The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    It's still satire but of other things than classic Sword & Sorcery. Wyrd Sisters satirizes Shakespear, Carpe Jugulum satirizes Hammer movies and vampire stories, etc etc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    It's still satire but of other things than classic Sword & Sorcery. Wyrd Sisters satirizes Shakespear, Carpe Jugulum satirizes Hammer movies and vampire stories, etc etc.
    Oh, yes. Satire is definitely part of the story, but it plays a totally different role. The early books are defined by satire - story takes a back seat to the joke. Every character, every scene, every line exists to extend the joke. The later books are informed by satire. The plot is derived in response to an idea and, as a proper satire, takes the idea to absurd degrees to see where where the idea cracks. But the characters aren't part of the joke, they're players reacting to it. I'm not sure how to explain it. Like... take Witches Abroad, okay? It has a very clear theme. But Granny is Granny. She reacts to events the way Granny would. Some great jokes are told, and she has a part in them, but it's a Granny Weatherwax part. The theme exists, but it's the characters that shape the theme and not the theme that shapes the characters.

    Then take Color of Magic. Rincewind is the inverse of a hero forced into the role of a hero. Twoflower is a reversal of the wise traveler from afar. Herena the Henna Haired Harridan is a pointed jab at fantasy's rather blatant history of fan service (This barbarian heroine doesn't wear fetish leather armor, and she wears sensible boots! Sensible boots!). Cohen is the end point of extrapolating the barbarian hero cliche to it's logical conclusion. Every character is defined by the book's theme. They're not actors on the stage, they're set dressing. Even grand old Granny herself was defined by the theme of Equal Rites, as the sensible, earthy female counterpart to the haughty, disconnected wizards. Pratchett made good use of her afterwards, but her creation was in service to the story rather than the story existing to let her stand out.

    Now take Sam. Sam was created to fill a role in the themes of Guards! Guards!, to play the role of the bitter loser cursed with some modicum of dignity. However, Sam isn't a passive player in the story, or at least he doesn't stay that way. He gets mad. "If someone's going to burn my city to the ground, it's gonna be me, dammit!" He takes an active role in events. He plays the role he chooses rather than the role he was given, and the story is forced to bend to accommodate him. All he needed was one thing he'd lost long ago: an optimistic perspective.

    I hope this makes sense. It's so clear in my head, but it's hard to explain it so that it doesn't come off as semantics. Basically, the first few books were Satire with some characters in the background to give the Satire teeth, and the later books were character stories where the adventures they undertake are dripping with satire. It's all about where the emphasis is.

    Does that make sense?
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    The first few books aren't bad, but they're a little all over the place. The Night Watch 'series' is a good jumping on point overall, to be read in order: Guards! Guards! (book 8), Theatre of Cruelty (apparently? I've never read this one), Men At Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Thud!, and Snuff.

    Vimes is the closest the series comes to having a main character besides perhaps Death IMO.

    If you want more Rincewind, there's also Sourcerer and Interesting Times.
    Well, there's a bunch of sub-series to Discworld, each with it's own main protagonist or primary recurrig character. The protagonists include Rincewind, Vimes, Granny & Nanny, Death & Susan, Lu-Tze, Tiffany, and Moist.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    The first I read was Night Watch, because I loved the cover, though, as a starter, I can't say I recommend it, though I still love Sam Vimes a lot. Definitely a great example of curmudgeonly Lawful Good.
    I'd start with Reaper Man, myself. The early books were fun parodies of fantasy tropes, but not all that meaty. Repear Man got meaty, ironically in a way given that the main character happens to lack any.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    The Discworld series is an absolute favorite of mine.

    I think Sourcery is the last of the "Satire" era books, where Pratchett was focused on making fun of fantasy cliches. After Sourcery, his style lends more towards world building, where characters stop being one-off jokes and develop into consistent and coherent individuals that you can really follow. Different groups get different types of stories, so if you lean towards something you'll find particular characters really up your alley.

    Sourcery itself is pretty good, in my opinion, but you'll probably begin to notice the satire growing thin, with the focus shifting to the characters even as they make fun of old cliches.

