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Third Quarter 2020 Reading is a Joy

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2 hours ago, Jodan said:

That's pushing me more to Eye Of The World again. Really stuck on this which is unusual for me, it's just such a commitment as it'll be a few years at least before I get to the one I don't decide on and I've wanted to read both for quite a while. Part of the reason for WOT is I think I just want a simple good vs evil, I know WOT is criticised for being outdated in that way now. But after all the moral ambiguity of AsoiaF, Abercrombie etc it might just hit the spot, Whether that spot is 14 books deep is another matter.

 

WoT is great again now that it's finished. It starts off good then there's a slog which I skipped when I first decided to finish the series and lost nothing by it then, finally, a pretty okay ending with the help of Sanderson.

Plus, a Wheel of Time TV show is being filmed so it's a great time to read the series.

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This morning I wrapped up Eric Ambler's collection of short stories, Waiting for Orders, a group of slightly unusual works from him that I had never read previously.  As the guy who I see as the co-inventor of the spy story along with John Buchan, Ambler's left-of-center, realistic works of suspense in the Levant and Central Europe are always challenging stories that reward a patient reader.

These shorts, written as he waited for his WW2 wartime assignment during the Phony War, are unusual in that all but two are set in London.  The mysteries, featuring the Czech refugee police doctor Jan Czissar, collectively known as "The Intrusions of Dr. Czissar", have a lot of humor.  Dr. Czissar really works well as a detective story protagonist, and the tales, though very short, all work.  Strongly recommended!

Edited by Wilbur
paragraphing for the win

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On 8/11/2020 at 3:52 AM, Starkess said:

Hm interesting. I actually totally see HH as likable, it's what makes him such an interesting and compelling character. He is likable and self-deluded while committing a terrible crime. It's been a while since I read the book, though, so my memories are a little foggy.

It's a bit like Tom Ripley, maybe a bit more subtle, extremely well written and HH certainly cannot claim that he slipped into his vile deads by strange circumstances. (And maybe it's also that the late 60s and 70s were generally far more cavalier about middle aged men and very young girls that changed the reception of the character.) The Dostoevsky characters have a wider spectrum. Raskolnikov is a rather sympathetic anti-hero despite his horrible deeds. The man from the "underground" not as much. Some others are also quite repulsive but generally the reader is more moved to pity by these madly driven gamblers etc.

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This also ties into some of my recent reads. I am now at my 4th Inspector Morse novel (not in the proper order, I read first, last, second and now one from the middle, depending on what I could get quickly and cheaply). I got into this by watching the TV prequel series "Endeavour" and a few episodes from the 80s-90s British TV series "Inspector Morse". The TV series rather changed Morse's character and made him far more likable. The Morse of the books is more or less an alcoholic, quite an asshole to his colleagues and subordinates, both shy and lecherous around women (nowadays the books should probably come with a mild warning that the perspective a bit too often is that of a dirty old man) and fairly crazy in some other respects. Sure, he is also a brilliant detective and the books are a bit conceited but very well plotted overall. They kept some spleens and some of the abrasiveness in the TV series but made him much nicer overall and left out the fondness of strip clubs and porn. And the young Morse in the prequel is almost an angel compared to the Morse of the books.

Edited by Jo498

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14 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

You forgot the exciting court case, and the payment of compensation. And that the killer will likely be composing verses of drottkvaett poetry at various intervals. 

Yes. They paid the double wereguild although it was only a servant who had been killed and swore to end the feud and everyone parted as friends but next year in spring again two bands of some relatives of the old feuding parties meet and there is again bloodshed. And I think I only read abridged and probably somewhat bowdlerized version in some anthology, still it was frequently the same.

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Regarding Ted Chiang's "Stories of Your Life and Others" short story collection, I loved  "Understand," "Divide by Zero," "Seventy-Two Letters," "Hell is the Absence of God," and, "Liking What You See: A Documentary."

In particular, "Liking What You See: A Documentary" seems really fresh to me. Of course, the concept of science fictional "neuro/pyschic surgery" like this isn't new but this done in a deceptively simple and straightforward yet thought-provoking way.

Spoiler:

Spoiler

 

One thing I don't think was discussed was how sexual attraction would function when someone is on calli. I mean, would you even feel that sexual pull? How would you select casual sex partners when you can't really tell who is physically attractive?

I get that people love or feel affection on calli regardless of the other person's beauty but I'm wondering about just sheer physical attraction. Does calli also remove that instant sexual attraction that some people have? 

