This is an article I wrote for Firsts Magazine round about 2007. Editorial changes were made to the final print article, so you'll see some differences as this is the final author's draft.



Terry Pratchett: Fantasy, Humor and...




There are two words which are often used to describe fantasy writer Terry Pratchett’s novels: Wacky and Zany. These words, however, have the same effect on the author that fingernails scraping down a chalkboard have for most people. It might have been true that there was some whack and definitely some zane to the first three or four books in his Discworld series, but after those early novels, Terry Pratchett realized that farce alone wasn’t going to keep the series going. Depth, characterization, humor, puns, and honest-to-goodness stories have propelled Pratchett from being a mid-list, rather quirky (he’d probably hate that word too) British fantasy author into one of the top–selling authors in the English speaking world.

Let’s back up a bit. Terrence David John Pratchett was born in Beconsfield, Buckinghamshire, UK on April 28, 1948.  He started writing early on…his first story was published in a school magazine when he was thirteen (and it was published in Science Fantasy Magazine when he was seventeen, making The Hades Business his first professional publication). After graduating high school he began A-level courses in Art, History and English—however a job offer from the Bucks Free Press turned Terry away from school to full-fledged journalism. A chance interview with the co-director of Colin Smythe publishers, Peter Bander van Duren, regarding a book he had edited, lead Pratchett to pitch a book he had written in his spare time called The Carpet People. Van Duren passed the book to Colin Smythe (the fiction editor) who was delighted to not only read the book, but offer Pratchett a contract. After the usual delays (and, incidentally, a wait while Pratchett doodled some illustrations for the book), The Carpet People was published by Colin Smythe (UK) in 1971. Again, during off-hours, Pratchett continued to pen stories and in 1976 The Dark Side of the Sun was published (Colin Smythe, HB, UK).

In 1980 Pratchett left journalism (and several hops from newspaper to newspaper and job description to job description) to become a press officer for an electrical company which included four nuclear power plants in its roster of electrical sources. Putting a good face on a rather unpopular and environmentally unsure power supply (remember this is just after the Three Mile Island partial reactor leak and during the time of the Bhopal, India insecticide incident, along with a couple of scares in the UK as well, so nuclear power was on everyone’s hit list) kept Pratchett busy, but not too busy to keep him from continuing to write.
Strata, another stand-alone fantasy novel was published in 1981 (Colin Smythe, HB, UK). Both Strata and The Dark Side of the Sun sold generally well…as well as an un-known author who published through a small publisher could do.


When, however, Pratchett’s next book, The Colour of Magic (1983, Colin Smythe, HB, UK), erupted out of his imagination, something new, something fresh, something unique appeared. What emerged in The Colour of Magic is a universe called Discworld. Discworld is a planet (and also a universe) made up of a round flat disc, carried on the shoulders of four giant elephants which in turn are perched atop the shell of an enormous tortoise called the Great A’Tuin.  Now, there are odd universes aplenty in the fantasy genre, but this universe could be considered one of the truly unique examples. It’s not so much that the planet is flat and that the unsuspecting traveler could end up falling off the edge (which has indeed happened); nor is it that the major city of the known world is a twin city by the name of Ankh-Morpork  (Like Paris, France, the two halves of the city are on opposite sides of a river—in this case the river Ankh), whose trade gilds have parceled out the city into districts and rule by strict codes – the thieves, for instance only allow fee-paying, card-carrying members to nick things while only assassins can kill and only for a fee; nor is it even that the characters can be quite peculiar (Death enjoys a night at the pub every now and again and he speaks entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS). It’s the fact that Pratchett, when he first dreamed up Discworld, was in a way, thumbing his nose at all the trashy Scifi / fantasy stories he had read in the 1970’s and decided that the best way to beat them was to join them.

Thus was Discworld born.

Pratchett’s original urge to poke a bit of fun at the genre very quickly turned into something much more. It is true that Pratchett consciously used tropes (topos) from well-known authors in the field (and in the fine British tradition, stuck in references to literature, pop-culture and just about anything else he could shove in without breaking the mood), but what he didn’t do was simply parody fantasy (well…maybe he did but it was damned funny) without thinking past the quick laugh or two. Pratchett’s world, while not as fully realized as it would be later on in the series, is quite clearly a fully thought out entity.

Getting back to The Colour of Magic—this first Discworld book contains four short stories featuring a wizard named Rincewind who is rather a sad-sack in the magical department. We first meet Rincewind on the outskirts of Ankh-Morpork as he is trotting unhappily away from the city, dust-covered, somewhat scorched and very down-trodden.  Behind him, the city is in flames – literally. And on the road, rushing to catch up is a man named Twoflower and a “thing” called Luggage. Twoflower is a tourist from the Counterweight Continent (which is somewhere away from Ankh-Morpork, but exactly where on a map is a bit vague). The luggage is what Twoflower uses to hold his gold (and his clothes, and his photographic device powered by a little demon, and anything else he needs). It is made of a special wood that has magical properties--it looks like a box, but it also has hundreds of little legs to propel it around. The plot of the first story is a bit convoluted (they all are), but boils down to following Rincewind as he guides Twoflower around Ankh-Morpork…with unintended and disastrous results. Along the way the author makes fun of Insurance policies and insurance salesmen (Twoflower is a risk assessment professional), barbarians, magic, wizards, universities, photography, tourists & tourism, classic fiction, fantasy & science fiction, death , quests, etc, etc, etc. The one-liners fly fast and furious, page after page. By the time this collection comes to an end, Pratchett has slashed through the Conan the Barbarian series, he’s flown through the Dragonriders of Pern (and various other dragon-based fantasy stories), he’s traveled the path of the Lord of the Rings and made more than a few stabs at Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, along with a smidgeon of dark Lovecraftian horror and off-the-cuff snippets of Laurel & Hardy, Andrew Lang’s color coded fairy-tales, Trans World Airlines, scientific theories of astrophysics, economics and last but not least, Star Trek.
Whew! 
Though the very first Discworld books were basically quick parody-fests (even Pratchett admits that he was interested in puns and parodies over any depth of writing in the first two or three books) things soon changed. Pratchett realized a few things – first off, that writing parodies without adding any depth gets stale fast, for the reader and the writer—second, that if he was going to continue to be a writer (as in, a full-time, pay your rent with your earnings style author) he was going to have to put more thought, effort and planning into it

