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Timeline Thoughts


The following comments and articles have been submitted, via email, to esmi@lspace.org.

Whilst it is possible that these views will be taken into consideration during an update of the Discworld Timeline at some point in the future, this should not be automatically assumed. However, it is hoped that they will offer another focus for discussion on alt.books.pratchett.

All submitted comments will be considered for publication but the decision on whether to publish an individual submission remains the sole responsibility of the Timeline Moderator & Section Maintainer.


  1. Maurits van Dueren

    A small note to mention that, in the Truth, it is quoted that Vetinari graduated from the Guild in 1968. This fact is missing from the Timeline, though it may be important to confirm he was not the Patrician during the earlier books - which was one of the open issues that seemed to still exist.

  2. Jim Wickets

    • There's one character signifigantly missing form the timeline: Conina, Cohen and Bethan's daughter. Nine years have taken place between Sourcery and The Light Fantastic, and although Conina's age is not specified, I think she's signifigantly older than 9 - probably at least 15 or 16 in my estimation. This of course, puts a crimp into your Timeline, having to account for the passage of 15 years in 4 books.
    • I also don't understand how Granny arriving at the Unseen University, with Esk, happens 13 years before the events in Equal Rites.
    • Detrius is promoted to Seargent before the events in Maskarade as Detrius asks Nobby if he's being 'ironic to a superior officer'.
    • 1990: Events in Thief of Time. Susan Sto Helit is 20. Thief of Time also happens after the events in The Truth, because Thief of Time has a mention of a copy of the Ankh-Morpork Times.
    • Vetinari probably becomes Patrician before the events in Equal Rites. Granny Weatherwax deals with a member of the Thieves Guild, and Vetinari established the Thieves guild.
  3. Kevin Smith

    At the end of Sourcery, Rincewind was cast into the Dungeon Dimensions, where he stayed until Eric pulled him out by demonology sometime later. If this followed in sequence with Wyrd Sisters, the time slip would have meant that Rincewind clocked at least 15 years in the Dungeon Dimensions. This cannot possibly be, as even Rincewind couldn't spend 15 years, on the run, with no food and little sleep.

    There are 3 possibilities:

    • Time does not exist in the Dungeon Dimensions.
    • The books are not in sequence and the rest of the Discworld series, up until sometime in the 20s of books, is not lined up properly with the Witch books.
    • Pterry wasn't really paying attention to what he was doing.

    I'm going to eliminate #1 and #3 in the list because the former means that Rincewind would have run into Esk and Simon while they were down there during Equal Rites, which he did not (I think), and the latter because it's just not possible. That leaves #2. Rincewind would have been forced to survive on whatever he could find in the Luggage, and he couldn't have made it more than a month, tops, even with Dimension bending to fit in extra bottles of water - something it is unlikely he did.

    Conclusion: Sourcery -> Eric = 1 month

  4. Kevin Smith

    In The Truth, Vetinari tells William de Worde that his dog, Wuffles, is 16 years old. Wuffles first appeared in Sourcery, which means that:

    Sourcery -> The Truth = 16 years.

    This actually puts The Truth right where it should be- 1989, the year in which The Fifth Elephant takes place (that is, add 16 to 1973, the year in which Sourcery takes place).

    Also, I'm still mulling over in my head the length of time between Sourcery and Eric. There is time in the Dungeon Dimensions, because it says (I think in Equal Rites) that the hills are eroded by it. Nothing else. Just time. So some time must have passed between Sourcery and Eric, although, what the compression ratio is, is debabtable. On the outside, Rincewind could possibly survive a month without food and water, but since he spends all the time running (that's where it picks up in Eric) , it probably can't be more than two weeks. Fifteen years have passed on the outside, so the compression rate is something like 1 week : 7.5 years

    Also, looking at year 1979, how is it possible Rincewind escapes from the Dungeon Dimensions in the same year that Esk visits the university? I doubt that Equal Rites happened before Sourcery.

