colourmagic“Picturesque.  That was a new word to Rincewind the wizard (B. Mgc,. Unseen University [failed]).  It was one of a number he had picked up since leaving the charred ruins of lightfantasticAnkh-Morpork.  Quaint was another one.  Picturesque meant – he decided after careful observation of the scenery that inspired Twoflower to use the word – that the landscape was horribly precipitous.  Quaint, when used to describe the occasional village through which they passed, meant fever-ridden and tumbledown.  Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the discworld.  Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant ‘idiot’.” – The Colour of Magic, p 59

I’m reviewing these two books together, because despite being two books, they are two halves to a single story.  The story of the first tourist on the Discworld, or alternately, the story of how the Discworld was nearly destroyed, or alternately the story of Rincewind and the Octavo, or even a story concerning how nice it is to have a hero around when you need one.

“Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do.  Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth.  But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.” – The Colour of Magic, p 141

In the beginning of this two-part tale, we are first introduced to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld – an entire world in the shape of a disc, set on the back of four enormous elephants, riding on the shell of gigantic turtle flying through space.  On the Discworld, magic is commonplace, the gods play dice games, and you really can fall off the edge of the earth.  The future of Discworld will be forever altered upon the meeting of two unique individuals.  First, there is Twoflower, the very first tourist on the Discworld.  He is blissfully unaware of danger and dangerously full of imagination.  He’s loaded to the gills with pure gold and has a luggage trunk that will follow him anywhere and protect him from anything.  Or at least try.  The second individual is Rincewind, a failed wizard who has been expelled from the Unseen University of Magic for being completely incompetent in the ways of magic.  In fact, Rincewind has only ever been able to retain one spell – that of one of the great eight spells of the Octavo.  Rumor has it all the other spells are so frightened of this one spell, they refuse to stay in Rincewind’s mind.

“‘Sometimes I think a man could wander across the disc all his life and not see everything there is to see,’ said Twoflower.  ‘And now it seems there are lots of other worlds as well.  When I think I might die without seeing a hundredth of all there is to see it makes me feel,’ he paused, then added, ‘well, humble, I suppose.  And very angry, of course.'” – The Colour of Magic, p 153

Rincewind is charged with keeping Twoflower safe and making him happy.  This seems like it’d be an easy job, but considering their personalities are fantastically opposite from each other, Twoflower has quite the knack for irritating Rincewind.  Between the two of them, they discover dragons, trolls, meet several gods, stop pagan sacrifices, arrange romances for heroes, visit Death’s house for a game of bridge, and fall off the edge of the Disc.  We’re introduced to hundreds of violently alive characters, all of whom add a great depth (and often a high sense of hilarity) to the story and the Discworld itself.

“The next day dawned bright and clear and cold.  The sky became a blue dome stuck on the white sheet of the world, and the whole effect would have been as fresh and clean as a toothpaste advert if it wasn’t for the pink dot on the horizon.” – The Light Fantastic, p 117

Having never read any of Terry Pratchett’s works, I felt I should probably start at the beginning.  “The Colour of Magic” was the very first book written about the Discworld which has now become so famous among sci-fi and fantasy readers.  I feel I should say I’m forever indebted to my husband for introducing Pratchett and me.  He has all the talent of a fantastically famous writer (he is one) and all the humor and randomness of Douglas Adams.  There’s not so much that the story is lost, as in some of Adams’ works, but there’s quite enough to keep me giggling long into the night as I try and squeeze in just a little bit more reading.  If you’re not a fan of either fantasy or sci-fi, but enjoy books with a social statement to make in a parable-like manner, these books would be a great place to start as an introduction to a phantasmagorically phenomenal series.

Both these books were written by Terry Pratchett.  “The Colour of Magic” was published in 1983, and “The Light Fantastic” in 1986.