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What are you reading in 2023?

Celebrim

Legend
It's Guards, Guards!, and I think a lot of people would say it's actually the best Discworld book period...

Really? I put it in the bottom third of his books (I could probably think of 10 or so I definitely liked less - Monstrous Regiment, Carpe Jugulum, Sourcery, Snuff, etc.). Like most of the rest of his early stuff, it's just not as well written as his later stuff with the same characters. The characters are all great, but we get better vignettes with them all later on. I rate it below "Men at Arms" (itself still Pratchett getting his feet under him), "Feet of Clay" and even "The Fifth Element" and even "Thud!" (early in the period of Pratchett running out of ideas and just before his writing quality starts to slide). Jingo!" I admit to not caring much for, but I don't recall it being significantly worse than "Guards! Guards!"

I've never heard anyone say it's actually the best Discworld book before. I mean to each their own I guess. A lot of people really like "Reaper Man", but the Death plot in that book is almost a side plot compared to the whole shopping mall plot, and even then the Death plot is mostly "meh" aside for his prayer to Uriel that concludes that half of the story. A lot of people really like 'Small Gods', but it mostly left me shrugging. (Max Gladstone's "Three Parts Dead" for me covered the same territory in a much more interesting manner.)
 

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I've never heard anyone say it's actually the best Discworld book before.
Really?

Have you never talked to other Discworld fans, or like just on one specific forum or something? It's incredibly common opinion. Especially in Britain. It's particularly often suggested as "the Discworld book you should start with", too.

It's in virtually every top 10 of Discworld books:





There are some people who go with Night Watch instead (though more often it's both!):


Certainly Men at Arms and Night Watch are also very well regarded, and Feet of Clay fairly well. But Jingo and Fifth Elephant? Those are fairly out-there choices. They're usually top 20 at best.

Or look at these forum people rating their top 5 and bottom 5 - note the Guards, Guards fairly frequently is #1:


Anyway, point is, it's an overwhelmingly common opinion the Guards, Guards! is great, and calling it "pretty bad" is really out there. The real question is what order do you put it, Night Watch, and Men at Arms in.

I will say I think there's a cultural divide among Discworld fans where some fans just really rag on the earlier books, and some fans do the same for the later ones, and I think that can be a little unfortunate - but is partly because there's a tonal change in Pratchett's writing, as gradually becomes more and more twee and loses its edge (Vimes also becomes basically Sherlock Holmes, which kind of weakens him as a character imho. A number of other characters, including Vetinari become flanderizations of themselves), whilst also perhaps having some more daring things to say buried under the several feet of twee.
 
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dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
Lots of folks who run SF games in this thread I imagine. Upcoming book that folks may find of interest. I know I want to read it:

Looks good. I follow Phil Plait other places. I think the big one I always am answering is what a planet orbiting a red dwarf looks like, and it is much like our light, it is not actually red light, only dimmer than our sun.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Looks good. I follow Phil Plait other places. I think the big one I always am answering is what a planet orbiting a red dwarf looks like, and it is much like our light, it is not actually red light, only dimmer than our sun.
Yeah, red dwarf, binary systems, our moon, and asteroids are all ones that I am looking forward to. Planteary rings is also probably cool.

Black Hole? meh, I've read a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction about black holes and that perspective - there was even a movie lol. But i guess he's got to include for completeness
 

Celebrim

Legend

Really. I've heard people say "Reaper Man", "Mort", "Small Gods", "Wyrd Sisters" and "Interesting Times" but never "Guards! Guards!".

My top 9 would probably be: Night Watch, Thief of Time, Wee Free Men, Interesting Times, Going Postal, Wyrd Sisters, Lords and Ladies, Feet of Clay, and Hogfather.

It's particularly often suggested as "the Discworld book you should start with", too.

