The Color of Magic
I read The Color of Magic, Terry Pratchett's first Discworld book.
The best parts of the book came from the world-building, a highly-detailed explanation of the continents and the various directions (something about "Rimward," "Hubward," and..."Widdershins"?), and the introduction of various characters and gags that I've come to know and love from Discworld.
Rincewind the incompetent wizard, Lord Vetinari, Death, and the Luggage were the four characters that I recognized from the other Pratchett books that I've read. In The Color of Magic, Death is a far more sinister character than he is in later books. But (I cheated and read on Wikipedia and) I have heard that Death evolves over the series and becomes a more lovable and sympathetic character.
Er, as much as you can love a hooded skeleton with a scythe who escorts you to the afterlife. Still, he's got a sense of humor, and you have to love it when it speaks in all caps.
DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING. THINK OF IT AS AVOIDING THE RUSH.
Besides, we all meet him sooner or later.
Unfortunately, The Color of Magic is the worst Discworld book when it comes to plot and structure.
However, in spite of the chaotic story-telling, the chaos of the story was entertaining, so I abandoned any hopes of following a true storyline and just went along for the ride as Rincewind and Twoflower got into terrible trouble and explored Discworld.
I probably won't read this one again, unless I have an obsessive need to read the entire series in chronological order someday. But I'm glad that I read it.
I have to point out that while I love Pratchett's writing, most of his adult covers are some of the most uninspiring and uninteresting covers that I've ever seen. Pratchett's stories are so imaginative and exciting and bizarre and wonderful that that deserve better covers.
The Tiffany Aching series have good covers, but so many of the adult Discworld novels are sadly lacking.
Case in point, Feet of Clay. I absolutely loved this book - as much as I loved Going Postal and Guards! Guards! - but I probably wouldn't have picked it up unless my friend James had recommended it.
*When I say delightful, I mean delightful to read about, because there is nothing whatsoever delightful about Ankh-Morpork. The place (literally) oozes with not-delightful. But there are heroes and villains a-plenty.
Feet of Clay is about golems which you can think of as clay robots. I met golems out of chronological order in Going Postal. Golems are tools that receive life from magical words written on parchment placed inside of their heads. Whether they're "living" or not is disputed by the religious figures of Ankh-Morpork.
But Feet of Clay is a wonderful (and sad) story about golems discovering self-awareness, individual thought, and freedom. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is another Pratchett book where he explores the idea of animals or inanimate objects achieving self-awareness. The golems' introduction to self-awareness provides for some profound and touching scenes in Feet of Clay.
It seems like every new Vimes / City Watch story I read is another Discworld favorite. Feet of Clay was marvelous. I'll be reading it again sometime.
(And that brings my summer tally of books to 8...huzzah!)