May’s Reading group: the novels of Terry Pratchett

To celebrate the life of this much-loved writer, we will be looking at the first book in the Discworld series, plus one other – the choice is yours

This month on the Reading group, we’re going to celebrate the life of Terry Pratchett the best way we can: by enjoying his novels. The only difficulty is deciding which of his books to look at. Pratchett wrote roughly two books a year for 30 years, and many of them are dearly beloved.

The obvious starting place is his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic. I’m going to read that over the next few days and I hope you’ll join me. It will be fascinating to discuss it here and see the foundations of what would become Terry Pratchett’s monument.

As plenty of people have already pointed out when I first mooted this idea, The Colour of Magic isn’t entirely representative of Pratchett’s writing. It’s rougher and more jagged than plenty of his subsequent books. It’s also largely about fantasy cliches, while many of the later books are about, well, everything. As a result, The Colour of Magic is fun, but it is not – to put it bluntly – as good. To properly understand Pratchett’s achievement, we’ll also have to look at another book. No hardship there; reading more than one Discworld novel is a pleasure rather than a burden. But the question still remains of which one to choose. I raised the issue a few weeks ago, but was given so many suggestions that I was more confused than enlightened. Happily, there’s a simple solution: let’s vote. Name your favourite Terry Pratchett book in the comments below; I’ll tot up the scores at the end of the week, and we’ll read the one with the most nominations over the coming month.

In the meantime, we have five copies of The Colour of Magic to give away to the first five readers in the UK to post “I want a copy please” – along with a vote or a nice, constructive comment relevant to Pratchett – in the comments section below. (We’ll have a giveaway of the other Pratchett book later in May.)

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the first to comment, don’t forget to email Laura Kemp with your address (laura.kemp@theguardian.com), as we can’t track you down ourselves. Be nice to her, too.

Finally, advance notice for June: we’ll be looking at Patricia Highsmith and The Talented Mr Ripley.

Contributor

Sam Jordison

The GuardianTramp

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