Publish Date: The Discworld is a fantastic series. However reading it in order of publication is generally ill-advised. We recommend the Watch arc for a more mature read and the Witches for the younger audience.
In the beginning there was…a turtle.
Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.
But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…
'What shall we do?' said Twoflower.
'Panic?' said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival.
As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero. What it doesn’t need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world, or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own. Which is a shame because that's all there is...
They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there's no such thing as a female wizard. But now it's gone and happened, there's nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin...
Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.
Henceforth, Death is no longer going to be the end, merely the means to an end. It’s an offer Mort can't refuse. As Death's apprentice he'll have free board, use of the company horse - and being dead isn't compulsory. It's a dream job - until he discovers that it can be a killer on his love life...
All this books and stuff, that isn't what it should all be about. What we need is real wizardry.
There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son... a wizard squared...a source of magic...a Sourcerer.
Unseen University has finally got what it wished for: the most powerful wizard on the disc. Which, unfortunately, could mean that the death of all wizardry is at hand. And that the world is going to end, depending on whom you listen to. Unless of course one inept wizard can take the University's most precious artefact, the very embodiment of magic itself, and deliver it halfway across the disc to safety...
Things like crowns had a troublesome effect on clever folks; it was best to leave all the reigning to the kind of people whose eyebrows met in the middle.
Three witches gathered on a lonely heath. A king cruelly murdered, his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. A child heir and the crown of the kingdom, both missing…
Witches don't have these kind of dynastic problems themselves – in fact, they don’t have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn't have. But even she found that meddling in royal politics was a lot more complicated than certain playwrights would have you believe, particularly when the blood on your hands just won't wash off and you're facing a future with knives in it...
'Look after the dead', said the priests, 'and the dead will look after you.'
Wise words in all probability, but a tall order when, like Teppic, you have just become the pharaoh of a small and penniless country rather earlier than expected, and your treasury is unlikely to stretch to the building of a monumental pyramid to honour your dead father.
He’d had the best education money could buy of course, but unfortunately the syllabus at the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not cover running a kingdom and basic financial acumen...
‘Vimes ran a practised eye over the assortment before him. It was the usual Ankh-Morpork mob in times of crisis; half of them were here to complain, a quarter of them were here to watch the other half, and the remainder were here to rob, importune or sell hotdogs to the rest.’
Insurrection is in the air in Ankh-Morpork. The Haves and Have-Nots are about to fall out all over again. Captain Sam Vimes of the city’s ramshackle Night Watch is used to this. It’s enough to drive a man to drink. Well, to drink more. But this time, something is different – the Have-Nots have found the key to a dormant, lethal weapon that even they don’t fully understand, and they’re about to unleash a campaign of terror on the city. Time for Captain Vimes to sober up.
Eric calls up a demon to grant him three wishes - but what he gets is the Discworld's most incompetent wizard...
Eric is the Discworld's only demonology hacker. The trouble is, he's not very good at it. All he wants is the usual three wishes: to be immortal, rule the world and have the most beautiful woman fall madly in love with him. The usual stuff.
But what he gets is Rincewind, the Disc's most incompetent wizard, and Rincewind's Luggage (the world's most dangerous travel accessory) into the bargain.
Terry Pratchett's hilarious take on the Faust legend stars many of the Discworld's most popular characters in an outrageous adventure that will leave Eric wishing once more - this time, quite fervently, that he'd never been born.
'Holy Wood is a different sort of place. People act differently here. Everywhere else the most important things are gods or money or cattle. Here, the most important thing is to be important.'
Alchemists have always thought that they can change reality, shape it to their own purpose. Imagine then the damage that could be wrought on the Discworld if they get their hands on the ultimate alchemy: the invention of motion pictures, the greatest making of illusions. It may be a triumph of universe-shaking proportions. It's either that or they're about to unlock the dark secret of the Holy Wood hills - by mistake...
