re:View: A Bookshelf special – the complete Discworld reviews, in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett

My first Terry Pratchett book was The Wee Free Men.

[In fact, reading back through my reviews I just realised that this is a fact I’ve mis-remembered for years. My first Discworld book was The Truth. But somehow, even though I enjoyed it, it didn’t stick; maybe I wasn’t ready. When I read The Wee Free Men some time later, however, that stuck – so much so that it made me read the entire series and actually became my first Discworld book in my memory. So we’ll go with the heart over logic version for the sake of this article.]

A good friend had been recommending Pratchett’s young adult books for years, and when I couldn’t get round to reading them she eventually just bought me two as a present. That’s a very effective way to force me to read a book as I can’t leave books lying around unread for long, or give them away without at least checking them out.

So I read The Wee Free Men, and then I immediately read A Hat Full of Sky. And so began the biggest reading journey of my life. Straight after those two, I read the remaining Tiffany Aching books. Then I read every Discworld book involving the witches. Then I moved on to the Death storyline. Then I went back to the beginning and read all the remaining books in chronological order.

Four years later I had made my way through 40 Discworld books and my world was changed forever.

Terry Pratchett, by Paul Kidby

Terry Pratchett passed earlier this week and in his memory I wanted to make something. You know, paint a picture, build a statue – whatever. But I’m no good at drawing or sculpting or building things. I do all right with words, though. So these are my reviews of all the Discworld, and an account of most of my reading journey of the past five years, collected here as a tribute to the man who created this beautiful world and shared it with everyone willing to open their minds.



The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
So, after randomly reading all Discworld books on topics that instantly interested me (the witches, Death, movies and music) I went back to the start to read the rest of the saga in the right order. Turning to the first book after I’d already read a good third of the series was more than impressive – it put the whole experience into a new perspective to see how this hugely successful and influential series began with the start of an epic journey for its characters – a journey that then repeated itself on a massive scale over the course of 40 (and counting) books and almost 30 years.
Pens: 5 out of 5


The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
As the journey continues for the characters from The Colour of Magic, we are drawn deeper into the Discworld and into the genius of Terry Pratchett’s mind. Exploring the continents and cities of the Disc, meeting its people (and other species), delving into its history. And by the time Rincewind returns from his journey, I’ll guarantee you will find it impossible to extract yourself from the fantastical and yet distinctly human universe of the Discworld. Because in there it’s a lot like the real world; just indefinitely more fun.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
As the title suggests, this is essentially Pratchett on equal opportunities. In line with tradition, a dying wizard chooses his successor by passing on his staff to the eighth son of an eighth son (that is, a child destined to become a wizard). But, being in a bit of a rush, the old man forgets to check one essential detail, and the eighth son turns out to be a daughter. When the girl Eskarina grows and starts to show uncontrollable powers, head witch Granny Weatherwax decides she must be off to the university to learn how to use her skills. Trouble is, only wizards – as in, men – are allowed in the university, while girls can only train for witchcraft with a village witch. So the fine gentlemen of the university won’t have it. Naturally, Granny won’t be stopped by a door slammed in her face (especially not if a wizard is doing the slamming) and applies female ingenuity to the problem. Cue a load of magic-ing around the issue of gender equality, and a big showdown of Granny vs The Old Boys. Meanwhile, a whole new kind of magic is about to be discovered…
Pens: 5 out of 5


