Popping someone’s Pratchett cherry

I came across someone the other day who sorts their books into “Pratchetts” and “not Pratchetts”. The Pratchets are on the shelf in the order that Pratchett wrote them, the rest are in any old order at all.

(That’s nothing by the way. You would not believe the number of people who sort by size. And then there’s the couple who sort by owner (a shelf for His and a shelf for Hers). And those are the sane ones. What about the person who sorts his books, all his books, in the order they were first printed? Or the girlfriend of mine who sorted hers by colour? And an upsetting number of people don’t sort them at all.)

I distracted myself on my way to the point, there. Sorry.

The point is that I have a colleague who hasn’t read any Pratchett at all and in this case it’s a shame, because he’d like them. He tried The Light Fantastic once, and found it irritating so gave up which is fair enough: the first two are irritating plotless and, to be honest, not particularly good.

So I have taken it upon myself to pop his Pratchett cherry – but where to start? The early ones are weaker, the later ones assume a certain level of familiarity with the Discworld. The Witches series go down better with the girlies. The Watch series are better read in sequence. The Death series are just a little too odd to start with. Hogswatch is too dark. Pyramids too lightweight. The Truth and Going Postal too fair to middling. Small Gods too unusual. Monstrous Regiment is really too unusual, and Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Carpe Jugulum and Thud all have the same plot anyway.

It’s an onerous responsibility, choosing someone’s first Pratchett.

So I’m re-reading them to work out which one would be best.

I may be some time.


11 responses to “Popping someone’s Pratchett cherry

  1. I like the ones where DEATH has a starring role. What about that one where Mort starts as his apprentice?

  2. My favourite is Pyramids, but yes, it’s quite lightweight. I am a boy and very much like the witchy ones (though I prefer the Watch). I think I’d go with Guards, Guards. Probably.

  3. *keeps an eye on this*

    I sometimes think that I should have a go at Pratchett. Never got a round tuit, though – maybe this place will put up one?

  4. I decided to go with Good Omens, on the basis that if he likes the writing and the sense of humour then he’ll graduate himself on to the Discworld books, and if he doesn’t then he doesn’t, and he’s not be irritated by wizards and elephants.

    Also it might serve to introduce him to Neil Gaiman too. 😀


  5. First half of “Pyramids” is great, I love the whole Assassin School thing, but the latter half is weak. I like “Guards! Guards!” with a well circumscribed plot that again you can get without past readings, Carrot’s a great character and you’re drawn in to Vimes too.

    Recent books : “Thief of Time” and “Going Postal” are very good, to my mind. Again, you don’t need to know several characters from past books so can dip in (and even not knowing Vetinari or Vimes etc. doesn’t matter). “Making Money” is one of the weaker ones of late, to my mind, fun to read ’bout Moist and Vetinari but pretty pedestrian (and has golems, plot, the Times etc. that a new reader won’t get the references and context from).

    “Night Watch” is one of my favourites, though. I love the characters, themes, romping plot and backstory to known established characters like Vetinari.

  6. I think “Good Omens” was a good choice. I have to say I like to hand people “Small Gods” and see what they make of it. Maybe it is very odd, but it is also very true and wise and funny as well. It is also one of my particular favorites. “Truth” is good too. Oh heck, they are all good. Haven’t gotten to Pyramids yet.

  7. I’d have gone with “Men at Arms”. It has the best proper plot, the best characters and it’s not too far up its own bottom in terms of continuity, i.e. you don’t HAVE to know much about the established characters, I think.

    But Good Omens is probably a better choice. Not one that would have occurred to me, as it goes, because I regard it as a Neil Gaiman book with some Pratchett touches, rather than the other way round.

  8. If he gets on with Good Omens, I’ll offer him Men at Arms, SoRB. Good advice.

    HmH, I’ve always felt that Small Gods transcends the genre. It was the only thing I could bear to read after 9/11 – relevant but allegorical enough to be bearable.

    Shrink, you are right about Night Watch being another exceptional one. I was very disappointed with Thud it had the same plot as Jingo and the 5th Elephant.

    I’ll let you know hot it goes.


  9. Well, when you do decide, let me know. Someone recommended Pratchett to me. I think I started with the same book and like your friend, found it so irritating that I gave up. But I’ve heard so many good things from so many people at this point, I might be willing to give it another go.

  10. My Mother is a big fan of Small Gods I’d start someone off with Wyrd Sisters and then Guards Guards….

  11. Wyrd Sisters!

    The first one I read, by pure coincidence. #3 (7 yo) gave it to #1 (11 yo) as Xmas pressie. The next summer I needed some “easy garden reading” a sunny Saturday afternoon and borrowed from #1’s bookshelf.

    The rest is history… I laughed out loud, finished the book and my offspring got a late dinner that day. Since then I’ve been a vivid P´Terry reader.

    I’ve not read Making Money yet. My copy is at my ex’s house and it doesn’t seem as it going to be returned…

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