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.
Johnny and the Bomb by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1996); audiobook read by Richard Mitchley (BBC Audiobooks, 1997) Pratchett gifts middle-grade readers the perfect introduction to time travel, albeit that his mid-1990s ‘now’ is itself receding into history, in rapid pursuit of the Second World War ‘then’. Thought-provoking and wryly funny, with memorable characters and a rich vein of dialogue. …
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).
Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 1993); audiobook read by Richard Mitchley (Chivers, 2001) Inspired by the real-life selling off of cemeteries in Westminister, Pratchett brings back middle-grade protagonist Johnny Maxwell (Only You Can Save Mankind) in this droll commentary on modern society (as it was in 1993) and earnest entreaty that history’s value be recognised.
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.