Discworld by author Terry Pratchett

Take a Magical Ride through Pratchett’s Discworld


Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series spans over 40 novels taking readers on a fantastical journey through a flat, circular world carried on the backs of four elephants standing on a giant space turtle. Immersing yourself in Discworld feels like stepping through the looking glass into Wonderland, if Wonderland was populated by incompetent wizards, proud trolls, witches who cackle, and a skeleton who loves milk and kittens.

Discworld by author Terry Pratchett

You can find Discworld by author Terry Pratchett on your favorite bookstore, including Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

About author Terry Pratchett

Author Terry Pratchett

Author Terry Sir Terence David John Pratchett OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English humorist, satirist, and fantasy novelist. He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels, which draws heavily on history, mythology and folklore to satirize various aspects of culture and society.

Pratchett was a hugely prolific and beloved writer who helped bring fantasy literature into the mainstream. He sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. His unique writing style combines clever satire with lovable characters and creative world-building.

Pratchett’s most popular work is the Discworld series. Discworld is flat world carried through space on the back of a giant turtle. It may sound bizarre, but Pratchett uses this world to hold up a funhouse mirror to our own. His books cover major issues like war, gender, racism and social inequality while remaining light-hearted and funny. Fan favorite Discworld books include Going Postal, Making Money, and Guards! Guards!

A self-described “fairy tale junkie” as a child, Pratchett published his first short story at age 13. He worked as journalist before focusing fully on fantasy writing. His breakthrough came in 1983 when the first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published. Over the next 30+ years he grew the series to 41 books while also authoring children’s books and collaborating on video games and TV.

Pratchett was highly acclaimed during his lifetime. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998. In 2001, he won the Carnegie Medal for best children’s book with The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. He picked up numerous other fantasy awards before his death at age 66 from posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Even in death, Terry Pratchett’s unique writing style and lovable characters live on for fans old and new. Over 75 million Terry Pratchett books have been sold globally. His daughter Rhianna Pratchett is also an accomplished writer known for her video game and comic work. There is even a new BBC Studios TV series in development based on the Discworld novels. Sir Terry Pratchett’s one-of-a-kind fantasy books will be enjoyed for generations to come.

An Introduction to Discworld That Pulls You Down the Rabbit Hole

Pratchett uses his madcap world to hold up a funhouse mirror to our own society. With incisive satire, no institution or convention escapes his playful mocking. But rather than bitter criticism, an abiding humanism permeates the chaos as heroes rise up, not in spite of the world’s absurdity, but because of it.

Unforgettable Characters Who Feel Like Old Friends

What truly brings Discworld to life is Pratchett’s ability to endow everything, from a sentient luggage chest to the horseman of Death himself, with humanity and humor.

Characters like the cowardly wizard Rincewind, the cynical Captain Vimes of the city watch, the intrepid witch Granny Weatherwax, and Death, feel as familiar and real as old friends. You find yourself thinking “I know someone exactly like that!”. Pratchett presents us with enough detail to make his characters quirky and specific while leaving room for us to fill in the blanks from people we’ve met.

Smart Social Commentary Wrapped in Endless Creativity

On the surface, Discworld is entertainment at its best—constantly surprising readers with new takes on mythical creatures like trolls, dwarfs, and zombies. But Pratchett uses his creativity to make serious points about prejudice, faith, journalism, rock and roll, war, Hollywood and even the nature of storytelling itself.

With his casual, conversational writing style, Pratchett’s social commentary sneaks up on you. Before you know it, you’re seeing our world in a whole new light.

The Sheer Variety of Stories Lets Every Reader Find a Place in Discworld

Amazingly, Pratchett sustains Discworld over the course of 41 novels without ever running out of new ways to explore his world. From Rincewind the wizard to the guards of Ankh-Morpork, he builds out storylines following diverse groups of characters. And thanks to the endless possibility of Discworld, he never runs out of material.

Rincewind the Wizard – Comedy Gold from Page One

The very first Discworld novel introduces Rincewind the inept wizard known for running away from trouble (and occasionally, running into it). Rincewind becomes an unlikely hero in spite of himself in subsequent comic adventures with his literal baggage and the world’s most dangerous spell living inside his head. Pratchett mines Rincewind’s pessimism, cowardice and failed wizardry for comedy gold.

The City Watch – Where Personal Growth Meets High Stakes Police Procedurals

Captain Sam Vimes heads up the City Watch responsible for law and order in the Discworld’s trickiest city, Ankh-Morpork. Pratchett combines great characters with police procedural plots as part of longer character arcs.