 

 

Edited by Gigei
punctuation

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On 8/12/2020 at 8:37 AM, Jodan said:

That's pushing me more to Eye Of The World again. Really stuck on this which is unusual for me, it's just such a commitment as it'll be a few years at least before I get to the one I don't decide on and I've wanted to read both for quite a while. Part of the reason for WOT is I think I just want a simple good vs evil, I know WOT is criticised for being outdated in that way now. But after all the moral ambiguity of AsoiaF, Abercrombie etc it might just hit the spot, Whether that spot is 14 books deep is another matter.

The good thing about WoT is that the books are mostly self contained whilst furthering a overall plot. If you just read EotW, then you'll get a good standalone book and if you're impressed enough you can continue further. There are no cliffhangers that take away a satisfaction of "completing" a book. 

The good vs evil in WoT is no different from LotR. Perhaps you can call them vanilla fantasy, but I certainly wouldn't call either as outdated.

Edited by Eric Cartman

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I'm about to finish Ethereal Earth trilogy (Hero Forged, Fate Leashed & Blight Marked) by Josh Erikson. It's refreshing take on Urban Fantasy, light, action packed and fun to read. A minor criticism is lack of variety in books 2 and 3, but still they do make a entertaining read. 

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Andrew Lang, editor of the multi-volume Fairy Tale series, labeled in colors, is the subject of a piece by Michael Dirda in the (pay wall) WaPo. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/more-than-a-century-later-the-wonderful-work-of-andrew-lang-holds-up-remarkably-well/2020/08/12/4bff860e-dc07-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html

Why have I never thought of Lang, the person, and his life before, when I grew up with the fairy tale volumes, reading them over and over, in order!  Great Grand Mom had them all from her days as a teacher. She brought all the books they used in her classes at Teachers College on how and what to teach in English and history classes; she bought a lot of books for her country school kids as a library for that one-room school house that had none). 

He had a close friendship with Haggard. He read King Solomon's Mines in ms. and got it published. Haggard dedicated She to Lang -- Lang wrote a good natured parody of She, titled He. Additional jump starts to writing careersfor which he was responsible were those of Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson.  He championed Mark Twain in Britain, and so very much more.

He seems a great guy with whom to have hung out and whom to have as a friend.

His advice to would be writers can be found full text online. Worth reading today too:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2566/2566-h/2566-h.htm

So can his "Old Friends: Essays in Epistolary Parody" -- in which Catherine Moreland of Northhanger Abbey meets Jane Eyre:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1991

or 

http://www.fullbooks.com/Old-Friends--Essays-in-Epistolary-Parody1.html

In "Reading is a Joy" -- these are joyeous reads.

Edited by Zorral

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On 8/12/2020 at 1:45 PM, HelenaExMachina said:

Farseer all day every day and three times on Tuesdays thank you very much. Everyone else's opinions are irrelevant.

 

My slightly unpopular opinion is that the Witches series is the best of the Discworld stuff. By unpopular I don't mean people necessarily dislike that series, it's just far more common to find, the Watch is most popular. I also include the Tiffany Aching books in that series too, for obvious reasons. I think Wintersmith is my favourite Tiffany Aching book

I've seen it said that Guards Guards! is quite masculine and tends to be recommended by men as a starting point for Discworld, but that women are more likely to recommend the Witches. I've not really tested that hypothesis out, but it doesn't seem completely insane to me.

ST

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On 8/12/2020 at 5:53 AM, Jodan said:

But I really want to start a 'proper' series, Discworld is more loose so it's good to dip in and out of with no need to read the next soon after so you don't forget the story as they're mostly self contained. I'm stuck between Wheel Of Time and Farseer (plus the follow on trilogies). I've scoured Reddit and previous threads here for opinion and looking for an updated view. With WOT it's more a case is it worth reading/trying Eye Of The World before the Amazon series begins?

I don't want to read both at the same time as I like to read other stuff and not be flipping between WOT/Farseer/Discworld for god knows how long with no time for anything else. So the question is what do I buy when I go to pick up Dune? Assassins Apprentice or Eye Of The World?

I can recommend a couple of good series that aren't mainstream for you to consider. 

Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton - A fast and really novel take on mythology based fantasy. It really has all the world's mythology all in one book. Really a fun read. 

Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron - Another fun read about a thief who wants to be best in world. Different kind of magic system and really well written and enjoyable. 