The Colour of Magic was published in 1983. While Terry was still toiling away during the day at the power company, the next Discworld book was published.  It was The Light Fantastic (Colin Smythe, UK), published in 1986.  Again it features the bungling wizard Rincewind, his traveling companion Twoflower and the ever-present luggage. The story takes up where The Colour of Magic left off, literally. At the end of The Colour of Magic, Rincewind had fallen off the edge of the world and now he has to be rescued – not because he’s such an important person in his own right, but because buried in his head (and one of the reasons why he is an absolute hash at magic) is one of the eight great magical spells of Discworld. (Backing up for a moment, when Rincewind first attended the Unseen University to learn magic, he opened a forbidden book called the Octavo which trapped the eight most powerful spells – the spells rushed through him and one of them lodged in his brain. The spell was so powerful and horrible that he could not think it without destroying himself or the rest of Discworld. It was so powerful that it pushed all other spells out of is head which basically ended his career as a magician.  Death (the character who this time enjoys a bit of bridge playing along with his usual tippling at the pub and speaking in capital letters) warns the wizards at the Unseen University that the eight spells will need to be spoken to stave off the end of the world. Thus, the wizards have to find a way to bring Rincewind back from his free-floating purgatory in space so they can yank the spell out of his brain and save the world. Again, Pratchett works in a number of fantasy heavy-weights. He includes a riff with Cohen the Barbarian, makes reference to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series, adds little touches of fairytales, folklore and witches and adds background and shape to the vagaries of the Unseen University. For the first time, the Librarian of the University is an orangutan (turned that way by a spell gone awry).  This time, Death has a daughter (mad as a hatter) named Ysabell, and he learns to play a game which resembles bridge – so he can occupy his spare time with the other three horsemen of the apocalypse. In this second Discworld story, Pratchett adds footnotes to the text – the rim-shot (ba-dum-bum), as it were to the punch lines and puns. 

 In 1987 Terry Pratchett found that working for the power company while writing novels in his spare time just wasn’t possible any more. His books were actually selling. He needed – no, wanted -- to be able to write full time. He was married and had a daughter to support and worried that he might not be able to make as much money from writing as from the power company, but he had to give it a go.  He also had to make some business changes which included switching publishers. Colin Smythe who published the first several books, agreed that his company wasn’t best suited to keep moving Terry Pratchett’s career forward, but on the other hand, Smythe himself was well suited to being Terry’s agent, so an arrangement was made to pass the publishing end off to Gollancz.


At this point, Pratchett is still working out the kinks to the series but with book number three, there is a subtle difference. There is more depth and less straight-out punny-ness. Equal Rites (Gollancz, UK, published in association with Colin Smythe, Ltd., 1987) switches away from Rincewind to a completely new character – who happens to be a female (up until now, females were given rather short-shrift in terms of importance). Wizards traditionally are the eighth son of an eighth son, but in this case, the eighth son turns out to be a girl. When a dying wizard passes on his staff to the eighth child of an eighth child, he doesn’t realize that it is not a male child until it’s way too late. The staff now belongs to Esk and so does the power of wizardry.  In Discworld, the proper way – the only way -- is for men to be wizards and women to be witches.  Each faction has very specific and very separate duties and abilities. It mucks up much too much to have a female wizard among the men (so say the men) and Esk’s first teacher, Granny Weatherwax the witch, says pretty much the same thing, only in the opposite direction. Men make terrible witches. The problem is, Esk has a mind of her own, and so does the magic. Esk sets out to butt heads with the “institution” of wizardry. She wants to be trained as a wizard and she’s darned if a few old fuddy-duddies entrenched in the way things have “always been” are going to stop her.  While Esk plays a big part in this, Granny Weatherwax shines with her fractured words of wisdom and something that she calls headology which is a down-to-earth form of psychology.  Not only is this story a look at equality between the sexes (which it does overtly), but it takes a jab (again) at deep-rooted institutions, especially universities.

