What I've read lately

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Mon Jan 27 13:07:47 EST 2003

On Mon, 27 Jan 2003 23:07:12 +1100, Abe Gross wrote:

>A last question to everyone in general (though of course, everyone feel free
>to comment on the above!): if you'd never read a single Pratchett, like me,
>what book would you start with?

Don't start with ANYTHING before _Moving Pictures_.  Fortunately for you,
Pratchett's books list his previous works in publication order, not anything
useless like alphabetical order, so if you find _Night Watch_ on the shelf
you can use that list as a guide.

Robyn and I differ in our opinions as to where Pratchett's style started
changing--actually, it's more that I think it changed twice, the second time
for me being one that Robyn and I agree on.  At any rate, I'd actually say
to start with one of the first books of the mini-series.  The standalone
books are good too, but I think Pratchett has more invested in the
longer-running stories, and they're no more difficult to get into than the
standalone novels.  HOWEVER.  When I say "first" stories, I'm ignoring the
ones that came before _Moving Pictures_.  Here's all you need to know about
the various storylines from those earlier books:

Witches:  Granny Weatherwax is a witch.  She has two witch friends in her
coven, Nanny Ogg (mother of a vast clan) and Magrat Garlick (an unfortunate
wilted sort who in our world would be a failed New Ager).  Women are
witches.  Men are wizards.  Granny Weatherwax is the best of the best.
Start with _Witches Abroad_--excellent Cinderella story.

Death: Death adopted a human daughter and took a human apprentice, and
naturally those two got married.  He has a servant named Albert and a white
horse named Binky.  He is very fond of cats.  Over the course of the series,
Death is trying to learn how to become human; the reasons for this are
explained over time.  Start with _Reaper Man_, which is one of the more
powerful novels in the series.

Rincewind:  Rincewind is the most inept wizard ever.  He has a walking
monster called the Luggage which is made of sapient pearwood and therefore
smarter than Rincewind.  Most of the earliest books are Rincewind stories
and can be missed, though there are a number of minor characters you should
know about (i.e. Twoflower, the tourist from the Agatean Empire who gave
Rincewind the Luggage, and Cohen the Barbarian, who is well over a hundred
years old and possibly unkillable).  Start with _Interesting Times_, which
is about the Agatean Empire, similar to ancient China.

City Guards:  This is my favorite.  Probably.  I change my mind a lot.  The
Night Guard had a terrible and well-deserved reputation, and in the first
book there were only three of them.  Carrot, a human boy raised by dwarves,
comes to the city; his tremendous honesty, earnestness, and naivete end up
transforming the Guard and allowing its Captain to regain his self-respect.
Carrot is apparently the long-lost heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork, but
doesn't want the job.  At the beginning of _Men at Arms_, Captain Vimes is a
recovering alcoholic about to marry the damsel he rescued from a dragon in
the first book, and the Guard is dealing with a new affirmative action
policy implemented by the Patrician.  The Patrician, who more or less rules
the city, defies description, but "Machiavellian" is a good adjective.

Glad to hear you liked _Kavalier and Clay_, Ros!  And, um, did I happen to
mention that my opinion of _Jenna Starborn_ exactly matches yours?  My
thought was, "What exactly was the point of writing this?  If I wanted to
read _Jane Eyre_ I would have done that."  Bah.  Too bad, because I think
Sharon Shinn is a pretty good writer overall.

Melissa Proffitt

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