On sci-fi, try Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. Not the epic of Dune, but really cool read about a security bot which calls itself Murderbot but loves to watch TV shows. Well structured plaot, likeable characters and overall nice read. 

As a standalone, I can recommend Lord of Light by Roger Zelanzy. A superbly crafted sci-fi set in Hindu mythology.  

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On 8/12/2020 at 2:45 PM, HelenaExMachina said:

My slightly unpopular opinion is that the Witches series is the best of the Discworld stuff. By unpopular I don't mean people necessarily dislike that series, it's just far more common to find, the Watch is most popular. I also include the Tiffany Aching books in that series too, for obvious reasons. I think Wintersmith is my favourite Tiffany Aching book


Hat Full of Sky is my second-favourite Discworld overall, after Night Watch.

I think there might be something to the notion that women like the Witches while men like Vimes- Granny Weatherwax is my favourite character now but she wouldn't have been if you asked me a few years ago.


City Watch is still my favourite series though. One of the reasons I'd usually recommend it to start over Witches is that it's more consistent and is so from the start - Guards Guards and Men at Arms are a bit samey but both still very good and then you've got the Feet of Clay, Jingo, Fifth Elephant and Night Watch run, whereas even if you skip Equal Rites which is just an oddity within the series, I don't think Wyrd Sisters is particularly strong, Witches Abroad is excellent but (despite some excellent thoughts on religion and a cracking ending in Carpe Jugullum) I don't love Lords and Ladies or Maskerade, though Carpe Jugullum is really good. It's Tiffany where that series really hit its stride for me.

 

Same goes for Death, actually. I don't really like Mort very much at all, plus Death just isn't really the character he evolved into later. Reaper Man is excellent and my personal start, but then Soul Music is kinda eh for me too. Hogfather and  Thief of Time are the business though.

Though where I really usually recommend to start is 'pick what takes your fancy between book 8- Guards! Guards! and 20 - Hogfather, I think that's the sweet spot between Pratchett finding his feet and things getting a bit involved to catch everything if you read it standalone even though they technically are. And even if I have my personal quibbles with one book or another it's all relative and it's hard to go wrong in that stretch.


I gotta massively disagree with the person who said Discworld got weaker after Jingo though. For me by far the strongest stretch of the series is from Feet of Clay (19, two before Jingo) through to Going Postal at 33. The only weaker ones in that run for me are The Last Hero and Amazing Maurice, which are kinda throwaway but still fun (and great art on Last Hero) and most of my favourites are in that stretch.


Man I love Discworld. One of the foundational series of my teenage reading years alongside the Culture and Malazan (both of which came slightly later). Glad I didn't start with the start though- the first two books are weak coz they're just trying to be a fantasy Hitchhiker's Guide, quite openly really, and that kind of style was not Pterry's strength.

On 8/12/2020 at 1:58 PM, Plessiez said:

The last few published books are definitely worse, for whatever reason.  Unseen Academicals and Snuff are both pretty bad, sadly.  (And Raising Steam is a lot worse than that -- it's the only Discworld book I genuinely regret reading.)


Snuff is bizarre because whereas his books are usually concerned with current issues, Snuff is an impassioned takedown of the slave trade- and not indentured servitude in general such as still happens around the world but slave-trade style, 'these people aren't real people' chattel slavery in particular, and because it also does what Pratchett usually doesn't and makes racism analogies that have direct real-world comparisons, it does slightly run into the trouble that fantasy racism analogies often do, which is that when it leaves aside the analogy and goes back to the fantasy, it walks straight into unfortunate implications (to whit, when bouncing between the fantasy-genre-relevant 'rehabilitation of the reputation of goblins' plot and real world slavery comparisons it accidentally implies that reparations to, and non-punishment of, slave owners was okay because slave traders didn't know they were dealing with people, which is obviously quite a dangerous implication to make).

Unseen Academicals is bad because Pratchett simply didn't understand football culture in the slightest and his attempts to really get a lock on it never came close.

 

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I'm a woman and I love the City Watch subseries and recommend it as a good place to start for Discworld. The witches are okay but nothing special to me, and I don't think I've read all their books. Personally, I started my own (incomplete) Discworld adventures with The Colour of Magic because I usually strongly prefer publication order, and I loved it. That was a long time ago though.

