Escape to a world far from our own with these audiobooks from Sir Terry Pratchett, including classics such as Snuff, Good Omens and The Wee Free Men.
Picture a world as flat as a pancake resting on the back of four elephants, standing on a tortoise, flying through space – no, you haven’t just lost your mind, you’ve just imagined one of Sir Terry Pratchett’s audiobooks. More specifically, you’ve just imagined his hugely successful Discworld series. Home to vampires, trolls, golems and humans, this fantasy land saw Pratchett give birth to some of modern fiction’s greatest characters.
Given that over 40 of his novels are set in this weird and wonderful world, we wouldn’t blame you for frantically heading to the nearest search engine to ask:
“What Discworld audiobook should I start with, for the love of god, which one?”
Let us save you the hassle. The answer? Start anywhere. Although described as a series, the Discworld novels don’t necessarily follow a linear narrative. So, by all means, close your eyes and select one at random.
If you are looking for a suggestion however (even if you’re not, you’re getting one anyway), we’d recommend starting with The Colour of Magic, narrated by actor, comedian and author, Tony Robinson. Not only is it one of our favourites, it is the first in the Discworld series, serving as the perfect introduction to the peculiarities of Pratchett’s brilliantly bizarre universe.
Only in our dreams are we free
With the majority of his stories taking place in the Discworld, it’s probably no surprise that this is Pratchett’s best-known work. But there was far more to the man than this. His wit and wisdom saw him write a number of other best-selling novels and short stories, including his very first novel, The Carpet People, at the age of 17, and his Long Earth series, superbly brought to life in The Long Earth audiobooks by British actor and comedian Michael Fenton Stevens.
Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one
His stories were as whimsical as they were ambitious, passing far beyond the realms of mediocrity. His unparalleled sense of humour saw him poke fun at all aspects of life, as if looking at it through a satirical lens. While lively and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious, his stories often dealt with the moral, social and political issues facing our own world, touching on subjects such as religion, consciousness and international relations. It was this approach to writing which saw him become one of the world’s most prolific fantasy novelists, selling more than 85 million books worldwide.
There’s no denying it. Pratchett was a one-off. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his mad world captured imaginations from all walks of life, including those of some of British film and TV’s most iconic performers – as we found out when recording our Audible Original Drama, Unseen Academicals.
Let’s talk about wizards and witches. There is a tendency to talk of them in one breath, as though they were simply different sexual labels for the same job. It isn’t true.
Even his own genre wasn’t safe from scrutiny. Although written in the vein of fantasy, his audiobooks are more a pastiche of the genre. Despite Pratchett’s obvious love for fantasy, it was also clear that many of the clichés bothered him, as seen in the quote above.
Shortly after the release of his first Discworld novel, Pratchett challenged the gender perception of wise male wizards vs wicked female witches, questioning why this stereotype was still being used. This forward-thinking attitude saw him rewrite the rules, creating a new style of fantasy that was enchanting, familiar, yet socially aware.
Despite Pratchett’s battle with Alzheimer’s, it didn’t stop him from writing over 50 books – a testament to his dedication and passion. With so many amazing audiobooks available, narrated by the likes of Nigel Planer and award-winning voiceover artist Stephen Briggs (who he himself worked with Pratchett), choosing our favourites wasn’t easy. But we’ve given it a go. So here it is, 10 Terry Pratchett audiobooks that we think are quite simply, out of this world.
This Audible Original Drama sees some of the UK’s finest performers bring to life Pratchett’s 37th Discworld novel - written whilst suffering from Alzheimer’s. Rich in typical Pratchett wit, this story follows the wizards at the Unseen University as they must choose between having a well-stocked cheeseboard or playing in a violent football match. Directed by multiaward-winning Dirk Maggs, this performance will leave you feeling every bit a part of this adventure.
With a TV adaptation, starring David Tennant, to be launched on Amazon Prime this year, this apocalyptic satire about an angel and a demon trying to prevent the apocalypse is Pratchett and Gaiman at their best. Not only is this audiobook witty, brazen and full of delightful surprises, it’s also narrated by the legendary Martin Jarvis.
One of the later stories from Discworld, this audiobook lives up to the very best that came before it. Narrated magnificently by Stephen Briggs, this hilariously cynical listen tells the tale of Sam Vines, an out of his depth urban cop who while on holiday, is set on solving a dark mystery.
The 40th in the Discworld series, this audiobook sees steam power arrive in the Discworld. Eccentric, yet oddly familiar, Pratchett takes us to places he’s never taken us before, exploring the unintended consequences of technology – something that seems more relevant now than ever.
The 30th in the Discworld series, this audiobook about a young witch-to-be, and the clan of a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men she has joined, is as fierce and as funny as The Wee Free Men themselves – narrated by the brilliant Stephen Briggs.
Arguably one of Pratchett’s simpler plots, this historical fantasy audiobook follows the journey of Dodger, a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London, as he inadvertently rises up the ladder of Victorian society.
This audiobook, the first in The Long Earth series, sees the minds of two award-winning sci-fi writers come together, balancing their own individual styles to create a charming and highly imaginative listen.
This isn’t your typical Discworld audiobook. Pratchett’s The Science of Discworld series, written with renowned science writers Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, uses Discworld to examine science from the outside, leaving you not only questioning their universe, but also our own.
One audiobook, a star-studded cast, six of Pratchett’s finest Discworld novels. These exceptionally witty listens (including a bonus story of Only You Can Save Mankind) will leave you with a new appreciation for Pratchett and his work.
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