'Death has to happen. That’s what bein' alive is all about. You're alive, and then you're dead. It can't just stop happening.'
But it can. And it has. Death is missing – presumed…er…gone (and on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe). Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. If Death doesn't come for you, then what are you supposed to do in the meantime? You can't have the undead wandering about like lost souls. There's no telling what might happen, particularly when they discover that life really is only for the living...
'Things have to come to an end, see. That's how it works when you turn the world into stories. You should never have done that. You shouldn't treat people like they was characters, like they was things. But if you do, then you've got to know where the story ends.'
It seemed an easy job... After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince? Quite hard, actually, even for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. That's the problem with real life – it tends to get in the way of a good story, and a good story is hard to resist. Servant girls have to marry the prince. That's what life is all about. You can't fight a Happy Ending, especially when it comes with glass slippers and a Fairy Godmother who has made Destiny an offer it can't refuse.
At least - up until now...
'Just because you can't explain it, doesn't mean it's a miracle.'
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was: 'Hey, you!' This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, shape and size can be pretty crucial to make one's presence felt. So it's certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone's book.
In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...
The fairies are back – but this time they don’t just want your teeth…
It's Midsummer Night - no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there's more than one reality at play, too much dreaming can make the walls between them come tumbling down. Unfortunately there's usually a damned good reason for there being walls between them in the first place - to keep things out. Things who want to make mischief and play havoc with the natural order.
Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven are up against real elves. And even in a world of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers and the odd orang-utan, this is going to cause real trouble. With lots of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.
'What's so hard about pulling a sword out of a stone? The real work's already been done. You ought to make yourself useful and find the man who put the sword in the stone in the first place.'
The City Watch needs MEN! But what it's got includes Corporal Carrot (technically a dwarf), Lance-constable Cuddy (really a dwarf), Lance-constable Detritus (a troll), Lance-constable Angua (a woman... most of the time) and Corporal Nobbs (disqualified from the human race for shoving).
And they need all the help they can get, because someone in Ankh-Morpork has been getting dangerous ideas - about crowns and legendary swords, and destiny. And the problem with destiny is, of course, that she is not always careful where she points her finger. One minute you might be minding your own business on a normal if not spectacular career path, the next you might be in the frame for the big job, like saving the world...
This is a story about sex and drugs and Music With Rocks In.
…one out of three ain’t bad.
Being sixteen is always difficult, even more so when there’s a Death in the family. After all, it's hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe. Especially if he decides to take a well-earned moment to uncover the meaning of life and discover himself in the process, so that you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy.
And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld. It's lawless. It changes people. It's got a beat and you can dance to it.
It's called Music With Rocks In.
And it won't fade away.
'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law'
There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes; warlords are struggling for power - and what the nation wants, to avoid terrible doom for everyone, is a wizard. Rincewind is not the Disc’s premier wizard – in fact, he can’t even spell ‘wizard’ – but no-one specified whether competence was an issue. And they do have a very big stick…
Mighty Battles! Revolution! Death! War! (And his sons Terror and Panic and daughter Clancy).
'I thought: opera, how hard can it be? Songs. Pretty girls dancing. Nice scenery. Lots of people handing over cash. Got to be better than the cut-throat world of yoghurt, I thought. Now everwhere I go there's...'
Death, to be precise. And plenty of it. In unpleasant variations. This isn't real life – it’s worse. This is the Opera House, Ankh-Morpork...a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a mask and evening dress, with a penchant for lurking in shadows, occasional murder, and sending little notes full of maniacal laughter and exclamation marks. Opera can do that to a man.
But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld's most famous witch, is in the audience. And she doesn't hold with that sort of thing. So there's going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evenin's entertainment with murders you can really hum...). And the show MUST go on.
'Sorry?' said Carrot. If it's just a thing, how can it commit murder? A sword is a thing' - he drew his own sword; it made an almost silken sound - 'and of course you can't blame a sword if someone thrust it at you, sir.'
