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Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I've given in to peer pressure with this one. My best friend and my boyfriend are both huge Terry Pratchett fans, and as such have been bugging me to read his Discworld series for as long as about eight years (in the case of my best friend). Wow, I just realised how long I've been putting this off for. No wonder she was getting tired of nagging. In any case, I figured that I might as well start at the beginning, so that I wouldn't get caught by continuity problems, hence my decision to borrow The Colour of Magic from the boyfriend; he even threw in The Light Fantastic, which was nice of him. So, has the hype been deserved? Mostly, yes.

The Colour of Magic follows the adventures of an inept and cowardly wizard named Rincewind as he finds himself having to chaperone Ankh-Morpork's first tourist, Twoflower. There are a couple problems with the plot in this book; don't get me wrong, it's entertaining and funny, but not without issues. The first thing that I noticed was that the flow was rather jumpy. The overall plot is split into four basic sections: Twoflower's arrival in Ankh-Morpork, their detour through the Temple of Bel-Shamharoth, an adventure involving dragons and what they find at the edge of the Discworld. That's fair enough, shows a natural progression through their world. My problem was that it felt more like four separate novellas or short stories that happened to involve the same protagonists and were in sequential order. The only real thing that connects the stories other than the protagonists is the colour octarine, a fluorescent greenish-purple, the eponymous colour of magic that only wizards can see. The other main problem that I had with the plot is the knowledge that various details of it are ret-conned in future instalments of the series, which I was warned about. To be honest, that bothers me less, seeing as this was the first of the series, so there were presumably various elements about the world-building that needed a little fine-tuning. Overall though, these are very enjoyable stories with a lot to recommend them, namely the protagonists.
The main characters that I'll be touching on are Rincewind, Twoflower and Twoflower's sentient luggage. Rincewind is a wonderfully pathetic main character: he's a wizard who only knows one spell and it's one that he dare not enchant. He is as cowardly as they come, only walking into adventures because he was forced to. He could be a little bit dull at times though, which is probably why Pratchett paired him up with Twoflower here. Twoflower is quite possibly insane. He comes to Ankh-Morpork as a tourist from a land where gold is extremely common and has thus lost a great deal of it's value. Because of this, he walks around giving out huge gold coins all willy-nilly, making him a quick target for thieves. He also has a nasty habit of wanting to witness horribly dangerous things like bar brawls and charging dragons, dragging Rincewind along with him. Twoflower would probably start to grate very quickly if he were on his own, but when he's contrasted with Rincewind, it makes a nice character dynamic. The final main character to mention is the Luggage. The Luggage is probably my favourite character, if only for the possibilities that it brings to the story. The material that the Luggage is made of is a specific kind of wood that will follow their owner no matter what circumstances he should find himself in. It also has a habit of eating people. Basically it's a murderous, walking bag of holding, a phrase that I never thought I would write down and it makes me want to cackle at the sheer brilliance of it. I suppose I should also mention Death, who makes a few short appearances here. I'm looking forward to reading more about him, as he sounds like a riot. That and he also speaks with Christopher Lee's voice in my head, which is quite fun.

Overall, a great introduction to the Disc. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series, especially since there's a cliffhanger ending to this one. This isn't perfect though, so I'm hoping that the books improve as they go along. 3.5/5

Next review: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Signing off,

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