The 10 Best Terry Pratchett Books

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This wiki has been updated 13 times since it was first published in April of 2020. Sir Terry Pratchett is known for his zany spin on the fantasy genre, prolific output, intricate and satirical lore, and belief in atheism, human dignity, and liberty. His interconnected Discworld novels, set on a flat and circular planet held up by elephants who are, in turn, riding a massive turtle, are both lively comic adventures and thought-provoking explorations of philosophy and ethics. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Guards! Guards!

2. Wyrd Sisters

3. Good Omens

Editor's Notes

June 29, 2020:

The title character of Reaper Man who personifies the great, unknowable force at the end of life appears in almost every entry of Discworld and even has his own sub-series. Some of the author's most beloved efforts, including Mort, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time center on this personage who as the series progresses becomes more fun, thoughtful, and lovable.

Reaper Man is also the first appearance of a cat who would become the titular protagonist of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, a subversive take on the Pied Piper. It's a great ride, and was just beaten out by The Wee Free Men as the representative of the author's work that's meant for young people. Both are charming and can be appreciated by all, though they are less complex than their grown-up counterparts, just as The Hobbit is less rich than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If this is a genre of interest, take a look at our ranking of The 10 Best Young Adult Books.

Small Gods is an all-timer in many respects but suffers from something of a third-act problem. The resolution of the conflict comes out of nowhere and is thus less dramatically satisfying than other possible conclusions. Deus ex machina has been relied upon since the days of Greek tragedy and is seen again and again in works like The War of the Worlds and Lord of the Flies, but that does not make it a satisfying way to end a story unless perhaps the text's events are simply so awful and tragic that a quick-fix ending is more of a relief than a realistic and dramatically justified one. Here the device is used not so much to placate a weary audience as to resonate with the premise of the narrative, which is all about using deities as convenient solutions. This is clever, but it's still a bit of a groaner if one is expecting a more dazzling finish.

Other reoccurring personalities in Discworld include Rincewind, first seen in The Colour of Magic and featured here in Interesting Times, and Cohen the Barbarian, originally from the short story Troll Bridge in the collection After The King: Stories in Honour of J.R.R. Tolkien. Those who read and enjoy these characters from Interesting Times may wish to continue exploring all their other appearances rather than conforming exactly to our list, which attempts to sample something from every part of the author's body of work.

Night Watch is one of the author's best and in this instance he wrote a tale involving so much persecution and torture that he put himself in a situation in which to make light of that with humor would be, in his words, an obscenity. It is a somewhat less joyful reading experience than much of his catalog, but still quite a satisfying one, and there is still plenty of his trademark wordplay and playfulness.

Thief of Time has a premise and references that bring to mind The Matrix and various wuxia flicks and an overall quality that should please anyone who likes comic fantasy.

Good Omens is the lone representative of the non-Discworld section of Sir Terry's oeuvre in our ranking but there are plenty of other worthy selections including Nation, The Long Earth, and Truckers. For more from the co-author of Good Omens, see our ranking of The 10 Best Neil Gaiman Books. And for people who take pleasure in sifting through the famous characters, rites, and myths of Western religion, our ranking of The 10 Best Old Testament Books may be of interest.

Guards! Guards! combines the verve of a detective story with the heady appeal of thoughtful contemplation of the dynamics of power. Fans of Guards! Guards!, Night Watch, Feet of Clay, or other Sam Vimes mysteries may enjoy delving into our ranking of The 10 Best Mystery Books and perhaps even into the more-solemn world of military crime thrillers like The 10 Best Jack Reacher Books.

Special Honors

Discworld Emporium This Somerset, England-based, brick-and-mortar store and website sells merchandise from familiar fictional locations like Gimlet's, Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, the Ankh-Morpork Post Office, and the Unseen University. All of the wares were overseen and approved by the author himself until his death in 2015 and they include clothing, plush toys, companions, maps, diaries, calendars, stickers, jewelry, and miniatures. Formerly known as PJSM Prints, this is a source of all kinds of Terry-related merchandise, from coasters and cuddly critters to socks and key rings. One of the most elegant offerings is the books that are embossed and sealed with Pratchett’s signature stamp and coat of arms, and you can also obtain classy-looking sepia prints or somewhat-Christmas-appropriate Hogswatch cards.

4. The Wee Free Men

5. Night Watch

6. Thief of Time

7. Small Gods

8. Feet of Clay

9. Interesting Times

10. Reaper Man

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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