The next book in the Discworld series features one of the characters who has popped up in every book so far – his name is Death and he’s in the market for an apprentice. Mort (Gollancz in association with Colin Smythe Ltd, 1987) is written from the perspective of the prospective apprentice – who happens to be named Mort (get it…the first pun starts with Death picking a young man with the name which in French means death to work for him.)  Mort’s dad has decided that Mort is old enough for a job & on Hogswatch Eve, his father takes him to town to stand in line waiting for an employer to pick him. By the time the night ends, Mort is still standing, patiently, waiting when Death comes riding by on his white war horse. At first Mort (actually it’s short for Mortimer) is a little apprehensive but Death explains it all – “I? KILL?, said Death, obviously offended. CERTAINLY NOT. PEOPLE GET KILLED, BUT THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS. I JUST TAKE OVER FROM THEN ON. AFTER ALL, IT’D BE A BLOODY STUPID WORLD IF PEOPLE GOT KILLED WITHOUT DYING, WOULDN’T IT?” The thing is, Death has decided that as he’s been doing his job for a very long time and he’d like to take a break. So he apprentices Mort, teaches him the basics of the business, and takes off for some down time. Death wants to learn a new profession…and take some time to visit the taverns and see what’s so exciting about drinks that have little paper umbrellas.  Mort, however, hasn’t fully learned all the details of the job,and whereas Death himself can be very non-partisan about the business of people actually dying, Mort can’t help but get involved. Getting involved means making choices and in one case, Mort’s choice affects not only the person who was supposed to die, but an entire country as well.  The main themes of this particular book are death (and variations on the theme, obviously) and as a strange, but completely workable juxtaposition, jobs and the idea of what constitutes work. To Death, his job is the business of death. Sure he rides one of the four horses of the Apocalypse (named Binky), yes he does speak in exclamatory sentences and can only be heard by those who will be passing over, but to him, the job is a job and not his whole existence – except in the end, it’s not that simple.

 By the time the next novel is published (Sourcery, Gollancz in association with Colin Smythe Ltd, UK, 1988) there is a distinct pattern starting.  Pratchett reuses his characters throughout all his stories, but by the time Sourcery comes along, the books are starting to break down into four specific categories: There’s the Wizard stories (including all those with Rincewind as a lead character), the stories with witches (especially Granny Weatherwax), the novels which features Death and finally, a subset of the series which we haven’t gotten to yet – the City Watch. Sourcery takes another, deeper stab at what exactly wizards are and what they do. In this case, there are some who are not just wizards, but something extra – sourcerers. Sourcerers come about when the eighth son of an eighth son (a wizard) inexplicably trades in the celibate life of a wizard and marries, then has eight sons. As Pratchett puts it in the introduction of the novel: “And he had seven sons, each one from the cradle at least as powerful as any wizard in the world. And then he had an eighth son…. A wizard squared. A source of magic.  A sourcerer.”  At the beginning of the world, there were a bunch of sourcerers, but sourcerers are selfish creatures and they tended to hate each other with a passion. Because they had enormous powers and detested each other, they fought like cats and dogs bent on killing each other off. The ensuing battles raged fiercely and many sourcerers were decimated. The unfortunate byproduct of this warfare was that magic zinged around Discworld and created havoc among the regular folk. The Discworld itself was affected as well, with portions of the Disc becoming completely uninhabitable or whacked out by magical distortions.  The upshot of this was that the regular wizards got together (forming the Unseen University in the process) to regulate what wizards could and could not do to keep the possibility of another sourcerers war from coming about.   The sourcerer in this novel is actually a combination of two personalities – Ipslore, the wizard who goes against tradition & has a wife (and the eight children it takes to make a sourcerer) and his son Coin. When it comes time for Ipslore to die & be taken away by Death, he manages to foil death and hide inside his wizard’s staff—the staff becomes Coin’s wizard’s staff, but because he is the eighth son of the eighth son (squared) Coin by default becomes a sourcerer.  As Discworld learned to its detriment at the beginning of its history, sourcerers are unstable beings who crave power and feel no compunction about using that power to gain more. Coin is approximately ten years old when he confronts the head wizard at the Unseen University and challenges him to a duel. Coin wins while the archchancellor of the University ends up a greasy blob of smoke.  By the end of the story, the world almost comes to an apocalyptic end, the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride nearly non-stop and Rincewind once again may or may not have something to do with saving Discworld from annihilation.

Wyrd Sisters (Gollancz, 1988) once again plays with the subject of witches with reappearances from Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and the young witch Magrat. Together, the three form a coven: a maiden, a mother and a crone.  These three witches must deal with the murder of the King of Lancre (bringing a MacBeth-esque quality to novel). The King turns into a ghost…which weaves, confusingly, plot points from Hamlet, into the mix. To add to the Shakespearean flavor of this book, there is even a playwright by the name of Hwel who writes speeches that mimic those of the Bard of Avon. The underlying struggle in this story once again deals with power (following up on the misuse of power by the sourcerer Coin) and how witches, though powerful in magic, tend to try not to use their magic unless absolutely necessary.