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I have read maybe half of discworld (over a span of about 25 years) but last times a read and re-read a bunch I was positively surprised by some of the very early ones. One simply has to grant that they are different. Especially the first two (but maybe most of the first ca. 10) are mostly parodies of fantasy tropes, basically Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy with fantasy instead of SciFi. As such they are very entertaining and quite good (and I think the totally crazy first two are in some respects better than e.g. Wyrd sisters that is more ambitious with its Shakespeare parodies). This feels different nowadays with 30 later, often more serious books and fantasy having become far more mainstream (and more diverse) than in the 1980s. The first bunch I read with ca. 20 around 1992 in German translation (often a bit of a problem because many puns are almost impossible to translate) were a blast. They felt utterly novel and fresh.

So I think one can/should start at the beginning but I am not disagreeing that going for the city watch and start with Guards!Guards! is also a good option.

Edited by Jo498

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On 8/13/2020 at 10:08 PM, polishgenius said:

I gotta massively disagree with the person who said Discworld got weaker after Jingo though. For me by far the strongest stretch of the series is from Feet of Clay (19, two before Jingo) through to Going Postal at 33. The only weaker ones in that run for me are The Last Hero and Amazing Maurice, which are kinda throwaway but still fun (and great art on Last Hero) and most of my favourites are in that stretch.

I'm not sure if I've always thought this, but these days I definitely think the strongest stretch is from Reaper Man (11) up to and including Hogfather (20), a run that includes the two best Witches books, the best Rincewind book, two of the three best City Watch books, the two best Death books and, in Small Gods, the best book of the series overall.  (Okay, it also includes Soul Music, but I didn't say it was perfect...)

Is it a coincidence that these are exactly the books in the series that I happened to first read in my early teens?  Well, probably not.

But other than simple nostalgia, one reason I think I like the later books a bit less is that so many of them are continuations of long-running sub-series at that point.  I don't think long-running character growth is really one of Pratchett's strengths: secondary characters tend to learn some sort of lesson or change some aspect of their behaviour in the first book they're introduced in, and then just stay static over later books.  I also don't really find later-series versions of Vimes or Granny Weatherwax (or other long-running characters like Vetinari) to be as interesting as they are earlier in the series.

(Spoilers for the City Watch books up to The Fifth Elephant Thud!.)

Spoiler

The Vimes of Guards! Guards! has a completely different back story to the Vimes of later books, of course.  And although the Patrician appears as early as Sourcery, it takes Pratchett a while to figure out a version of the character that really works.    But by Men At Arms I think Pratchett had more or less settled on the versions of the characters that he'd stick with for the rest of the series.

But the Vimes (and Vetinari) of Men At Arms have more human flaws than they're allowed in later books.  Captain Vimes has a strong moral sense, sure, but he's still fallible and needs to be talked out of shooting somebody while he's under the influence of the gonne;  by The Fifth Elephant Commander Vimes has such supernatural self-control that it terrifies an ancient spirit of vengeance.   And the Patrician of Men At Arms is intelligent, but he can make mistakes: he sometimes misjudges how people will react to his attempts to influence them, he can be surprised by an assassination attempt.  By Jingo these things feel impossible because the character has become so defined by being utterly hypercompetent.

So while the later books in the series are still funny, they just don't seem to have any real stakes.  The alternate universe scenes with the Dis-organiser in Jingo ("Things to do today: build barricades .... rally survivors. Things to do today: die") are surprisingly effective, but at the same time it becomes impossible to believe that anything seriously bad will happen to the Watch in anything but an alternate universe.

A minor point, but are the Tiffany Aching books really part of the Witches subseries?  Admittedly I've not read the last couple, but my impression was that the relationship between those books and the 'main' Witches books was more like the relationship between the Watch books and the various later Ankh-Morpork based books like The Truth or Going Postal.  

On 8/13/2020 at 10:08 PM, polishgenius said:

Man I love Discworld. One of the foundational series of my teenage reading years alongside the Culture and Malazan (both of which came slightly later). Glad I didn't start with the start though- the first two books are weak coz they're just trying to be a fantasy Hitchhiker's Guide, quite openly really, and that kind of style was not Pterry's strength

Yeah, the first couple of Discworld books feel a lot closer to Pratchett's pre-Discworld SF novels than what the series ultimately turns into, only working with pastiches of Robert E. Howard or Anne McCaffery or Fritz Leiber instead of parodies of Asmiov and Niven. (Of those early books, I have a bit of a soft spot for The Dark Side of the Sun, even though I'd concede that objectively its not very good.)  I'm not sure how much of that is Pratchett finding a style that played to his strengths and how much is due to him just becoming a better writer in general as the series progressed.

