Terry Pratchett began his popular Discworld series in 1983 with The Color of Magic. For over 30 years — until his death in 2015 — he delighted readers with his trademark satirical wit and fantastical world building. In honor of his birthday on April 28, we’ve compiled a list of fantasy books for Discworld fans, including reads that combine humor and fantasy in their own unique ways. Check out our recommendations for Pratchett fans below, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last 15 years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox — the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The first installment in Jasper Fforde’s New York Times bestselling series of Thursday Next novels introduces literary detective Thursday Next and her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England.
Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde’s Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it’s a bibliophile’s dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The storm was coming….
Shadow spent three years in prison, keeping his head down, doing his time. All he wanted was to get back to the loving arms of his wife and to stay out of trouble for the rest of his life. But days before his scheduled release, he learns that his wife has been killed in an accident, and his world becomes a colder place.
On the plane ride home to the funeral, Shadow meets a grizzled man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A self-styled grifter and rogue, Wednesday offers Shadow a job. And Shadow, a man with nothing to lose, accepts.
But working for the enigmatic Wednesday is not without its price, and Shadow soon learns that his role in Wednesday’s schemes will be far more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. Entangled in a world of secrets, he embarks on a wild road trip and encounters, among others, the murderous Czernobog, the impish Mr. Nancy, and the beautiful Easter — all of whom seem to know more about Shadow than he himself does.
Shadow will learn that the past does not die, that everyone, including his late wife, had secrets, and that the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined.
All around them a storm of epic proportions threatens to break. Soon Shadow and Wednesday will be swept up into a conflict as old as humanity itself. For beneath the placid surface of everyday life a war is being fought — and the prize is the very soul of America.
As unsettling as it is exhilarating, American Gods is a dark and kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an America at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. Magnificently told, this work of literary magic will haunt the reader far beyond the final page.
The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi
A human diplomat kills his alien counterpart. Earth is on the verge of war with a vastly superior alien race. A lone man races against time and a host of enemies to find the one object that can save our planet and our people from alien enslavement…
That’s right, a sheep. And if you think that’s the most surprising thing about this book, wait until you read Chapter One. Welcome to The Android’s Dream.
For Harry Creek, it’s quickly becoming a nightmare. All he wants is to do his uncomplicated mid-level diplomatic job with Earth’s State Department. But his past training and skills get him tapped to save the planet — and to protect pet store owner Robin Baker, whose own past holds the key to the whereabouts of that lost sheep. Doing both will take him from lava-strewn battlefields to alien halls of power. All in a day’s work. Maybe it’s time for a raise.
Throw in two-timing freelance mercenaries, political lobbyists with megalomaniac tendencies, aliens on a religious quest, and an artificial intelligence with unusual backstory, and you’ve got more than just your usual science fiction adventure story. You’ve got The Android’s Dream.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
From a strikingly original voice in fiction comes the story of Artemis Fowl, a very unusual hero. Artemis combines the astuteness of Sherlock Holmes with the sangfroid of James Bond and the attitude of Attila the Hun. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories. These fairies are armed and they’re dangerous. Artemis thinks he’s got them just where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules…
Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl opens up a riveting world of magic, mystery, and humor.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl — and herself –than first meets the eye.
Ronan the Barbarian by James Bibby
What do you do when all of your family and friends have been butchered by a tribe of brutal, bloodthirsty warriors? Why, swear vengeance, of course! But carrying out your vow won’t be easy when you’re a skinny, eight-stone teenager who gets a nose-bleed cracking open an egg. And so young Ronan decides that he’d better learn to fight…
Set in Midworld, a realm of magic where large, muscle-bound men do unspeakable things to each other with nasty great swords, Ronan the Barbarian deals with real, everyday problems that are usually avoided in other fantasy worlds…
Problems such as how to fight someone when the cheap sword you bought at Honest Elric’s Used Sword Emporium keeps coming off the handle. Or how to cast a spell when you’re crippled by a hangover after drinking 12 pints of Gobbo’s Pearly Light in the Dragon’s Gizzard tavern. Or what to do when you’re a God, but you happen to be the God of Atheists, you haven’t received a prayer in five hundred years, and you’re bored out of your mind.
Ronan the Barbarian is the first book in the Ronan trilogy.
Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
It was the highest honor to defend the Empire against the dreaded Chingers, an enemy race of seven-foot-tall lizards. But Bill, a Technical Fertilizer Operator from a planet of farmers, wasn’t interested in honor — he was only interested in two things: his chosen career, and the shapely curves of Inga-Maria Calyphigia. Then a recruiting robot shanghaied him with knockout drops, and he came to in deep space, aboard the Empire warship Christine Keeler. And from there, things got even worse… From the sweltering fuse room aboard the Keeler, where he loses an arm while blasting a Chinger spaceship, to the Department of Sanitation far below the world-city of Helior, where he finds peace, job security, and unlimited trash… here is Bill, a pure-hearted fool fighting a deluxe cast of robots, androids, and aliens in a never-ending losing battle to preserve his humanity while upholding the glory of the Empire.
Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan
If you think you’ve seen it all — World War Z, The Walking Dead — you haven’t seen anything like this. From the twisted brain of Michael Logan comes Apocalypse Cow, a story about three unlikely heroes who must save Britain… from a rampaging horde of zombie cows!
Forget the cud. They want blood.
It began with a cow that just wouldn’t die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain’s livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn’t recognize a scoop if she tripped over one.
As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?
One outcome . . .
Yup, we’re screwed.
Goblin Quest by Jim C. Hines
In the history of grand adventures, heroic quests, and noble battles, goblinkind has never been more than a footnote. All that is about to change. Jig the goblin wants nothing more than to be left alone. Instead, he is drafted to help guard the goblin tunnels against intruders. When Jig’s patrol is ambushed by a group of adventurers, he does what goblins do best: throws down his weapon and surrenders. Thus begins Jig’s quest, as the adventurers force him to serve as their guide through the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the mountain. Led by Prince Barius Wendelson, their goal is an ancient magical artifact, hidden somewhere in the tunnels here ages past. As the group moves deeper into the tunnels, Jig finds himself face to face with creatures of goblin legend: ogres, trolls, not to mention the long-dead servants of the dreaded Necromancer, all leading to the ultimate confrontation with the dragon Straum. In the end, Jig will have to find a way to combine heroism with his own goblin ideas. The result is an unpredictable adventure that will leave readers cheering this unlikeliest of heroes and questioning some of the most basic traditions of fantasy quests.
Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
Discover the first book in the Keeper’s Chronicles, where a young woman becomes master of the possibilities of time and space, maintaining the balance between worlds to protect Earth.
Austin was a black and white, far-from-young cat. Not just any cat, mind you, he was the Keeper’s cat, a very outspoken feline with extremely strong opinions he was always willing to voice. After all, who knew better than Austin what was best for the well-being of Claire — and for the not-quite-as-important rest of the universe?
Claire Hansen was a Keeper, a member of that select group that kept the universe in one piece. And now she’d been Summoned to the Elysian Fields Guesthouse, a rundown bed-and-breakfast that seemed to attract the most unusual clientele. And Claire was not happy about this latest assignment, not happy at all.
Not when she’d been tricked into taking over here by a horrible little gnome of a man who’d abandoned his post before she’d even figured out who he really was. Not when room six held a resident who’d been sleeping there for so many years that she really needed a good dusting — except that it was far too dangerous for anyone to get that close to her. Not when the basement housed too much temptation for anyone’s mental health. Not when she found herself surrounded by “helpers” as distracting as Dean, the hunky-yet-innocent handyman, and Jacques, a ghost with a real lust for life.
And especially not when it looked like this might be the not only her most challenging mission, but one she’d be stuck handling for life….
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony
Xanth is an enchanted land where magic rules, a land of centaurs and dragons and basilisks where every citizen has a unique spell to call their own. For Bink of North Village, however, Xanth is no fairy tale. He alone has no magic. And unless he gets some — and fast! — he will be exiled. Forever.
But the Good Magician Humfrey is convinced that Bink does indeed have magic. In fact, both Beauregard the genie and the magic wall chart insist that Bink has magic as powerful as any possessed by the King, the Good Magician Humfrey, or even the Evil Magician Trent. Be that as it may, no one can fathom the nature of Bink’s very special magic. This is even worse than having no magic at all… and he still faces exile!
The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar
The Good Fairies of New York tells the fish-out-of-water story of two Scottish thistle fairies who find themselves in Manhattan. The fairies hook up with two humans, Kerry (complete with colostomy bag) and Dinnie (antisocial in the extreme), finding time to help both get their acts together. A book that brings together race riots and Scottish folklore, The Good Fairies of New York is anything but a typical fairy fantasy.
Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin
Skeeve is a magician’s apprentice (and a wanna-be thief) until an assassin’s bolt kills his master, Garkin. Along with Aahz, the green-scaled, purple-tongued demon and master magician summoned by Garkin, he sets out on a quest to get even. The road to vengeance is bound to prove rocky, however, because Skeeve can barely light a candle with his beginning magic, and Aahz has lost his own considerable magical abilities as a consequence of Garkin’s summoning spell.
Before they can confront the power-mad wizard who ordered Garkin’s assassination, they must survive a trip to a weird alternate dimension, encounters with Impish hit-men and a somewhat dull but persistent demon hunter who rides a friendly war unicorn, outwit a sharp-dealing Deevel, and deal with other uncanny enemies and even stranger friends… all without killing each other in the process!
Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt
All Malcolm Fisher did was run over a badger. Unfortunately the badger turned out to be Ingolf, last of the giants. With his dying breath he reluctantly gave Malcolm two gifts of power and made him ruler of the world.
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They’re even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie’s doing okay — until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been recruited for a new position: as Death.
It’s a dirty job. But, hey! Somebody’s gotta do it.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
Collected together for the first time are Patricia C. Wrede’s hilarious adventure stories about Cimorene, the princess who refuses to be proper. Every one of Cimorene’s adventures is included — Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons — in a single book.
What books would you add to the list? Share in the comments!
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