Bick's thoughts on the Discworld novels

Bick

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(6) Wyrd Sisters (1988)

This is good book in the series. The plotting is good, Pratchett seems to be honing his storytelling skills with each book, and overall it was a highly satisfying read. The prior books all had a zany charm, but did not (in the main) have the depth that is frequently referenced in positive criticism of the Discworld novels. This is probably the first one where the plot and jokes consistently carry that extra depth and cleverness. Here, Pratchett references Shakespeare a awful lot and he does it well, but also numerous other literary and worldly sources. The characters are good, and in this volume the story finally has a very satisfying arc. I'm undecided whether to go 4½ or 5 stars, but as there is still far to go in the series I don't think I should go the whole hog just yet, as others may conceivably surpass it in quality. Recommended ****½
 

Bick

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(7) Pyramids (1989)

There is much to like about Pyramids. Some of the jokes are very good, the mathematician camels are a great idea and I enjoyed the ‘Greeks’. The plotting is not bad here, in the sense of story arc either. I’ve read that this is a favourite of many, but for me it’s actually a step down from the previous book. It’s too long, and the whole idea of the Pyramids twisting time and how this affects The Old Kingdom did not appeal to me at all. I don’t know why Pratchett loves to nearly end the world, or kingdom, in most books - it can seem unnecessarily over the top and requires an extreme, hyperbolic denouement that seems to me to be at odds with the premise and reading experience of the Discworld in general. For this reason, the first half is very good, while I found the second half to be ultimately unsatisfying. The camel saves it. ***½
 

Harpo

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By way of bumping the thread in the hope of more of Bick's reviews, I'd just like to observe that my first run of reading Discworld books, starting in 1986, ended with Pyramids.
I haven't read it again since, and the copy I acquired last year in my vast book haul seems to have vanished into L-Space. It's probably the one I am most looking forward to rereading.
 

Ian Fortytwo

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I am considering reading the Discworld books sometime soon, as yet I have only bought the first one The Colour of Magic, so I am reading that one before spending anymore money. Are they as good as the reviews I have read?
 

Harpo

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The first two are great, then then next several are really great, and then from around the tenth book TP attains his Proper Greatness & maintains it for dozens more books.
 

2DaveWixon

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Well, this is just great!
I've been reading Pratchett's books for years, but with no concern for their order or relationships; and I'm not even sure if I have them all, or not...
Now, having just discovered this thread, I guess I'm going to have to (1) make a list of them all, probably put into order of publication; and (2) start reading.
This decision is coming just two days after I finished re-reading Glen Cook's Garrett series and decided that next I have to read, as a change of pace, Bruce Catton's "Centennial History of the Civil War."
How the heck am I supposed to keep up with work, household chores, snow shoveling....???
 

Harpo

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2Dave, have you really never seen this Pratchett forum in your three years on Chrons? It was the reason I first came here in 2006.
 

2DaveWixon

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2Dave, have you really never seen this Pratchett forum in your three years on Chrons? It was the reason I first came here in 2006.
On reading through this thread, it seemed clear that -- like many on Chrons -- the thread had bursts of activity that were separated by periods of silence... Nothing wrong with that, of course -- but I just missed seeing it...
I do this all the time...
 

2DaveWixon

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Further: I have bursts of activity that are followed by periods of silence, also...
I guess we just were not in sync.
 

BAYLOR

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I am considering reading the Discworld books sometime soon, as yet I have only bought the first one The Colour of Magic, so I am reading that one before spending anymore money. Are they as good as the reviews I have read?

These are fun books to read. :)
 

Bick

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Good to see the flurry of activity and the gratifying, and most welcome, level of interest. I can reassure all that once I've finished the two books I'm currently reading (a Dickens I'm nearly through and an Elizabeth Moon Vatta's War novel), next up in my mental TBR pile is indeed Discworld book 8, Guards, Guards!

A slight pause in the series read through is all - I anticipate reading a Discworld book in between every 3-4 other books I read this year, so that may end up being quite a few.
 

Bick

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I am considering reading the Discworld books sometime soon, as yet I have only bought the first one The Colour of Magic, so I am reading that one before spending anymore money. Are they as good as the reviews I have read?
In my opinion, Ian, they are exactly as good, bad or indifferent as the reviews I have posted (funnily enough). You'll see I gave fewer stars to the first one, but with Discworld books I think you should read the review not only take the stars as gospel, as the reasons some are "better" than others (imo) are not straightforward. The first book in some ways is more enjoyable than some with more rating stars, but it has more faults. (The most notable fault of the first book being that it kinda lacks a plot).
 

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Sometimes I also think that individual books within a series are tricky to review in isolation from the rest of the series. Even though pretty much every Discworld book is a stand alone title there are a lot of threads that run through them and story plots and changes in the world that evolves it over time. As such one might consider a book about the Witches weaker for not establishing the characters better, but its because there were several more books that already established them long before. The short quips and details of the past are there not as fleshed out story, but as reminders for the reader as to the characters past adventures in print.

It's like how people often give The Fellowship of the Ring a lower score than the other two books that make up the Lord of the Rings (in most publications its in 3 not 1). The thing is without the Fellowship the latter two books would rate very low indeed, in fact they'd also be impossible to read. So sometimes you've got to step back and view the work as a singular whole and balance that against the various ups and downs.
 

Bick

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(8) Guards! Guards! (1989)

With Guards! Guards!, Pratchett introduces the Night Watch, comprising only four characters - Vimes and his three NCOs, Colon, Nobby and Carrot. The characters Pratchett draws for these three are terrific. Nobby is his cockney 'diamond geezer', translated to the Discworld, and one of his best comic creations so far. Carrot's antis are unremittingly funny (you think the joke would wear thin - being a 6'6" 'dwarf' - yet it doesn't). Also well on show here is the city of Ankh Morpork, a character in itself, and it's never played a better role. Throughout, the jokes are clever, the plotting is well crafted (Pratchett ends a novel strongly!) and depth of meaning regards Pratchett's comments on real life is surer and more often hits home than in some volumes. This is the strongest Discworld book to date I think. While Wyrd Sisters is excellent (the best to this point) and benefits from (a) great characters and (b) very clever literary references (especially of Shakespeare), it doesn't have quite the warmth and humanity of this book. I therefore rate this slightly higher and must attribute to it the full 5 stars. This is nominally out of 5 of course (as convention decrees) but if any Discworld novel does exceed this one, I shall have to start handing out more than 5 out of 5. So be it - highly recommended *****
 

Bick

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So to summarise, for those who either (a) love a list, or (b) don't wish to trawl through the thread, my ratings of each book out of 5 stars for the first 8 in the Discworld series, are as follows:

1. Colour of Magic ***
2. The Light Fantastic ***
3. Equal Rites ***½
4. Mort ****
5. Sourcery ****
6. Wyrd Sisters ****½
7. Pyramids ***½
8. Guards! Guards! *****
 

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