I think Equal Rites is the first really good Discworld book, but I'm not sure I'd suggest anybody start with it because it's really not much like anything that comes after it, and there's not an obvious next book to read.  Publication order suggests Mort, which I think we share opinions on, and going straight to the 'next' Witches book from that feels a bit jarring (since the Granny Weatherwax of Wyrd Sisters might as well be a different person with the same name, and there really isn't much in common between the two books beyond that).

But yeah, growing up these books (and the early Culture books, actually) really meant a lot to me, too.  Still don't think I've ever read anything like them (though I've read a few things that tried).  When I say the later books aren't as good, I'm really only speaking relatively to the peak I think the series hit slightly earlier.   I wouldn't want discourage anybody from reading anything up to Going Postal at all.  (It's only with the last few books that I think the quality really starts to go down.)

Edited by Plessiez
The Fifth Elephant and Thud! are different books.

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10 hours ago, Plessiez said:

But other than simple nostalgia, one reason I think I like the later books a bit less is that so many of them are continuations of long-running sub-series at that point.  I don't think long-running character growth is really one of Pratchett's strengths: secondary characters tend to learn some sort of lesson or change some aspect of their behaviour in the first book they're introduced in, and then just stay static over later books.  I also don't really find later-series versions of Vimes or Granny Weatherwax (or other long-running characters like Vetinari) to be as interesting as they are earlier in the series.

(Spoilers for the City Watch books up to The Fifth Elephant.)

  Reveal hidden contents

The Vimes of Guards! Guards! has a completely different back story to the Vimes of later books, of course.  And although the Patrician appears as early as Sourcery, it takes Pratchett a while to figure out a version of the character that really works.    But by Men At Arms I think Pratchett had more or less settled on the versions of the characters that he'd stick with for the rest of the series.

But the Vimes (and Vetinari) of Men At Arms have more human flaws than they're allowed in later books.  Captain Vimes has a strong moral sense, sure, but he's still fallible and needs to be talked out of shooting somebody while he's under the influence of the gonne;  by The Fifth Elephant Commander Vimes has such supernatural self-control that it terrifies an ancient spirit of vengeance.   And the Patrician of Men At Arms is intelligent, but he can make mistakes: he sometimes misjudges how people will react to his attempts to influence them, he can be surprised by an assassination attempt.  By Jingo these things feel impossible because the character has become so defined by being utterly hypercompetent.

So while the later books in the series are still funny, they just don't seem to have any real stakes.  The alternate universe scenes with the Dis-organiser in Jingo ("Things to do today: build barricades .... rally survivors. Things to do today: die") are surprisingly effective, but at the same time it becomes impossible to believe that anything seriously bad will happen to the Watch in anything but an alternate universe.

A minor point, but are the Tiffany Aching books really part of the Witches subseries?  Admittedly I've not read the last couple, but my impression was that the relationship between those books and the 'main' Witches books was more like the relationship between the Watch books and the various later Ankh-Morpork based books like The Truth or Going Postal.  

 



There's something to what you say about the character changes (by TV tropes terms a slight flanderisation), though you've misremembered, Fifth Elephant was the first of the two Vimes Uberwald book, the one you're thinking of is Thud!. Which I do agree was a dropoff. Even in Night Watch, though he's a bit more polished than in earlier books, he's still fighting with his more violent instincts throughout, and in Fifth Elephant he gets manipulated like no-one's business.

 


I think that slight (and I do think it is slight till the very later books, which we agree on) issue is countered by the overall depth and richness in the overall plots, which I think came on in leaps in the stretch I prefer. I've also got the inkling of a thought that while the characters might be a bit more smoothed off and archetypal than earlier that I prefer the relationships between them in the later stretch, though I've never really analysed that thought (since I just had it now) and it might not be entirely fair.


And I'd say the Tiffany books are definitely Witches books - the Watch only get passing cameos in The Truth and Going Postal etc, Granny gets a cameo at the end of Wee Free Men but she's key in Hat Full of Sky and her and Nanny are a strong presence in most of the later books too.

It's also worth noting that for all the disappointment of his later adult books, the Tiff books didn't drop off to anywhere near the same extent and The Shepherd's Crown is a genuinely fitting book to have been his last.

Edited by polishgenius

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I'm back to Wild Cards after a break of a couple of years.  I recently picked up the America arc - Mississippi Roll, Low Chicago and Texas Hold'Em.  So far, I'm only about 2/3 through Mississippi Roll, but  I'm reminded, with each new book, of what a joy it is for me to revisit this world.  I continue to miss a lot of the older characters (Turtle and Mod Man most of all), but anytime Billy Ray shows up, I know I'm in for a treat. 