Mort by Terry Pratchett
The idea of a mortal young man becoming Death’s apprentice / holiday cover and getting himself into all sorts of supernatural trouble certainly makes for an entertaining story. The style is very Pratchett, which is always a good thing. Sadly, aside from Death (who totally rocks on any appearance throughout Discworld), the characters just didn’t get to me. I didn’t massively care about their fate, which also means I wasn’t too bothered about the outcome of the story. Maybe it’s because of the main character, Mort, who’s just not very interesting. I had a similar problem with the male protagonist in The Truth – they’re both all right, but they’re just a bit flat. In contrast, all of Pratchett’s female characters I’ve come across so far have been multidimensional and complex, with contradicting good and dark sides, and very distinct quirks and attitudes. It seems to me as if Pratchett is putting a lot more attention into the creation of his female characters, embellishing their personalities with a massive amount of those feminine kind of details you don’t necessarily expect to ever even cross a man’s mind. Mort is still a good book though, just not one of those that I will remember for a long time.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
The wizards are loose! The first novel in the series focusing on the wizards of Unseen University delves deeper into the magic fabric of the Disc. But behind the rollercoaster-ride adventure of a little boy with big powers taking on the snobbish old men’s club, there’s the very familiar story of the old against the new, and why we are so determined to keep things as they are because, well, that’s just how they have always been. A magical and very funny take on the age-old conflict of the generations.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Shakespeare gets a Discworld makeover in this spoof of the classic court tragedy. Some evil duke kills the king of Lancre and takes his place. Everybody in the tiny kingdom kind of knows it, but they’re too terrified to do anything about it. The witches of the land – Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and newbie Magrat Garlick – aren’t happy about all this, but the unwritten codes of tradition forbid them to meddle with royal politics. To which the witches can only say a very hearty “sod it”, and the magic meddling with the duke’s evil schemes begins. Shakespearean theatre traditions and playwright-ship get their share of comic attention in this book, but Pratchett also goes on a thoughtful excursion into the workings of propaganda and the power of words. Wyrd Sisters is magical on every level. It’s also the first Discworld book to bring the eccentric coven around Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to life, and for this alone it deserves a place on every bookshelf.
Pens: 5 out of 5, times ten


Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Oh what to do if you’re born pharaoh of a desert kingdom, but all you want is hang around the big city climbing the career ladder? Teppic, rising star of the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork, is about to find out when his old man checks out leaving him in charge of a kingdom of temperamental pyramids, and in the grip of a power-crazed priest willing to sacrifice more than a few virgins to protect his precious traditions. And when a newly built mega-pyramid starts to interfere with the rules of time and space, Teppic finds that being king is a lot harder than it sounds. A wonderfully funny alternative history of ancient Egypt and the mystic powers of pyramids, this book definitely stands out in the early Discworld era.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
Dragons! A secret brotherhood meddles with things that shouldn’t be meddled with, and soon the dragons are upon Ankh-Morpork and all hell breaks loose. Enter Sam Vimes, the commander of the watch and one of Pratchett’s earliest unlikely heroes. This has been one of my favourite Discworld books so far, because Vimes is just such a beautifully written, convincing character. And the dragons are simply ADORABLE. (Except for, you know, the bit where you die in flames…)
Pens: 5 out of 5


Eric by Terry Pratchett
Eric is the first Discworld book I have come across that had a certain can’t-be-botheredness to it. A 13-year-old summons a demon and ends up with poor Rincewind, the only wizard on the Disc who doesn’t know a single spell. It’s everything you’d expect from a Faust parody, but despite some good ideas (Pratchett’s concept of hell in particular), the rather slim, episodic volume somehow just doesn’t get off the ground. A bit of a lukewarm read I probably wouldn’t have finished if it wasn’t Discworld.
Pens: 2 out of 5


Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
Mr Pratchett goes to Holy Wood, and all the movie fans in the world scream with joy. This is Pratchett at his best – a wonderfully funny and very wise discworldification of the history of the Dream Factory. From the executives and vice presidents that spring up from the ground in their dozens as soon as the first movie rolls to the stardom and fanaticism that instantly sweeps the Disc, everything is cleverly observed and carefully taken the p*ss out of in the usual Pratchett manner. And of course, behind all the glitter, something dark and dangerous is boding… The more of his books I read, the more it amazes me how much insight Pratchett has on every single topic he chooses. The amount of detail and the depth of re-interpretation are simply stunning and make every one of his book one that I know I’ll have to read again, and again.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Death is back. Well, in fact, he’s missing. Presumed, well, gone… When the mysterious auditors of Discworld decide that Death should be done away with, the balance of life and death is thoroughly shaken up and soon the wizards discover that the city is being invaded by parasitic life forms that evolve into…something spectacularly funny. I can’t possibly give away the plot on this one because figuring it out as you go along is just too much fun. Meanwhile, Death explores the life of an underdog and learns a whole lot about humans. This is without a doubt one of the best, deepest and funniest Discworld novels – an instant favourite.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
And here we have my favourite Discworld novel. Pratchett turns on the classic fairy tale, so of course this can only end in hysterics. Magrat (the newby witch of the coven) inherits a wand from a fairy godmother, along with an obligation to go and sort out some poor girl’s fate on the other end of the Disc, and of course Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg don’t pass up the opportunity to go travelling. Granny and Nanny on their first big journey abroad is possibly the funniest thing I have ever read. So for most of the book it’s grannies on a holiday: Of course they can’t be having with the strange traditions (and the strange food!) of the foreign folks, and consequently leave behind a trail of chaos and bewilderment. In the end, their journey leads them straight into the big showdown of good fairy godmother vs evil fairy godmother, because the poor girl is about to be married to the prince, and naturally this has to be prevented by any means possible. (It’s Pratchett, what were you expecting!) A brilliant, hilarious and magical fairy tale travelling adventure across the Discworld!
Pens: 5 billion out of 5


Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
As I already said about Good Omens, Pratchett on religion is one of my very favourite things to read. When you’ve been trough 18 years of Catholic upbringing, including nine years at a girls’ convent school, all the while asking yourself what the hell was wrong with these church people, you need all the comic relief you can get. And Pratchett is simply the best when it comes to doing comedy around touchy subjects, at the same time bringing up a whole lot of uncomfortable questions about pretty much every major religion around. Whether you’re a firm believer, or find organised religion somewhat suspicious – you need to read this book in either case.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Lords and Ladies by Terry Parchett
This was a weird one. There seems to be quite a surge in darkness from the previous books about the Lancre witches. That’s mostly because of the bloody elves. If you’re not familiar with Discworld, let me just say they’ve got some sick fairy folk there. Pratchett’s elves aren’t all cute and sparkly. More like, terrifying and totally deadly. Every now and then, they come from their parallel universe into the real world and cheerfully butcher the good people. And this time, in a Pratchettian spoof of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the queen of elves decides to take over the real world by marrying the king of Lancre. He’s just about to marry junior witch Magrat Garlick, who isn’t impressed and consequently morphs from soppy flower-child into axe-wielding Amazon. The senior witches Weatherwax and Ogg aren’t too happy either about the elvish monsters infiltrating their little kingdom, so measures need to be taken… This is one of the few Pratchetts I enjoyed but didn’t like. It’s a good story, entertaining, funny, with all the action and suspense and everything. But those elves just completely freaked me out. They’re not even the good kind of creepy, they’re just like something slimy that crawled out from your worst nightmares.
Pens: Oh I don’t know! 4 out of 5 for being so good it creeped me out!


Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
A wedding, a werewolf and a gun – it’s bloody murder! An aristocratic assassin is trying to restore the monarchy in Ankh-Morpork and clumsy City Watch captain Carrot, of all people, is supposed to be the king. The Disc’s first and only firearm falls into the wrong hands and develops a mind of its own. And Commander Vimes is too distracted by his own wedding to investigate – or so his wife has ordered. Carrot’s probably got it covered, if only his new girlfriend and colleague would stop behaving strangely during full moon… This is another extremely fun City Watch crime novel that introduces issues such as firearms, monarchism and affirmative action into the Discworld universe. I’ll just never get tired of these books.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett’s take on the music industry: Somebody finds a magical electric guitar and soon the Disc is turned upside down by Music With Rocks In It. It’s basically a condensed history of everything that happened in music since the first rock ‘n roll tune was born – rockstar tantrums, shady agents and crappy punk bands are just the start, and of course the traditionally Pratchett-esque digs at musical celebs and the industry they feed are spot-on as ever, and laugh-out-loud funny, too!
Pens: 4 out of 5


Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
It’s the return of Rincewind, the Disc’s most incompetent wizzard (with double zz!) and you can be certain that where Rincewind wanders, trouble is catching up quickly. This story sees the unwilling hero teleported to the Counterweight Continent, where some political wrangling for the throne could have dangerous implications for Ankh-Morpork. Meanwhile Cohen the elderly Barbarian and his Horde of unruly pensioners are also en route to invade the ancient empire of the Counterweight Continent. What follows is a hilarious game of misunderstandings, mistaken identities and barbaric merriment. This is another instalment of Ankh-Morpork dealing with Those Bloody Foreigners, and it’s about as funny and wise as Discworld gets.
Pen: 5 out of 5


Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
It’s the Phantom of the Opera, discworldified! I should probably add here that Phantom has been my favourite musical in the world ever since I was about six years old. So I was quite disappointed that Maskerade didn’t deliver what I’d expected from a Pratchett spoof. There are some good spoofy elements, but overall it’s lacking bite. Except for that bit where Granny Weatherwax gets a bit carried away with getting all glammed up for the opera. That, admittedly, had me laughing out loud for a while. Other than that, it’s a somewhat lukewarm maskerade dotted with fragments of a ghost story, a good dose of primadonnas and ballerinas, and the occasional sharp observation about the showbiz folks and their ways. Pratchett vs Phantom didn’t have me on the edge of my red velvet seat, sadly.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett
The golems of Ankh-Morpork are out of control, turning from mindless slaves into rampant murderers. Soon the patrician is in mortal danger and civil unrest is bubbling again in the city. And while the Watch steps in to solve the mystery courtesy of its brand-new forensics unit, Pratchett weaves the controversies surrounding robots and artificial intelligence into the fabric of Discworld. I did enjoy this book massively; its cop novel style and structure makes it a right page-turner and the latest additions to the City Watch – a gender-challenged CSI dwarf and a good-natured golem – just add to the wonderful fun of crime-solving in Ankh-Morpork.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Now here’s a Christmas story to blow your stockings off. (Sorry.) The Hogfather (the Discworld’s Santa) has been…er, removed, and the entire system of belief on the Disc has been thrown into chaos. While Death, glad for a break from his day job, dons a red robe and tries to get the hang of the Ho Ho Ho, his granddaughter Susan (the ultimate kick-ass goth Mary Poppins), along with assorted minor gods and fairies that suddenly spring into existence wherever somebody imagines them, tries to bring the Hogfather back from a fantastic world of the imaginary. Aside from one of the most sparkling appearances of Death ever, this book also has an incredible depth to it, looking at the idea of belief and why it’s so essential to being human. It’s comic and thoughtful all at once – so basically Pratchett at his best!
Pens: 5 out of 5


Jingo by Terry Pratchett
I really don’t like war stories* so it took me ages to pick up Jingo. But what was I thinking – of course Pratchett on war would be entertaining, mostly because it doesn’t contain any actual warfare. Ankh-Morpork goes to war over a ‘strategic’ piece of rock in the ocean – as you would. The result is that most of the population of the famous twin city gets shipped off to a remote desert state to do battle with yet more Bloody Foreigners, and weighty issues such as nationalism, racism and xenophobia get the usual hilarious Pratchett treatment. And Captain Vimes and his men of the City Watch get another shot at chivalry and honour.
Pens: 4 out of 5


