This is my first Pratchett book which, coincidentally, is the first Discworld book Pratchett wrote (in 1983). Boy, was it fun, even though all the Pratchett experts say the next two dozen or so are much better than this one.
But I have an odd quirk: whenever I begin a series, and whether or not it can be read out of chronological order, I always start with the first one. "Start with this one," or "Start with that one," the experts say, "and then go back to Magic and pick up the details." Well raspberries to the experts: I don't have to go back for anything.
Sliding my soapbox under the desk I ask, "Does Pratchett write SF, fantasy, philosophy, or satire? The answer is, "Yes." Just plain yes. To attempt to summarize the plot, which is really a collection of four short stories, would qualify me for a room at the Padded Cell Hotel.
Pratchett describes Discworld ". . . as a flat, circular planet that rests on the backs of four elephants, which in turn are standing on the back of a giant turtle." The turtle is called Great A'Tuin.
By the way, when reading Pratchett, suspension of belief must be checked at the front cover. (Master of Understatement.)
The peoples of Discworld were genuinely curious about A'Tuin: where did it come from? Where was it going? How old was it? What was its gender? Theories abound, some of which Pratchett describes on page 2 of the Prologue:
". . . A'Turin was crawling from the Birthplace to the Time of Mating, as were all the stars in the sky which were, obviously, also carried by giant turtles. When they arrived they would briefly and passionately mate, for the first and only time, and from that fiery union new turtles would be born to carry a new pattern of worlds. This was known as the Big Bang hypothesis."
Page 2, mind you, and Pratchett's brilliance had me hooked. As did his prose, characters, and villains (Death and Fate are, uh, capitvating).
So, just before I toddle off to bed, I'm going to sample a wine from Rehigreed Province from next year's harvest. "Ghlen Livid," they call it.