    After Sourcery, well, I believe it gets infinitely better. Pratchett starts actually building the world, populating it with characters rather than one-off jokes. Esmerelda Weatherwax gets her coven, who really round her out and add up to great stories. We get the Night Watch, who develop over their books from the finest group of useless misfits you might care to root for into something that needs to be read to be believed. We get Susan, who... is Susan. And awesome. Rincewind stops being a focal character for the most part, but the books he leads are much better. We get the Auditors. We get a more sane University. And if you think Death is an interesting fellow now...

    Of the entire series, I think my personal favorites are Thief of Time and Night Watch. Thief of Time is just frickin' epic, pairing two of the greatest low-key badasses of the series against a threat nobody but them could even imagine. Night Watch, on the other hand, is a wonderfully personal story taking a personal favorite character of mine and putting them through a trial that puts everything they are and everything they believe to the test. After that, I'd say Carpe Jugulum, which also really puts its characters to the fire in order to show what they truly are. Runner ups would be Small Gods (an interesting book with long term consequences to the series) as well as Going Postal and Making Money (because I really love watching the main character when he's on his game).

    The weaker ones, I think, are Equal Rites (which doesn't really matter beyond introducing Granny), Pyramids (very good as a one-off, but doesn't add much overall), and Snuff (which at times drops clever parody for flat out preaching). I don't know if Faust Eric really should count, given its pedigree, but it isn't all that engaging, going back the old Satire days.

    That said, there are moments of pure gold in every book.
    There is a lot to that, even if I think I probably enjoy the Satire-era more than you do, but I feel there is also a sense that Pratchett abandoned a lot of the medieval/heroic fantasy trappings in favour of a sort of pseudo-Victorian/industrial revolution aesthetic from Soul Music on. Obviously tastes vary but personally I thought that was a shame. I like my Disc a bit more D&D and Conanesque and that really started to wane after Sourcery.

    Susan actually represents many of those issues in a microcosm but I can't really get into it without getting into spoiler territory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    https://www.lspace.org/main.html : a fan site with suggested reading order (not fully up to date) and also annotations and quotes (again, not completely up to date).
    Also a lot of the page numbers given in the annotations for the early books are from editions that I think may be out of print

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    The Discworld series is an absolute favorite of mine.
    This much, I agree with. Almost everything else in this post, I vehemently disagree with.

    Which is why it's a good idea just to read in publication order, and not listen too much to any other opinions until you've formed your own. And always remember, feel free to stop or take a break at any time. Even at his productive peak, Pratchett only published two books a year - so if you read them any faster than that, you're binging.
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    The only other real misses from the main body of his work would be Eric and Pyramids. Both enjoyable enough, but not on par with the other books he was writing at the time.
    Pyramids was the first one I read, and I loved it despite not actually really getting the ending. (The level of English in the books is pretty high for a non-native teenager, and the style of the stories encourages fast reading.) In fact I might have loved it so much precisely because it's such a self contained entry. But all the running and jumping certainly helps as well.

    If anything my least superfavorite entries are probably the man in the golden hat/Moist von Lipwig books. He certainly has his moments, but he's also a bit too much of a cheap con artist who doesn't seem to know what he's doing who constantly succeeds anyway to my taste. Compared to someone like Vimes his victories don't always feel earned.

    Although Pratchett did use this character to write change into Discworld, like he was working towards some sort of ending to the series, and that aspect comes out pretty interesting even despite his declining mental state while working on the later books.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    Although Pratchett did use this character to write change into Discworld, like he was working towards some sort of ending to the series, and that aspect comes out pretty interesting even despite his declining mental state while working on the later books.
    This is something that I always felt was going to happen, too. As the series went on...

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    ...Terry was writing in more and more anachronisms, getting further and further away from the medieval setting and out the other side of the Victorian era. It seemed to me to be only a matter of time until someone discovered electricity, at which point Ankh Morpork and all the other cities became "real world" cities.

    With the machine era in full swing, with the more mystical characters dying off, with the clacks being an equivalent to texting and so on, magic was slowly being removed from the world until it became... normal. And I think I mean that literally; Dwarfs and trolls would slowly stop being dwarf and trolls in the biological sense, and the wizards would slowly become just a normal - if eccentric - university, until the Discworld ended up right where it began in 1980's Britain, with the same subcultures thinly disguised as they battled the same social problems.