The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett
Ah, the one where they invent Australia. Except this books is absolutely, definitely not in any way about Australia. It just happens to be about a new continent that has lots of beer, lots of sheep, little water and what appears to be over-sized hopping rats. And (for reasons that don’t become entirely clear) this continent is in on the brink of destruction, unless eternally doomed hero Rincewind gets from somewhere to somewhere and makes it rain with the help of a magical kangaroo. Meanwhile the wizards of Unseen University discover evolution, which is perhaps the funnies secondary storyline of any Discworld book ever. Overall this was probably one of my least favourite in the series as the main story somehow doesn’t quite seem to make sense. Indeed the plot almost feels like a bit of an excuse for lots and lots of very-funny-because-it’s-true Australian-baiting. While the story drags a bit, the humour certainly makes up for it. So no worries, mate.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
The vampires are loose in Lancre! And with everybody else turning into mindless puppets under their influence, it’s up to the witches to sort the suckers out. Overall it’s pretty much your traditional vampire story, and sadly the vampires are surprisingly predictable for a Pratchett. And that kind of ruined it a bit for me – well, for the vampire part anyway. But as soon as the witches really get going (about midway through a slightly too long book) the usual Pratchett brilliance kicks in again. At first I wasn’t too sure about the whole Granny-Weatherwax-in-a-crisis-of-faith kind of angle, but it does get incredibly deep, especially after a bloodsucker’s bite sends her into a dark, ugly struggle for her life and soul… [*] So, after a bit of a slow start, and with the reliably fantastic witches making up for the somewhat toothless vampires, it’s pure, perfect Pratchett once again.
Pens: 5 out of 5


The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Vampires! Werewolves! And deep, dark Forests so deep and dark they come with a capital F! Discworld #24 sees Commander Vimes off to Uberwald to represent Ankh-Morpork at a dwarf coronation and do such important things as lording, ambassadoring, and diplomating. Except, with Commander Vimes involved, all this quickly turns into policing, of course. And that’s a good thing, because the dwarfs, vampires and werewolves are about to start a war over an old scone. It will all make sense when you read it, which you totally should, because this is one hell of a crime-thriller-comedy-fantasy-adventure featuring a host of loveable and fearful characters and just the right pace to keep you turning those pages all night.
Pens: 5 out of 5


The Truth by Terry Pratchett
This is the first Discworld novel I’ve read, so I can’t really rate it in the context of the overall saga. But I don’t have to be the hundred millionth person to tell you that Pratchett is an absolute genius, because that’s a fact and everybody knows it. The Truth wasn’t necessarily the book that made me fall in love with Pratchett’s writing, but nevertheless this story about the birth of printed news and the first newspaper in Discworld has been an absolutely delightful read. If you come from a publishing background (as I happen to) and have studied journalism to the point where each story, each headline, each word gets deconstructed, rewritten, subbed, and rewritten again, you will most certainly find yourself in very familiar company on pretty much every page of this book. With great insight, surprising detail and a good deal of topical humour, Pratchett exposes the true nature of publishing with all its brilliance and weaknesses. This should be compulsory reading for any student of journalism across the country!
Pens: 4 out of 5


Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
What happens if Time personified falls in love with a human and gives birth to a child? Well, in true Discworld tradition, it means the end of the word, eventually. Luckily, the end of the world seems to happen about once a month in Discworld so they have People to take care of that. In this case, time-travelling ninja monks, Death’s granddaughter and the five riders of the Apocalypse. (Yes, five. Ronnie is back.) This is another mad-as-it-gets fantasy adventure with a very philosophical undercurrent. Only Pratchett can possibly merge this kind of hilarious mayhem with such wonderfully thoughtful views on one of the most essential questions of life – what is time, where does it come from, and what do we do when it runs out? I will just never cease to be amazed by the endless wisdom of this author. Underneath all the fun and the madness of his stories, Terry Pratchett really is one of the greatest philosophers of our time.
Pens: Infinity out of 5