For Commander Vimes, Head of Ankh-Morpork City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by…well, more troubling times. Right now, it’s the latter. There’s a werewolf with pre-lunar tension in the city, and a dwarf with attitude and a golem who’s begun to think for itself, but that’s just ordinary trouble. The real problem is more puzzling - people are being murdered, but there's no trace of anything alive having been at the crime scene. So Vimes not only has to find out whodunit, but howdunit too. He's not even sure what they dun. But soon as he knows what the questions are, he's going to want some answers.
Susan had never hung up a stocking . She'd never put a tooth under her pillow in the serious expectation that a dentally inclined fairy would turn up. It wasn't that her parents didn't believe in such things. They didn't need to believe in them. They know they existed. They just wished they didn't.
It’s the night before Hogswatch. And it’s too quiet.
Where is the big jolly fat man? There are those who believe and those who don't, but either way it’s not right to find Death creeping down chimneys and trying to say Ho Ho Ho. Superstition makes things work in Discworld, and undermining it can have Consequences, particularly on the last night of the year when the time is turning. Susan the gothic governess has got to sort everything out by morning, otherwise there won't be a morning. Ever again...
The 20th Discworld novel is a festive feast of darkness and Death (but with jolly robins and tinsel too). As they say: 'You'd better watch out...'
'Neighbours... hah. People'd live for ages side by side, nodding at one another amicably on their way to work, and then some trivial thing would happen and someone would be having a garden fork removed from their ear.'
And when the neighbours in question are the proud empires of Klatch and Ankh-Morpork, those are going to be some pretty large garden tools indeed. Of course, no-one would dream of starting a war without a perfectly good reason…such as a 'strategic' piece of old rock in the middle of nowhere. It is after all every citizen's right to bear arms to defend what they consider to be their own. Even if it isn't. And even if they don’t have much in the way of actual weaponry. As two armies march, Commander Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch faces unpleasant foes who are out to get him... and that's just the people on his side. The enemy might be even worse.
Discworld goes to war, with armies of sardines, warriors, fishermen, squid and at least one very camp follower.
'Anything you do in the past changes the future. The tiniest little actions have huge consequences. You might tread on an ant now and it might entirely prevent someone from being born in the future.'
There's nothing like the issue of evolution to get under the skin of academics. Even if their field of expertise is magic rather than biology. With the best and most interfering minds of Unseen University somehow left in charge at a critical evolutionary turning point, the Discworld’s last continent needs a saviour…
Who is this hero striding across the red desert? Sheep shearer, beer drinker, bush ranger, and someone who'll even eat a Meat Pie Floater when he's sober.
In fact, it's Rincewind, a wizard so inept he can't even spell wizard. He's the only hero left.
Still...no worries, eh?
In this and indeed other lives there are givers and takers. It's safe to say that vampires are very much in the latter camp. They don’t have much time for the givers of this world – except perhaps mealtimes – and even less for priests.
Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be a priest.
Lancre’s newest residents are a thoroughly modern, sophisticated vampire family. They've got style and fancy waistcoats. They're out of the casket and want a bite of the future. But they haven’t met the neighbours yet: between them and Lancre stand Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. And Magrat, who is trying to combine witchcraft and nappies. And young Agnes, although she is really in two minds about everything.
Mightily Oats knows he has a prayer, but he wishes he had an axe.
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That mastering it is a lifetime's work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It's not something you can just pick up on the job.
A few days ago Sam Vimes was a copper – an important copper, true – chief of police – but still, at his core, a policeman. But today he is an ambassador - to the mysterious, fat-rich country of Uberwald. Today, Sam Vimes is also a man on the run.
He has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don't ask). It's snowing. It's freezing. And if he can't make it through the forest to civilization there's going to be a terrible war.
There are monsters on his trail. They're bright. They're fast. They're werewolves - and they're catching up.
