I was really sad to hear about the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett last week. I read a lot of his books in the early nineties but nowhere near all of them. I was reading the Discworld series in chronological order, hence the cluster of dates, but gave up after realising he was writing them quicker than I could read them. Putting this together makes me feel I should pick up some of the books I've missed. If you're anywhere near reading all of them you're welcome to add you're own top five in the comments, it might even focus my future reading efforts.
1. Mort (1987) - Death has appeared in nearly every Discworld novel, sometimes only for a few lines, but Mort was the first novel where the story revolved around him. Death decides to take a holiday and employs Mort as his apprentice. Things don't go particularly well. Death is a wonderfully matter-of-fact character, which is a pretty good way of thinking about the concept really. All of Death's dialogue are printed in SMALL CAPITALS WHICH IS A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE WAY OF ADDING TO THE HUMOUR. I got my Mum to read this one, she didn't really get it but it's the book I'd recommend for anyone new to Sir Terry.
2. Good Omens (1990) - The only non-Discworld novel on my list this was co-written with another of my favourite authors, Neil Gaimen. Good Omens is a comedy about the birth of the son of Satan. Having become accustomed to their lives on Earth the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley try to avert the end of the world. A shame that Pratchett & Gaimen didn't collaborate on another story but I do like the fact this remains a standalone story. It even features a cameo from Death.
3. Wyrd Sisters (1988) - Wyrd Sisters sees the return of Granny Weatherwax, from Equal Rites, alongside the equally formidable Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Three Witches, bubbling cauldrons and the ghost of a dead king - a few deliberate echoes of Shakespeare - all make for a great story. Granny Weatherwax is probably my second favourite Discworld character. Equal Rites was the first Discworld novel that really clicked for me and this book takes the Witches idea a little further.
4. Small Gods (1992) - A satire on religious institutions and their role in politics. A book that marked something of a shift in Pratchett's writing style to tackle weightier themes, though still managing to cram in more jokes in one book than most authors manage in their career.
5. Guards! Guards! (1989) - The first of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch stories. The City Watch are a largely ineffectual Police group who generally choose to avoid trouble rather than prevent it. This changes with the arrival of Carrot Ironfoundersson who turns them into a slightly less ineffectual Police group.