With well over thirty books, the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett is well known in the UK, and gaining steam here in the States. Discworld is a fantasy/satire series, appealing both to traditional fantasy fans as well as those who think unicorns are, as one of Pratchett’s characters thinks, just a horse that comes to a point. It’s what you get when you take a magic-filled flat world sitting on the back of four giant elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a goliath space-turtle, and then populate it with blunt realists. Although the series is slightly self-referential, there is no need to read them in order, though those who become hooked will benefit from re-readings later on. The twenty-fifth book in the series, The Truth, is generally agreed to be a good place to start.
Ankh-Morpork is a city that lives on gossip, and William de Worde writes it all down, sending it in a monthly letter to the upper-crust of Ankh-Morpork’s friends and rivals. It’s an easy life, and when rumor says that the dwarves can turn lead into gold, he writes that down too. But when the aforementioned lead turns out to be a printing press, Williams finds himself enlisted as the head writer for Discworld’s first newspaper.
Working with the woman whose father he just put out of business, plus an unstable, teetotaling vampire photographer who crumples to dust with every camera flash, he finds himself writing about (and suddenly in the midst of) murders, conspiracies to overthrow the government, and humorously shaped vegetables. William’s life becomes a rush to feed the ever-hungry press, while staying alive as the focus of suspicion and hatred from the police, hit men, and even worse, wealthy politicians. All the while he must figure out exactly what it means to run a newspaper. As it says at the head of his newspaper, the truth shall make ye free (or make ye fred, depending on the dwarf that set the type).
Although the book is not overly coarse in language or in content, it is not suggested for young readers. Pratchett has written several young-adult books which are excellent no matter your age. Those who find Pratchett’s adult books to be too rough might like The Wee Free Men or The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (both being hilarious takes on fairy tales, and also set in Discworld).
Sara J. Ingle works part-time as a Circulation Assistant at Mebane Public Library. She may be reached at 919-563-6431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.