The next book in the series, Pyramids (Gollancz, 1989) was the first of Pratchett’s books to receive an award – the BSFA award for fantasy for 1989.  Pyramids, ostensibly, is rather un-Discworld in nature. Set in the far off land of Djelibeybi (most likely pronounced Jelly-Baby), there are few connections to the usual Ankh-Morpork areas or characters (with one small cameo by Death) and the subject of punnery this time is Egypt and the things one remembers (or dis-remembers) from grade school lessons (or trips to museums to see the Tutankhamen exhibits).  This book does, however, expand the Discworld universe to the farther climes including what amounts to the Mediterranean region of our world (Discworld’s Ephebe is a loose analogy for Greece) so the reader is seeing a more fleshed-out  view of the world as a whole.  Pyramids play a big part in this story – naturally – and even include riffs on the theme of the metaphysical uses of pyramids (razor blades staying sharp, etc). There are camels galore and Pratchett’s own version of the Fall of Troy.
1989 was a very busy year for Pratchett – with the publication of four novels: two Discworld novels (Pyramids and Guards! Guards!), a piece of fluff called The Unadulterated Cat which is an illustrated bit of humor on the subject of cats( REAL cats vs those other non-REAL cat-type beings) and Truckers , the first book in the Gnomes trilogy.  Guards! Guards! (Gollancz, 1989) features the Night Watch – the men of the police force who watch over Ankh-Morpork during the nighttime hours. This story revolves around a tall young adopted dwarf from the outlying areas who has just been told by his family that he really isn’t a dwarf after all (which is why he’s so tall & he keeps hitting his head on the beams in the mines) and that he really needs to go out in the world of humans to make his way. Young Carrot takes only a few things away with him when he leaves the mines – a mysterious sword that lay near the cart where he was found when he was a baby, a codpiece donated by one Mr. Varneshi (who was human and trying to be helpful) a woolly vest to keep him warm and another gift from the thoughtful Mr. Varneshi – a book: “It was called: The Laws and Ordinances of the Cities of Ankh and Morpork. (Guards! Guards, page 31).  Carrot, being a literal type of person, duly reads and memorizes every page of this hefty tome before going off to join the Watch.  When he gets to Ankh-Morpork, he presents his papers to the Night Watch and begins his new life as a human. Carrot is a simple lad. He’s not overly bright and quite naïve when it comes to most things. He accepts the ways of the other guards with no hesitation or depth of thought – his Captain, Samuel Vimes, is drunk much of the time. There is a rather stolid Sergeant by the name of Colon; and one Corporal Nobbs (Nobby), who is quite fond of violence and nicking things as long as it doesn’t really hurt anyone. Coincidental to Carrot’s joining the Night Watch is a series of mystifying thefts of magical objects and strange happenings that all end in a fiery crisping. Captain Vimes finds, much to his amazement, that he is intrigued by the strange happenings and decides to pursue an investigation. With bumbling assistance from Carrot, Colon & Nobby, the story turns into a detective romp that pits the beer-sloshed wits of Vimes with those of a group of equally inept magicians (named The Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night). Soon, Captain Vimes concludes that a dragon is responsible for the deaths and scorchings. Dragons (major and minor), the care and feeding of said beasts (with a sly poke at the famous dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse), a jab and a half at British landed aristocracy and their foibles, and digs at secret societies pepper the pages of this Discworld novel.  Last but not least, Pratchett has dedicated this book to those unsung heroes who are always the first to die in any scifi / fantasy novel or movie – you know, the red shirted wonders from Star Trek whose job it is to take it like a man & die so that Captain Kirk can shine… from the dedication page: “They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol. Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the room, attack the hero one at a time and be slaughtered. No one ever asks them if they wanted to.” (Guards! Guards! Dedication page).

At this stage in Pratchett’s career, he no longer really needed to worry that he’ll have to return to his day job as a spokesman for the Nuclear Power industry. His books, though not selling out stores instantly, are selling quite well, thank you, and his name is becoming more and more well-known in the US. It took a short time for the American fantasy crowd to glom onto Pratchett’s unique voice, and there were spots where the British humor had to be translated for the American audience (because we Americans neither remember history very well, nor keep track of history that isn’t ours) but glom on it did – word of mouth regarding the author grew and sales in the US started to take off.  After The Colour of Magic had a trade publication by St. Martins Press in 1983, because of a dispute over terms for subsidiary rights, the only American hardcover editions of Pratchett’s works were published by the Doubleday SF book club.  This situation continued until the American editions of the series was taken over by Harper Collins.


The year 1990 saw the publication of five books -- an ambitious number of books for any author. First came Diggers (London, Doubleday 1990) which is the second book in the Gnomes trilogy (the trilogy is ostensibly a young adult / youth fiction series, but it can and is happily read by adults with equal pleasure).  Then came Eric (actually, on the cover of the UK edition is shows the title as Faust (which is marked out with a black mark) followed by Eric (L. Gollancz, 1990 – with a simultaneous paperback publication as well). This edition was originally published with illustrations by Josh Kirby and in fact, Kirby got equal billing with Pratchett on this book.  Eric is a thin book which features appearances by the wizard Rincewind (followed faithfully by the luggage), Death and the Librarian as the unseen university appears to be haunted by ghosts. There are references to Greek mythology and the Iliad & the Odyssey. Some consider this book rather a one-off aberration that is part of Discworld, and yet…not.  Also published in 1990 was one real Discworld novel – Moving Pictures (L. Gollancz, 1990) along with two more non-Discworld novels. Wings (the third in the Gnomes Trilogy) and most notably, a novel co-written with Neil Gaiman called Good Omens (L. Gollancz 1990 – with Pratchett’s name first on the mast head, & US, Workman, 1990 with Neil Gaiman’s name first on the mast head ). The story goes that both Gaiman and Pratchett, being techno-geeks both owned computers  early on and after deciding to co-write the book, would send floppy disks back and forth to each other (piling up a huge phone bill with daily 2-3 hour conversations at the same time). By the end, they both purchased modems… according to Gaiman: “we had a disk that we would post backwards and forwards, and then right at the end, we both owned modems. They were these exciting new things that had just come in, they were 300/1200, or 300/75 baud, 75 going up and 300 going down, or something like that. I remember we actually linked our modems and Terry sent me some. It took so long he could have dictated it and I could have typed over the phone at the speed at which it came through.” Locus Magazine, February 2006 (Issue 541, Vol. 56 No.2). That techno-geek phase didn’t last very long. By the second draft they ignored the modems and did the revisions face to face.  While there were some Discworld elements interwoven throughout the novel, this is an entirely separate novel. What did happen with this novel was that Terry Pratchett was able to dramatically increase the asking price for any subsequent Discworld titles. Pratchett had a conservative attitude regarding contract negotiations for publishers with this book – it was a one-off, write-it-for-fun piece that was not contracted before publication. Gaiman, who was becoming well-known for a series of graphic Novels / young adult horror / fantasy called The Sandman Series, offered Pratchett a more radical idea option…put the book up for bidding between publishing houses and let the chips fall where they may. When the bidding got up to £100,000 Pratchett started to metaphorically hyperventilate – but Gaiman (the cool one) wanted to let it ride. Gaiman’s gamble paid off. The price went even higher. What came out of this experiment was that Pratchett knew that he could, from then on, expect higher advances for any contracts that he made.

