As many of my friends and family are probably all too aware, I am a big fan of Sir Terry Pratchett and his “Discworld” books. These books are not so much a series, as they are a collection of interrelated series and stand-alone books. As such, it can be a bit confusing to recent initiates as to which books to read in what order, should they want to follow a particular story arc in sequence.
Fortunately, in a post in the SciFi and Fantasy eBook Group over at GoodReads.com, Donna shared the discovery of a beautiful diagram available on-line that graphically illustrates the relationships and sequences of each of the story arcs and otherwise related groups of Discworld books (click on the following image to view it full-sized):
Following one of the rows left to right gives you the books within that particular story arc/collection in chronological sequence (or in a very few cases in publication sequence where they more or less stand alone and outside of any specific chronology in relation to other books). Those rows are then presented vertically in the order those sub-groupings appeared. Solid lines connecting books indicate they are members of a specific story arc that should probably be best read in that order (left to right), while dashed lines indicate some relationship in terms of shared characters and/or themes, but not a specific story line that necessarily requires reading in that order — though given the choice, I’d still follow that sequence.
Of course, you can just read them all in publication order, in which case you’ll still read any two books in a given story arc in the correct sequence, though there will likely be some other books from other arcs in between. However, since each Discworld book is a self-contained story (except for the first two: The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic), you can’t go totally wrong picking them up in any order. (The only wrong way to read them is to not read them at all.)
If you have not partaken of this clever, lovingly satirical look at our world through the slightly distorted lens Sir Terry has provided us; I sometimes recommend starting with either the “Watch” story arc in Guards! Guards! or the “Witches” series with Wyrd Sisters. (Yes, I know, Wyrd Sisters is not the first one in that row; but see the dashed line between it and Equal Rites?) I suggest those two as entry points, in that they were written when Pratchett really started to hit full stride in terms of character development as well as deeper thematic material. If you start at the very beginning with The Color of Magic, you’ll probably be okay if you are a swords and sorcery fan already who would enjoy a loving parody of same, but if not, you might not be as immediately grabbed by it as I think you would by Sam Vimes and his City Watch group or by Granny Weatherwax and her coven of witches.
As to why there is a banana peel at the bottom of the diagram, you’ll just have to read the books to find out.