For example, Guards Guards! follows Vimes investigating the theft of the heir to the throne by an unusual gang. Along the way Pratchett uses the patrician ruler Lord Vetinari to satirize Machiavelli’s prince.

As the series develops, Vimes struggles with alcoholism, class barriers, racism—not to mention parenthood—while unraveling conspiracies threatening to undermine the fragile peace between factions like dwarves, trolls and vampires.

Vimes’ Personal Growth Echoes His City’s Evolution

Vimes represents the old guard while his partner, the dwarf Cheery Littlebottom, provides a progressive counterpoint. Their clashing approaches play out at the street level mirroring Lord Vetinari’s vision for remaking the city into a tolerant melting pot.

This allows Pratchett to drive engaging plots while developing characters and examining societal change. Few writers can pull off such skilled combinations of entertainment and insight so effortlessly.

Witches – Pratchett’s Hybrid of Feminism and Folklore

Witches like Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg add a uniquely Discworld spin to witchcraft folklore. Yes there are familiar elements like broomsticks, black cats and magical spells. But Pratchett uses them to celebrate feminine power and wisdom passed down from generation to generation.

What makes them feminist icons is how these witches confront the limiting narratives imposed by Discworld’s fantasy patriarchy. Weatherwax refuses to conform to expectations about playing magical godmothers to would-be fairy tale princesses.

Instead she asserts the influence that comes through mastery of self, not domination of others. And she Granny accomplishes it all without losing her connection to sisterhood or her hidden layers of kindness and vulnerability.

Why Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Will Pull You in and Never Let Go

I could go on describing the joys of Discworld for thousands more words—from the entrepreneurial Moist von Lipwig to Tiffany Aching’s journey from 9-year-old witch prodigy to young adult. Or the Death who’s nothing like the Grim Reaper you expect. But hopefully you get the idea…

Pratchett created something special in Discworld; a rich world of practically endless stories where humor and invented mythology mingle with incisive takes on modern society. Once you start reading, you’ll find yourself pulled into Discworld’s magical embrace for the long haul.

Ready to Lose Yourself in Pratchett’s Discworld?

If you’re tempted to take the plunge, I recommend starting with Guards Guards! as your entry point. The City Watch series strikes a nice balance between world building, social themes and pure entertainment. From there, interest in particular characters or witches or wizards will likely point the way to where you wander next in your Discworld journey.

Just don’t be surprised when you start seeing echoes of Pratchett’s inventions in the world around you! That’s just one of the first signs that you are being indelibly changed by the warm-hearted wit and wisdom of Discworld.

Readers Also Love These Titles After Devouring Discworld

Once you inevitably join Pratchett’s legion of loyal fans, here are more delightful fantasy series to further feed your book addiction:

    • The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling – A fantasy series that transports readers to Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry where the boy who lived takes on evil while coming of age over 7 novels.
    • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – This sci-fi comedy series follows the adventures of Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy after Earth is destroyed. Like Discworld, it features hilarious satire, colorful characters, and imaginative worlds.
    • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – This novel, co-authored by Pratchett, is an apocalyptic comedy about an angel and demon working together to try to stop the end of the world. It has Pratchett’s trademark humor and irreverence.
    • The Magic Kingdom series by Terry Brooks – Set in a magical fantasy theme park called The Magic Kingdom, this series has a similar quirky and humorous tone to Discworld. It parodies and modernizes classic fantasy tropes.
    • The Chronicles of Kazam by Jasper Fforde – This whimsical young adult series follows a girl named Jennifer Strange who works for a magical employment agency. It has the creative world building and eccentric characters of Discworld.
    • The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde – Set in an alternate universe version of Wales, this novel kicks off a funny noir mystery series investigating crimes involving nursery rhyme characters. It has some of the novelty and wordplay of Pratchett.
    • Myth Adventures by Robert Asprin – This popular comic fantasy series follows a wizard-wannabe apprenticing under a powerful magician, getting swept up in tongue-in-cheek mythical adventures. Witty meta-humor reminiscent of Pratchett.
    • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – In an alternate 1980s England where literary fiction and reality blur, this novel starts a genre-bending mystery series with the intense imagination that Discworld is known for.
    • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – Beloved classic children’s novel about a boy exploring a magical fantasy kingdom reachable through a tollbooth, learning lessons as he follows an epic quest. Clever wordplay similar to Pratchett.
    • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – A paranormal spy thriller set in modern Britain, this novel kicks off an unpredictable series with secret organizations and supernatural hijinks that Pratchett fans may enjoy.
    • Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines – In a world where gifted magic users can pull objects out of books, this urban fantasy series has a strong sense of wonder reminiscent of the weird and wonderful Discworld.

