How to Read the Discworld Books in Order
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is iconic within the fantasy genre, but with 41 novels set within this series, what is the best Discworld reading order?
There are multiple ways to approach the series, so it can be overwhelming to know where to start. We have presented three ways to read the Discworld books in order in this article, so you can determine which option is best for you.
A Preview of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld
In the beginning, there was a turtle.
Standing on the back of this giant star turtle are four elephants and atop the backs of the four elephants is the flat, circular Discworld.
This is the setting for Terry Pratchett’s adored series, which is estimated to have sold more than 85 million copies and been translated into 37 languages.
Pratchett wrote 41 novels set within this world before his death in 2015 and his legacy lives on through his beloved books. His final Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown, was published posthumously. Some fans have even refrained from reading this final book to keep one unread Pratchett novel on their shelves.
Fans adore this world which balances on the backs of four elephants atop a giant turtle. Even though the Discworld setting is much different from our own, the series explores incredibly human issues, such as feminism, social disparity, and relationships.
Pratchett does all of this while transporting the reader into a world full of magic, mystery, and intrigue. He balances humor with sincerity which results in beautifully evocative writing. These books are perfect for readers both young and old.
Three Ways to Help you Decode the Discworld Reading Order
#1. Any Reading Order You Would Like
The first way you can approach the Discworld reading order is in whatever order you choose. This option is a bit chaotic, but if that’s how you best enjoy your books, it is totally possible to read the Discworld books in order of your choosing.
So much so that there is even a Discworld book generator available on Terry Pratchett’s website. The book generator will let you choose a few specifications from a list before recommending a book that fits your interests.
This might be a beneficial reading order for you if there are one or two books you desperately have been wanting to read, but you don’t have the time to commit to reading the entirety of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld bibliography.
Almost all of the books in the Discworld series can be read as standalones as they are self-contained stories. The exception to this generalization is The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. These are the first two Discworld books Pratchett published and are best enjoyed back-to-back as the books follow on directly from one another.
So, if you are looking to dip into the Discworld waters before committing to reading everything, check out our book summaries at the end of this article to see if there is something that catches your eye.
#2. Discworld Books in Order by Publication
However, if the thought of reading 41 books in any order of your choosing fills you with anxiety, you might prefer to read the Discworld series in order of publication. Reading these books in their publication order ensures you do not miss any, plus it makes it easy to know which book to read next.
This reading order will also allow you to appreciate the continuity throughout the series, see Terry Pratchett’s growth and development from each book, and also experience the series like many Discworld fans first did.
- The Color of Magic (1983)
- The Light Fantastic (1986)
- Equal Rites (1987)
- Mort (1987)
- Sourcery (1988)
- Wyrd Sisters (1988)
- Pyramids (1989)
- Guards! Guards! (1989)
- Eric (1990)
- Moving Pictures (1990)
- Reaper Man (1991)
- Witches Abroad (1991)
- Small Gods (1992)
- Lords and Ladies (1992)
- Men at Arms (1993)
- Soul Music (1994)
- Interesting Times (1994)
- Maskerade (1995)
- Feet of Clay (1996)
- Hogfather (1996)
- Jingo (1997)
- The Last Continent (1998)
- Carpe Jugulum (1998)
- The Fifth Elephant (1999)
- The Truth (2000)
- Thief of Time (2001)
- The Last Hero (2001)
- The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents (2001)
- Night Watch (2002)
- The Wee Free Men(2003)
- Monstrous Regiment (2003)
- A Hat Full of Sky (2004)
- Going Postal (2004)
- Thud! (2005)
- Wintersmith (2006)
- Making Money (2007)
- Unseen Academicals (2007)
- I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)
- Snuff (2011)
- Raising Steam (2013)
- The Shepherd’s Crown (2015)
#3. Discworld Reading Order by Collection
Finally, the third Discworld reading order is to read the books in order of collection. While most of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books can be read as standalones, they all take place in the same universe and share characters. Many of the books in this series can be sub-categorized into collections that follow the same group of characters.
1st Collection: The Rincewind
Firstly, we have The Rincewind collection, which is where it all began. This collection includes the first Discworld books Terry Pratchett ever wrote. As previously mentioned, this series contains the only two books in the series that really should be read consecutively as the main story arc continues from the first book into the second.
This collection features Twoflower, who is a tourist to the Discworld, and his wizard guide, Rincewind.
2nd Collection: The City Watch
The next collection is about the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.
Ankh-Morpork is the mercantile capital of the Discworld, but also corrupt and polluted. The series follows the trials and tribulations the City Watch go through while they attempt to maintain law and order in the city. At the start of this collection insurrection looms over the city as the Haves and the Have-Nots prepare to fight once more.
3rd Collection: The Witches
Of all the characters in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg are some of the most beloved by fans. This collection follows their antics and adventures.
The first book opens with a dying wizard trying to pass his powers onto an eighth son of an eighth son being born. However, it is discovered a bit too late that the son is actually a daughter. So, the town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch.
4th Collection: The Death
Even on the Discworld Death has a job to do, and this next collection introduces us to Pratchett’s hilarious version of Death.
In the first book Death presents Mort, a human, with a lucrative job offer: Become Death’s apprentice. Thankfully being dead isn’t a requirement for the job. The position seems perfect, until Mort meets Death’s daughter and realizes the job can be a killer on his love life.
5th Collection: The Moist Von Lipwig
The fifth collection on our list follows Moist Van Lipwig as he is forced to walk the straight-and-narrow.
