Probably the most famous long-running British fantasy series.
What is the Discworld?
From 1983 to 2015, The Discworld was the main satirical/parody fantasy series written by English author Terry Pratchett (RIP).
This series is set on the Discworld, a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. The main storylines take place around the same period, at the end of the Century of the Fruitbat and the beginning of the Century of the Anchovy. It’s an anthology series and each novel contains one stand-alone story, most of them exploiting fantasy clichés and talking about religion, politics, business, race, science, technology, pop culture, modern art or more in a satirical way.
Discworld Books In Order:
You can read the books in the order you want, because it’s an anthology. But, even if the Discworld is made of stand-alone novels, there are recurring protagonists. What follows is the publication order. After that, you’ll find the order by “subseries” if you want to follow some specific characters.
I. Publication order:
- The Color of Magic – Twoflower is the first tourist who decides to visit the city of Ankh-Morpork for fun, accompanied by his hundred-legged luggage. Twoflower is the innocent at large and all of Ankh-Morpork is queuing up to fleece him.
- The Light Fantastic – Only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world.
- Equal Rites – A dying wizard tries to pass his staff on to the eighth son of an eighth son. When it is revealed that the he is a girl named Esk, the news of the female wizard sends the citizens of Discworld into a tail-spin.
- Mort – When inept, but well-intentioned Mort gets only one offer for an apprenticeship—with Death—he can’t exactly turn it down. But Mort finds that being Death’s right-hand man isn’t as bad as it seems—until he falls back to his old, bumbling ways.
- Sourcery – Rincewind, the legendarily inept wizard, has returned after falling off the edge of the world. And this time, he’s brought the Luggage. But that’s not all… Once upon a time, there was an eighth son of an eighth son who was, of course, a wizard. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, said wizard then had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son who of course, was a source of magic — a sourcerer.
- Wyrd Sisters – Generally, these loners don’t get involved in anything, mush less royal intrigue. but then there are those times they can’t help it. As Granny Weatherwax is about to discover, though, it’s a lot harder to stir up trouble in the castle than some theatrical types would have you think. Even when you’ve got a few unexpected spells up your sleeve.
- Pyramids – Teppic, a student at the Assassin’s Guild of Ankh-Morpok and prince of the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi, thrust into the role of pharaoh after his father’s sudden death. It’s bad enough being new on the job, but Teppic hasn’t a clue as to what a pharaoh is supposed to do.
- Guards! Guards! – Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco nobilis has appeared in Discworld’s greatest city. Not only does this unwelcome visitor have a nasty habit of charbroiling everything in its path, in rather short order it is crowned King. Can the Ankh-Morpork City Watch restore order – and the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork to power?
- Eric – Discworld’s only demonology hacker, Eric, is about to make life very difficult for the rest of Ankh-Morpork’s denizens. This would-be Faust is very bad . . . at his work, that is. All he wants is to fulfill three little wishes: to live forever, to be master of the universe, and to have a stylin’ hot babe.
- Moving Pictures – Discworld’s pesky alchemists are up to their old tricks again. This time, they’ve discovered how to get gold from silver—the silver screen that is. Hearing the siren call of Holy Wood is one Victor Tugelbend, a would-be wizard turned extra. He can’t sing, he can’t dance, but he can handle a sword (sort of), and now he wants to be a star. So does Theda Withel, an ambitious ingénue from a little town you’ve probably never heard of.
- Reaper Man – They say there are only two things you can count on. But that was before Death started pondering the existential. Of course,the last thing anyone needs is a squeamish Grim Reaper and soon his Discworld bosses have sent him off with best wishes anda well-earned gold watch. Now Death is having the time of his life, finding greener pastures where he can put his scythe to a whole new use.
- Witches Abroad – Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which, unfortunately, left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when death came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince.
- Small Gods – Brutha, a simple lad who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god, to be sure. But bossy as Hell.
