Turtle Recall Reading Guide / How to Determine with Which Discworld Book to Start

While we touched on the different ways and reading orders you can read Discworld, that doesn’t mean it is easier to pick which book to start with. Below I am going to go into each a little except the random order as that is a very personal thing as you often stumble upon it.

Publication Order

While Discworld is one of those few series that you don’t have to read in order if you don’t want to, many are still so used to reading books in release order that they find it hard to step away from. If that is the case for you, starting with the first book, The Colour of Magic, can be a good start.

The Colour of Magic was published way back in 1983, and while Pratchett is a great writer already then, it is clear that this book was his first jump into the Discworld books. It is an introduction to the world and Rincewind and some other key figures. In later books he still discovers many new things. Still, it is funny and steps away from some of the more conventional fantasy of its time.

If you like or love The Colour of Magic, great. You can totally continue on with the publication order. You’ll love it all.

If not, I advise you to pick a second book to read from one of the story arcs listed down below. It is just not completely representative of the whole series. Pratchett himself had said that he cringed to think about it being the first introduction to Discworld for new readers of him.

It was the first book I started with and for me it was not the best choice to start with, looking back. But picking the first book of one of the story arcs down below, and I fell in love. So at least commit to two books is my advice if you go the publication order route.

Story ARCS

As shown in the previous Reading Guide on Discworld Reading Order, there are 7 story arcs and 3 standalone books within Discworld. One of the things I like the most about the story arcs is that it makes Discworld in more managable bite sizes. Either you commit to 5, 6 or 8 books per story arc. It is much more achievable to yourself than saying, oh I need to read 41 books total.

Most Advised Story Arcs to Start Discworld With

There is many advice and graphics on what the best place to start Discworld is but there are generally three that come forward the most. From these you can choose what fancies you and where you want to start.


Equal Rites / Wyrd Sisters / Witches Abroad / Lords and Ladies / Maskerade / The Sea and Little Fishes / Carpe Jugulum

The Witches arc focuses on Granny Weatherwax. The witches in Discworld are more herbologists and healers. While they can use magic, they’d rather just not. They usually are a pillar of a community where they help take care of the people in various situations.

Mort / Death and What Comes Next / Reaper Man / Soul Music / Hogfather / Thief of Time

Death is one of the most well known characters in the whole of Discworld, appearing in all but The Wee Free Men. But there are five books that focus on him. Death is of course the grim reaper and he appears as seven foot tall skeleton with a black robe, a scythe and a horse. He has gained an almost morbid fascination with humanity which causes some interesting situations…

city watch
Guards! Guards! / Theatre of Cruelty / Men At Arms / Feet of Clay / Jingo / The Fifth Elephant / Night Watch / Thud! / Where is My Cow? / Snuf

The City Watch arcs focuses on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. It often centers around the growing City Watch from just a few members to a complete police force. In Ankh-Morpork there is a clash between the classic magical society and the newer growing industrial and technological revolution. City Watch has to manouver that.

tiffany aching
The Wee Free Men / A Hat Full of Sky / Wintersmith / I Shall Wear Midnight / The Shepherd’s Crown

Not apart of what is usually recommend but this is my personal recommendation to you. Tiffany Aching is the young adult story arc of Discworld. Which I think is a great place to start if you want to jump on over to Discworld from mainly reading young adult books. It is a great introduction to Discworld in itself and you can still go back in time and meet some of the characters in this in the earlier arcs.

The main character of this arc is Tiffany Aching, a young smart girl who wants to become a witch. She is joined by the Nac Mac Feegle (the wee free men) who are loudmouthed pictsie creatures who serve her as guardians.

Other Story Arcs

The Colour of Magic / The Light Fantastic / Sourcery / Eric / Interesting Times / The Last Continent / The Last Hero / Unseen Academicals

Rincewind is an especially inept wizard who shows no talent for anything, accident prone and who has no desire to be a hero. Unfortunately he always accidentally falls into adventure.

industrial Revolution
Moving Pictures / The Truth / Monstrous Regiment / Going Postal / Making Money / Raising Steam

The industrial revolution is as the name suggests about the industrial revolution in Discworld, or rather more in and around Ankh-Morpork. However I also added the title Moist Von Lipwig at the end there as the last 3 books focus on his character and so I also know that trio as that story arc.

Pyramids / Small Gods / The Amazing Maurice and his Rodents

The standalone books don’t quite fit into the other story arcs.

Pyramids is about an assassin, just out of the guild. His father has died and the building of his pyramids seems to be giving some trouble.

Small Gods talks about the religion in Discworld which is quite controversial. Everyone follows their own Gods, minor or big. It is quite a competive job, being a God, so how does one stand out?

The Amazing Maurice is yet another young adult novel, the first that Discworld ever had. Maurice is a cat, a smart one according to his own judgement. Rats are stupid. But when rats start eating wizard’s rubbish and start to talk, he seesn an opportunity.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titel

There are many different opinions on how to read Discworld. But they are just that. Opinions. There are some that believe that they know best how to read Discworld but please don’t let these people discourage you from reading Discworld in your own way and picking out what interests you the most. That way you experience Discworld in the best way that suits you.

Kopie van Ontwerp zonder titel(1)


20 thoughts on “Turtle Recall Reading Guide / How to Determine with Which Discworld Book to Start

  1. Great advice. And yes the Tiffany arc is a great place to start. It is such a an individual thing really where to start with the Discworld, depending on the person I rarely advice starting with the publication order because the books do get better and better as the world evolved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is. I don’t advice publication order either but a lot of people feel weird starting out of order so I at least tend to tell them that they should give another book a chance afterwards.


  2. Thank you for this Discworld breakdown. I want to try getting into Discworld and haven’t known where to start so this is invaluable. I’m usually someone who reads books in publication order unless we’re talking about The Chronicles of Narnia, and I think I’ll be breaking that personal rule for this series too. My starting point is probably going to be Witches or Tiffany Aching arcs!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for providing a breakdown of the story arcs. It’s easy to forget them when picking which book to read next but this will be very helpful in preventing that. I planned on reading them in chronological order but that went out the window when I saw Snuff in my local library and decided to borrow it when I had the chance. Hopefully, that shouldn’t complicate matters too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Technically you can read the arcs out of order too since it is little things that make them go in order rather than huge plot elements and the story plots are generally written contained to just one book

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am bookmarking this for all of time!!! I’m not new to Discworld, but I attempted to read The Color Magic and I am super struggling, so I may try one of the other arcs instead until I get back in the swing of things with Discworld. This is super helpful thanks so much for creating it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my gosh. No wonder I’ve been so overwhelmed! I had no idea that this was such a deeply interconnected series! My gut wants to start with The Colour of Magic, but I’m nervous that this is too difficult a place to start. I’ve heard amazing things about Tiffany Aching, so perhaps I should start there?

    What is your favorite story arc?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t advise going the route of The Colour of Magic for you. Tiffany Aching is a great please to start. More of the YA series within Discworld. It has chapters. Not a lot of Discworld has that.

      But I also love Death. And I recently read Guards Guards and Goin Postal from two other arcs and loved both as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wait. Tiffany Aching is one of the only Discworld books with chapters? That’s a bit shocking. Any idea why Pratchett seems to avoid using chapters to break up his text?

        Thanks for all the recommendations!


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