Discworld is a comic fantasy book series written by the English author Terry Pratchett, set on the Discworld, a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle. The series began in 1983 with The Colour of Magic and continued until the final novel The Shepherd's Crown, which was published in 2015, following Pratchett's death. The books frequently parody or take inspiration from classic works, usually fantasy or science fiction, as well as mythology, folklore and fairy tales, and often uses them for satirical parallels with cultural, political and scientific issues.
Forty-one Discworld novels were published. Apart from the first novel in the series, The Colour of Magic, the original British editions of the first 26 novels, up to Thief of Time (2001), had cover art by Josh Kirby. After Kirby's death in 2001, the covers were designed by Paul Kidby. The American editions, published by HarperCollins, used their own cover art. Companion publications include eleven short stories (some only loosely related to the Discworld), four popular science books, and a number of supplementary books and reference guides. The series has been adapted for graphic novels, theatre, computer and board games, and television.
“There are a lot of complicated words in Discworld, many of which Terry made up,” says Rob Wilkins. Pratchett was an avid reader of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, which he read from A to Z. “He said he was well into his twenties before he realised an ogre was not an ogg-ree. I loved that, and I think that says a lot about the pronunciation within Discworld.”
Neil Gardner knew many pronunciations from previous books and Discworld media, but sent Wilkins a list of words for checking. Together, they established a master document. “Had it not been for Neil I might have been in trouble, because there were some things I couldn’t work out properly,” says Bill Nighy. “But he is obviously a worldwide expert.”
Discworld books regularly topped Sunday Times best-sellers list, making Pratchett the UK's best-selling author in the 1990s. Discworld novels have also won awards such as the Prometheus Award and the Carnegie Medal. In the BBC's Big Read, four Discworld novels were in the top 100, and a total of fourteen in the top 200. More than 80 million Discworld books have been sold in 37 languages.