I am taking a break from editing my fourth, and final book, to help spread the word for my second favorite book series. My favorite is Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.” The second is Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which has forty-one books in all—and I’ve loved every one of them.
Terry Pratchett—A Literary Genius:
There are authors, there masters of literature, and then there are literary geniuses. Terry Pratchett combines philosophy, history, fairytales, mythology, religion, and a host of literary icons while using a sharp, educated wit, an unlimited imagination, and a big heart. I found his “Discworld” book series shortly after he died in 2015. I was shocked that I had never heard of it before. By 2018, I had read all forty-one of the books in this series, many of which I read twice, and some more than that.
There are several subset books in the series, allowing readers to join in at almost any point. I joined at book thirty, with “The Wintersmith.” I saw it on a sale rack, and thought it sounded interesting. Three years later I had finished the entire series.
His Young Adult Series:
The reason I am writing this blog is because, buried in a pile of forty-one books, are five Tiffany Aching novels, which are an amazing young adult series about a nine year old witch growing up, and coming into her own. Since forty-one books may seem overwhelming to the average reader, I am pulling these five books out and displaying them in front of you now.
There are eleven books that focus on Terry Pratchett’s witch characters, and they are my favorite characters in the whole Discworld series (and possibly all of literature). They can do magic, some exceptionally well, but they seem to like the challenge of not doing it. They are village herbalists, midwifes, and as Sir Pratchett put it, “the persons who knew things.” They practice “Headology,” and help those who are in need, even when those who are in need don’t approve of witches, and tend to set them on fire. The witches are not only fascinating female characters, but also have some of the best dialogue uttered by anyone in the Discworld.
“Haven’t you got any romance in your soul?’ said Magrat plaintively. ”No,” said Granny. “I ain’t. And stars don’t care what you wish, and magic don’t make things better, and no one doesn’t get burned who sticks their hand in a fire. If you want to amount to anything as a witch, Magrat Garlick, you got to learn three things. What’s real, what’s not real, and what’s the difference.”Granny Weatherwax to Magrat Garlick in “Witches Abroad”
Tiffany Aching enters the Discworld series at book thirty. In the first Tiffany Aching book, “Wee Free Men,” Tiffany is a nine-year-old girl who finds her strength when having to rescue her brother from the realm of the fairy queen, and does it armed only with a frying pan and with the help of little blue creatures called Nac Mac Feegles. Over the course of five books, she grows as a girl, a woman, and a witch. They are truly enchanting novels, and present one of the strongest young female leads that I have ever read in a young adult book series… or any-age series. Even Terry Pratchett, before he died, was quoted as saying that his Tiffany Aching novels were the ones that he was most proud of—which is saying allot since he wrote over seventy novels.
You can either start the five book series as I did with book three, “The Wintersmith,” and then go to book one, or start with book one, “Wee Free Men.” The other titles include, “A Hat Full Of Sky, ”I Shall Wear Midnight,” and “The Sheppard’s Crown,” which was the last book written by Terry Pratchett before his death at sixty-six years old.
The other witch books like “Equal Rights,” which has the Discword’s first female wizard, have some risqué moments, and some humor that will go above the head of a young reader, but the books are a definite must if you like strong, well defined female literary characters… and if you like to smile while you’re reading.
Even Better On Audio:
I have also listened to all of the audio books, many of which were read by vocal genius Nigel Planer (who Gen-X’rs may remember as Neil from BBC’s “The Young Ones”). Stephen Briggs, a master of voice work, read several as well, including the Tiffany Aching books. The series is being redone with several actors playing several roles in each book, but listening to Planer and Briggs tackle all of the roles, and in multiple books, is amazing to hear. If you or your young one don’t have time to read, then get the audio books, they are more like a radio series, and the best voice production of a literature series I’ve heard along side Tim Curry voicing the thirteen “Lemony Snicket” novels. Young readers can also read along with the audio book to learn how to read out loud. Check them out.
Steve Michael Reedy