- Lords and Ladies – It’s a dreamy midsummer’s night in the Kingdom of Lancre. But music and romance aren’t the only things filling the air. Magic and mischief are afoot, threatening to spoil the royal wedding of King Verence and his favorite witch, Magrat Garlick. Invaded by some Fairie Trash, soon it won’t be only champagne that’s flowing through the streets…
- Men at Arms – Corporal Carrot is now in charge of the new recruits guarding Ankh-Morpork from Barbarian Tribes, Miscellaneous Marauders, unlicensed Thieves, and such. It’s a big job, particularly for an adopted dwarf. But an even bigger job awaits. An ancient document has just revealed that Ankh-Morpork, ruled for decades by Disorganized crime, has a secret sovereign! And his name is Carrot…
- Soul Music – When her dear old Granddad— the Grim Reaper himself—goes missing, Susan takes over the family business. The progeny of Death’s adopted daughter and his apprentice, she shows real talent for the trade. That is, until a little string in her heart goes “twang.”
- Interesting Times – When a request for a “Great Wizzard” arrives in Ankh-Morpork via carrier albatross from the faraway Counterweight Continent, it’s Rincewind who’s sent as emissary. Chaos threatens to follow the impending demise of the Agatean Empire’s current ruler. And, for some incomprehensible reason, someone believes Rincewind will have a mythic role in the war and wholesale bloodletting that will surely ensue.
- Maskerade – The Ghost in the bone-white mask who haunts the Ankh-Morpork Opera House was always considered a benign presence—some would even say lucky—until he started killing people. The sudden rash of bizarre backstage deaths now threatens to mar the operatic debut of country girl Perdita X. Nitt, she of the ample body and ampler voice.
- Feet of Clay – It’s murder in Discworld!—which ordinarily is no big deal. But what bothers Watch Commander Sir Sam Vimes is that the unusual deaths of three elderly Ankh-Morporkians do not bear the clean, efficient marks of the Assassins’ Guild. An apparent lack of any motive is also quite troubling. All Vimes has are some tracks of white clay and more of those bothersome “clue” things that only serve to muck up an investigation.
- Hogfather – Very few things are held sacred in this twisted, corrupt, heartless—and oddly familiar—universe, but the Hogfather is one of them. Yet here it is, Hogswatchnight, that most joyous and acquisitive of times, and the jolly, old, red-suited gift-giver has vanished without a trace.
- Jingo – It isn’t much of an island that rises up one moonless night from the depths of the Circle Sea—just a few square miles of silt and some old ruins. Unfortunately, the historically disputed lump of land called Leshp is once again floating directly between Ankh-Morpork and the city of Al-Khali on the coast of Klatch—which is spark enough to ignite that glorious international pastime called “war.”
- The Last Continent – There’s big trouble at the Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork’s lone institute of higher learning. A professor is missing—and the one person who can find him is not only the most inept magician the school ever produced, but currently stranded on the unfinished down-under continent of Fourecks.
- Carpe Jugulum – King Verence, in a fit of enlightened democracy and ebullient goodwill, invites Uberwald’s undead, the Magpyrs, into Lancre to celebrate the birth of his daughter. But everyone knows you don’t invite vampires into your house—unless you want permanent guests. Once ensconced within the castle, these wine-drinking, garlic-eating, sun-loving modern vampires have no intention of leaving…ever.
- The Fifth Elephant – When duty calls, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary answers—even if he doesn’t want to. Now, he’s been invited to attend a royal function as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other requires, well, ruby tights. Of course, where cops (even those clad in tights) go, alas, crime follows.
- The Truth – An ethical journalist, struggling scribe William de Worde has a proclivity for investigating stories—a nasty habit that soon creates powerful enemies eager to stop his presses. And what better way than to start the Inquirer, a titillating (well, what else would it be?) tabloid that conveniently interchanges what’s real for what sells.
- Thief of Time – While everyone talks about slowing down, one young horologist is about to do the unthinkable. He’s going to stop. Well, stop time, that is, by building the world’s first truly accurate clock. Which means esteemed History Monk Lu-Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd have to put on some speed to stop the timepiece before it starts. For if the Perfect Clock starts ticking, time—as we know it—will end. And then the trouble will really begin . . .
- The Last Hero – Cohen the Barbarian. He’s been a legend in his own lifetime. He can remember the good old days of high adventure. But these days, he can’t always remember just where he put his teeth… So now, with his ancient (yet still trusty) sword and new walking stick in hand, Cohen gathers a group of his old — very old — friends to embark on one final quest. He’s going to climb the highest mountain of Discworld and meet the gods.