    Anyway. Discworld good, Alzheimer's bad; see rest of series for details. If you read Hogfather over Christmas, by the way, it gets a lot funnier - I try to do it every year, if I can.
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    I think the natural destination for that particular evolution in Discworld society would have been, at least from an aestetic and functional point of view, a steampunk alternative to our reality. This makes sense in light of the fact that our reality already coexists with the Discworld "in universe".. and sits in a snowglobe on a shelf somewhere at the UU. I think that if Pratchett had had the time, he would have brought together his "discworld science" books and the regular ones, and comparing the Discworld to our world would have become yet another in universe recurring theme, rather than "just" being the writer's guilty pleasure.
    What I wonder is how much input his assistant had on the form, style and content of the final books... but that's a question that will probably never find a satisfying answer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Also a lot of the page numbers given in the annotations for the early books are from editions that I think may be out of print
    That's quite possible, since a lot of these annotations date back to Usenet group alt.fan.pratchett started in the 90s (Terry himself was often on there in those days to add to discussions). So it's quite possible the page numbers are indeed from first editions, although I don't think they will be off by much.
    For me it's also less of an issue since I don't really look at the page numbers, knowing enough of the books to remember most of the lines (yes, I've reread them that often).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wraith View Post
    This is something that I always felt was going to happen, too. As the series went on...

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    ...Terry was writing in more and more anachronisms, getting further and further away from the medieval setting and out the other side of the Victorian era. It seemed to me to be only a matter of time until someone discovered electricity, at which point Ankh Morpork and all the other cities became "real world" cities.

    With the machine era in full swing, with the more mystical characters dying off, with the clacks being an equivalent to texting and so on, magic was slowly being removed from the world until it became... normal. And I think I mean that literally; Dwarfs and trolls would slowly stop being dwarf and trolls in the biological sense, and the wizards would slowly become just a normal - if eccentric - university, until the Discworld ended up right where it began in 1980's Britain, with the same subcultures thinly disguised as they battled the same social problems.
    While I'd personally have absolutely hated that direction, I think that seems pretty plausible.

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    Just reading Wyrd Sisters.
    Half way through, and I like it better than Equal Rites and Sourcery, so far.

    Granny Weatherwax is an awesome character :-D
    If not for being a grumpy selfish old lady (and a witch), we'd have a lot in common :-D

    I really like how she doesn't give a f*ck about what other people seem to be important for whatever reasons. Sure, then again she has some weird ideas of whats wrong and whats right on her own, but thats what Pratchet does right: protagonists need flaws to be likable!
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    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    This much, I agree with. Almost everything else in this post, I vehemently disagree with.

    Which is why it's a good idea just to read in publication order, and not listen too much to any other opinions until you've formed your own. And always remember, feel free to stop or take a break at any time. Even at his productive peak, Pratchett only published two books a year - so if you read them any faster than that, you're binging.
    Absolutely right. Chronological order is good. Not all the books will be winners, but you never know which ones will strike a chord with you. One person's favorite will be someone else's least, and one person's trash will be another's treasure. That's how life is in general, but it's doubly true on the Disc.
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    I just started getting into Pratchet. I read the first book and Mort and I'd like to read more, but from what I understand there's more than one main plotline, yes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSmith80 View Post
    I just started getting into Pratchet. I read the first book and Mort and I'd like to read more, but from what I understand there's more than one main plotline, yes?
    there isn't a main plotline. each book is self-contained. But time goes on and many characters are reprised in different stages of their lives. Today's Corporal in the Night Watch will be tomorrow's Sergeant and so on... Society also evolves and a technological advancement explored and plot-relevant in one book might become background and taken for granted later on. This tends to be rather minimal and shouldn't affect reader enjoyement in a negative way (at most you won't notice a joke or two)
    Reading them in publication order allows you to stay temporarily speaking on track and not miss the occasional inside-joke that might refer to staples of one or the other character that have been established in another book. That said, they're perfectly readable in whatever order... and plotwise each book really explores a separate theme (or multiples).
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSmith80 View Post
    I just started getting into Pratchet. I read the first book and Mort and I'd like to read more, but from what I understand there's more than one main plotline, yes?
    Quote Originally Posted by dehro View Post
    there isn't a main plotline. each book is self-contained. But time goes on and many characters are reprised in different stages of their lives. Today's Corporal in the Night Watch will be tomorrow's Sergeant and so on... Society also evolves and a technological advancement explored and plot-relevant in one book might become background and taken for granted later on. This tends to be rather minimal and shouldn't affect reader enjoyement in a negative way (at most you won't notice a joke or two)
    Reading them in publication order allows you to stay temporarily speaking on track and not miss the occasional inside-joke that might refer to staples of one or the other character that have been established in another book. That said, they're perfectly readable in whatever order... and plotwise each book really explores a separate theme (or multiples).
    Agreed. Think of it as one series with multiple threads, each with their own style and focus. Rincewind has his books, where he fumbles his way to victory by trying to run away from the fight. The Night Watch has their books, where they struggle to go from a vestigial gang of losers into a genuine police force in an odd cross between a police procedural and the Police Academy movies. Granny has her books, where she and her coven match their talents against various kinds of power. Susan has her books, where she deals with the collision between mythology and common sense. The University has their books, where they deal with Wild Ideas as they wreak havoc on the Disc. Then there's Moist von Lipwig, a conman who learns the greatest con of all time is civil service.

