The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
Now I understand. His first two (possibly first four or five) books in the Discworld series, he was still finding his feet to some extent.
How do they rise up...
Night Watch and Guards! Guards! are what got me hooked.
The Vimes books are my favorites, too, but the Death series has some real gems, too.
Those early ones had a lot of insider-jokes and the like.. Try "Guards, Guards!" as the start of the really insightful ones, IMO.
And wait til you get to "Making Money"
I read The Colour of Magic without being impressed and gave up. Perhaps I should continue...
I would recommend trying one of the later books, Joe -- I think it was Going Postal that really got me hooked. Almost an Eric Frank Russel vibe in places.
The advice I always give, pretty much in this order as the easiest way to explore the Discworld:
[Vimes & Carrot]
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
[The best standalones:]
Lords and Ladies [possibly my favorite of them all.]
[Best single Discworld book for non-fans.]
There are several stories that feature Death (to say nothing of The Death of Rats), but although Death himself is simply one of the finest supporting characters ever created, for some reason the stories that focus on him aren't Pratchett's strongest -- and perhaps that's as it should be. Death is best on the edges, in the shadows. Put him in the spotlight, center stage, and he...fades.
By that point, you'll know the Discworld well enough to find your own way.
Pratchett's also done some fine young adult novels set on the Discworld, although they perhaps lack his pyrotechnic word play. My favorite is The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, which is not to be missed.
Oh, and don't neglect Good Omens, his collaboration with Neil Gaimond, and set more or less on good old Earth in good old England, although of course Death is here as well. It is the perfect answer to The Omen, and others of that ilk.
Bah, Pratchet thinks he is funny, and he likes puns. I hate puns, and generally don't like books that are suppsoed to be funny.
Then I take it you despise Piers Anthony's Xanth series?
I'll have to try his books again. I ran into the same thing that you did. I started from the first book and just couldn't get into it.
I haven't read Night Watch or Going Postal yet, but I heartily second the recommendation of Guards! Guards! Additionally, Monstrous Regiment starts strong, but sort of loses its way and its steam.
I just recently finished 'The Truth'; very good roundabout on the subject of the press.
"Is he writing down what I'm saying?"
"He can't do that. Can he?"
"Why not, sir?"
"Stop writing! Wait- are you writing down EVERYTHING I'm saying?"
Pretty good book.
Eh - Pratchett has never really done anything for me. They're mildly funny but that's aboutit.
What's the latest you've read?
Night Watch was one of the best pieces of literature I've ever read. Making Money was excellent. The Truth isn't as good, but only in relation.
Thud! and the 5th Element were superb, without even a lot of humor.
Sorry, Muscle memory.
In a lot of ways Pratchett lets the characters define the story, so in a lot of ways it's easiest understanding Discworld in terms of story arcs:
Men At Arms
Feet Of Clay
The Fifth Elephant
Esme Weatherwax/Gytha Ogg/The Witches:
Lords And Ladies
Thief Of Time
The Color Of Magic
The Light Fantastic
The Last Continent
Of course this ignores some of his prize characters (like Lord Vetinari or Lu Tze the Sweeper), but they generally aren't the ones to "carry the story", either. It also ignores some of his work
The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
which are largely 'standalone', the primary characters tend not to be the plot carriers in other books. And there are also story arcs whose characters are comparatively recent developments:
Moist von Lipwig:
Wee Free Men
A Hat Full Of Sky
The bottom line is that in any of the above lists, the ones at the bottom tend to be better work than the ones above them. And in his older characters, the first in the series may be no better than middlin'.
Oops, I forgot 'Monstrous Regiment'. Tack that onto the bottom of the 'standalone' list.
I read all of Discworld, and then I was sad, because there was no more...
And sadly, with Pratchett under treatment for early onset Alzheimer's (and when I meet God, He and I are gonna have words about that), I doubt there'll be many more Discworld novels. Maybe there's a Brit author out there who appreciates Terry enough to follow in his footsteps, but... not holding my breath.
There's appreciating, and there's doing justice. The only one comes to mind is Douglas Adams, who is probably saving Sir Terry a seat at the bar.
Me, I've always liked Granny Weatherwax:
"...And that's what your holy men discuss, is it?" [asked Granny Weatherwax.]
"Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin. for example."
"And what do they think? Against it, are they?"
"It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."
"There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
"It's a lot more complicated than that--"
"No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."
"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--"
"But they starts with thinking about people as things..."
--from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett.
Small Gods is brilliant.
Pyramids too, especially if you know something about ancient Egypt.
IMO Lords and Ladies is probably the least of them all (and yes, I have them all, over half of them in first edition hardcovers).
Sadly PTerry is suffering from debilitating Altzheimer and probably doesn't have long to live.