I can totally see that. It starts off the best of the story arcs IMO. I just wish that the writing felt as polished as later on and the jokes landed better. Part of me is inclined to say "Start with Men-At-Arms". "Guards!" not quite as bad as 'The Colour of Magic' and 'The Light Fantastic', but it's certainly not polished like his later works.

All your lists convince me of is that there is little to no agreement over which books should be in the top half and the bottom half of his rankings. Of your links, I agree most closely with Top Ten Discworld Novels - Girl with her Head in a Book except that I put "Mort" firmly in the "Discworld Beta" period and feel that Death just isn't interesting as the central protagonist however great he is as a supporting character.
 

Really. I've heard people say "Reaper Man", "Mort", "Small Gods", "Wyrd Sisters" and "Interesting Times" but never "Guards! Guards!".
Well, live and learn, eh? Just check out the forum link I put at the end for numerous examples.

I just wish that the writing felt as polished as later on and the jokes landed better.
I feel like the "polished" period kind of cuts both ways, myself, because whilst the actual prose improves, and the jokes do land more successfully, a lot of the characters become less convincing, and less satirical, with Pratchett really 150% unable to "kill his darlings" - and I'm not saying literally kill them, like, make them look like idiots/screw-ups/fallible, which weakens a lot of the satire and even makes some of the moralizing seem dodgy because they become increasingly superhuman/infallible. There's also the issue that people who are really horrible or spooky individuals start getting regarded with fondness rather than apprehension (like Vetinari). The moralizing is particularly an issue, because whilst it gets better-judged - i.e. less "Stop the book, time for a moral!" and more justified by the events of the book and less "Uncle Tezza is here to set you straight", which is good - the characters delivering the morals becoming increasingly infallible (and in a couple of cases, and yeah I'm looking at you, Weatherwax, even a little smug and superior, rather than "truth-telling"), which is bad and makes the morals seem much cheaper.

The formulaic-ness of the novels becomes more obvious, too, and he increasingly leans on "ripped from the pages of history/20th-century pop culture" rather than "inspired by fantasy" (I think some people actually strongly prefer that, but I don't - I admit it probably helped the books succeed though). Additionally, the twee-ness/saccharine-ness of some of the later Discworld stuff makes my teeth hurt (and the failure to "kill your darlings" exaggerates this).

Death becoming a central character is pretty much an example for literally everything except the "ripped from the pages of history/pop-culture", I note.

I'm always slightly torn on criticism of The Colour of Magic, because I feel like easily 90% of people who really don't like it do so because they just aren't familiar with what it's satirising, and they jokes don't land for them because they profoundly don't get it. That's also why I think a lot of the "ripped from the pages of history/20th century pop-culture" stuff is extremely popular, even though some of it is kind of weak/uninspired, because it's more accessible to a broad audience, one which is unfamiliar with fantasy. The City Watch stuff is the particularly well-regarded because it exists in the crossover zone where it's accessible enough that a general audience who doesn't know fantasy "basically gets it", and it also works well for the more fantasy-oriented audience which was the original Discworld audience (and is still a decent-sized chunk).
 

Right now I am reading A History of Vampires in New England by Thomas D'Agostino. Been moving into a new place and it is a short quick read from the local interest section at the book store
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Been on a self-help kick recently

Halfway through both
Atomic Habits by James Clear
and
How to Do the Work by Nicole LePera

Also finished last night v6 in the Maisie Dobbs series, called Among the Mad, which takes place in 1931-32 in the heart of the depression. I do like these books a lot
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I love me some pirates, but the Republic of Pirates is super, super dry. Definitely only read it after you've read the far superior Under the Black Flag and Empire of Blue Water and are hankering for more details on how terrible life was as a non-pirate British sailor.
 

Vexed Vizier

Explorer
I'm halfway through Lonesome Dove. It's slow moving, but juicy and rich with character. I'm really savoring it.

I also plan to read some more Alexandre Dumas. I got halfway through both Three Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo before losing focus. Gonna take another crack at them because the first half of both were excellent.
 

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