    And they do intertwine, a little. The effects of Small Gods is seen frequently in books following it, such as in the characters of Visit and Oats. Pratchett lamented more than once that it was hard to write stories in Ankh-Morpork after a while because the Watch would be obliged to steal the show. Death shows up everywhere, including a couple more books of his own. Then there are other characters, such as the Canting Crew, who never take main stage but play a role in a number of books.
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  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    That's quite possible, since a lot of these annotations date back to Usenet group alt.fan.pratchett started in the 90s (Terry himself was often on there in those days to add to discussions). So it's quite possible the page numbers are indeed from first editions, although I don't think they will be off by much.
    For me it's also less of an issue since I don't really look at the page numbers, knowing enough of the books to remember most of the lines (yes, I've reread them that often).
    I remember them being off from the edition I had. Though, as you said, they remain useful even without the oage numbers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    I hope this makes sense. It's so clear in my head, but it's hard to explain it so that it doesn't come off as semantics. Basically, the first few books were Satire with some characters in the background to give the Satire teeth, and the later books were character stories where the adventures they undertake are dripping with satire. It's all about where the emphasis is.

    Does that make sense?
    Actually, the TCOM wasn't satire, but parody (of four specific genres, corresponding to the four parts of the book), and TLF was a general parody of fantasy (or, indeed, a straight fantasy). The satire started to dominate with Equal Rites, and was in full swing a few books later once Pratchett found his feet.
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    Sourcery

    This thread became quite lively! Thanks for your interest and thoughts, everyone!

    In any case, I finished "Sourcery" today... It's not as good as "Mort", but it's still a very fun read. I like the premise, but it's Rincewind's fumbling cowardice and (VERY) reluctant heroism that steal the show... It's not quite as funny as the other Rincewind appearances, but it's definitely better written. The first two books made me laugh but they feel like a flow of mostly random, unconnected events, while "Sourcery" has a definite plot and story structure.

    Rincewind companions are a blast, as usual. Conina and Nijel are very entertaining, and of course, who could not love The Luggage? And everything about the four horsemen was hilarious! Not to mention The Librarian, who could probably have a book of his own!

    But it's near the end that the book becomes really intense and Rincewind's character truly shines!

    I love how he decides to fight the Sourcerer even though he has no chance of winning. I love how he goes on to do it armed with nothing but a brick in a sock. I love how he immediately gives up on the idea, not out of fear... But because he sees the Sourcerer is just a kid. I love how he sacrifices himself to save said kid. I love how he does it not with words of inspiring bravery, but of begrudging acceptance of his fate... Most of all, I love how he seemingly gives up on the idea of controlling his own life, and kind accepts that his existence will always be pestered by danger and adventure... And that some times, even a coward gotta do what he gotta do.

    Another great book from Sir Pratchett. Not his finest work, but still a top quality story!

    Next is "Wyrd Sisters". I'm told Granny Weatherwax returns in this book... So here's hoping she has a major share of the spotlight. She was by far and away the best part of "Equal Rites"!
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    Wyrd Sisters is great.

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    Glad you liked Sourcery Lemmy! While I'd agree it's not absolute top tier I think it is underrated and aside from being funny it is surprisingly emotionally effective at times. Quite honestly I was rooting for Rincewind and Conina to get together.

