Book Challenge 2013 / Kayleigh Reviews / Reading

The Reluctant Terry Pratchett Fan: Reading Challenge

terrypratchettreaderWhen I call myself a reluctant Terry Pratchett fan, I feel I should explain my previous stance on the writer: I have never had anything against Pratchett and he’s been a prolific writer my whole life. My love of Rob Grant and other upbeat writers meant that I was eventually forwarded to his writing and, unfortunately, my first entry into the prestigious Discworld series was with The Wyrd Sisters, which I didn’t enjoy. I decided that this one read, which I didn’t even manage to finish, was more than enough to decide that I really wasn’t a fan of this particular author (and, to be fair, I think most people feel the same way if they don’t enjoy one book by an author) and left it alone.

Reading and loving Terry Pratchett if you’re a geek is like watching Dr Who: it’s just expected. More and more as I grew up, I found people assuming that my off-the-wall humour and desire to read anything that sat still for long enough had to result in an enjoyment of the Discworld novels. The more people insisted that I’d love them, the more I clung to my impression of The Wyrd Sisters and refused to read any others. To all those people who attempted to make me give Terry Pratchett another go: I apologise for being so stubborn!

terrypratchettbooksFor 2013 I have challenged myself to read 100 books and I happened to have a whole range of Terry Pratchett books in close proximity through a friend. It was then that I gave Mr Pratchett one more chance and – my goodness- he did not disappoint. In just over a month I had already digested seven more of his books and am now desperate to get my hands on the newest book he has released.

To be fair, my reluctant transition to the writings of Terry Pratchett hasn’t entirely been during my 100-book challenge for 2013, though this was how I discovered the Guards! Guards! series. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman and this naturally brought me to Good Omens, an exemplary novel writing between the two of them that features the dark humour that both writers are famous for having. After that I dabbled with the adventures on Moist Ludwvig, enjoying Going Postal and Making Money. But nothing has managed to sweep me up into the world of… Discworld like the Guards! Guards! series. In fact I’ve recently gobbled up the following novels:

Guards! Guards!
• Men at Arms
• Feet of Clay
• Jingo
• Nightwatch
• Thud!
• Monstrous Regiment

So, What’s So Great About These Guards?

I think what particularly made me a fan of this Terry Pratchett series was the complete lack of magic. Just as my own personal taste, I don’t seem to enjoy the off-the-wall logic that the magic-centred series’ manage to posses. Whilst the guards’ stories do still feature some pretty ballsy uses of magic (Nightwatch being the obvious example as it features time travel) they also focus considerably more on parody and references. This makes the magic a device within a story, not the entire narrative. The adventures of the Ankh-Morpork Nightwatch often circle around mocking multiculturalism (the nightwatch is forced to hire a wereworlf, dwarf and a troll in the idea) politics (visiting the dwarves) and other topics that are usually so dull but all become great fun through the no-fuss eyes of Vimes, head of this rag-tag group. Monstrous Regiment also earns a special place in my heart for being an enjoyable book with an assortment of characters who are not as they seem, as well as frank and no-fuss look at what women are capable of. If you’ve tried the magic orientated Pratchett books and not loved them but you’re a fan of quirky writing with a British slant on the adult humour then check them out! You may still find that Terry Pratchett and Discworld itself isn’t for you but this series certainly made a reluctant convert of me!

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19 thoughts on “The Reluctant Terry Pratchett Fan: Reading Challenge

  1. Pratchett, as much as I adore the concept of the Discworld novels, is a bit of a hit or miss with me. I didn’t much care for Wyrd Sisters either, and the whole Mort sequel doesn’t do anything for me, but – oh my gosh! – how do I love the Nightwatch novels, particularly Guards! Guards! Another book I dearly love is Witches Abroad: three witches travel to a faraway place to stop a fairy tale and thereby also travel through various different stories.

  2. There was something about these books that turned me off when I looked at them (the covers, probably, I don’t know) or something as silly as his name made me think of Terry Brooks or something. I got hooked by one of his YA novels, so now I’m a reluctant fan only because I don’t want to start a hugely long series!

  3. I loved the Mort/Death trilogy, but haven’t been reading much fiction recently, as I’ve had my head in Open University books or music scores. Once my big scary exam is over (Friday) I might reward myself with some fiction. 😀

  4. I gave up on trying to post earlier but I have to mention that if you haven’t read the Fifth Elephant you haven’t read all the Guards books and since you adore them… And don’t worry too much about Snuff, there’s some argument about that one.