The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett
This Discworld “fable” is a bit out of the box in that it is heavily illustrated. So much so, in fact, that I’m suspecting the story was added almost as an afterthought. It’s a great book, if you like pictures in books. I personally find them distracting most of the time – especially, as in this case, when the illustrator goes as far as to add unnecessary patterns behind the text, which makes it a complete pain to read. But even though this book feels a bit like style over substance, the actual story is very entertaining indeed. But when a horde of retired barbarians set out to blow up the home of the gods and half the authority of the Disc goes after them in a dragon-fire-powered spaceship, it could only ever be entertaining, right? I just wish this story would have been told as a straightforward novel, with a bit more story and a bit less doodling.
Pens: 3 out of 5


The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett
So what if the Pied Piper had a bunch of intelligent, talking rats, and a very cunning, talking cat? Imagine the kind of trouble they could get into! This Discworld book for young readers explores those possibilities and it makes an exciting read even for grown-up readers. Because while the boy and his furry accomplices go on happily ripping off town after town, something dark is brewing in the cellars and sewers. Something a lot more creepy than an army of thinking, organised rats. It’s interesting how Pratchett’s books for kids are often darker and more scary than their adult counterparts. Or maybe our grow-up minds are sensitive to different kinds of creepiness. In any case, this is a great new take on an old fairy tale for readers of any age.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
Night Watch is story about good, old-fashioned policing, a great revolution and a brilliant continuation of Sam Vimes’ character development as Pratchett beautifully circles one of his most famous and detailed characters right back to his beginnings. You just can’t help but care deeply for Vimes and his crew of underdog coppers. This is one of the Discworld episodes where Pratchett gets the balance between characters, politics, wisdom and magic just perfectly right. A true catch-your-breath-and-read-through-the-night story that is as funny as it is tragic.
Pens: 5 out of 5


The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Ach crivens! Not the first Pratchett I’ve read, but this first part of the Tiffany Aching series made me fall in love with his writing. This is pure magic in a book. How one single human being can have such a load of imagination, humour, observational skills and eye for detail as Pratchett is a mystery to me. Everything in The Wee Free Men is alive – not just the characters, but the very land they walk on. Initially I was a bit disappointed to find that the story was a version of the Snow Queen fairytale. But Pratchett gives it his own twist with this Discworld makeover, and soon you’re so enchanted and fascinated by the world of the Nac Mac Feegle that it doesn’t really matter if the villain appears a bit old and faded. Young witch Tiffany is a great, great heroine for a modern fairy tale – brave and strong, wise and funny, and with just enough edges to keep her real. And the Nac Mac Feegle are a wonderfully Pratchettian turn on the usual fairytale folk: they drink, they swear, they steal, they fight and brawl like a pub at closing time – in short, they couldn’t be further from the fluffy, sparkly, pretty ballerina fairy image that Disney, Mattel & co have used to efficiently to ruin the street cred of the fair folks in our times.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett does feminism! And he does it so well! Once again I embarked on a book I didn’t really want to read, it being about the military and such, and once again I’ve read a book about the military that I actually really enjoyed. In this case, however, the war is mostly the backdrop for a brilliant, funny and very true tale of women in a man’s world. Because, really, when it comes to male dominated domains, the military is without a doubt the number one institution. Well, along comes one girl who decides to ‘man up’ (quite literally) and join the army. And soon she’s not alone. Pratchett, in his infinite wisdom, knows, of course, that women are doing it better – whatever ‘it’ is, in any given scenario – and here he has written a gorgeous story around it. I want to give this book to every woman and teenage girl I know – and especially to every man I know.
Pens: 5 out of 5


