Guess who’s back with more Discworld talk? That’s right, it’s me! I’m just not ready to let it go yet, so I’ve spent some time looking back on the series as a whole and trying to put them in some kind of order. A countdown, if you will.
It isn’t the first time it’s been done and I doubt it will be the last, but what makes my countdown different is that it’s partly personal to me, partly based on the scores each book received on a well-known book reading and rating website. I wanted to try and take those scores into account, knowing that my own opinions will always be biased. So each book received a rating out of ten and a position in the charts, and I hope the result is vaguely fair and gives you a good impression of the quality of the books as well as just how gosh darn enjoyable I found them.
So without further ado, let’s begin the countdown. I’ll make a few brief notes on each book to justify the position.
– An interesting look at other people and cultures on the Disc aside from Ankh-Morpork, but a plot that is rambly and difficult to follow (at least it was for me). – Shout out to You Bastard, the brilliant mathematician who also happens to be a camel.
– A book that I coldly described as ‘the most boring of the early installments’, although it does end with a foray into the Dungeon Dimensions. – There are some excellent charted character moments for Rincewind.
– A book that was better than what I was expecting, but hard to get through, for no discernible reason other than what might have been RIncewind related fatigue. – It’s redeemed by a cracking opening and the best ending in any of the Discworld novels.
– The book in which I realised that the wizards are quite a samey bunch of characters, often embroiled in quite samey adventures. A novel that feels quite gimmicky. – It features a great ‘Mad Max’ parody and some good Ponder Stibbons character moments.
– The book I enjoyed least in the whole series, but it features higher in the list because other people have quite high opinions of it. That’s fair – each to their own! – Archchancellor Ridcully is a great character in this book with very quotable lines.
– It isn’t entirely fair to have to rate this book, or ‘The Colour of Magic’, as Pratchett was finding his feet in Discworld when he wrote them, so of course there will be repetition and ideas not quite formed. – This book is cinematic in scope and makes much of Great A’Tuin, the turtle on whose back the Disc rides.
– Another ‘acceptance of other species story’, which seem to work better with the Watch as the main characters than the wizards, which is what happens here. Pratchett had done this story before, and done it better, on more than one occasion. – I very much enjoyed the football as the focus of the story, especially the descriptions of being in a crowd and watching a team you love.
– The first Discworld for younger readers that Pratchett wrote, but it is dark – I can’t say that I would give it to a ten year old thinking they would enjoy it at all. The Rat King is horrific. – It is, however, a book I would give to someone to prove that Pratchett’s writing chops are above and beyond.
– The lowest ranked ‘Watch’ novel, partly because it is again a ‘species acceptance story’, which became a much re-used storyline, and not always as successfully as the early novels. – It is wonderful to see the end of the character arc that has carried Sam Vimes through the series, and great to get a glimpse of the bright future in the shape of Young Sam.
– A short parody of the ‘Faust’ story, which suffers for being just too short! (it began life as an illustrated novella) – I love the idea that Rincewind kicked off the evolution of life with half an egg sandwich thrown into the void.
– Another fan favourite, but one that I found as difficult to really follow as many others in the Death Arc. – Death’s rant about fairness and the differences between the rich and the poor is the kind of speech that Sir Terry was so wonderful at crafting.
– A solid addition to the series, an early standalone novel, that makes use of minor characters such as ‘Cut-Me-Own-Throat’ Dibbler and introduces Gaspode the talking dog. – Ginger’s speech about wasted chances provides some real food for thought.
– The earliest of the Witch novels, featuring a Granny Weatherwax that just isn’t quite right. It took Pratchett a while to really get her. – A welcome move away from Ankh-Morpork into the wider world of the Disc, which shows the promise of how great the witches would come to be.
– The Watch had really found their feet as characters by this novel, coupled with a plot that feels so contemporary despite having been written twenty years ago. – Features one of Sam Vimes’ most famous quotes, “I am not a military man.”
– A very solidly established fan favourite, although it still strikes me as having a plot that doesn’t entirely make sense. – I love Death’s house, and how hard he has worked to try and make it as normal as he can for his adopted child.
– The second Moist von Lipwig novel that just isn’t quite up to the standard of ‘Going Postal’ – ‘Going Postal’ did it first, and I think it did it better. – I love Moist’s hard won humanity, just starting to shine through here.
– A Watch story that finally takes the characters out of Ankh-Morpork, even if it isn’t the most memorable of stories for that group of characters. – Detritus and Cheery have their moment to shine in this novel and for Cheery in particular, it is a strong move towards the rights she longs for.
– A good book that should probably be higher up the list, but timey-wimey stuff makes it occasionally difficult to follow. – The History Monks are some of the most outlandish but brilliant invention in the whole series.