  5. Matt Farmer

    Regarding the The Vetinari Question, in the Timeline you say:

    The exact start of Lord Vetinari's reign is unclear. Some postulate that he was Patrician in The Colour Of Magic, though this patrician sounds very fat and excessive in his tastes. Death is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the ascension of a patrician in Mort - but not necessarily Vetinari

    After the events of Night Watch, the 10th anniversary party must be for Lord Snapcase, considering Vimes' age. The young Vimes in the book is about 16 or 17, which is when Snapcase is made Patrician. If you add the 10 years for the time between Night Watch and Mort, to get to the 10th anniversary, and then add the time between Mort and Guards! Guards! - 18 years - Vimes comes out as 44 - 45 which would be about right.

  6. Daibhid Ceannaideach & esmi

    When did Granny first meet Ridcully?

    Moving Pictures, introducing Ridcully, says he hadn't set foot in the University for forty years and that after becoming a Seventh Level Mage at the incredibly young age of twenty-seven had quit the University in order to look after his family's estates. (both quotes on p19 of the Corgi paperback). So Ridcully has to be at least 67 in Moving Pictures (1985 according to the Timeline).

    Lords & Ladies opens with young Esme meeting the Elf Queen while running from a young man (who may or may not be Mustrum, but is certainly around the same period of her life) - fifty years or more before the ever-moving now (Lords & Ladies p8). Granny calls it fifty or sixty years ago" on p223.

    So we've now pinned down that '50 years' isn't an exact figure. That gives us a few years leeway (ie 51 - 54 years) as, people are more likely to round such figures down rather than up - especially when dealing with numbers less than 5s. It's also unlikely that Granny would call 45+ years fifty or sixty years ago;. She wouldn't be that be that inaccurate - especially as the upper limit makes her look older - something she's not too keen on generally.

    There isn't any actual reference to Ridcully's actual age at the time of the original meeting. There's a suggestion on Lords & Ladies p109 that Ponder believes Ridcully is currently about seventy, but then Ponder probably thinks of everyone over fifty as "about seventy". However, given that Lords & Ladies is thought to have occurred in 1986, this would make Ridcully at least 68 at this time.

    For the original meeting to have happened 50 years ago (estimated minimum time), it must have occurred in 1936 when Ridcully was 18. This would also make Granny 70+ (we know she is a little older than Ridcully when they first meet - 21 sounds reasonable) which ties in nicely with her being around 70 at the time of Witches Abroad (1985).

    Back to the Timeline

  7. Lindsay Palmer

    I was just rereading Thief of Time, and it says that, while Susan was looking through the history books, she noticed that the philosophers from Ephebe either lived an unnaturally long time or inherited their names. Therefore, the philosophers that Teppic met could be the same ones in Small Gods, assuming that the history monks did indeed patch up time in such a way as Susan discovered.

    The reference to the year of the Notional Serpent, unfortunately, is still a problem. I don't know if there is some explanation to avoid that. However, a longer period of time than is currently suspected may have elapsed between Small Gods and the other books.

  8. Tom Lambert

    I've been reading through the timeline, and noticed the problems concerning Small Gods. In the comment above, Thief of Time is used as evidence to prove that Brutha had his little adventure quite a while ago.

    However, no one mentioned what I found on pg 303 in my American paperback copy of Thief of Time:

    "The Book of Tobrun has not been considered official church dogma for a hundred years. The prophet Brutha revealed that the whole chapter was a metaphor for a power struggle within the early church."

    Now, unless I've forgotten how to read, that pretty much says that Small Gods took place at least one hundred years before Thief of Time. Of course, this entire book is more or less a scapegoat Pratchett can use to fix any kind of timeline error by saying it was just stitched up later. But I think my quote implies that Small Gods took place a while ago - although that 'while ago' might have been shortened to 'quite recently,' if you catch my drift.

  9. J.R. Miller

    The Timeline references talk about the current Discworld century being the Century of the Anchovy (primarily referenced by King Verence II of Lancre in Carpe Jugulum). However, I have found information that points to this possibly being inaccurate.