A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
The sequel to The Wee Free Men sees young witch Tiffany leave her home turf to go into witchcraft apprenticeship. As any young heroine who starts to become aware of her powers, Tiffany gets herself into a whole lot of trouble. But the Nac Mac Feegle are on a mission to help her out, and master witch Granny Weatherwax – one of the most captivating characters of Discworld – takes Tiffany under her wing. A Hat Full of Sky continues much in the same tradition as The Wee Free Men, but it’s a bit darker and a bit more grown up. While the first volume saw Tiffany storming into fairyland and battling the evil queen, this time the young witch has to face her own demons – that streak of evil that’s lurking somewhere in the shades of the human heart – and come to terms with her identity. It’s probably the equivalent to the teenage angst that so much of YA fiction is obsessed with these days, except that this teenager’s angst is served Pratchett style, with an army of rude little pictsies tumbling all over it, and a whole lot of other magical chaos on the side.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
When I got to this and found out it was about the postal service, I mostly thought “meh”. But of course, gotta read all of Discworld. And to my surprise this story about one man’s (involuntary) mission to revive the city’s ancient postal system in the age of telegraphs was actually very exciting and enjoyable. Pratchett adds a lot of his trademark everyday magic to this story of the old post office, which has been rotting away for decades filled from cellars to attics with undelivered letters, and its ancient and loveably quirky staff. Every little detail of this story and its cast is just so perfectly crafted, it’s a complete joy to read. And the main theme running through this book – the old-fashioned, honest man’s job, however dated and scruffy, against the big, shiny corporations with their big money and their big lies – is just the kind that will warm anyone’s heart. I honestly never thought I’d have so much fun reading about the post.
Pens: 5 out of 5


Thud! by Terry Pratchett
This was probably one of my least favourite of the recent Discworld novels. It’s good – this is Pratchett, after all – but it didn’t quite draw me in, amaze me and entertain me the way most of his other work does. Maybe it’s because we have been through the old inter-species hostilities a few too many times in the history of the Disc and the wrangling between dwarfs and trolls is getting a bit old, or maybe the City Watch – one of Pratchett’s most fabulous set of characters – has gotten a bit stuck after a period of amazing evolution over the course of several previous novels. It just all felt a bit lame-y, same-y to me. It has a pretty spectacular ending, however.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Number three in the Tiffany Aching series is a reunion with old friends – the teenage heroine, the witches, and of course the wee fairy folk. This time, Tiffany stumbles into the dance of the seasons (quite literally) and gets herself in trouble with Winter himself, in the process slowly morphing into the summer goddess. It’s an exciting story, darker than the previous ones and yet delightfully funny. What’s so good about these young adult fantasy stories is that they are essentially magic minus the marketing, swapping the Harry Potter-style spells and special effects for a more sober view of the subject of witchcraft and magic. In Tiffany Aching’s world, a witch isn’t a popstar. She may have fantastic skills and superior knowledge, but she spends her days caring for the old and the sick of her village, and the nights out in the snow searching for lost lambs. Her work is hard and dirty, and although people come to her when they’re in need – of anything, really – she will be the outsider, never fully trusted or appreciated. But her magic is the kind that makes sense: It doesn’t need Latin catchphrases or sparkly wands; it’s just human nature, the wisdom passed on through generations, and a bit of mysticism. And yet, Tiffany Aching would totally kick Harry Potter’s sorry ass any time. (But I bet even a Feegle alone could knock him out.)
Pens: 5 out of 5


Making Money by Terry Pratchett
Another of my less favourite Discworld books. Maybe the problem was reading it too shortly after Going Postal, because it’s basically the same thing all over again but with a bank instead of a post office. And in the wake of Going Postal being so very good, this felt a bit like the leftovers of a nice stew served lukewarm on the second day. It does pick up towards the end, however, when the gold disappearing from the bank vault and the arrival of an army of golems inject some much-needed excitement and also provide an opportunity for can’t-love-him-can’t-hate-him hero Moist von Liwpig to save the day in the usual spectacular manner. One for the more devoted fans, I think.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
The One Where He Does Football. This was my most dreaded Discworld book because I really, emphatically don’t like football. But: Turns out Pratchett also doesn’t like football and so he wrote a book about football that’s really 98% about being human and maybe 2% about people chasing after a ball. With his usual wisdom and insight into the soul of humanity, he explores the real meaning of the game – to people, to their lives – while also touching on a range of other topics, from postcode prejudice to social mobility and the leopard changing his pants. (And I’m not even going into the thing I loved most about this – the character of Nutt and his story – because that would mean spoiling the best part of a book you simply must read.)
Pens: 5 out of 5


