The sad news of Sir Terry Pratchett’s passing will have thrown thousands of readers headlong into some serious Discworld nostalgia.

For anyone who’s not familiar with the author’s seminal series, the stories take place on a flat fantasy world, carried through space on the back of four elephants who are in turn stood on the shell of a giant turtle. Much of the action happens in the Discworld’s biggest metropolis, Ankh-Morpork, though the narrative regularly explores other locales.

The whole thing is pitched somewhere between scathing social satire and a barmy Lord of the Rings parody, with some seriously well-drawn protagonists. Here are a few of Pratchett’s greatest creations (warning: may contain plot spoilers).

10. The Librarian

The Librarian runs the library at Ankh-Morpork’s Unseen University, a sort of training college for wizards. He used to be a wizard, but a magical accident turned him into an orangutan.

Despite only being able to say the word “Oook”, the crotchety ape has a remarkable impact on plots throughout the Discworld series.

9. Great God Om

The Great God Om was one of Pratchett’s most satirical creations, taking a swipe at organised religion. Om is the focus of a huge monotheistic faith with thousands of worshippers, but he is also a very lazy god (on Discworld the gods take very real forms).

It turns out that Om has let his religion slide to the point that he is left with just one believer, his other worshippers now fixated on the elaborate Omnian priesthood rather than the god himself. His power diminished, Om ends up wandering Discworld as an amnesiac tortoise.

Brutha, Om’s last believer, is forced to come to terms with the fact that his god is insulting, arrogant and frivolous. But eventually he convinces Om to follow his own commandments and the god returns to full power.

8. Mr Teatime

Mr Teatime grew up in the Assassins Guild (in Ankh-Morpork even the less-than-savoury professions have their own guilds). He has to constantly insist his surname be pronounced “Te-ah-tim-eh”, and gets very frustrated because  ”everybody gets it wrong”. He is both a genius and an irredeemable sociopath.

He is recruited to assassinate the Hogfather (Discworld’s version of Father Christmas), and admits to having lain awake as a child dreaming of dispatching not just the Hogfather, but also the Tooth Fairy, and Death himself. When he does finally meet Death (in the usual manner), he is finally impressed that someone can pronounce his name correctly.

7. Tiffany Aching

Tiffany is a very young witch, beginning her witching career aged nine. Perhaps the most striking thing about her is her friendship with the Nac Mac Feegle, and army of tiny, blue, rowdy, drunken pixie-like creatures.

The Feegles are so enthusiastic in a brawl that they’ll even attack other Feegles and, in their absence, themselves. Thankfully for Tiffany they’ve befriended her as the new “hag o’ the hills”.

6. Moist von Lipwig

Moist is less outlandish than some of Pratchett’s creations, but that’s because he’s a conman who owes his success to having no notable physical traits and being very forgettable.

Under the alias Albert Sprangler, Moist is eventually captured in Ankh-Morpork, where the city’s leader – Lord Vetinari – stages a fake execution for him. He is then offered the role of Postmaster General of his own free will (the alternative being suicide, again of his own free will).

In subsequent novels Lipwig’s civil service career also sees him running the Royal Mint and getting to grips with steam locomotion.

5. Cohen the Barbarian

Bloody-minded OAP barbarian Cohen began as a parody mash-up of Conan the Barbarian and Genghis Khan. As his character develops, however, he becomes the leader of a nostalgic bunch of ageing marauders longing for the good old days.

Cohen’s horde deplete further as the series continues. In The Last Hero it is announced that Old Vincent has died, having choked on a cucumber (or possibly a concubine, the horde are confused on this point).

4. Rincewind

Rincewind is a failed student at the Unseen University, described by wizarding scholars as “the magical equivalent to the number zero”. Nevertheless he finds himself at the centre of many adventures, and ends up travelling to the far reaches of the Discworld.

Protagonist of Pratchett’s very first novel, The Colour of Magic, Rincewind has a reputation for solving minor problems by turning them into major disasters.

3. Granny Weatherwax

Esmerelda Weatherwax is a member of the Lancre coven. She fulfils the role of the coven’s “Crone”, though her frustratingly perfect skin and full set of teeth prevent her from achieving the desired look. She does, however, have a penetrating stare and is so imposing people think she’s taller than she actually is.

The other members of the coven include “wet hen” Magrat Garlick and motherly witch Nanny Ogg, whose last child (of 15) was born some 10 years after her fifth – and final – husband died.

2. The City Watch

Ankh-Morpork’s unconventional police force are at the heart of a number of novels. They begin as a rag-tag bunch commanded by jaded street copper Sam Vimes, who ends up raising the Watch’s public standing over a number of books, and marrying the richest woman in Ankh-Morpork into the bargain.

The Watch’s members include Fred Colon, Nobby Nobbs (a small-time thief in his own right), and the six-foot-six-inch Captain Carrot, who was raised by dwarves and has a touching romantic relationship with Sgt Angua – a werewolf who also serves on The Watch.

Other Watch members include Detritus the troll (a reformed thug-for-hire), Cheery Littlebottom the dwarf (one of the first dwarfs to be openly female), and Reg Shoe (a zombie and “dead rights” activist).

1. Death

Death appears in almost all the Discworld novels, usually fairly briefly. The traditional skeletal figure in a black cloak, Death refers to himself as an “anthropomorphic personification” and is notable for only speaking in capital letters.

He lives in a cheery house (decorated entirely in black) with his manservant Albert, his steed Binky, and the Death of Rats and his steed, Quoth the raven. He also has a granddaughter called Susan.

Sir Terry chose to end his final story with his own encounter with Death. The four tweets posted to his Twitter account opened with Death’s trademark capitals.