Monday, 20 October 2014

Reecey's Quick and Not at All Comprehensive Guide to Terry Pratchett

 So, you've decided to delve into the works of Terry Pratchett, a writer who is as prolific as Stephanie Meyer, but generally more competant (give her time and she may get there. Host is apparently better than Twilight.)

 Frankly, calling him more competant is something of an insult, he's one of the greatest fantasy writers Britain has ever produced.

 And, most importantly, he hasn't set up a tent in Tolkein's back garden.

 Yes, he's got elves and dwarves and they don't like each other, but he's not taken a D&D approach to elves, he's taken a traditional English folklore approach. Which is rather rare these days and far more interesting.

 Also, industry is a thing in the Discworld and you don't get that in Tolkein's back garden. He's had a word with the council and they'll deny you planning permission.

 I've read a lot of Pratchett in my time, and the first book I'd recommend to a new comer is... honestly, it depends.

 Are you a fan of Neil Gaiman?


 Start with Good Omens.

 It's a gateway novel to Pratchett for Gaiman fans and a gateway novel to Gaiman for Pratchett fans.

 After that, or to start with if you're not a Gaiman fan, I'd recommend The Carpet People.

 It's short and it's got an interesting history.

 It was originally written and published when Terry Pratchett was a teenager, and then rewritten when he was an adult and had a few Discworld books out. He himself writes in the foreword about the change in approach between the two versions that basically amounts to camping in Tolkein's back garden and then moving out into a place of his own while Tolkein waves him off with a tear in his eyes and plans for a new flower bed.

 But what to read after you've finished the Carpet People and are looking at your vacuum cleaner funny?

 This is the time to delve into the Discworld. But which set to start with?

 Ah, the sets.

 See, there are a handful of different locations and sets of characters that appear in the Discworld, and most (but not all) of the books revolve around at least one of them. This is why the sets exist.

 They include (but are not limited to); the Witches, the Wizards, the Watch and Death.

 Of these, I'd suggest starting with either the Witches or Death.

 I would not recommend starting with The Colour of Magic or The Light Fantastic despite those being the first books in the series. Honestly, they're kind of crap.

 It's really just because they're the first, I'd recommend reading them a few books in. They're fun, but they're not the best examples of the Discworld books around.

 I started on Reaper Man, which I still think is a great start for a new reader.

 After this, you can pretty much do as you please.

 Although I do recommend reading Strata at some point. It's a science fiction novel that explores the idea of a flat Earth and basically is a prototype for the Discworld. It's also got a few other interesting ideas in it too, like a company that builds planets a la Slartibartfast and the Margratheans in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

 It also explores how humans relate to the universe around them and how one seemingly insignificant change can lead to a complete change in human civilisation.

 So, there's Reecey's quick and not at all comprehensive guide to getting into the works of Terry Pratchett.

 At some point I'm bound to read The Long Earth and The Long Mars, and will likely let you guys know how they are in guest posts on Fission Mailure.

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