- The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents – The Amazing Maurice runs the perfect Pied Piper scam. This streetwise alley cat knows the value of cold, hard cash and can talk his way into and out of anything. But when Maurice and his cohorts decide to con the town of Bad Blinitz, it will take more than fast talking to survive the danger that awaits.
- Night Watch – One moment Sir Sam Vimes is in his old-patrolman form, chasing a sweet-talking psychopath across the rooftops of Ankh-Morpork. The next, he’s lying naked in the street, having been sent back thirty years, courtesy of a group of time-manipulating monks who won’t leave well-enough alone.
- The Wee Free Men – 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.
- Monstrous Regiment – A year ago, Polly Perks’s brother marched off to battle, and Polly is willing to resort to drastic measures to find him. So she cuts off her hair, dons masculine garb, and—aided by a well-placed pair of socks—sets out to join the army. It would appear that Polly “Ozzer” Perks isn’t the only grunt with a secret.
- A Hat Full of Sky – Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic — not chores and ill-tempered nanny 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 nor the fierce, six-inch-high Wee Free Men can protect her.
- Going Postal – By all rights, Moist von Lipwig should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as Postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may prove an impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office.
- Thud! – Lately, the influential dwarf, Grag Hamcrusher, has been fomenting unrest among Ankh-Morpork’s more diminutive citizens—a volatile situation made far worse when the pint-size provocateur is discovered bashed to death… Commander Sam Vimes of the City Watch is aware of the importance of solving the Hamcrusher homicide without delay.
- Wintersmith – When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take all the young witch’s skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring.
- Making Money – Former arch-swindler-turned-Postmaster General Moist von Lipwig has somehow managed to get the woefully inefficient Ankh-Morpork Post Office running like . . . well, not like a government office at all. Now the supreme despot Lord Vetinari is asking Moist if he’d like to make some real money. Vetinari wants Moist to resuscitate the venerable Royal Mint
- Unseen Academicals – The wizards at Ankh-Morpork’s Unseen University are renowned for many things but athletics is most assuredly not on the list. So when Lord Vetinari, the city’s benevolent tyrant, strongly suggests to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully that the university revive an erstwhile tradition and once again put forth a football team composed of faculty, students, and staff, the wizards of UU find themselves in a quandary.
- I Shall Wear Midnight – 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.
- Snuff – At long last, Lady Sybil has lured her husband, Sam Vimes, on a well-deserved holiday away from the crime and grime of Ankh-Morpork. But for the commander of the City Watch, a vacation in the country is anything but relaxing. Yet a policeman will find a crime anywhere if he decides to look hard enough, and it’s not long before a body is discovered.
- Raising Steam – Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work. He does enjoy being alive, however, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs, and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all from going off the rails.
- The Shepherd’s Crown – 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.
II. By characters
A failed student at the Unseen University for wizards in Ankh-Morpork, Rincewind is mostly known for his tendency to solve minor problems by turning them into major disasters. He spends most of his time running away from bands of people who want to kill him. It’s hard to explain, but he’s still alive.
The personification of death, so he is a black-robed skeleton carrying a scythe. As a Grim Reaper, he is only a part of the universal Death, also known as Azrael. His jurisdiction is the Discworld, of course.
The witches are very different from the wizard, because their magic consists mostly of finding what makes everything else work … and they rarely do any magic anyway. Most of the time, they work hard, use common sense and their brand of psychology called headology.
d. City Watch
The City Watch is the police force of the city of Ankh-Morpork. Their stories center on Sam Vimes, a commander who loves his city and an incorruptible idealist who believes in justice. He is also a cynic.
e. Tiffany Aching
Tiffany is the sixth of the Aching children, and she is a young witch in training who started her career at 9.
f. Moist von Lipwig
Moist von Lipwig was a conman who was captured in Ankh-Morpork and was to be hanged. That’s when Lord Vetinari offered him a job as Ankh-Morpork’s Postmaster General. It’s his start on the road to respectability.
In a fictional universe like the Discworld, it’s no surprise to find short stories. All are available in the anthology A Blink of the Screen collecting almost all of Terry Pratchett’s short fiction work, set in the Discworld or not. If you only want Discworld short stories, read Once More* With Footnotes if you find it at a good price. It also contains articles and more.
There is probably more to add. If you have suggestions to complete these reading guide or if you find errors, tell me in the comment section. Thanks.