ankh-morpork and beyond
I got started reading Pratchett's Discworld novels to Jane because I couldn't help myself. I'd start out reading silently, then hit a passage that was so hysterically funny that I had to share it with Jane. But first I had to explain what was going on, so that she'd appreciate it. She appreciated the humor, but depreciated the interruptions, and eventually it became easier to read them out loud from square one. He's written a number of other series and stand-alone novels as well.
The Discworld Series
Swimming through space in a universe other than our own is Great A'Tuin, a turtle of truly astronomic size. Standing on his back are four giant elephants whose names elude me at the moment; and resting on their backs is the Discworld, the edges of which glitter with the majestic rainbows of the Rimfall. On this truly absurd planet, orbited by its own tiny sun, are set the most consistently amusing and implausible collection of novels I know. The series is divided into several subseries; I'll take them in turn.
The earliest concern Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in the history of the Disc's great academy of magic, Unseen University. The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic concern Rincewind's travails while guiding Twoflower and his Luggage about the Discworld. Twoflower is the Disc's first tourist, a native of the Counterweight Continent; his Luggage is simply unspeakable. Also, hungry. These two books mostly poke fun at the sword-and-sorcery genre of fantasy, and are widely regarded as the weakest books in the series; Pratchett gets much better as he goes on.
The essence of Rincewind's life is survival; the essence of any book about Rincewind is the chase. We know he will somehow manage to stay one step ahead of those who want to kill him--or, at least, that he will escape in time. As a result, the Rincewind books tend to read as rather bizarre travelogs of strange people and dangerous places...or, more likely, dangerous people in strange places.
The Rincewind books are as follows:
This subseries kicked off with the introduction of Granny Weatherwax in the third Discworld book, Equal Rites, hit its stride with Wyrd Sisters, and is still going strong. The series concerns the doings of the village witches of the Kingdom of Lancre, a small kingdom perched on the side of the Ramtop Mountains. The inimitable and crotchety Granny Weatherwax is the chief witch--or would be if witches held with putting on such airs, which they don't, at least while Granny is looking. Her close friend is the expansive and lusty Nanny Ogg, matriarch of the enormous Ogg clan. They are joined over time by two junior witches, Magrat Garlick and Agnes Nitt.
Over the course of the series the witches travel all over the Disc, but most of the books take place in Lancre itself, especially the priceless Wyrd Sisters. It's sort of like Macbeth, only the witches are the good guys.
The Witches books are as follows:
These books concern themselves with the doings of Captain Samuel Vimes and Corporal Carrot of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch as they deal with dragons (large and small), golems, king-makers, evil weapons, assassins, and that most feared denizen of Ankh-Morpork, its ruler, the Patrician. As Pratchett himself says, Ankh-Morpork is governed on the principle of One Man, One Vote. The Patrician is the Man; he has the Vote. Titles include:
Death has a walk-on part in every Discworld book; if anyone dies, Death is there to collect them, bones, hooded robed, scythe, and all. Riding his white horse, Binky. "Gosh!", they say, "Shouldn't there be harps and things?" NO, says Death, THERE'S ONLY ME. (That's how Death talks.)
Death's primary difficulty is that he wants to understand people. He's been watching them for the entire history of the Disc, and he wants to be like them. He's no good at it, although he does acquire a fondess for cats and curry (though not together). Hogfather, the most recent Death book, may be the best Discworld book to date. Titles include:
Other Discworld Books
There are also a few standalone novels in the series; while involving continuing characters, they aren't really part of any of the continuing series.
The Discworld Companion, written with , is a sort of dictionary of all things Discworld.
The Entire Discworld
The series as a whole was written in the following order:
The Truckers Trilogy
The Truckers Trilogy is also known as the Nomes trilogy or The Bromeliad; it concerns a race of little people who have built a high civilization within the walls of a department store, and what happens to them when the store is closed and they have to move Outside. The books are intended for younger readers, and while humorous don't have the over-the-top kind of satire one expects from the Discworld.
Like the Truckers books, the Johnny books are juveniles; entertaining but not as satirical as the Discworld books. They concern schoolboy Johnny Maxwell and his friends in a variety of odd situations.
Links of Interest
Just about anything you'd want to know about Pratchett and the world of Pratchett fandom you can find on the L-Space Web.