis of the main cast of characters in the series, a nonmap (after all, how can a sense of humor be mapped?), a guide to Discworld on thirty dollars a day, and even a crossword puzzle to quiz you on what you have learned on your maiden voyage.
In The Light Fantastic, only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world.
Amazon Hall of Fame, Top 100 reviewer Daniel Jolley says:
The Light Fantastic is the second book in Terry Pratchett’s brilliantly funny Discworld series, continuing the tale related in the first book The Colour of Magic. …While Rincewind is Discworld’s most incompetent wizard and all-around unlucky fellow, he manages to evade the clutches of Death (although he does bump into him fairly often) time and again (27 times by Twoflower’s count at the midpoint of this novel)…A series of adventures and misadventures ensue for our motley crew of characters, including a stopover at a vacated witch’s house made of candy, a wild ride on a broomstick, a collision with a druid-steered cloud, and a trip to the home of Death himself before Rincewind manages to return home. Whether he can …manage to avert the Discworld’s total destruction by the onrushing red star is, as is typical for this inept failed wizard, questionable at best.
The Light Fantastic builds upon the story of The Colour of Magic and breathes more life into the unique Discworld of Terry Pratchett’s imaginative construction. More areas of the world are revealed to the reader, and we for the first time get a decent look at what goes on in the school of wizardry. Not only do we meet Cohen the Barbarian, we are also introduced to the ape librarian of Unseen University, who will become a significant character in later novels. You should certainly read the previous novel before this one because the two are closely connected in terms of plot, characterization, etc. It will also help you to recognize just how much more vibrant and real Pratchett’s Discworld seems by the end of The Light Fantastic. The comedy quotient of both novels is about equal, but the storyline seems much stronger and flows much more naturally in this one.
The third book in Pratchett’s Discworld series is Equal Rites (4/5 stars, currently priced at $5.69)
In Equal Rites, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late.
Amazon Vine Voice reviewer Andrew W. Johns says:
On Discworld, only men become wizards, while witches are always witches. At least that’s how it has always been. But now that is about to change..As this girl, Esk, grows, she begins to demonstrate unusual talents, and so Granny Weatherwax, the witch, takes her in, intending to train her as a witch. However, unlike most witches, who generally only make use of magic as a last resort, Esk intends to use magic to do things, and it soon becomes clear that she needs to be trained at the Unseen University, for her own safety (not to mention those near her). The arrival of Granny and Esk at the University creates an uproar, as traditions are upset and precedents broken. In the end, Esk uses her knowledge as both a witch and a wizard, and help to explore a whole new understanding of magic and its uses.
As always, Pratchett is riffing on a theme. This time he is satirizing gender roles and the silliness that tends to grow up around them, often to great comic effect. But at the same time that he’s making us laugh, Pratchett is also providing plenty to think about. While it is true that gender roles often arise from legitimate differences between men and women, it is equally true that these roles commonly ossify into rigid social structures that place artificial limitations on people’s choices. Pratchett seems to be pointing out the need for us to recognize that both genders can benefit by cooperating and working togother.
Mort is the fourth Discworld novel (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $5.69)
In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can’t refuse — especially since being, well, dead isn’t compulsory.As Death’s apprentice, he’ll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won’t need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he’d ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.
Amazon reviewer Eileen Rieback says:
This is the fourth in the wildly funny and inventive Discworld series and the first in the Death story line. Although Death made an appearance in the first three books, this time we are provided with a much closer look at Death’s domain through details on his daily routine, his likes and dislikes, his household, and his horse. We meet his daughter and his faithful servant. There are hilarious scenes where Death tries out a few mortal pleasures to learn what they are all about. Only Pratchett could depict Death fly-fishing, getting drunk, or participating in a line dance. Above all else, we find out that Death’s not such a bad fellow when we get to know him.