66

I've read some of the Discworld books, and they were referencing each other in an order different than what I've been reading.

If I wanted to maintain chronology, and get all of the back references, which order should I be reading the books in?

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    I've only read about 11 so far. They seem internally self-sufficient so you can read them in any order. However, they do refer to events which happened in "early" novels so you will get a bit more if you read them in the right order. IOW, read what you have while you wait for missing novels ;) – Jim2B May 15 '15 at 3:45
  • @JackBNimble neat! also, confusing. also, neat! – blueberryfields Jan 19 '16 at 19:11
  • I started around Reaper Man (because that was the book that had been published when I was the right age to be given them as gifts). In hindsight, I wish I had started from the beginning and gone in order, to experience the development of the Discworld from a satire of fantasy into a satire in fantasy. Now that I've read them all, I re-read them in thread order (answers below) – HorusKol Jul 5 '16 at 2:10
92
+50

One thing about Discworld that is important to realize, in the 35+ or so books there are really 5+ different threads that hardly cross at all.

  • The witches stories (which later expand further into his children's series - The Tiffany Aching series).
  • The wizard stories featuring Rincewind, Archechancellor Ridcully and friends, of which some of the Rincewind stories could possibly even be another group.
  • The City Watch stories featuring Vimes, Nobby, Colon and the patrician.
  • The City stories featuring Moist Von Lipwig, the more recent Going Postal and Making money.
  • The Death stories featuring Death and his granddaughter Susan.

  • There are also 2 or 3 that just hang out by themselves, like Omnia of Small Gods, and Pyramids, just they happen to occur on Discworld.

Some people just fall in love with one of those themes and don't really like the others, so if you read one and don't like witches, maybe switch ahead. I love them all, but personal favorite is the city watch, and the character of Commander Vimes.

This image from the lspace page really sums it up nicely.

Note - image kept up to date on this Pinterest page

enter image description here

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    Nice point about different threads. I really missed Rincewind and the Librarian :) – Benjol Feb 9 '11 at 7:31
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    This one gets my vote for A) mentioning the different threads, B) referring to lspace.org, and C) liking Vimes the most. :) – sbi Feb 20 '11 at 13:24
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    After Thud should come Snuff. – Pixel Jan 24 '12 at 5:16
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    It may be worth reading Strata before starting on the Discworld series. – Ingmar Mar 8 '12 at 12:52
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    Yes, few later books are missing, also I'd argue that "Unseen academicals" doesn't have to do much with Rincewind who is described only in the background twice without saying anything. – Yasskier Sep 14 '15 at 21:39
36

Order of writing is fine, and pretty much matches the internal chronology. You can find it here. But bear in mind that the first two, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, were written before Pratchett really found his voice, and are lighter and more uneven in tone. You might want to start with Equal Rites and then work back to the first two later.

Note also that it's Discworld, not disk-world. Pratchett is English, and that's how we spell "disc". I've edited your question to reflect this.

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    If you truly intend to read them all, then starting at The Colour Of Magic is the usual recommendation. – staticsan Jan 31 '11 at 0:32
  • I agree, Equal Rites is far better than the first two, and you don't miss much by skipping them and coming back later. – OrangeDog Jul 14 '15 at 13:43
26
+100

Recently there was a reading guide released for Discworld.

note: the website seems to regularly be inaccessible, and there are some noticeable typos in the infographic as of January 2016 (see second answer for a semi regularly updated/corrected fan alternative)

For order of publication start at the triangle point leading to "The Color of Magic."

For topic specific reading order, there is a color coded guide to follow various characters / groups.

  • Wizards - Purple
  • Witches - pinkish purple?
  • Witches / Tiffany Aching - pink
  • Death - blue
  • Ancient Civilizations - lime green
  • City Watch - green
  • Industrial Revolution - orange
  • Science Novels - yellow

enter image description here

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    That image is really confusing! But up-to-date..... – AncientSwordRage Sep 14 '15 at 21:12
  • How official is that reading guide? Apart from the title claiming to be, I don't see any evidence. And it spells the name of the very first book wrong ("color" vs. "colour"; I know the first is American spelling, however, the title is spelled the British way). – SQB Jan 20 '16 at 12:35
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    @SQB Well, now my heart is full of doubt. – Jack B Nimble Jan 20 '16 at 15:08
  • No idea about the image, though it does claim to come from the publisher, but it looks like it is just a copy of the terrypratchettbooks.com reading order (plus a bunch of added complexity). Which looks like an official site. – Jonathon Mar 4 '16 at 15:20
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    It spells The Fifth Element. I'm new to Pratchett, but I think that should be The Fifth Elephant – Gallifreyan Jan 25 '17 at 19:59
12

There are recommendations as to multiple possible starting places at

Discworld Reading Order Guides

and there are annotations to the various books in that general vicinity at

The Annotated Pratchett File, v9.0

2

If you have already read some and you intend to read all of then I woulds suggest reading in the order of publication. It is likely that you might then want to go back and re-read some groups together but the as-published order gives a nice variety of content and also lets you see TP's style evolve, and it does change a lot as the series goes along. I would say that for the first 10 books or so there is an objective improvement and later it diverges in terms of themes so you may find that there are some stories which appeal to your more. I still rate Lords and Ladies as one of the all time best.

for me the real classics are :

  • Pyramids
  • Lords and Ladies
  • Men at Arms
  • Hogfather
  • Jingo
  • The Truth
  • Thief of Time
  • Night Watch
  • The Wee Free Men
  • Going Postal
  • Thud

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