The Failure to Enjoy Terry Pratchett

For many years I have heard people I know, and whom I think tend to have similar taste to myself, say how funny the Discworld novells by Terry Pratchett are. Due to this I have multiple times tried picking up ‘The Color of Magic’ hoping to find it very funny. Instead each time I find the book extremely dull and boring. Neither creating ‘funny’ setence-words from the phonetics of the words like insurance or economics or a world whose concepts tries to be funny by outdoing absurdity itself really ever get me to laugh, hardly even smile.

So I guess Terry Prachett will continue to be an undiscovered ‘gem’ for me.

20 thoughts on “The Failure to Enjoy Terry Pratchett

  1. I have also found Terry Pratchett less fantastic than people have been claiming. However, Good Omens, which he wrote with Neil Gaiman is very good and very funny.

    I would suggest picking up this book.

  2. I would suggest not starting with his first book. He was very much trying out the genre at the time, so environment and characters are all very rough and unfinished, and so it is not one of the better ones.

    I’d start with either “Men at Arms” or perhaps “Wyrd Sisters”; both introduce some of the most enduring characters in that world.

  3. Also, you might want to try Going Postal, a mostly self contained novel (it hits on a few of the characters from other series in the Discword books, but is not a series itself). I found it to be a great starting point.

  4. I’ll second Janne here, and say: don’t judge PTerry from “The Colour of Magic”. It’s not really Pratchett at his best… hell, it’s not Pratchett at his average!

    Good books to start reading Pratchett are Mort, Wyrd Systers or Guards! Guards!.

    And he gets better and better, contrary to most authors that fire up their best in the first 1-3 books and then just dwindle, rehashing the same stuff over and over.

  5. I agree with your friends about Pratchett in general: he’s very funny.

    I also agree with you about “the colour of magic” and his other first book (whose name escapes me): they’re worth ignoring.

    FWIW, my first exposure to him was “witches abroad”, one of many I’d recommend.

  6. I like Pratchetts writing, not because it’s very funny in the first books (it’s really not), but because it is a very accurate, insightful and sometimes disturbing mirror on our world and our society. The puns, the crazy happenings and oddball characters are just thin mascara on top of some pretty profound insights.

    I do agree that you should not start with the first books whether you want fun puns or real insight; they aren’t representative for what comes later, and you can always read them later for completeness, as they are fast to skim.

    Also, check out the “Science of Discworld” books, for some real science beautifully explained with both facts and humour. Actually, starting with those books probably will make you read the “fiction” ones with much better eyes. :)

  7. I agree: don’t start with ‘The Colour of Magic’. TP was just getting going & he improves rapidly through the first three books or so. If you want to find out whether Pratchett is for you or not (and he might not be, but you won’t know until you’ve read one of the decent ones) then I’d try one of the later ‘standalones’: ‘Small Gods’ perhaps. ‘Guards Guards’ is another good start point…

  8. I agree with what most commenters so far have said. Especially Pratchett’s newer works are much more serious than his early works and have a real storyline. One book that got me real hooked was “Night Watch”, which features a tense, dark storyline, a real page turner for me.

  9. Lots of people have already said this, but the first two books,The Colour of Magic, and The Light Fantastic, are definitely different from the rest. Some people like these two. Some don’t. I’m in the latter category. Everybody likes the rest, you included. Trust me.

  10. I agree with the others that if you don’t like The Colour of Magic or The Light Fantastic, you might want to try another book of the series. But if you don’t like those either, please find something else to read.

    Personally, I love Terry Pratchett. The Discworld series is not as good as Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; but it’s pretty damn good. (Although one shouldn’t read one Discworld novel after the other, as the humour is sometimes a bit repetetive.)

    However, I am not evangelisising anything I love. There’s no point in trying to convert people into liking something they don’t like, simply because I do. Let’s just conclude our tastes differ, and leave it at that. The world would be so much less fun if everybody loved or hated the same things (and/or the same persons).

    Now, let’s go back to collectively hating Microsoft ;-)

  11. Try to replace word ‘wizard’ with word ‘programmer’ while reading his books… ;-)

  12. Personally I think that the more you read Pratchett the more you enjoy it. Try to read some other books (myself I like the best the City Watch – for example Guards! Guards! My first book was “Feet of Clay”).

    And, after all, nobody have to enjoy his books…

  13. One more me too, with an addendum – pick one of his later books, just not Eric, The Last Hero, or (especially) The Lost Continent, because they’re crap. Most anything else you should be good with, but especially Guards! Guards! or Men At Arms.

  14. Hi Christian,

    I felt the same about those first books, I’ve read them all this year.

    I think we have going postal in the office so you could try that one. I haven’t found any of them laugh out loud funny which is a shame but I do miss the world now that I don’t currently have a Pratchett book to read.


  15. From Mort on is where the series really started to get good. With possibly the exception of Moving Pictures, which I really didn’t like. I think it was somehting to do with the way the wizards were portrayed.

    Good books to start with IMO:
    Guards! Guards!
    Small Gods

    The City Watch books, which began with Guards! Guards! are all really great.

  16. Yes, Color of Magic is boring, and the Rincewind character is simply flat. I ignored this author for ten years because of this character.

    Thankfully, Pratchett has really evolved during his career, and also thankfully, the first book of him I picked up after these ten years was ‘Monstrous Regiment’, and the excellent ‘Thud!’ after that.

    So: The City Watch books are his best; especially ‘Thud!’ and ‘Night Watch’. I also recommend all his ‘death’ books, like ‘Mort’ and especially those with his daughter, Susan Death, in themk, like ‘Hogfather’.

    In all, you Pratchett has produced absolutely brilliant books as well as rather bland ones. Not so unusual for an author.

    Check out this overview:

  17. Try Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal or Guards Guards and you will love Pratchett. I warn you though, once you’ve read two or three of them you cant stop until you have every single one of them. I ve read some of them in two languages (one even in three – english, spanish & german). :)

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