Reading Corner: Discworld Books by Terry Pratchett

In writing this I tried to narrow down Terry Pratchett’s novels to a particular book, or even a particular strand of books. Whilst the current political climate drew me towards the Watch novels (in particular Night Watch), each time I thought I had distilled the series down to my favourite book, I remembered another brilliant part of a different book. That, I think, is the joy of the Discworld books – they are broad enough to suit all occasions. 

It would, of course, be wrong to say that all the books are equally good. Explaining continuity errors across the books, Pratchett admitted these were the result of him improving as an author and so deciding to change aspects of characterisation. Yet this development of writing style can also be an advantage. Pratchett improved as a writer, but also changed in tone, for his early books are exceptionally funny parodies of the fantasy genre, films and so on, whereas his later books focus more on serious satire. This means that you can reach for a brilliantly funny book which mildly makes fun of filmic expectations, or you can reach for a book – still laugh out loud comic at points – that is a serious examination of the police’s role within society.

This expanse of topic and approach is what brings me back to these books so often – for really it is not a series of books, but rather a world of interlinked series, connected just as tangentially as human history. Few other authors promise such a reliably relaxing reading experience. It helps that the fluid prose, honed by Pratchett’s time as a journalist, means his books can be devoured in a few frenzied hours. So, in this turbulent world, pick up one of his books and enjoy a range of fantasy in which good somehow always wins – even if it does leave you with a gentle but unrelentingly present feeling of what is wrong in this world.

– Ed Bedford

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