I'm new to Terry Pratchett and want to get into Discworld. Is there any order to read them in? I picked one of the shelf randomly and I'm really interested in stories with Tiffany Aching.
So, as a disclaimer, before I scare you away: it is part of Discworld fandom tradition to present newcomers with the Reading Flowchart.
It is also part of Discworld fandom tradition to help the Fandom Newbie find an order of reading tailored Specifically For You, because, Newcomer, we’re your own personal reading assistant.
As you probably know, the Discworld books are separated into series based on which sets of characters appear in them - so you have the Witches, the City Guards, Death & Co., Rincewind and Tiffany Aching, along with a bunch of standalones.
The books can be read in any order - either by publishing order or series order, or just randomly choosing one with your eyes closed and going from there. I personally had no order in which I read them. After two kind of lukewarm experiences (Moving Pictures and Reaper Man) I decided to try again and just picked up the one that was the thickest and went from there. It was Jingo and then I read Thief of Time and Night Watch, then Feet of Clay and then Guards! Guards! and then Men at Arms.
NO CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, WE GET CONFUSED LIKE MEN.
If you like the Tiffany Aching books, you should definitely check out the rest of the Witches series (starting with Wyrd Sisters -> Witches Abroad -> Lords and Ladies -> Carpe Jugulum), because Granny and Nanny both make appearances in the TA books, and they help establish The Meaning of Witching. (The Tiffany Aching books technically take place after the last Witches book, Carpe Jugum, but I’ve always enjoyed Tiff on her own and reading the Witches books alongside that. )
From the witches, most people move onto Death & Co. or Rincewind.
What next? What’s after that? The series sprawls 40-something books, that’s a lot of options, right?
The flowchart I linked to is kind of outdated though, and also doesn’t give you any idea about how jump from one series to another.
So…I made a new one.
I know this looks overwhelming. Let me explain the legend of this thing.
The dotted lines are non-essential connections, in that they’re short stories or tie-in books. I know I threw Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic under a bus there, but they are generally considered the weakest books - this was before any solid worldbuilding.
The deep green arrows are pretty straightforward - sometimes one book links to another, even though they’re not in the same series. For example, Thief of Time has a Plot Event that kickstarts the story of Night Watch, even though they have two completely (almost) separate sets of characters. The Lords and the Ladies deal with elves, which we see more of in Wee Free Men.
The orange lines are Gateway books, meaning that from there you can easily jump from series to another because of connecting themes or characters.
For example, if you start with Tiffany Aching and the Witches, you’ve been in the countryside of Lancre the whole time - until you get to Maskerade, which takes place in the city of Ankh-Morporkh. That’s a good way to get into the City Watch and Industrial Revolution-themed books, because it’s an introduction to big city life from the point view of one of its characters. So you can continue with the Witches series after Maskerade, or you can hop onto either the City Guards series or to The Truth and the Moist von Lipwig series.
The red ones are thematically connected books. Small Gods deals with belief and religion on the Disc, and the creation of god, god-like and sacrilegious figures, which is a theme that crops up repeatedly - like in Hogfather, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, Snuff, Going Postal. Pyramids deals with succession crisis, which becomes a recurring theme in Men at Arms, even though they’re set thousands of years apart. The same goes for Moving Pictures, The Truth and Going Postal - the first two are standalone books, but they deal with urban development of Ankh Morporkh, despite having different sets of characters.
Again, I want to stress that you don’t have to follow this at all. You can easily pick up a random book from the Tiffany Aching series and go in whichever direction you want - this isn’t Star Wars, where you have to slog through 3 badly-directed movies to get the gist of the story. The books are brilliant in their own right - some of the earlier ones are hit-and-miss, but the later ones are generally considered to be quite enjoyable.
It’s just that all books contain a call-back two to an earlier book - which can be easy to miss if you’re not reading in the right order. A lot also have interconnecting themes and cameos, which can be really delightful to find.
So that is why we write several-paragraph-long essays.
And if you’re still here, and I haven’t scared you off yet….go forth and read.
(Disclaimer: I have not read any of the Rincewind books, except for Interesting Times, which didn’t really impress me. I’m open to opinions on those books, however)