The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1999); audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (Isis, 2000) A relatively dour instalment that, uncharacteristically, loses a little upon re-reading. As per many City Watch stories, much rests upon Vimes’s world view (good) and a slow-burning mystery (muddled). The grating Fred Colon subplot serves only to highlight the paucity of humour.
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (Victor Gollancz, 1991); audiobook read by Nigel Planer (Isis, 1996) Lots of witchy dialogue ‘get the reference’ humour but overall a little too much icing, not enough cake. Nigel Planer’s Discworld audiobook readings are wonderful, but it’s a shame not to have had Celia Imrie continue her association with these all-female instalments.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2003); audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (Isis, 2003) Pratchett marries a senseless war with a young female protagonist of insight and independence, thereby taking aim at the way men in particular—and stupid people in general—make a mess of things. A droll standalone (albeit that Vimes makes a cameo).
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (Victor Gollancz, 1987); audiobook read by Celia Imrie (Isis, 1995) Not the most substantial of storylines, yet a key work in the development of the Discworld. Pratchett sets Rincewind aside in favour of the far richer character Granny Weatherwax. In so doing he makes societal change a serious part of his worldbuilding.
Soul Music by Terry Pratchett (Victor Gollancz, 1994); audiobook read by Nigel Planer (Isis, 1996) Though chock full of rock ‘n’ roll allusions and puns, Soul Music is a rarity amongst the Discworld novels in that it isn’t really about anything. Witty and imaginative and still amusing on a micro level, yes, but by Pratchett’s standards underwhelming.
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Colin Smythe, 1983); audiobook read by Nigel Planer (Isis, 1995) Pratchett’s first Discworld novel is a bubbling primordial soup of imagination. It sets the scene but at this burgeoning stage is less a crowning achievement in comedy and more the concomitant satire of a very funny man trying to write serious fantasy. …
Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2014); audiobook read by Penelope Keith & Michael Fenton Stevens (Isis, 2015) An accompaniment to the novel ‘Raising Steam’, this playful but not-particularly-funny imitation of the old Bradshaw’s Guides holds, unfortunately, no independent merit. Mrs Bradshaw is like a walk-on Discworld character whose tedious observations demand interruption… only she’s been given an entire…
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2004); audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (Isis, 2004) One of the more focussed Discworld novels, and all the better for it. Pratchett cannot help being funny but the humour here is less discursive than usual. Instead we have new characters, incisive social commentary, and a beguiling story of personal redemption.
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2003); audiobook read by Stephen Briggs (Isis, 2003) Behind all the humour, Pratchett sneaks in the quite moving story of a nine-year-old girl coping with loss. Tiffany Aching is a protagonist to watch out for, while Granny Aching is one of the finest characters ever to appear only in memory.
The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1998); audiobook read by Nigel Planer (Isis, 1999) One of the weaker Discworld novels. Pratchett makes suitably merry with intelligent design and the origins of (stereotyped) Australianism, but the Unseen University wizards are rather tiresome when employed as main characters and Rincewind’s exploits are equally belaboured. Funny but unusually pointless.