By the end of the 1990’s Terry Pratchett was one of the top-selling authors in the UK (this was, of course, before J. K. Rowling started her modest series of books featuring a young wizard by the name of Harry Potter).  Backing up slightly to 1991, Pratchett delivered two books, both of which were in the Discworld universe: Reaper Man (L, Gollancz, 1991) and Witches Abroad (L, Gollancz, 1991). In 1993 he was back to four novels in one year: Lords and Ladies (L, Gollancz, 1992), Only You Can Save Mankind (L, Doubleday, 1992) which is the first book in a non-Discworld series called the Johnny Maxwell series which was marketed as a purely children’s fiction book, Small Gods (L, Gollancz, 1992), and Carpet People (L, Doubleday, 1992) which is a re-working of Pratchett’s first book.  The most interesting book that year was Small Gods which takes the idea of what exactly is a god and how one becomes a small or big god.  Small gods find a few followers who begin to believe in them – big gods are small gods who find some way to attract more and more believers. Pretty soon, unless care is taken, a big god can revert back to being a small god by means of believers follwing the trappings of worship, but not actually putting any thought or effort in to those beliefs.  Our example for this concept is Om, the god of Omnia whose followers are fervent in their belief of the practice of Omnianism, but not in actual belief of Om himself. Because of the lack of true believers, Om has reverted to being a minor deity and comes down to the Discworld in the shape of a tortoise. He’s slow, funny-looking, and in no visible way god-like. When he curses people, nothing happens. When he tries to send lightning bolts down to fry non-believers, the best they get is a tiny shock. Om needs more true believers or he will end up on the scrap heap of minor gods, just like a whole host of others before him. Om finds Brutha, a rather simple, youngish man who has spent ten years or so working his way up in the priesthood of Om (but, according to those in charge, Brutha will never make it past novice). Brutha has a few things going for him: he’s got a photographic memory and has memorized every single piece of literature / scripture / rules, etc. of Omnianism, and, he’s a true believer.  After much adventure, Om (in tortoise form) and Brutha end up in Ephebe (Pratchett’s version of Ancient Greece) where they pit the wisdom and teachings of Om against Pratchett’s version of Greek philosophy. Not only is this a deeply funny story, but one that can give thoughtful readers a bit of pause regarding their easy-going (dis)regard of organized religions.

In 1993 Pratchett’s production of books ratchets back a bit and he only publishes two novels: Johnny and the Dead (the second of the Johnny Maxwell books) (L, Doubleday, 1993) and Men at Arms (L. Gollancz, 1993). Men at Arms continues the storyline of the City Watch / Night watch, this time adding two new recruits to the Watch who bring a whole new meaning to racial tension. Captain Vimes oversees both a straight out American T.V. style police / detective procedural and a constantly threatening-to-erupt race riot between trolls and dwarves. New recruits Detrius (a troll) and Cuddy (a dwarf) are brought into the Watch by the Patrician (the supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork) as an attempt to integrate the city services, but it is not as easy a job as hiring two opposing species minorities and expecting that everything will be rosy. Dwarves passionately hate Trolls and Trolls would rather step on dwarves than talk to them. There’s also a bit of soap-opera-ishness to the story with it’s side forays into the upcoming wedding of Captain Vimes, and the red herring plot bits about Corporal Carrot showing all the signs of being a long lost heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork.

