A Companion to the Companions!

Our guide to the books on the side! A selective stroll through our favourite Discworld companions, spinoffs and side-projects . . .

When Terry wasn’t writing books, he was writing more books. Ideas for the companions created in Terry’s lifetime were mostly the author’s own and laid in the lap of his close collaborators, actively aided and abetted by the author making them as official as official can be. By outsourcing his side projects to his most trusted collaborators, he not only had time to continue his prolific output of novels, but could ensure his side publications were produced to his exacting standards, free to dip in and out of whenever he wanted to add his unmistakable magic to the mix.

These side projects were also a great home for him to explore ideas and jokes on subjects which may not fit into the main novels without feeling shoe-horned in. Take the ‘Code of Conduct for the Use of the Interdenominational areas of The Temple of Small Gods’ in The Compleat Ankh-Morpork, for example – how else would we know of the self-certified vestal virgins, or the sacred stationary cupboard? Such ideas would likely have changed the pace of a novel, but those seeds found fertile ground in Terry’s side projects. There aren’t many authors who had such direct and detailed involvement in their companions, or whose side publications further expand a literary world, with new characters, locations and lore.

If you are new to Discworld, or a purist who likes Discworld served novels-only and no projects on the side, you may be somewhat baffled or cynical about the amount of Discworld companion books on offer. We’ve created this guide to give bit of insight into how these spin-offs with substance came to be. It is by no means a comprehensive exploration, for along with guidebooks, maps and quote collections, there have been quiz books, journals, colouring books and graphic novels . . . too many to delve into in one blog session, so we’ve compiled a whittled-down selection  of Discworld side dishes for your delectation . . .  Bon Appétit!



The Ultimate Discworld Companion

Terry’s personal playwright, when not adapting Discworld for stage (another form of side project entirely fervently supported by the author), Stephen Briggs used his encyclopaedic knowledge of Discworld to create  . . . Discworld encyclopaedias! Started in 1991, Stephen set about taking Discworld apart so we could all pore over Discworld’s brilliant details and digest them in bitesize nuggets. Created in close cahoots with the author, the companions include drawings by Stephen and descriptions provided by Terry. The latest version, ‘The Ultimate Discworld Companion’ is exactly that. Featuring incredible illustrations by Paul Kidby, Stephen’s ‘Ultimate’ tribute to Discworld is the culmination of three decades worth cataloguing Terry’s creations, and Discerning Discworld fans can avail themselves of the spectacular Dunmanifestin Edition, which features a luxurious slipcase and detailing, expanded entries and information covering the events of The Science of Discworld series, additional full-colour artwork, and exclusive illustrations!

When the author said a sense of humour couldn’t be mapped, it was Stephen who first proved otherwise with a series of maps illustrated by Stephen Player and Paul Kidby.  As funny as they are fantastic, these immense fold-out maps and booklets put Discworld on the map(s) for the very first time, and considering they date back to the early nineties, The Streets of Ankh-Morpork, the Discworld Mapp, Death’s Domain and a Tourist’s Guide to Lancre are comic fantasy perfection, just as you’d hope Discworld cartography to be.



The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld was, like the books itself ahead of it’s time. Before Social media provided a platform for a repetitive stream of meaningful literary quotes, there was The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld, and with so many books there’s a lot of it! Published in 2007 this ‘cornucopia of snippets’ presents Stephen’s favourite quotes from each book in order of publication up to Making Money. It’s a delightfully and unsurprisingly chunky compilation of Terry’s meaningful and mirthful moments which are often one and the same, compiled the old fashioned way by Stephen poring over the entire canon.

Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook aims to ‘get the look and feel of the original Discworld recipes while avoiding, as far as possible, the original taste”. It is prefaced by Nanny Ogg herself, with a note from the ‘editors’ Messrs. Stephen Briggs and Terry Pratchett. This almanack of edibles contains recipes for famous foodstuffs from the books such as, C.M.O.T. Dibbler’s Sausage Inna Bun, Wow-wow Sauce, and Dried Frog Pills, along with new delicacies such as Mrs Gogol’s Clairvoyant Gumbo and Seargent Angua’s Beef Stew with Dumplings. There are a further sixty-eight pages on Nanny Ogg’s Guide to Etiquette to enjoy, with chapters on dealing with witches, Granny Weatherwax, wizards, weddings and so much more. It’s enough for another book entirely, and all the more reason to acquire this totally un-tenuous tie-in!



The Ankh-Morpork Archives: Volume OneThe Ankh-Morpork Archive

There have been Discworld Diaries and journals since 1997 until 2020 – each based on a Discworld institution or theme, and bursting with exclusive illustrations and material on their featured subject -Vampyres, The City Watch and Ankh-Morpork Post Office to name a few. In the truest sense, the original diaries added extra dimension to Discworld with Terry’s ideas being given greater exposition and exploration through the diaries’ excusive content. However, being a publication with a short shelf life by nature, these gems were lost to new readers and those unenlightened unto their existence for years (unless they resided in the Czech Republic or Germany where Discworld Diary omnibuses were released in 2008 and 2012 respectively).

The Ankh-Morpork Archives give the gift of revamped and repackaged material from Stephen Briggs’ and Paul Kidby’s Discworld Diaries of yore, as an anthology of fantastic content over two volumes – two gloriously illustrated hardback coffee-table guidebooks to Ankh-Morpork’s characters and organisations.



The Compleat Ankh-Morpork by Terry Pratchett and  . . . us! Published in 2012 it’s hard to believe that this guide to Ankh-Morpork is now over a decade old. After playing with a map for the Ankh-Morpork Board Game, and taking it to Terry at his local boozer, the Queens Arms in Broad Chalke, Terry revealed that he wanted a new, updated city map created to continue the ground-breaking work of Stephen Briggs, but Stephen was rather busy with important Civil Servant stuff, so did we want the job . . . you bet we did! The result is a spectacular double-sided map contained within a comprehensive gazetteer and city guide which showcase and celebrate the Ankh-Morpork of the industrial Revolution era. All written under the watch, and with the assistance of Sir Terry Pratchett. Where to stay, what to see, where to eat, which guilds to join and which gods to pray to… this book is a boon to any new inhabitant of the Discworld’s most fragrant city!

With almost twenty years and twenty-six Discworld books’ worth of narrative to catch up on, The Compleat Ankh-Morpork required rather a LOT of new streets and ‘unreal’ estate put on the map. Terry would call us regularly to simply to shout a name for a ginnel, snicket or lane at us before hanging up. He would also ask to know how to get from point A to point B and what landmarks Vimes, for instance, would see along the way. As with the original map, Terry insisted that enough of the city was left unmapped to allow room for future development, which hints at his confidence that there would be plenty more Discworld to follow. 

Work on the Compleat Discworld Atlas soon followed, with a view to bring the entire Discworld up to Snuff. This ambitious project, with its enormous double-sided map bearing a spectacular rendition of Discworld, features a comprehensive Atlas and guide to the Disc, and was intended as a way for readers to visit areas of the Disc that the novels didn’t always have chance to! Its release was put back until after we had completed Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook (see below), which had the benefit of enabling us to update Discworld up to Raising Steam. The Compleat Discworld Atlas was eventually released in October 2015, after Terry’s Death. It was our final collaboration with Terry, begun with his enthusiastic contributions but as time wore on and his ‘embuggerance’ tightened its grip, so his input inevitably diminished from the project. We will always be proud that The Compleat Discworld Atlas is the most comprehensive geographical and topographical guide created in Terry’s Lifetime.



We cannot go without mentioning The Science of Discworld series. After ‘reconstructing’ their book The Collapse of Chaos, and presenting them with a copy of the Science of Star Trek (and all subsequently agreeing that the was blummin’ awful), Terry offered Jack and Ian the chance to play with his creation and imagine the scientific happenings behind the magic. We find that a lot of new readers are totally unaware that these books actually centre around original Discworld stories by Terry Pratchett, which happen to be interspersed with captivating chapters, discussing the fascinating scientific Roundworld concepts alluded to by the master!

