Today is a very special day – it’s the Glorious 25th of May!
Back before May the 4th became A Thing, May 25th was Geek Pride Day, where everyone knew where their towel was (Douglas Adams) and were proud of a little thing you got punched for loving – Star Wars. Most importantly, it is a reference to Terry Pratchett’s phenomenal Discworld books.
Did you enjoy Good Omens? Well I have WONDERFUL NEWS!
The date comes from The Night Watch, lauded as one of the best in a series with many bests.
DISCLAIMER: I haven’t seen the recent BBC series and by all accounts, it is not great and misaligns with the overall Discworld feel and themes. Maybe it is great, I don’t know, but please don’t judge the book series by that show.
Early titles in the series follow more ‘traditional’ Western fantasy tropes – dragons, wizards, etc, but evolve into a more steampunkish, early Industrial Revolution setting – complete with examinations of colonialism, gender norms, and other modern conversations.
Since the Discworld series comprises over 50 titles, it might seem daunting. However, it’s not a linear story progression – think of something huge and vast, say, Lord of the Rings, and now imagine you get only Sam’s POV through the first book, or only Faramir’s in the second, Eowen’s, etc.. You still get a sense of the world’s vast scope and how the character fits into that world, but the focus is not so broad. Best of all: within the knobbly gray oyster of Pratchett’s sharp observational humor, there are priceless pearls of wisdom and hope.
My best friend recommended these books to me for years and because I am sometimes a snob with my head up my ass, I didn’t listen. Then a bunch of Bad Things happened in 2014-15 and I needed an escape. And the books were there to catch me.
For a year, I read the Discworld books. I read them on my Kindle, over and over, Saturdays at my favorite Mexican restaurant. They’re quick reads – the average reader could probably get through one in a weekend, or a week. I started with the Watch novels (which were a huge influence on Virago). Then I read the Witches novels (LOVE THEM SO MUCH). I started the Rincewind books but ehhhhhhhh – I never finished them. Maybe someday. Industrial revolution, ancient civilizations, Death (POWERFUL writing in the Death books) Tiffany Aching the rest are all great.
The Night Watch, which contains the Glorious May 25th reference, is the 6th in the Watch books, but believe me, you’ll get there fast. The comedy of Discworld is that gentle, observational humor that doesn’t leave anyone bruised (except bullies), and leaves you feeling a bit wiser to the human condition.
The only bad thing about the Discworld books? Terry is gone and won’t himself write any more.