It was round-about this part of the 1990’s that Terry Pratchett, the phenomenon started to sink in. While only publishing two novels in the year 1994 (this is a pattern to which Pratchett ends up sticking as much as he possibly can from now on), Discworld starts to take on more of a life of its own. Discworld conventions begin to pop up world-wide. Maps of Ankh-Morpork & Discworld itself appear (Pratchett himself never much got into having actual maps for the places on Discworld until this time either – but it was getting to the point where he needed some continuity in the stories and he couldn’t just mess around with it any longer). In 1994 the Discworld Companion (L, Gollancz, 1994) was co-authored by Pratchett and a man named Stephen Briggs. Stephen Briggs was into amateur dramatics and after being handed a copy of Wyrd Sisters to read, he dramatized it, followed swiftly by a handful’s worth of other Discworld novels. It was Briggs who convinced Pratchett that a map was probably a good thing….and oh, by the way, a compendium of facts about Discworld would be handy too. It was also right about this time that media of all sorts connected with Discworld. Discworld novels begin to be adapted for radio drama, TV and computer and video games. Pratchett spends more and more time going to conventions, answering letters and dealing with contracts and endorsements than he would like, but it is all part of the package now.  And speaking of the package, Pratchett has an image that, like Captain Kirk in Star Trek, seems to have taken on a life of its own. Terry Pratchett, when out in public always wears a hat. It’s not always exactly the same hat, so he does have some leeway, but the hat is now part of the package and is expected of him when going to Discworld gatherings. He’s not as limited in the clothing department as his friend & co-author Neil Gaiman who is stuck wearing black leather for evermore, however there is a certain style of clothing that seems to be Discworld-ish and expected for public appearance. Other mainstream authors would never have to worry about such issues, but that is the lot of a fantasy / scifi author.


Following 1994’s Soul Music (L, Gollancz, 1994) and Interesting Times (L, Gollancz, 1994), comes 1995’s Maskerade (L, Gollancz). In 1996, the third in the Johnny Maxwell trilogy, Johnny and the Bomb (L, Doubleday, 1996) finishes off that young adult series. 1996 also sees the publication of Feet of Clay (L, Gollancz) which is another Discworld novel with a mystery and detective feel.  Doubling back momentarily, while Johnny and the Bomb isn’t a Discworld novel, it is worth mentioning that it was short listed for the Carnagie Medal and won the silver award for the Nestle Smarties Book Prize. Strangely, even though Terry Pratchett is, by 1996, wildly popular and a best selling author, the awards for children’s books & genre fiction don’t seem to follow apace. He did receive a British Fantasy Award back in 1989 for Pyramids, and while the Johnny Maxwell series is very well received and is short listed for awards several times, it isn’t until 2002 that he wins an actual literary award – the Carnegie Medal given for 2001’s The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (L. Doubleday, 2001) which is a one-off children’s story.

Terry Pratchett’s whimsical imagination continues to mine fertile ground – institutions (British or otherwise) continue to come under his scrutiny: Newspapers and the Media are lampooned in The Truth (L. Doubleday, 2000); the British Postal Service is skewered  in Going Postal (L. Doubleday, 2004) as Ankh-Morpork’s postal workers deal with a double-dose of lack of leadership and creaky old postmen who have been stuffing letters they can’t deliver inside a building that is about to be condemned; and in one of his latest efforts, Making Money (L. Doubleday, 2007) the Ankh-Morpork Mint needs a thorough going over. It is worth mentioning that in the last five or so years the themes of Pratchett’s novels have gotten a bit more political and / or socially oriented, but at the same time the humor has not suffered in the slightest. Even when he is lampooning China and Communism (in Interesting Times, L. Gollancz, 1994) or the ideas of patriotism and war (in Jingo, L. Gollancz, 1997), the characters  spin on things has a very distinctive Discworld flavor. Pratchett’s technique is to shine a light on a subject -- pointing out our human blind spots by means of parody and the absurd.
In the 30+ years that Terry Pratchett has been writing, he has produced 36 novels that are distinctively Discworld (this includes some of the books written specifically for children along with a few of the graphic novels) along with a group of books that are either separate series, or one-off fantasy titles. He is now one of Britain’s top-selling authors and has been for over a decade which is an impressive accomplishment for a fantasy author who specializes in humorous parodies. His novels have been translated into numerous languages (sometimes without permission, as in the case of a Russian fan who translated then posted a couple of his novels to a website – it was a nice idea, but Pratchett’s publishers were not amused) and he has a loyal, worldwide following of Discworld enthusiasts who eagerly await each new novel.  What started out as a bit of fun writing for a teenage boy who thought he could one-up 1970’s fantasy stories has turned into a life-long, very rewarding career.

Terry Pratchett’s Books
(Bibliography)




Information for this bibliography came from a number of sources including actual copies in hand, the Colin Smythe website for Terry Pratchett which has an extensive bibliography, and information gratefully received from other dealers who had copies of books.

1.)    THE CARPET PEOPLE:  Gerrards Cross (Bucks) UK, Colin Smythe Limited, Publishers, (1971) (3000 copies)
Copyright statement: First Published in 1971 by Colin Smythe, Ltd.  (also… from the Terry Pratchett website compiled by Colin Smythe Ltd.: The illustrations in a very few copies - certainly less than ten - were hand coloured by the author. As far as I know, only two had all the illustrations coloured and extra pen and ink drawings added to some pages; others only had the full page illustrations coloured.) (Note: Carpet People is the ONLY Colin Smythe book by Terry Pratchett that a printed price on the dust jacket – after that he switched to using stickers with prices instead).

