Discworld #2: The Light Fantastic

I wrote in a previous post about how my mildly OCD brain insists that I read all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books in chronological order by date of publication.  Pratchett fans tell me that I am DOING IT WRONG but what they don’t understand is that I am physically incapable of doing it any other way, so just deal already, alright?  Alright.

Below (again) is the table listing all of the discworld books that I found on the source of all things good and irrefutably true, wikipedia.  Moderate tangent… wikipedia taught me today that another word for a division symbol (you know, this guy ÷) is obelus.  See.  Source of all knowledge in the universe.

So, back to the truly mind blowing Discworld.  The arguments for why I should NOT read these books in chronological order seem to center around two general opinions.

  • Opinion 1: The first books are not as good as the subsequent books and if I start with the early works, I may not be motivated to continue reading and will thereby miss the good stuff.
  • Opinion 2: I should read the secondary story lines of specific characters together and in order.  Like, I should read all of the Granny whatserface books or all of The Witches books first, because these characters are better and more interesting than the other characters.

Well, I can’t really speak to opinion 2 yet, because both of the books I have read so far have been about the buddy comedy adventures of Rincewind the arrested development wizard and his dopey tourist companion.  Maybe there are better and more deserving characters than them.  I don’t know.  But, I can speak to number 1 and I am unconvinced by that line of reasoning.  These first two books were hilarious.  I mean, knee slapping, gut grabbing, laugh out loud and try not to pee yourself funny.  Really, really funny.  I am sure Pratchett gets better.  Generally speaking, people who do a lot of something get better and better at it.  So, odds are that he gets to be an even better writer, but he was already pretty good in the early 80’s.  And if this is the not so good stuff, then I am happy to be on this journey that will eventually lead me to some really entertaining reads.

The Light Fantastic picks up right where The Colour of Magic Ends.  Literally, at that exact moment.  So, it was easy to get back into the story line.  And it features the same main characters while adding some great new ones like Cohen the Barbarian.  Cohen is an octagenarian (which is to say, waaaaay over the hill) hero who’s still got it and can still get the girls.  He saves Rincewind and Twoflower from Death and Trolls and the wretched masses despite needing a bone soothing linament and a good pair of false teeth.  He is a trip.

In the end they save the discworld and solve the mystery of the magical shops that always disappear right after selling you a chest made of sapient pearwood or some other magical doodad.

The first book gave glimpses into the mythology of the discworld and I loved that peek into the belief system of this unbelievable world.  This book mostly ignores the gods and goddesses to focus instead on the magicians, who are kind of scholars slash politicians and who are every bit as interesting as, if slightly less powerful than, the gods.  I had so much fun reading this book.  It is every bit as silly and fun as the cover art would have you believe.  And I look forward to number 3 (in which I will meet new characters and may see some sense in other people’s orderings but will still be compelled to follow through with my plan).

NO. TITLE PUBLISHED GROUPS NOTES
1 The Colour of Magic 1983 Rincewind 93rd in the Big Read.
2 The Light Fantastic 1986 Rincewind Continues from The Colour of Magic
3 Equal Rites 1987 The Witches, The Wizards
4 Mort 1987 Death 65th in the Big Read
5 Sourcery 1988 Rincewind, The Wizards
6 Wyrd Sisters 1988 The Witches 135th in the Big Read
7 Pyramids 1989 Discworld Cultures (Djelibeybi) British Science Fiction Award winner, 1989[7]
8 Guards! Guards! 1989 The City Watch 69th in the Big Read
9 Eric 1990 Rincewind Published in a larger format and fully illustrated by Josh Kirby
10 Moving Pictures 1990 Miscellaneous (Holy Wood), The Wizards
11 Reaper Man 1991 Death, The Wizards 126th in the Big Read
12 Witches Abroad 1991 The Witches 197th in the Big Read
13 Small Gods 1992 Discworld Cultures (Omnia), The History Monks 102nd in the Big Read
14 Lords and Ladies 1992 The Witches, The Wizards
15 Men at Arms 1993 The City Watch 148th in the Big Read
16 Soul Music 1994 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The Wizards 151st in the Big Read
17 Interesting Times 1994 Rincewind, The Wizards
18 Maskerade 1995 The Witches
19 Feet of Clay 1996 The City Watch
20 Hogfather 1996 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The Wizards 137th in the Big Read; British Fantasy Award nominee, 1997[8]
21 Jingo 1997 The City Watch
22 The Last Continent 1998 Rincewind, The Wizards
23 Carpe Jugulum 1998 The Witches
24 The Fifth Elephant 1999 The City Watch 153rd in the Big Read; Locus Fantasy Award nominee, 2000[9]
25 The Truth 2000 Ankh-Morpork, The City Watch, The Ankh-Morpork Times 193rd in the Big Read
26 Thief of Time 2001 Death, Susan Sto Helit, The History Monks 152nd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2002[10]
27 The Last Hero 2001 Rincewind, The Wizards, The City Watch Published in a larger format and fully illustrated by Paul Kidby
28 The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 2001 Miscellaneous (Überwald) A YA (young adult or children’s) Discworld book; winner of the 2001 Carnegie Medal
29 Night Watch 2002 The City Watch, The History Monks Received the Prometheus Award in 2003; came 73rd in the Big Read; Locus Award nominee, 2003[11]
30 The Wee Free Men 2003 Tiffany Aching The second YA Discworld book; also published in larger format and fully illustrated by Stephen Player
31 Monstrous Regiment 2003 Discworld Cultures (Borogravia),The City Watch, The Ankh-Morpork Times The title is a reference to The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women;[12] 2004 nominee for Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.[13]
32 A Hat Full of Sky 2004 Tiffany Aching, The Witches The third YA Discworld book
33 Going Postal 2004 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork Locus and Nebula Awards nominee, 2005[14]
34 Thud! 2005 The City Watch Locus Award nominee, 2006[15]
35 Wintersmith 2006 Tiffany Aching, The Witches The fourth YA book.
36 Making Money 2007 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork Locus Award winner, Nebula nominee, 2008[16]
37 Unseen Academicals 2009 The Wizards, Rincewind, Miscellaneous (Nutt) Locus Award Nominee, 2010
38 I Shall Wear Midnight[17] 2010 Tiffany Aching, The Witches Fifth YA book, Andre Norton winner, 2010[18]
39 Snuff 2011 The City Watch (Sam Vimes) Third fastest selling book in first week of publication[19]
40 Raising Steam 2013 Moist von Lipwig, Ankh-Morpork,The City Watch
41 The Shepherd’s Crown[20] 2015[21] Tiffany Aching Completed mid-2014, due to be published posthumously in 2015[22]
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