William de Worde is the accidental editor of the Discworld's first newspaper. New printing technology means that words just won't obediently stay nailed down like usual. There's a very real threat of news getting out there.
Now he must cope with the traditional perils of a journalist's life - people who want him dead, a recovering vampire with a suicidal fascination for flash photography, some more people who want him dead in a different way and, worst of all, the man who keeps begging him to publish pictures of his humorously shaped potatoes.
William just wants to get at THE TRUTH. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to get at William. And it's only the third edition...
Time is a resource. Everyone knows it has to be managed. You mess with it at your peril. You can let it move fast or slowly but what you mustn't do is allow it to stop.
On the Discworld time management is the job of the Monks of History, who store it and pump it from the places where it's wasted (like the underwater - how much time does a codfish need?) to places like cities, where there's never enough time.
But the construction of the world's first truly accurate clock starts a race against, well, time for Lu Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd. Because it will stop time. And when time stands still, everything stops with it. Then, there really is no future.
He's been a legend in his own lifetime. He can remember the great days of high adventure. He can remember when people didn't tell you off for killing dragons. But he can't always remember, these days, where he put his teeth.
Now, Cohen the Barbarian is going on one final quest. He's going to climb the highest mountain in the Discworld and meet his gods. He doesn't like the way they let men grow old and die. The last hero in the world is going to return what the first hero stole. With a vengeance.
That'll mean the end of world, if no one stops him in time. Someone is going to try. So who knows who the last hero really is?
IT’S A RAT-EAT-RAT WORLD . . .
Every town on Discworld knows the stories about rats and pipers, and Maurice – a streetwise tomcat – leads a band of educated ratty friends (and a stupid kid) on a nice little earner. Piper plus rats equals lots and lots of money.
Until they run across someone playing a different tune.
Now he and his rats must learn a new concept: evil . . .
'Don't put your trust in revolutions. They always come round again. That's why they're called revolutions. People die, and nothing changes.'
For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of bloody revolution.
For Commander Sam Vimes, it all feels horribly familiar. He’s back in his own rough, tough past without even the clothes he was standing up in when the lightning struck. Living in the past is hard. But he must survive, because he has a job to do. He must track down the murderer and change the outcome of the rebellion.
The problem is: if he wins, he's got no wife, no child, no future...
A Discworld Tale of One City, with a full chorus of street urchins, ladies of negotiable affection, rebels, secret policemen and other children of the revolution.
Truth! Justice! Freedom! And a Hard-boiled Egg!
A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . .
Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle – aka the Wee Free Men – a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.
Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, terrifying dreams come true, and ultimately the sinister Queen of the Elves herself . . .
'Trousers. That's the secret...Put on trousers and the world changes. We walk different. We act different. I see these girls and I think: idiots! Get yourself some trousers!'
Women belong in the kitchen - everyone knows that. Not in jobs, pubs or indeed trousers, and certainly not on the front line. Polly Perks has to become a boy in a hurry if she wants to find her brother in the army. Cutting off her hair and wearing the trousers is easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape takes more time. And there’s a war on. There's always a war on. Polly and her fellow raw recruits are suddenly in the thick of it.
All they have on their side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee. Well . . . they have the Secret. And it’s time to make a stand.
Something is coming after Tiffany . . .
Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered goats! Surely there must be more to witchcraft than this!
What Tiffany doesn't know is that an insidious, disembodied creature is pursuing her. This time, neither Mistress Weatherwax (the greatest witch in the world) nor the fierce, six-inch-high Wee Free Men can protect her. In the end, it will take all of Tiffany's inner strength to save herself . . . if it can be done at all.
The post was an old thing, of course, but it was so old that it had magically become new again.
Moist von Lipwig is a con artist and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet.
It’s a tough decision.
The post is a creaking old institution, overshadowed by new technology. But there are people who still believe in it, and Moist must become one of them if he's going to see that the mail gets though, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, and a midnight killer.
