The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack





15 Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

The City Watch returns as Sam Vimes is leaving the institution to marry into the nobility (he generally despises all nobles except his soon-to-be-wife) and a conspiracy acts to get rid of the patrician by restoring the descendant of the last king (who died centuries ago) to the throne. The king is—unsurprisingly—on the City Watch.

Pratchett is in true form here, satirizing just about everything from politics to policemen. He also takes a very humorous look at such serious questions as racism, getting people to think about tough topics without preaching at them. This is the book that also proves that the City Watch has legs as the focus of a novel (just in case the first one featuring them wasn’t proof enough) and happily leads him to write many more about this great crew.

In Series Order

19 Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

This is one of the novels that shows glimpses of how absolutely wonderful Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels would become. First off, there’s the zany plot. Someone is trying to assassinate Lord Vetinari. At the same time, there’s a problem with the golems, which is to say, one appears to be killing people. If that isn’t bad enough, the civic leaders of Ankh Morpork have begun to imagine life without their leader and have concocted a hilarious plan to put someone more malleable in Vetinari’s office. As you can imagine, it’s up to Sam Vimes and the watch to sort all of this out and they do it in their typically hilarious fashion.

But the best Pratchett novels offer something a little more and this one has a look at prejudice and what it is to be human. Golems are just things—tools—with no rights of their own—except in a world with vampires and zombies, is it really right to say that golems aren’t alive? There’s a lot here for everyone.

25 The Truth by Terry Pratchett

One of the things I enjoy most about Terry Pratchett’s novels is how he takes an institution such as the post office or the mint and reinterprets it in his fantasy city of Ankh-Morpork. The Truth centers on the accidental founding of the first newspaper. I laughed from beginning to end as William de Worde stumbles into the business of selling the news to the masses all the while trying to uncover the truth behind the story that the Patrician attacked his assistant and is no longer fit to rule the city. So while De Worde becomes Ankh-Morpork’s first investigative reporter, he also has to keep his newspaper alive against the machinations of the guilds and their low quality competitor, The Enquirer.

Pratchett had a gift for creating memorable and lovable characters who get themselves involved in zany situations. This is one of his better novels and the characters keep appearing in every book that follows it.

29 Nightwatch by Terry Pratchett

This is one of my favorite Discworld novels. While pursuing a criminal, Sam Vimes gets sent back in time where everything he has helped to build in the future is put in jeopardy. A major civil unrest is about to break open and Sam is forced to take on the persona of the lawman who trained him to become the watchman we know. It’s both exciting and touching to watch Sam try to keep his beloved city from blowing up in major riots, even as the criminal he pursued to the past fans the flames. If you haven’t ever read a Discworld novel before, this one is a great place to start.

35 Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett and his Disc World series, but this was not one of my favorite books. While Pratchett’s trademark wit and observations are strongly present throughout the work, I didn’t feel as attached to the characters in this novel as I do in the majority of his books. It may be that I find the witches (and wizards) more annoying than entertaining—which I can’t really say about any of his other characters except the Feegles. So while I’m glad I read the book, I don’t see myself rereading it.

40 Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

I am a big Terry Pratchett fan. Going Postal, Night Watch, Monstrous Regiment—just to name three—capture the essence of Pratchett’s satiric wit while also providing damn fine adventure stories. So it was with great excitement that I opened the cover of Raising Steam to start his newest adventure and it is with some perplexity that I finish it.

The problem with the book is that there is barely any plot. Mostly this is a novel about putting together a railroad and there just isn’t apparently a lot you can satirize about putting a railroad together. (Unlike, for example, the first two novels starting Moist von Lipwig in which Pratchett delves into Post Office and Banking culture.) The only real attempt at plot is a dwarf rebellion in the offing, but it’s a very small part of the book and I couldn’t get that interested in it.

Many of my favorite characters appear in the novel, which is always a treat, but unfortunately, that isn’t enough to carry the story.