    "...in a few years, it will be the Century of the Rat." "Doc Pseudopolis" of the Guild of Gamblers, A.M.Feet of Clay, First HarperCollins HarperPrism hardcover edition (1996)

    Depending on later references, possibilities may include:

    • Continuity error. Terry Pratchett simply forgot he had already established the century after that of the Fruitbat. Unlikely, as most Discworld fans consider him infallible in matters of the discworld, and I am myself a Discworld fan.
    • Centuries are named differently in different areas, and the Century of the Fruitbat was simply an instance of synchronicity.
    • Each area has their own name for a new century, and eventually one of the names catches on. Or maybe the first definitive establishment of the century's name is the Almanack, the first of which for the new century would not have been printed during the events of Feet of Clay.
    • Verence was wrong. Quite possible, as long as there were no later, more reliable references.
    • Doc Pseudopolis was wrong. Possible, but unlikely, due to none of the other heads of guilds correcting him - some of whom have been seen to be very reliable sources of information.

    This is just something I stumbled upon while rereading Feet Of Clay, and bothered at me until I remembered about the Century of the Whatever fiasco.

  10. Andy German

    Vetinari Question: The comment is made that though this patrician sounds very fat and excessive in his tastes. Though maybe I'm not reading the books closely enough, I didn't get this from the Patrician at the time of the first two books. Instead, he offers someone various "delicacies" from the sea that no one would ever want to eat.....this could be construed as "very fat and excessive in his tastes", but could also be a typically Vetinariesque Machiavellian act similar to Vetinari having the clock with the off tick tock, uncomfortable chairs, or keeping people unnecessarily waiting in his waiting room.

    Jim Wickets' comments:
    Point 1. It never states that Conina is Bethan's daughter, so the nine years could be correct. Point 5. Vetinari didn't necessarily establish the thieve's guild, he just organised it better, and made it official (per the comment in one of the books where he calls the head thieves into a meeting, has them sign an official document and then tells them that he knows where they live, knows where their children play, etc)

    Kevin Smith's comments:
    Rincewind had the luggage in the Dungeon Dimensions, and given that it has infinite carrying capacity and has been documented to have Traveler's Digestives, it's completely possible it has other food and water. As far as sleep goes, as experienced an escapist as Rincewind would find time, space, and a way to sleep occasionally. Also, Wuffles wasn't born in Sourcery, so less than 16 years had to have passed between it and the Truth.

    Dabhid Ceannaideach & Esmi's comments:
    Slight math discrepancy in the timeline itself. Ridcully would have had to be born in 1918, not 1914, for him to be 18 when he first met Granny in 1936. And the time between then and him leaving the university is a year too long also.

    Lindsay Palmer's comments:
    I can't tell you book and page, but I think I remember a comment in one of the books about it being various different centuries in different parts of the Discworld. Might have even been in the Discworld Companion.

    Thanks for a great timeline

  11. Josiah Wagener

    In response to Tom Lambert's comments, I wonder whether the year names might be recycled from century to century. In short could there be a Year Of The Notional Serpent in each century? I don't have access to my Discworld collection at the moment so I can't check to see whether this would sort out any of the problems, particularly the Small Gods question. I also note that there is a reference to the Duke of Sto Helit needing a guard captain. It seems probable that this is Mort but it is not specified. Could there have been any previous Duke of Sto Helit? Also since Djelibeybi was aparently turned perpendicular to the rest of space could it also have been out of sync with the rest of time in the Discworld?

    In response to Kevin Smith's comments I don't think that it follows that Rincewind would have to run into Esk or Simon just because they happened to be in the Dungeon Dimensions at the same time. The Dungeon Dimensions seem to be very amorphous, so both time and space could mean very little there.

    Finally in response to one of the comments made by Mr. Jim Wickets, if memory serves me, Lord Vetinari did not actually establish the guild system or the Thieves Guild. He just formalized it more than it had been previously.

  12. Matthew Foweraker

    I have my own theory on why Vetinari is the Pratician in The Colour of Magic (that fits in with PTerry's Word Of God assertion and the recent live action adaptation.). A man like Vetinari can hold the Patricianship. A man like Vetinari can't gain the Patricianship.

    Allow me to explain. It is clear that to become Practician you need political support and no half clever political mover would back Havelock Vetinari as he is today. The answer? Fake it. Like this.

