Today’s Blog Every Day in November prompt is ’10 things’
Hmm. Now, I love a good top ten list as much as the next person and, of course, I’ve written a few in the past – my top ten books, ten simple ways to improve your photos , ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie and so on. That Skyfall post *still* gets hits 8 months on!
So, what should today’s top ten be?
Aha! Today sees the publication of Terry Pratchett’s 40th Discworld novel, Raising Steam. I’m a huge fan of Mr Pratchett’s work and have rather a lot of his books, mostly in first edition hardback. Some of them aren’t even signed!
So, here then I present my top ten favourite Discworld books. Not necessarily in order.
This is my all-time favourite Discworld story. It’s pretty much self-contained. It concerns the story of Pteppic, prince of the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi (it took me ages to get that). Pteppic has just passed his exams at the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork when he discovers that his father has died and he must return home. Pyramids happen, and we meet the greatest mathematician on the Disc, who just happens to be a camel.
It also features some wonderful quotes, my favourite of which comes from Pteppic’s friend, Arthur (a fellow student at the Assassin’s Guild), when faced with some erstwhile muggers.
The leading thief tore his fascinated gaze away from it just as he heard Arthur say, quite pleasantly, ‘This is a number two throwing knife. I got ninety-six per cent for throwing knives. Which eyeball don’t you need?’
2. Guards! Guards!
A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.
It wouldn’t be a top ten Discworld list without featuring the City Watch. G!G! is the first of the many City Watch books and one of my favourites. The story follows a plot by a secret brotherhood, the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night, to overthrow the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork and install a king. They summon a dragon to strike fear into the people of Ankh-Morpork.
In it we meet the Night Watch – Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, Corporal Nobbs, and new volunteer Carrot, a six foot tall dwarf, who to stop them, with some help from the Librarian of the Unseen University (who just happens to be an orangutan) trying to get the stolen book back. We’re introduced to the idea of L-space – that books in large quantities warp the space and time around them. All libraries are linked together through L-space. Makes perfect sense, if you think about it.
Although the scythe isn’t pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end of, say, a peasants’ revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome.
Death (a recurrning character in the Discworld books) takes an apprentice. He’s called Mort. Hijinks ensue. Brilliant stuff.
4. Lords and Ladies
In the Beginning there was nothing, which exploded.
Ah, the witches. Much as with the Watch, no list would be complete without at least one book featuring Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. It follows directly on from Witches Abroad. so I suppose you probably should read that one first. Some young witches have been summoning elves, who we discover aren’t *quite* as nice as everyone seems to think.
5. Men at Arms
The river Ankh is probably the only river in the universe on which the investigators can chalk the outline of the corpse.
The second book concerning the City Watch. Essentially a whodunnit, in which the Watch must investigate a string of gruesome murders as well as work out who stole the the Disc’s first and only firearm…
6. Thief of Time
“Sometimes I really think people ought to have to pass a proper exam before they’re allowed to be parents. Not just the practical, I mean.”
The Auditors of Reality commission a perfect clock which will imprison Time (the character) and therefore freeze time on the Discworld. Death sends his granddaughter Susan Sto-Helit to stop them, with the help of the Death of Rats and Quoth, the raven. I love Quoth.
We also meet the History Monks (aka The Order of Wen the Eternally Surprised), a highly secretive religious organisation who maintain Discworld history up in the Ramtops mountains. Death rounds up the other Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hijinks, as per usual, ensue.
7. Night Watch
He hated being thought of as one of those people that wore stupid ornamental armour. It was gilt by association.
The City Watch meet the History Monks. Sam Vimes is sent back in time and has to become his hero and former mentor to fix a temporal anomaly…
8. Reaper Man
Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.
The Auditors decide that Death isn’t doing his job properly and send him off to live as a normal person. As there is no longer a death, the life force of dead humans starts to build up. Snow globes happen, along with the usual hijinks.
9. A Hat Full of Sky
This is possibly a controversial entry in the list. Not everyone likes Tiffany Aching, a young girl who is learning to be a witch. I’m rather fond of her as a character though. It’s aimed at a slightly younger audience, but is still great fun. We get to meet the Witches again, and the Nac Mac Feegles, who we first saw in The Wee Free Men. Great fun.
10. I Shall Wear Midnight
And another Tiffany Aching book. Told you I liked them. This is the fourth one featuring our young witch.
There are some which I’ve not enjoyed quite so much. Monstrous Regiment was fairly average, and I’ve heard quite enough of Moist von bloody Lipwig, thankyouverymuch. Slightly disappointed to see that the latest book is also a von Lipwig one, but it’s got steam trains in. And, as we all know, steam trains are awesome.
Interestingly, I was asked recently which Discworld book you should start with. Not the same list as above. Maybe I’ll save that for another day…
So, there we have it. My top 10 Discworld books. I’m sure I’ve missed some favourites in there, and reserve the right to change my mind at a moment’s notice. Will Raising Steam make the list?
Are you a Pratchett fan? What are your favourites?
 I wish I could remember who I loaned my first print, first edition copy of Lords & Ladies to. If it’s you, can I have it back? Ta.
 if you’re a Pratchett fan, you’ll understand that this is very very unusual.
 which is why you’ll sometimes see Terry referred to as Pterry. Us Pratchett fans love an in-joke almost as much as we love a good footnote.
 to me, anyway. YMMV.
- A conversation with Terry Pratchett, author of The Carpet People (boingboing.net)