I came to the Discworld series late, when most of it was already written. There are lots of titles, over 40. I read up on where to start. The advice was, don’t try to read them in order, pick a series within the series and follow that. I did so with the Tiffany Aching books — loved them — and the Going Postal books — loved them as well. Tried a few others at random. Finally, I decided to read this one, the very first.
While I’d been able to pick up the general geography and plan of Discworld from some of the other books, the first one makes it more understandable thanks to the wide range of action and Terry’s explanations as he went along. Why did I listen to all that advice, I should have started here! Giant flat disc with central land mass surrounded by oceans, which pour continuously over the edge. Disc on the back of four immense elephants themselves on the back of an even more immense sea turtle swimming through space. Got it. Established: this is a world not possible without magic. There’s plenty of that in the book.
The story focuses on Rincewind, who calls himself a wizard, but in fact he has almost no wizardly abilities due to flunking out of wizard school. He agrees to become the personal guide to Twoflower, a rich but clueless tourist from a faraway empire. Rincewind plans to pocket his large fee and skedaddle, but he’s forced to actually honor the agreement by the ruler of his home city, Ankh-Morpork to keep Twoflower’s empire from taking revenge for the trick. Twoflower has a list of events and places he wants to visit, all of them very dangerous or nearly impossible to achieve. His one important asset is a magical trunk that not only holds his fortune, but almost anything else Twoflower might need. The trunk has many small legs, and doggedly and unerringly follows Twoflower everywhere, even when left far behind. The trunk has teeth and a dangerous appetite when threatened.
Through these characters, we get to see many areas and their inhabitants on Discworld, even in the surrounding ocean. The flavor is humorous, at times satiric, but the characters are believable and entertaining, perhaps not least because they all have agendas that include getting some of Twoflower’s money for themselves. Is there an honest man or woman on Discworld? They’re mighty scarce.
A fun read, and recommended.