*Price range: $500.00 - $1,000.00 (unsigned)
*There was NO US edition published of this until later


2.) THE DARK SIDE OF THE SUN: Gerrards Cross (Bucks) UK, Colin Smythe Limited, Publishers (1976) (800 or 921 copies)

Copyright statement: First Published in 1976 by Colin Smythe, Ltd.
*Price range: $500.00 - $1,000.00


3.)STRATA: Gerrards Cross (Bucks) UK, Colin Smythe Limited Publishers (1981)
Copyright statement: First Published in 1981 by Colin Smythe, Ltd. (1001 copies)
            *Price Range: $250.00 - $500.00
   
   

4.) THE COLOUR OF MAGIC: Gerrards Cross (Bucks) UK, Colin Smythe Limited Publishers (1983) (506 copies)       
Copyright statement: First Published in 1983 by Colin Smythe, Ltd.
            *Price range: $3.,000.00 - $10,000

5.) THE LIGHT FANTASTIC: Gerrards Cross (Bucks) UK, Colin Smythe Publishers Ltd (1986) (1034 copies)                                            Copyright statement: First published in 1986 by Colin Smythe, Ltd.                *Price range: 1,500.00 - $5,000.00

6.) EQUAL RITES: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (in association with Colin Smythe, Ltd.) (1987)    (2850 copies)                            Copyright statement: First published in 1987 … (with no further statement of printing)                                                *Price range:  $300.00 – $800.00       
7.) MORT:  London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd, UK (in association with Colin Smythe, Ltd), (1987)  (3950 copies)
    Copyright statement: First published in 1987… (with no further statement of printing)
        *Price range: $250.00 - $650.00

8.)SOURCERY: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd, UK (in association with Colin Smythe, Ltd) (1988) (7200 copies)
    Copyright statement: First published in 1988… (with no further statement of printing)
        *Price range: $250.00- $600.00

9.) WYRD SISTERS: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd , UK, (1988) (6700 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1988.. (with no further statement of printing)
            *Price range: $150.00 - $350.00

10.) PYRAMIDS: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., UK (1989) (12,300 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1989… (with no further statement of printing)
            *Price range: $100.00 - $300.00

11.) GUARDS! GUARDS! London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., UK (1989) (14,200 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1989… (with no further statement of printing)
            *Price range: $100.00 - $250.00

12.) THE UNADULTERATED CAT: London, Gollancz, Ltd., UK (Trade paperback format) (1989)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1989….
            *Price range: $25.00 - $75.00

13.) TRUCKERS: London, Doubleday, UK, (1989)
        Copyright statement: Published 1989 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, Ltd.
            *Price range: $50.00 - $75.00

14.) DIGGERS: London, Doubleday, UK, (1990).
        Copyright statement: Published 1990 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, Ltd.
            *Price range: $50.00 - $75.00

15.) ERIC: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (1990) (both the hardback and a trade paperback editions of this were issued on the same day  -- the hardcover edition had 4,200 copies)   
        Copyright statement: First published in 1990…
            *Price range: $250.00 - $750.00

16.) GOOD OMENS (co-written with Neil Gaiman): London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK, (1990)     (note: Pratchett’s name was listed first on the dust jacket and title page for the 1st UK edition, while Gaiman’s name was first on the dust jacket & title page for the US edition….the US edition did have revisions, so it will  be listed here as a 1st edition)
        Copyright statement: First Published in 1990…
            *Price range: $75.00 - $175.00

Also:  New York, Workman Publishing, US, (1990)
        Copyright statement: First printing – September 1990 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
            *Price range: $40.00 - $125.00

17.) MOVING PICTURES: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK, (1990) (18,200 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published in 1990…
            *Price range: $50.00 - $100.00

18.) WINGS: London, Doubleday, UK, (1990) (13,900 copies)
        Copyright statement: Published 1990 a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.
            *Price range: $20.00 - $45.00

19.) REAPER MAN: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd, UK, (1991) (20,200 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published in 1991…
            *Price range: $50.00 - $100.00

20.) WITCHES ABROAD: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., UK (1991) (25,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published in 1991…       
            *Price range: $50.00 - $100.00

21.) LORDS AND LADIES: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd., UK (1992) (30,000 copies)   
        Copyright statement: First Published in 1992…   
            *Price range: $40.00 - $80.00

22.) ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND: London, Doubleday, UK, (1992) (16,700 copies)   
        Copyright statement: Published 1992 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, Ltd.
            *Price range: $30.00 - $50.00 (note: The quality of paper used on this particular edition was not good & tanning to the edges of the text pages is an unfortunate by-product – it is not uncommon to see tanning, though the value of the book would be lessened).

23.) SMALL GODS: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK, (1992) (27,700 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1992…
            *Price range: $40.00 - $80.00

24.) THE CARPET PEOPLE (New edition heavily revised): London, Doubleday, UK, (1992) (18,100 copies)   
        Copyright statement: Published 1992 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, Ltd.    
            *Price range: $25.00 - $60.00

25.) JOHNNY AND THE DEAD: London, Doubleday, UK (1993) (22,400 copies)
        Copyright statement: Published 1992 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, Ltd.
            *Price range: $25.00 - $75.00

26.) MEN AT ARMS: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. (1993) (40,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published in 1993…
            *Price range: $25.00 - $75.00
                (note: MEN AT ARMS was the first to have a US hardcover trade edition published since the debacle with St. Martins)

27.) SOUL MUSIC: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. (1994) (40,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published 1994
            *Price range: $25.00 - $75.00

28.) INTERESTING TIMES: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK, (1994) (43,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published 1994
            *Price range: $25.00 - $75.00

29.) MASKERADE: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (1995) (55,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published 1995
            *Price range: $25.00 - $60.00

30.) JOHNNY AND THE BOMB: London, Doubleday UK (1996) (24,900 copies)
        Copyright statement: Published in 1996 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.        
            *Price range: $25.00 - $60.00