    1. Overeat before you return to the city. A fat-suit is a fringe possibility but does not do the hands and requires someone to know you made one. Being fat makes it clear you have at least one easily exploitable vice. If you can be exploited, you can be controlled. (Or not...) Expect to be plied with fine food and wine.
    2. Spread rumours about your time in Ulberwald and on the Grand Sneer. This makes those who knew you in school think you have lost your edge and people in general to add a second vice to your list.
    3. Arrive in a suitably flamboyant way, dress in fancy black and hold parties. Do the whole "oh you are a carpenter, and what does that entail?" bit to make you seem dim but eager.
    4. Hire Ladies of Negotiable Affection. Re-enforces point 2 and allows you to use the same contacts Snapcase did. Plus you can get in touch with those who you will give guild later (not just them but the thieves and so on too) and get a measure of them.
    5. Get the job, now an easy step as Snapcase is a loony and you are a manipulatable fool.
    6. Keep up the pretence, offer people strange things and see how they react (great way to stealth assess a man's character). It is vital to keep it up whilst you let things cure.
    7. Allow a few years to pass and acquire info on the now upstanding citizens of the guilds.
    8. Diet to drop the weight, throw out the excessive jewellery, bin the sea urchins. Congrats, you are now in the place you need to be.

    The great thing is, if this is true, Vetinari is even better at this than we previously thought, if that was possible.

  13. Michael Stocker

    Michael's simplified Discworld Timeline (39k PDF)
    Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

    The only bit that might interest you is that I've moved the date of Mort forward 3 years from 1967 to 1970. This is because of the events of Night Watch. In Night Watch, Vimes travels back in time 30 years. As Jim Wickets points out, Thief of Time must take place in 1990 since Susan Sto Helit is 20. Since the storm at the end of Thief of Time and the one at the start of Night Watch are one and the same, this places the events of both books in 1990. Following this, then the Glorious Revolution occurred 30 years earlier in 1960. In Mort, Death mentions that it is the 10th Anniversary of the Patrician, which has often been argued to be Snapcase at this point. If you move the events of Mort forward 3 years to 1970 ,then the events in the book would indeed occur 10 years after Snapcase became Patrician of the city.

    This is simply a more detailed account of the views expressed by Matt Farmer. However, I believe this to be a good argument in favour of Snapcase's Patrician...ism...hood in the first 4 books, placing the ascension of Lord Vetenari somewhere between 1970 (Mort) and 1973 ( class=""Sourcery). This also fits with an observation Maurits van Dueren made regarding The Truth, which quotes Vetenari's graduation from the Assassin's Guild in 1968.

    There is one problem that others may disagree with - The Timeline has left a two year gap after the end of Mort for the engagement and wedding of Mort and Ysabel. In order to allow Night Watch to fit neatly it must be assumed that the events of Mort, the engagement and the wedding all occurred in the same year. Is it really too extreme to suggest this might be the case?

    I also have a question that would solve the only problem I see left in the timeline (apart from Small Gods, but sorting that one out is a greater task than I can handle).

    Jim Wickets observes that Granny Weatherwax interacts with a member of the Thieves Guild during the events of Equal Rites. If this is set in 1966 and Vetenari cannot be Patrician until 1970 (at the very earliest) then this does not seem to make sense. Jim Wickets also asks why The Timeline places Granny arrives at Unseen University with Esk in 1966 and events from Equal Rites in 1979. In my document I have placed Equal Rites in 1979 since that is where the L-Space Timeline places it and it allows Vetenari to be Patrician. However, I do not understand why Equal Rites occurs in 1979 rather than 1966. I assumed it must have something to do with the Lancre timeslip but that is territory I'm not familiar with.

    Is it simply the case that Events from Equal Rites was meant to say "Events from Wyrd Sisters"? I notice Wyrd Sisters is missing from The Timeline. If this is the case and Equal Rites does occur in 1966, and Wyrd Sisters is 1979, then it makes more sense in my mind (though it still presents the problem of having the Thieves Guild in existence 4 years before Vetenari can become Patrician.


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