Discworld Reading Order: In What Order Should You Read Discworld?

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Terry Pratchett’s epic fantasy series, Discworld, transports readers into a magical land full of mystery, magic, and intrigue.

The stories take place on a flat planet, carried by four elephants, who are standing on the back of a turtle, floating through space. And although that world looks quite different from our own, Pratchett’s iconic books explore some very human themes against a fantastical backdrop.

Terry Pratchett wrote a total of 41 Discworld novels during his lifetime, and I’d recommend everyone, young and old, give this fantastic series a try. But with so many books, it’s hard to know where to start. There are actually a few different ways to approach Discworld, and I’m going to cover them all in this article. Which one you choose will depend on how many you want to read, how fast you read, and your own personal preferences.

Here are the 3 Ways for Discworld Reading Orders

#1. Read the Series in Chronological Order

Read the Series in Chronological Order

Many, if not most people, like to approach these books in the order they were written. The first book, The Color of Magic, was published in 1983, and the final book, The Sheperd’s Crown, was published in 2015, the same year the author sadly passed away.

Reading them in chronological order this way means you can be sure you don’t miss a thing; plus, it takes the guesswork out of which book to read next.

Here’s the full list of Discworld books in the order they were first published:

  1. The Colour of Magic
  2. The Light Fantastic
  3. Equal Rites
  4. Mort
  5. Sourcery
  6. Wyrd Sisters
  7. Pyramids
  8. Guards! Guards!
  9. Faust Eric
  10. Moving Pictures
  11. Reaper Man
  12. Witches Abroad
  13. Small Gods
  14. Lords and Ladies
  15. Men at Arms
  16. Soul Music
  17. Interesting times
  18. Maskerade
  19. Feet of Clay
  20. Hogfather
  21. Jingo
  22. The Last Continent
  23. Carpe Jugulum
  24. The Fifth Elephant
  25. The Truth
  26. Thief of Time
  27. The Last Hero
  28. The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
  29. Night Watch
  30. The Wee Free Men
  31. Monstrous Regiment
  32. A Hat Full of Sky
  33. Going Postal
  34. Thud!
  35. Wintersmith
  36. Making Money
  37. Unseen Academicals
  38. I Shall Wear Midnight
  39. Snuff
  40. Raising Steam
  41. The Shepherd’s Crown

#2. Begin with a Collection

Begin with a Collection

The list above is the traditional reading order, but many diehard fans of Pratchett’s work recommend that new readers began their Discworld journey with a collection. Most of the books in the series also form part of a subseries or collection that share the same theme or character arc.

The whole Discworld series can be broken down into the following collections:

1st. The City Watch Collection

These books all center around The City Watch, a police force in the city of Ankh-Morpork. We’re also introduced to the city patrician Lord Vetinari, along with a whole host of visiting characters from other story arcs in the series. The City Watch collection is a great place to start your Discworld reading journey, as there’s plenty of excellent character development, and the books are packed with exciting whodunit stories to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

There are eight books in The City Watch Collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • Guards! Guards!
  • Men At Arms
  • Feet of Clay
  • Jingo
  • The Fifth Elephant
  • Night Watch
  • Thud!
  • Snuff

2nd. The Rincewind Collection

These books all center around The City Watch, a police force in the city of Ankh-Morpork. We’re also introduced to the city patrician Lord Vetinari, along with a whole host of visiting characters from other story arcs in the series. The City Watch collection is a great place to start your Discworld reading journey, as there’s plenty of excellent character development, and the books are packed with exciting whodunit stories to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

There are eight books in The City Watch Collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • Guards! Guards!
  • Men At Arms
  • Feet of Clay
  • Jingo
  • The Fifth Elephant
  • Night Watch
  • Thud!
  • Snuff

3rd. The Witches Collection

The Witches collection stars the infamous Witches of Lancre, who practice their craft in the sleepy town in the rural Ramtop Mountains. This collection is home to one of the best-loved characters in the whole of Discworld; Granny Weatherwax. Each book explores themes of magic, monsters, fairy tale, and folklore.

There are six books in The Witches collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • Equal Rites
  • Wyrd Sisters
  • Witches Abroad
  • Lords and Ladies
  • Maskerade
  • Carpe Jugulum

4th. The Death Collection

This collection is all about the not-so-Grim Reaper and his trusty steed, a skeletal horse named Binky.