I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
Oh wow, that was dark. Prattchet’s teenage witch has certainly grown up, and for a witch that means facing a whole lot more than puberty. This book made me realise once again why I love Pratchett so much: It’s comic fantasy, but there’s a balance, a kind of very practical-minded morality to it. With Pratchett magic’s not all sparks and glamour; it has consequences and requires sacrifices. And so I Shall Wear Midnight reveals that Tiffany’s dallying with her magical powers in the previous volumes didn’t only lead her into immediate showdowns with mythical enemies, but has also conjured up a much more complex force from a deep, dark corner of history – one that’s frighteningly human. Where there’s witches, there’s always people with a stake, and history tends to go in cycles and repeat itself. And with the ancient spirit of a powerful witch-hunter on the loose and turning her land against her, the stakes are high for Tiffany. Meanwhile, there’s still that issue with boys being idiots…
Pens: 5 out of 5


Snuff by Terry Pratchett
This book picks up the storyline of Commander Sam Vimes from the City Watch. It’s a fantastic book, part murder mystery of the detective-goes-on-a-holiday kind, part comment on racial tensions and the acceptance of people and customs unfamiliar to our little, safe world. While still quite funny, it also seems a lot darker and more serious than the early Discworld stuff, which was definitely a new side of Pratchett to me. I wasn’t too bothered about reading the City Watch storyline, but the character of Sam Vimes, who comes out really strongly in this book, has changed my mind and made me add yet another bunch of Discworld books to my rapidly growing wish list.
Pens: 4 out of 5


Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
The age of steam has arrived on the Disc! A clever young man has built a steam engine and the usual suspects of Ankh-Morpork smell a good business opportunity. Soon the railway network is spreading across the continent, taking Discworld into a new age of trade and connectedness. But of course there are always those who stand in the way of progress, and the dwarfs especially have been acting kind of fundamentalist lately. And where there’s vulnerable new infrastructure, the terrorists are never far off. So can rent-a-hero Moist von Lipwig and his railway crew, with a little help from the hordes of goblins working hard for their new citizen status, save the Disc from being dragged back into the dark ages?
Pens: 4 out of 5


The books below aren’t part of the Discworld chronology but some nice bits and pieces from the same unviverse.


A Tourist Guide to Lancre: A Discworld Mapp by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
Bit of a wasted effort. The map isn’t half as exciting or beautiful as it could have been, and the booklet that comes with it is largely regurgitated material from the Discworld books. And you actually get a much better feel for Lancre – as well as endlessly more enjoyment and entertainment – if you just read the books of the witches’ story line.
Pens: 2 out of 5


Death’s Domain: A Discworld Mapp by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
Much like the Lancre guide, this map feels a little bit thin and – if you’re already read most of the Discworld books – has little new to offer. It looks pretty though, and Death is one of my favourite characters, so I still got half an hour’s worth of good entertainment out of it.
Pens: 3 out of 5


Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook: A Useful and Improving Almanack of Information including Astonishing Recipes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs
It’s the best of Discworld food and eating culture, and as such an absolute must for every fan and collector of the series. Parts of it feel a bit seen-it-all-before if you’ve read the novels because, naturally, it picks up all food and eating related bits and pieces from the various stories. But overall this is a very entertaining and – courtesy of Paul Kidby – beautifully illustrated cooking encyclopaedia of the slightly different sort. Some of the recipes are actually edible, some are more on the unusual side, and some are pure comic cold. The cookbook also comes with a complete guide to eating and etiquette in the various cultural circles of the Disc, including my favourite section on how to serve Granny Weatherwax her tea and scones.
Pens: 3 out of 5 (only because it is largely recycled material)

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