    I hope you’ll return from Pratchett’s Discworld craving more of the type of fearless creativity and imagination on display across his bibliography. These fantasy books can help satisfy that craving. But fair warning–no one quite compares to Terry Pratchett’s witty wisdom so you might find yourself make return trips to Discworld. I know I do!


    What is the Discworld series about?

    The Discworld series is a collection of over 40 humorous fantasy novels by British author Terry Pratchett. It takes place on Discworld, a flat, disc-shaped world balanced on the backs of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space. The books explore an abundance of creative storylines with drama and hilarity using the framework of Discworld’s magical reality and the strange lives of its inhabitants like incompetent wizard Rincewind, stalwart city guard Captain Vimes, and Death personified as a helpful character.

    What order should I read the Discworld books in?

    There are a few different ways you can read the Discworld books. Publication order follows how the books were released over time. Storyline order groups the books around major characters and story arcs like the witches, Death, or the city watch. Pratchett didn’t intend the books to be read in any particular order, so newcomers can start with standalone stories like Small Gods then explore interconnected arcs that interest them. Character-centric gateway books with self-contained plots are also a friendly intro for new readers.

    How many Discworld novels did Terry Pratchett write?

    Over the course of his career, prolific fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett authored over 40 Discworld novels, taking the series from its humble origins into an enormously popular franchise spanning over 20 story arcs. Early novels introduced concepts and lead characters that evolved over time with engrossing new stories set in Pratchett’s richly satirical fantasy world. Pratchett continued expanding the scope and scale of Discworld until his final novel The Shepherd’s Crown was published posthumously in 2015.

    The Discworld books stand out for their wry British humor, creative high fantasy concepts, expansive world filled with bizarre characters, and witty social commentary. Pratchett skillfully spoofs classic literature and mythology by transplanting it into humorously chaotic Discworld stories that often upend tropes and genre conventions. With relatable everyman heroes, peculiar supporting characters, and engaging plots loosely connected into grand story arcs, the appeal of the Discworld series has made it one of the best-selling book franchises in history.

    Which Discworld character appears in the most books?

    Prolific city guard commander Sam Vimes is the Discworld character who shows up in the most novels, anchoring the beloved City Watch story arc that satirizes police procedural mysteries. As a gritty, street-smart copper despising the nobility, Vimes’ character arc follows him from captain into reluctant Duke as he sleuths his way through solving magical crimes, political intrigue, and societal unrest in the sprawling city of Ankh-Morpork alongside his motley watch squad.

    Should I read the Tiffany Aching series?

    The five young adult novels of the Tiffany Aching series are some of Pratchett’s most accessible Discworld books, making them a delightful entry point, especially for younger fantasy fans. The series follows fierce, bookish 9-year-old witch Tiffany Aching as she grows up in the high hills and hollows tending to her family’s sheep while developing her burgeoning magical abilities. Blending Pratchett’s signature humor and fantasy adventure with poignant coming-of-age drama, the Tiffany Aching books can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

    What’s the reading order of the Death storyline?

    As one of Pratchett’s most beloved characters, Death appears in nearly every Discworld novel, but his story is most directly explored in books focused on the character as he adopts curious mortal traits like developing hobbies, caring for an adopted daughter, and reluctantly saving Discworld itself from apocalypse. The main Death storyline books are: Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time.

    Should I read the standalone Discworld novels?

    Between each character-focused series sit several vivid standalone Discworld stories that newcomers can enjoy without prior context, like Small Gods, a philosophical fantasy about religion gone awry, or Going Postal, following criminal-turned-postmaster Moist von Lipwig’s efforts to restore the run-down postal service. Each provides a unique window into Pratchett’s boundlessly witty world that parodies aspects of our own, from theater culture to invention patents and more.

    Why was Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel never finished?

    Tragically, Pratchett’s long battle with early onset Alzheimer’s disease motivated him to dictate parts of The Shepherd’s Crown before memory loss made writing impossible, working closely with his assistant to shape its storyline about young witch Tiffany Aching stepping into heroic adulthood. Though the author cherished Discworld dearly, coping with his condition ultimately stalled work on finishing this conclusion until its posthumous release met with bittersweet acclaim from devoted readers.

    Which Discworld novel should I start with?

    Comprising over 40 books written with loose continuity, Discworld lets newcomers cherry pick almost any story arc without prerequisite reading. Fantastic starter books include Guards! Guards! introducing the City Watch and lovable antihero Sam Vimes, Mort’s creative take on Death adopting an apprentice, or standalone Small Gods, lampooning religious extremism with plenty of Pratchett’s signature wit. Once you finish your introductory Discworld experience, a lifetime of humorous high fantasy adventures awaits.

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