Friday, October 23, 2009

Three more by Terry Pratchett

I tend to, not get stuck in a rut per se, but read things in clumps. This clump is Terry Pratchett, as I just blew through three more of his books, the first three Discworld fantasy novels: The Colour of Magic (1983), The Light Fantastic (1986) and Equal Rites (1987).

The Colour of Magic introduces us to the Discworld by following the adventures of Rincewind, the mostly inept wizard, his new friend Twoflower, the Discworld’s first tourist, and Twoflower’s Luggage, hundred-footed sentient pearwood chest which is extremely loyal to its owner and extremely snappish to everyone else. At the end of The Colour of Magic, the three of them are left falling off the edge of the world which, being a flat disc, is entirely too possible.

Fortunately, in The Light Fantastic, Rincewind is the only person who can save the Discworld from a disastrous collision with a malevolent red start, so at least the fall off the world won’t kill him. In other events, Twoflower does get to play a game of cards with Death (who speaks IN ALL CAPITALS and is generally pleasant in skeletal, grim sort of way). And our heroes fall in with Cohen the Barbarian, now 87+ years old and toothless, but still the greatest hero around.

In Equal Rites Pratchett takes a break from Rincewind and Company, instead following the early adventures of Esk, the eighth son of an eighth son upon whom a dying wizard bequeaths his magical wizard staff. Except that Esk is a girl – which fact the wizard didn’t know at the time. On the Discworld, wizards are men and women with any magical leanings are witches, according to the lore, and everyone is pretty adamant about never the twain shall meet. But Esk has an overabundance of raw wizardish talent and so Granny Weatherwax, the resident witch in Esk’s village, takes it upon herself to help the little girl journey to the Unseen University, where wizards are trained. Esk’s parents are reluctant to let their only daughter go … until she turns one of her more annoying brothers into a pig. (Granny makes her turn him back.)

I am becoming a huge Terry Pratchett fan, much like I used to be a huge Piers Anthony fan (until his clever funny books devolved into merely strings of puns after reader-submitted puns). They are funny as heck, clever, observant of the human condition, fast-paced, convoluted without becoming obtuse, and recurring characters pop in from time to time. If you have a taste for smart fantasy that is more hilarious and self-deprecating than angsty and self-important, pick yourself up some Pratchett.


  1. Anonymous suggestion: read Mort, so you can then go ahead with Reaper Man and Soul Music.

    That's the reading order for the novels that center on Death, and I'm pretty sure you'd eventually conclude he is the best character in Discworld and, perhaps, literature.

    Nice blog, by the way.

  2. Awesome - thanks for the tip! There are so many Discworld books that it's difficult to know what to read next; I love the idea of following a character's timeline. (I just have to get through a Neil Gaiman clump first.)

    And thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave comments. It's very much appreciated.