31.) FEET OF CLAY: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (1996) (85,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published 1996
            *Price range: $25.00 - $60.00

32.) HOGFATHER: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (1996) (70,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published 1996
            *Price range: $25.00 - $60.00

33.) JINGO: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (1997) (120,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First Published 1997
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

34.) THE LAST CONTINENT: London, Doubleday, UK (1998) (93,500 copies)
        Copyright statement: Published in 1998 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.        
            *Note: from the Colin Smythe website:  There were two issues of the first printing: an initial quantity for Australia (to ensure exclusivity in that market) - about 10,000 copies - with deep blue end-papers and plain spine blocking, and those for the home market in which the spine blocking used the same lettering as on the dust jacket, and had red end-papers. The first reprint combined the deep blue end-papers and the second style of spine blocking.
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

35.) CARPE JUGULUM: London, Doubleday, UK (1998) (160,000 copies)   
        Copyright statement: Published in 1998 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.        
            *Note: from the Colin Smyth website: 40,000 copies primarily for Australia and New Zealand, 322,000 copies for the British market with the cover illustration reproduced on a smaller scale (both listed as first printing) 4/11/99 (0-552-14615-3) An easy way to see which is which is that the Antipodean copies show a shoe jutting into the title box on the front cover, while the British market copies do not..
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

36.) THE FIFTH ELEPHANT: London, Doubleday, UK (1999)
        Copyright statement: Published in 1999 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.   
            *Note: from the Colin Smythe website: This was primarily for the UK market. The Antipodes were covered by a separate Australian printing, which has slight changes on the title verso – printer’s imprint and the decimalisation of the font sizes: 10.5/13.5 instead of 10½/13½ – and the blocking on the spine. The UK edition has author and title in a single line, whereas the Australian printing has the title in two lines at the foot of the spine, separated from the author’s name by two rules. The front flap of the jacket lacks any prices (the UK edition has the British and Canadian ones). The embossed pattern on the binding material is of a finer grain than that on the British printing.
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

37.) THE TRUTH: London, Doubleday, UK (2000)
        Copyright statement: Published in 2000 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.   
            *Note: from the Colin Smythe website: The spine blocking on the first of the first printings (intended only for export to the Antipodes and South Africa), has different typeface, similar to that used on exported printings of The Fifth Elephant, to that on the first edition sold in the UK, which is closer to the artwork on the dust jacket. As with The Fifth Elephant, this was not deliberate policy, merely a later refinement in the design.  Somehow copies were also sent out to Eymundsson in Iceland in August, and were immediately released to local booksellers and put on sale, to be pounced on with glee by local fans. The date for Transworld’s release of copies to ‘the Rest of the World’ is mid-September, as the on-sale date airside and internationally is 1 October.  In Britain the publication date is unaffected by overseas release dates.

        Technically speaking, that would make the Icelandic edition the true first edition, but in this case, it would be better to follow the flag.
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

38.) THIEF OF TIME: London, Doubleday, UK (2001)
        Copyright statement: Published in 2001 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.   
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

39.) THE LAST HERO: London, Victor Gollancz, Ltd. UK (2001) (175,000 copies)
        Copyright statement: First published 2001
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00
    Also: A Deluxe edition limited to 2000 copies was simultaneously issued
            *Price range: $100 - $125.00

40.) THE AMAZING MAURICE AND HIS EDUCATED RODENTS: London, Doubleday, UK (2001)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2001 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd.
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

41.) NIGHT WATCH:  London, Doubleday, UK (2002)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2002 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

42.) THE WEE FREE MEN: London, Doubleday, UK (2003)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2003 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

43.) MONSTROUS REGIMENT: London, Doubleday, UK (2003)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2003 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

        *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

44.) A HATFUL OF SKY: London, Doubleday, UK (2004)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2004 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00

45.) GOING POSTAL: London, Doubleday, UK (2004)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2004 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00
        Also: There were a limited number of the 1st US editions that were signed: from the Colin Smythe Website: 750 copies were issued with an extra leaf before the half-title which was signed by the author. The front of the jacket had a gold seal with the words ‘Signed First Edition’. These were sold in boxes of ten which were given the ISBN 0-06-074899-0 in order to keep them separate from the ordinary copies in the warehouse. The ISBN did not appear on the book itself. 
    1st US Edition : New York, Harper Collins, US (2004)
        Copyright statement: First edition / 04 05 06 07 08 (binder info) 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

46.) THUD: London, Doubleday, UK (2005)
        Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2005 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
            *Price range: $25.00 - $50.00
        Also a Signed, slipcased edition limited to 1,000 copies
            *Price range: $175.00 - $350.00
46.) WHERE’S MY COW? : London, Doubleday, UK (2005)
    Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2005 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
        *Price range: $20.00 - $45.00 (this is a picture book for younger readers)

47.) WINTERSMITH: London, Doubleday, UK (2006)
    Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2006 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
        *Price range: $20.00 - $35.00
    Also: A signed collector’s edition limited to 1,000 copies
        *Price range: $100.00 - $200.00

48.) MAKING MONEY: London, Doubleday, UK (2007)
    Copyright statement: Copyright statement: Published in 2007 by Doubleday a division of Transworld Publishers, 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
        *Price range: cover price
    Also: A signed slip cased edition limited to 2,500 copies (specially bound for Waterstones)
        *Price range: $100.00 - $250.00




       




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