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On 8/13/2020 at 11:08 PM, polishgenius said:

The only weaker ones in that run for me are The Last Hero and Amazing Maurice, which are kinda throwaway but still fun (and great art on Last Hero) and most of my favourites are in that stretch.

The Last Hero is an odd one for me too. The art is great and I think so is the story, but it is a lot more condensed than other Discworld books, probably so as not to give the illustrator too much work given the density of art in that book. In particular, the beginning almost feels rushed. We learn what Cohen is up to in only a couple of sentences, then a few main characters are drummed together and they start working on the right solution immediately. Leonard da Quirm gives the Patrician a shopping list of materials and dragons, and in the next scene the Kite is fully built. The whole book feels like it fast-forwards to where the climax of a Discworld book would usually be, then spends its entire running time on that. Again, though, awesome art. The story is cool too. It's one of the few that actually explore the lower elements of the Discworld. There are times when you wonder what the turtle and elephants are there for, other than to set the tone of the setting at the start of each book.

The weakest Discworld book overall for me (so far - still only halfway through Wintersmith since I'm saving the latter half for a lengthy train journey tomorrow) is one similar to The Last Hero, namely Eric (or FaustEric if you want to be technical). This one was also illustrated, but I was dumb and got the regular paperback version, which is short as a pamphlet compared to the full-length books around it and both begins and ends rather awkwardly with a very short middle. That being said, it has its strong points too, like the great descriptions of Hell. I also like that it exists, because that gives me a very easy pick for my least favourite Discworld novel, a question that would have been substantially harder to answer otherwise. Counting The Colour of Magic would be a cheap move (I think I would rank it below Eric if I did) as Pratchett had yet to find his style by then, and it really shows. It's like counting the playing cards that as the worst Nintendo franchise. 

I also agree with the general sentiment that the characters tend to "solidify" a little too much into their most virtuous selves after a few books. Vimes being moral to a fault, Carrot also being moral to a fault while also being a really nice guy, Vetinari being clever to the point that he treats his assassination attempts as a riddle for others to solve, Granny Weatherwax being an unbendable badass, and so on. I don't really let it affect my enjoyment of the books, though. The stories are still great and the setting is awesome. 

If I were to categorize the Tiffany Aching books, I'd place them in the same basket as Equal Rites. They are Witch books all right, but not a "Witches of Lancre" books. Granny and Nanny are definitely side characters, if they show up at all. They are all about a character learning the basics of witchcraft and facing her own issues, even though the more experienced witches do feature. Although, again, I'm not too sold on the "Tiffany being stalked by a supernatural being" plot as that's a main story in all three of her first books. But there are two Tiffany books left to read (well, two and a half), so she may end up doing something else eventually. 

Oh, and even though I already declared the Witches series (series plural, as per the paragraph above) my favourite, the Watch series still deserves credit for one thing: It shows how the city of Ankh-Morpork changes over time. It's a very mono-cultural fantasy city in the first few books, then eventually more dwarfs and trolls settle there, and there's a gradual technological development as well. We see Ankh-Morpork grow as a society, instead of being the same all throughout the series. That wouldn't have been a bad thing in itself (Lancre stays the same, after all), but it's nice to see an example of societal and technological progress in a fantasy series.

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13 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Fifth Elephant was the first of the two Vimes Uberwald book, the one you're thinking of is Thud!.

Oh, yes, you're right.  (Just to be safe I've edited the spoiler warning in my last post to identify the right book.)

13 hours ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

It's a very mono-cultural fantasy city in the first few books, then eventually more dwarfs and trolls settle there, and there's a gradual technological development as well. We see Ankh-Morpork grow as a society, instead of being the same all throughout the series. That wouldn't have been a bad thing in itself (Lancre stays the same, after all), but it's nice to see an example of societal and technological progress in a fantasy series.

Yes, this is a nice aspect of the later books.

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I actually don't think that this is clearly a good thing. If I want to read Dickens or Hugo or some more recent book with social or societal themes, I'll do this. But I don't really want Pseudo-Dickens 19th century London with dwarfs and wizards and Pratchettian humour (which makes it far less tragic than real 19th century London or Paris were and are as such reflected in the best of Dickens or Hugo) and while I don't deny that Pratchett often manages a pretty successful fusion of these aspects, I am not really convinced by some of the more ambitious books like "Night Watch".

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