I picked up Terry Pratchett’s Nation , the latest Discworld book, and began reading. About five pages later, someone mentioned “San Francisco,” which seemed slightly out of place in the Discworld, so I looked back at the cover and it turns out that this actually is not set in the Discworld after all, going instead for an Earth-like alternate reality thing.
It might as well have been a Discworld book, though, because it’s doing the same sorts of things that Discworld books do — examining faith, tradition, nationalism, colonialism, morality, courage, and a bunch of other decidedly non-humorous themes. This isn’t a criticism, because the Discworld books at their best are some of the most keenly insightful and moral books out there.
And this is pretty close to Discworld at its best. There are a couple of Discworlds I like better — Night Watch and Hogfather, mostly — but this is up in those high echelons. Regular Pratchett readers will not be disappointed.
And if you’re someone who hasn’t read Pratchett, or who bounced off the early, bad Discworld novels, then you should pick this up. It contains the virtues of mature Pratchett and is a completely standalone book, so you can start directly in on the good stuff with no context loss whatsoever. Highly recommended.