The magic of Discworld is made sense of by real men of science, professors Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, and realise how marvellous the mind of Terry Pratchett is, and that Discworld is not quite so nonsensical as it may first seem.  It turns out the wizards of Unseen University have created our universe by mistake, so it really did start with an old man with a beard after all! It’s scientific analysis of our coexisting worlds supported by a brilliant fictional narrative by Terry Pratchett. So there we have it, go and buy the things (especially Discworld II The Globe, which is the authors’ favourite), because it doesn’t get any more legit than that!



The ultimate tie-ins have to be books that are literally, woven into the pages of Discworld. Books from the books, made real for us to enjoy. Where’s My Cow, is Young Sam’s favourite books, but the roundworld version features Sam’s own Ankh-Morpokian version The illustrations from Melvyn grant feature Vimes as Terry imagined him, reading to his son, and the original story blending in to Sam’s own ‘improved’ version which young Sam recites in the Pages of Thud! A parody of Usborne’s ‘That’s not my . . .’ books you can read this to your little ones, but they may be saying ‘buglit’ for quite some time.

Where's My Cow Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook

Mrs Bradshaw’s Guide is a book Terry asked us to produce as a companion to Raising Steam. He wanted us to produce the book mentioned in Raising Steam – a guide to the new A-M & Sto Plains railway. As with a lot of Terry’s ideas, this cameo book was essentially a gag, but Terry wanted his own Bradshaw’s Guide made real. It’s an in-universe artefact, a railway journey through Discworld, and we’re are glad to say for any self-respecting fan of fantasy, it does contain maps!  The A-M-Hygienic Railway and environs was expanded in this guide, so although a compact companion it is a book of import to the canon.



The folklore of Discworld is a guide to Terry’s folkloric and fairy-tale references. and illuminating . .. Quite possibly you’ll already have picked up on the references when reading the books, but it’s nice to have them described here alongside their roundworld parallels. The clout behind the covers here is that Jacqueline, like Paul Kidby, was discovered in a book signing queue after her extensive knowledge of magpies piqued Terry’s interest, and they became friends and researchers thereafter – indeed Jacqueline is one of the few who could and would take Terry to task about various subjects in a mutually mischievous fashion!

Lastly, Tiffany Aching’s Guide to Being a Witch is the latest Discworld companion, and packs some serious Pratchett provenance, being co-authored by Rhianna Pratchett – her first contribution to her father’s body of Discworld literature for children (although, we can’t help but wonder quite how long Rhianna has been influencing Tiffany’s trajectory given Terry’s ability to perfectly present the inner monologue of a headstrong, curious and caring young witch). A lavish and beautiful book, its production values betray the love the authors have Terry’s world and the Big Wee Hag. Released in Tiffany Aching’s 20th year, it was the ultimate celebration of Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men.

Discworld spinoffs are often presented as books ‘from the inside’, produced as artefacts from the Disc itself, and deliberately designed by the author to add further dimension his world, or at least a tangy garnish. As such, most offshoots are crafted accordingly from the heart and with care by whoever Terry, or more recently his estate, has charged with bringing them to life. Each book contains plenty to read with exclusive insights into Discworld, new characters, locations and lore and satisfyingly wordy forewords! As  collaborators with Terry Pratchett for over thirteen publications we feel somewhat qualified to say that each book since is a passion project still created by those in Terry’s close circle of collaborators who he entrusted to protect and continue Discworld’s legacy.

We hope you have enjoyed our wee exploration of Terry Pratchett’s brilliant offshoots and side publications, and feel imbued with a greater appreciation of their deserved place in your Discworld collections – and don’y forget to pay a visit to our Maps and Companions bit of our website for more information about these terrific titles!