Although death isn’t invisible, most people can’t see him and refuse to acknowledge that he exists. He’s only visible to those with magical powers (and children and cats) under normal circumstances. But if your time is up, he insists on being seen.

Like most other Grim Reapers in literature, Terry Pratchett’s version wears a long black robe and carries a scythe with him at all times. The books in this series are packed with edge of your seat apocalyptic scenarios, as well as plenty of humorous and poignant metaphors about death and the afterlife.

There are five books in The Death collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • Mort
  • Reaper Man
  • Soul Music
  • Hogfather
  • Thief of Time

5th. The Moist von Lipwig Collection

The books in this collection center around the notorious traveling con-man Moist Van Lipwig. He’s a slippery character with very few distinguishing features, making it easy for him to disguise himself and get away with his crimes. He’s often tasked with improving and modernizing various institutions within the ever-evolving Discworld.

There are three books in The Moist van Lipwig collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • Going Postal
  • Making Money
  • Raising Steam

6th. The Tiffany Aching Collection

Tiffany Aching is a young witch in training who is forced to defend herself and her home from the monsters of Fairyland. But thankfully, she has her trusty frying pan and the Nac Mac Freegle to help her. Her character begins as a nine-year-old girl, and we follow her story throughout this collection until she’s a fully-fledged witch in her late teens, in the final ever book of the Discworld series, The Shepherd Crown.

There are five books in The Tiffany Aching collection, which are best read in the flowing order:

  • The Wee Free Men
  • A Hat Full of Sky
  • Wintersmith
  • I Shall Wear Midnight
  • The Shepherd’s Crown

#3. Pick a One-Off Book to Start With

Pick a One-Off Book to Start With

Most of us lead pretty busy lives, and as much as we’d love to, we can’t always dedicate ourselves to reading an entire series, at least not without sampling it first. So if you’re just looking to dip your toe in the Discworld waters before you commit, then the following books are the perfect place to start.

  • Guards! Guards!

This is the 8th novel in the Discworld series, but this accessible and addictive read is often the first book that Terry Pratchett fans will recommend to new readers.

The first book in The City Watch series, Guards! Guards! begins on the streets of Ankh-Morpork, where there’s an insurrection in the air. Captain Sam Vimes isn’t worried, but he should be; the battle between the Haves and the Have Nots is about to reach a crescendo that has never been seen before.

  • Mort

This book will give you a great overview of the various locations in Discworld and introduce you to some of his most famous and best-loved characters, including the one and only death. This earlier story is a witty, entertaining, and addictive read that’s sure to get you hooked.

  • Going, Postal

In Going Postal, the reader is introduced to everyone’s favorite con man, Moist Van Lipwig. It’s another humorous romp filled with page-turning excitement from beginning to end. It’s one of Pratchett’s most popular books and was even shortlisted for the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

  • Wyrd Sisters

Wyrd Sisters is the second book in the Witches collection, but if you’re looking for a one-off read, then this is a great way to get to know the fascinating characters of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. This theatrically written book is a story about stories with a Shakespearian twist.

  • Small Gods

This is an exhilarating tale of the Discworld dimension’s many fascinating gods, their competitive endeavors, and their often tricky interpersonal relationships.

This charmingly accessible book is one of the few standalone titles in the Discworld series, so it’s an excellent one to start with if you prefer not to miss any background information.

The Best Discworld Books for Children

The Best Discworld Books for Children

Introducing kids to Discworld is a wonderful way to get them interested in reading and give them the gift of exploring other worlds. Terry Pratchett’s writing encourages children to see life from a new perspective, getting them to challenge their assumptions, and think independently from a young age.

Most kids aged around eight years old and above are ready to enjoy the Discworld series, but some books are more challenging than others in terms of both reading level and theme.

That being said, any of the following Discworld books are a great choice to start off with for younger readers.

  1. The Wee Free Men
  2. A Hat Full of Sky
  3. Wintersmith
  4. I Shall Wear Midnight
  5. The Shepherd’s Crown
  6. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  7. The World of Poo
  8. Where’s My Cow

Conclusion

There are many different ways to read Terry Pratchett’s iconic Discworld series. A lot of people like to start at the beginning with The Color of Magic and work their way through in chronological order. Others like to focus on reading the collections, and some prefer to just pick one at random. However you approach your Discworld journey, you’re bound to get hooked to this epic fantasy adventure series.

What are your favorite Discworld books, and in what order did you read them? Let me know in the comments below!

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