    Oh, ok, and about magic. Magic isn’t done by humans much on the Disc because it’s dangerous, it thins reality and there are Things beyond our ken that are looking for a way in. The witches are too smart to, and the wizards are too busy with academic politics and big dinners. There’s more magic in the earlier ones, but it’s more about how the world works later.

    The later books are probably better, but the earlier ones are more jokey, later are more parody and some of early ones are wonderful, like Small Gods.

    Oh, and the Last Continent is about Australia, on the Disc it’s called XXXX. Technically a Rincewind/Wizards book but I really don’t think you need to read those in order.

    And if you want to start with Death the original would be Mort, but you might try Reaper Man first. Reaper Man is one of my favorites and Mort is more of a conventional fantasy I think.

    Boy, I don’t get to talk Pratchett hardly at all anymore, does it show?

    • I did get the feeling that his earlier stuff is more jokey and accessible to younger readers. I get the feeling that he was forced less in this direction as the books grew in popularity, certainly some of the later books I read have some very adult themes (Monstrous Regiment has a character who was pregnant through insinuated rape and had to give up the baby) but he still manages to make the books light and enjoyable. I may have been a reluctant Terry Pratchett fan initially, but no more! 😀

  5. I love that you are now loving his books! I’ve talked to a lot of people who have similar feelings after starting with The Color of Magic and disliking it – I always tell people to start with The Wee Free Men since it is such fun. 🙂

    • I really did notice a change in his writing style throughout the books I read and it seems that I enjoy his more recent stuff a great deal more. Thanks for the comment and sorry I took so long to reply!

  6. Have never read Terry Pratchett. I shall have to look for his stuff. I am not British; I am American, but I love Dr Who and I enjoy British humor. I have long been a fan of fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal/supernatural stories.

    • If you enjoy very tongue-in-cheek humour then I’d certainly recommend them! They can get very weird in places but they’re also great fun to read when you find a series you enjoy.

  7. This is why I always start new readers on a Guards book – usually Men at Arms. Although, sometimes, depending on the person, I’ve given them Soul Music first. How you read Pratchett really depends on where you came to him, but I find new readers find some of the mid-later books easier to get into.

  8. Mort was the first book I read at eleven years old and it brought up a question with my mum ‘mum, what’s a turd?’ Having read that several times since it has a fond place in my memory, however I do absolutely love any book with vimes and his watch are in. I would suggest carpe jugulum as one missing from that list as well as the fifth elephant.

    Books to recommend…
    T.pratchetts non discworld ‘dodger’
    Anything by Anne mccaffery, however her sci fi, crystal singer or tower and the hive series or the ship who sang are very good female driven stories. I love her dragonriders of pern also but could be tedious for some.

    Handling the undead , by lindqvist author of let the right one in.

  9. I am glad to hear that you gave T. Pratchett a 2nd chance! I’ve run across this myself, in both directions: I’ve read a book, not liked it and thought “Hate this author, I guess” and then years later picked up another book by him/her, and thought at the end “Ohmigod, must read everything else on the planet written by this author!”

    I have also had the opposite occur, when I love the first few books by an author, but can’t stand/find boring some of their other work, most recently with 2 authors: Piers Anthony and Dean Koontz.

    With Piers, I stumbled across his Xanth series, and somehow accidentally started reading the 2nd book in the series (The Source of Magic) instead of starting with the first. I went back (after reading the follow-up 5 or 6 books) to read the first that I had missed (A Spell for Chameleon) and HATED it. I also tried reading his Geodyssy series and can’t stand it. With Koontz, I read Odd Thomas (which is now a series) and loved it, but when I branched out to some of his horror stuff, I was appalled– it’s full of crazy people imprisoning and torturing innocents. Which, I agree, is definitely horrible, but didn’t work for me.

    In the interest of discussion, is there any authors you’ve run across this second phenomenon with- read a few things of theirs, then ran into a pile of “UG!”?

    • I’ve been thinking about a reply to this comment for a few days and I can’t think of any books where I was totally in love with one and then the others were just…. ugh. At least, not off the top of my head. I imagine that would really suck though and I kinda wish I had experienced that so I could blog about it!

      Thank you for the recommendation, I’m going to have to post a link to a list soon because it’s HUGE!! 😀

  10. I do as above with Iain Banks, I love is non fiction non sci fi stuff, still trying to get into his sci fi stuff without luck ATM.

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