A swindler, Moist is hanged to within an inch of his life for his crimes. Then, with a noose tightly around his neck, he drops through a trapdoor and into a government job. Now Moist must revamp Ankh-Morpork’s Postal Service to get it running once more and along the way he finds himself starting to care.
6th Collection: The Tiffany Aching
The final collection on our list is about Tiffany Aching. She is a witch-in-training who wields a trusty frying pan, her common sense, and the Wee Free Men.
The first book in the collection introduces us to Tiffany, who is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and her home. In an attempt to rescue her brother she goes into Fairyland and allies herself with the Nac Mac Feegle. Otherwise known as the Wee Free Men.
Discworld Books Summary
Now that you have a few options on where you might want to begin, here is a sneak peek into the first ten books in the series. The books listed below come from a variety of collections and also feature standalones. So, even if you’re still uncertain which Discworld reading order to choose, these books might help with your selection.
1. The Color of Magic
In the beginning there was…a turtle.
Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld. It is a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but it looks completely different.
Especially since it’s carried through space on the back of a giant turtle.
It also plays by different rules. But then, some things are the same everywhere. The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: The world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land.
Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…
2. The Light Fantastic
As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero.
What it doesn’t need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world. Or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own.
Which is a shame, because that’s all there is…
3. Equal Rites
They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not half so bad as a lot of ignorance.
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son.
Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic and misogynistic world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son.
Because everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now that it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it.
Death comes to us all, but when he came to Mort, he offered him a job.
Death is the Grim Reaper of the Discworld, a black-robed skeleton carrying a scythe who must collect a minimum number of souls in order to keep the momentum of dying, well…alive. He is also fond of cats and endlessly baffled by humanity.
Soon Death is yearning to experience what humanity really has to offer. But to do that, he’ll need to hire some help.
And it’s an offer Mort can’t refuse. As Death’s apprentice he’ll have free board, use of the company horse – and being dead isn’t compulsory. It’s a dream job – until Mort falls in love with Death’s daughter, Ysabell, and discovers that your boss can be a killer on your love life…
Once there was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, naturally, a wizard and there it should have ended. However, for reasons we’d better not go into, he had seven sons of his own.
But then he had an eighth son, a wizard squared, a source of magic: A Sourcerer.
Unseen University, the most magical establishment on the Discworld, has finally got its wish: The emergence of a wizard more powerful than they’ve ever seen. You’d think the smartest men on the Disc would have been a little more careful what they wished for.
As the drastic consequences of sourcery begin to unfold, one wizard holds the solution in his cowardly, incompetent hands. Rincewind must take the University’s most precious artefact, the very embodiment of magic itself, and deliver it halfway across the Disc to safety…if he doesn’t make it, the death of all wizardry is at hand. And also the end of the world, depending who you listen to.
6. Wyrd Sisters
Three witches – Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick – have gathered on a lonely heath. A king has been cruelly murdered, and his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. An infant heir and the crown of the kingdom are also both missing…
Witches don’t have these kinds of dynastic problems themselves – in fact, they don’t have leaders.
Despite this, Granny Weatherwax is the most highly regarded of these non-existent leaders. But even she is about to find that meddling in royal politics is a lot more complicated than certain playwrights would have you believe…
“Look after the dead,” said the priests, “and the dead will look after you.”
Wise words in all probability, but it’s a tall order when, like Pteppic, you have just become the pharaoh of a small and penniless country rather earlier than expected. It’s hard to fulfil your obligations to the ancestors with a depleted treasury that is unlikely to stretch to the building of a monumental pyramid to honour your dead father.
He’d had the best education money could buy of course, but unfortunately the syllabus at the Assassins’ Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not cover running a kingdom and basic financial acumen…
8. Guards! Guards!
Insurrection is in the air in the city of Ankh-Morpork, because the Haves and Have-Nots are about to fall out all over again.
Captain Sam Vimes of the city’s ramshackle Night Watch is used to this, and it’s enough to drive a man to drink. Well, that is, to drink more. But this time, something is different – the Have-Nots have found the key to a dormant, lethal weapon that even they don’t fully understand, and they’re about to unleash a campaign of terror on the city.
So it’s time for Captain Vimes to sober up…
Eric calls up a demon to grant him three wishes, but what he gets is the Discworld’s most incompetent wizard…
He’s the Discworld’s only demonology hacker. But the trouble is, Eric’s not very good at it. All he wants is the usual three wishes: To be immortal, rule the world, and have the most beautiful woman fall madly in love with him.
But what he gets is Rincewind, the Disc’s most incompetent wizard, and Rincewind’s Luggage (the world’s most dangerous travel accessory) into the bargain.
10. Moving Pictures
Cameras roll, for the first time, on the Discworld when alchemists discover the excitement of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill? As the clichés of Tinsel Town pour into the world, it’s up to the Disc’s first film stars to find out…
Join Victor Tugelbend and Theda Withel as they battle the forces of evil and cinema advertising. Because they’re about to discover that the magic of the silver screen might be powerful enough to put an end to, well, everything.
So there you have three ways you can approach the Discworld reading order. We hope this article has helped you decide how to experience this world for yourself. Of course, whichever way you approach the Discworld books, you are bound to understand why so many love this fantasy world full of exciting adventure.
What Discworld reading order are you using or have you used? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more books in order?
Check out our list of The Dresden Files Books in Order