    It also basically peak 'Heroic Fantasy'-era Dicworld, which as I've said before always held a lot more charm for me than the pseudo-Victorian Discworld that shows up later, even if I concede there is a lot about the later books that is probably objectively better.

    Anyway enjoy Wyrd Sisters! I liked it a lot, and I think you will too!

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    Yep, Granny is a major player in Wyrd Sisters. She gets two sidekicks (because witches are better in threes), but Granny is the star of the show. It's not my favorite of the Witches books, probably the worst outside of Equal Rites. But it's still on the top half of the list, because the Witches books are consistently great. Word of warning, though: Wyrd Sisters draws heavily off of Shakespeare, so the more you know about his plays, the funnier the book is.

    And, yeah, Rincewind's clash against Coin is superb for its subtle bravery and raw humanity. It gets referenced in a later book, too. During a heated debate between wizards, one of onlookers notes that the last time this happened it took Rincewind with a brick in his sock to save the day. When the argument calms down, he looks over at Rincewind to find him struggling to quietly put his sock back on.

    And his grudging acceptance of his fate is definitely funny. And it makes sense, seeing as he met his patron goddess at the end of Color of Magic. With the Lady at your back, you might as well just give up and hope you survive the ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    HalfOrcPirate

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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Always good to see another fan in the making, I do have one stupid nitpick though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lemmy View Post
    Sir Pratchett
    That should be Sir Terry.
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  25. - Top - End - #55
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Lvl 2 Expert's Avatar

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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Androgeus View Post
    Always good to see another fan in the making, I do have one stupid nitpick though.



    That should be Sir Terry.
    Although I'm sure he'd have been humored by "Sir Terry of Pratchett, Lord of the Disc, High Patrician of Ankh-Morpork".
    The ultimate OOTS cookie cutter nameless soldier is the hobgoblin.

  26. - Top - End - #56
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    Although I'm sure he'd have been humored by "Sir Terry of Pratchett, Lord of the Disc, High Patrician of Ankh-Morpork".
    You could just say Terry, especially if you arrive with a drink for him in your hand.

    Anyway, back to Wyrd Sisters. indeed, it runs heavily on Shakespeare and I also agree that it's not the best of the Witches books (for me that's Witches Abroad) but it has a lot of preparations for the later books in it like the relationships between the witches and what will happen later with Magrat also started here (I'm not going to elaborate to avoid spoilers).
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  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Mightymosy's Avatar

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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by farothel View Post
    You could just say Terry, especially if you arrive with a drink for him in your hand.

    Anyway, back to Wyrd Sisters. indeed, it runs heavily on Shakespeare and I also agree that it's not the best of the Witches books (for me that's Witches Abroad) but it has a lot of preparations for the later books in it like the relationships between the witches and what will happen later with Magrat also started here (I'm not going to elaborate to avoid spoilers).
    Witches Abroad is awesome. It contains my favourite moment in the series so far, but I dont want to spoil it for people :-)
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  28. - Top - End - #58
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Good Omens made me an atheist.

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    My favorite Witches book is Lords and Ladies, so many good Magrat moments... Unless we count Tiffany's books, since The Wee Free Men is one of my top-tier PTerry books.

  30. - Top - End - #60
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Reading Discworld!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mightymosy View Post
    Witches Abroad is awesome. It contains my favourite moment in the series so far, but I dont want to spoil it for people :-)
    I'm spoiled for choice as to which moment that is:
    Spoiler: Great Moments in Witches Abroad
    Show

    * I want an alligator sandwich and make it snappy.
    * Nanny and her new friend comparing familiars.
    * Saturday going all out.
    * Fun tricks with Voodoo and Headology.
    * Finding the real you. (Right here. Duh.)
    * Nanny and the Errant Farmhouse.
    * Puss in Boots, the Mature Edition.
    * Magrat and the Snakes.
    * Nanny's letters home.
    * Cripple Mister Onion.
    * A Cameo by Gollum.
    * The raw and repeated jabs at popular fairy tales.
    * Genua represented as a two layer cross between Disney World and New Orleans.


    Man, that was a great book. Still rank it under Lords and Ladies and Carpe Jugulum, but it's a rapid fire blast of great moments.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

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