Getting a date with Adora Bell Dearheart would be nice, too.
Perhaps there's a shot at redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who's prepared to push the envelope...
'Some people would be asking: whose side are you on? If you're not for us, you're against us. Huh. If you're not an apple, you're a banana'
Koom Valley, the ancient battle where the trolls ambushed the dwarfs, or the dwarfs ambushed the trolls, was a long time ago.
But if he doesn't solve the murder of just one dwarf, Commander Sam Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch is going to see it fought again, right outside his office.
With his beloved Watch crumbling around him and war-drums sounding, he must unravel every clue, outwit every assassin and brave any darkness to find the solution. And darkness is following him.
Oh . . . and at six o'clock every day, without fail, with no excuses, he must go home to read 'Where's My Cow?', with all the right farmyard noises, to his little boy.
There are some things you have to do.
Tiffany Aching put one foot wrong, made just one little mistake . . .
And now the spirit of winter is in love with her. He gives her roses and icebergs and showers her with snowflakes, which is tough when you're thirteen, but also just a little bit . . . cool.
And if Tiffany doesn't work out how to deal with him, there will never be another springtime . . .
Crackling with energy and humour, Wintersmith is the third tale in a sequence about Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men - the Nac Mac Feegles who are determined to help Tiffany, whether she wants it or not.
It’s an offer you can’t refuse. Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door? It’s a job for life. But, as former con-man Moist von Lipwig is learning, the life is not necessarily for long. The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There’s something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A 300 year old wizard is after his girlfriend, he's about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins Guild might get him first. In fact lot of people want him dead Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies.Everywhere he looks he’s making enemies.What he should be doing is . . . Making Money!
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood for trying everything else. This is not going to be a gentleman’s game.
The prospect of the Big Match draws in a street urchin with a wonderful talent for kicking a tin can, a maker of jolly good pies, a dim but beautiful young woman, who might just turn out to be the greatest fashion model there has ever been, and the mysterious Mr Nutt (and no one knows anything much about Mr Nutt, not even Mr Nutt). As the match approaches, four lives are entangled and changed for ever.
Because the thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.
Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!
As the witch of the Chalk, Tiffany Aching performs the distinctly unglamorous work of caring for the needy. But someone – or something – is inciting fear, generating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches.
Tiffany must find the source of unrest and defeat the evil at its root. Aided by the tiny-but-tough Wee Free Men, Tiffany faces a dire challenge, for if she falls, the whole Chalk falls with her . . .
This is the countryside, after all. Everyone sees where you go and you never know who is behind a hedge.
And if you're very unlucky, the person behind the hedge could have very unfriendly intentions. It may look idyllic, but the countryside isn't all flowers and thatched cottages and bracing walks in your best tweed. Beneath the greenery lies a dark underbelly, and there's something about rambling country houses that attracts dastardly plots and grisly murder. A challenge for any detective, but especially for one bred in the city who doesn't understand the Way Things Are Done. In the countryside, people know their place, and everyone else's place too, especially if it's beneath their own. And they have some rather old fashioned ideas about people who are different from them.
It’s all change for Moist von Lipwig, swindler, conman, and (naturally) head of the Royal Bank and Post Office.
A steaming, clanging new invention, driven by Dick Simnel, the man with t’flat cap and t’sliding rule, is drawing astonished crowds - including a few particularly keen young men armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear – and suddenly it’s a matter of national importance that the trains run on time.
Moist does not enjoy hard work. His . . .vital input at the bank and post office consists mainly of words, which are not that heavy. Or greasy. And it certainly doesn’t involve rickety bridges, runaway cheeses or a fat controller with knuckledusters. What he does enjoy is being alive, which may not be a perk of running the new railway. Because, of course, some people have OBJECTIONS, and they’ll go to extremes to stop locomotion in its tracks.
A SHIVERING OF WORLDS
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.
This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.
As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.
There will be a reckoning . . .