The Colour of Magic (The First Discworld Novel) by Terry Pratchett
December 21, 2018
Part of my 2019 resolutions will be to read in totality the complete Discworld series. I decided to get a jump on things and read the first novel and I think this is going to be a fantastic experience all around. A few years ago I had read another Discworld Novel, but having zero context as to the world and characters within I felt that I wasn’t able to give it the adequate adoration it deserved. Now, having read The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett I think I can push forward and enjoy each subsequent novel in the series.
To put it simply, it was an adventurous delight.
While I have brushed up on my basics when it comes to this series (in that the books have a multitude of different characters and not all characters appear in all books) this first book in the series deals primarily with the characters of Rincewind and Twoflower.
Rincewind is a wizard, well a sort of wizard, he knows exactly one spell because how the magic system works is you have magic spells if you can remember them, but once you use them, you lose them. It’s the most frustrating way to present a magical world and I love it. Anyway, while at Wizard University one of the eight most powerful spells crawled into Rincewind’s brain preventing him from remembering any other spells and he was subsequently expelled.
Twoflower is a traveler/tourist who simply wants to take in all the sights he can. Like a tavern brawl or a cursed temple that he’s trapped in. It is all lovingly captured using his picture box that contains an imp who paints the portraits he captures. Even the technology is frustratingly perfect. And together they form a sort of bond/friendship/required babysitter relationship.
GOOD POINT: The relationship between Rincewind and Twoflower is my absolute favorite pairing. You have the optimist and the cynic and in this crazy ass world they somehow need each other and stand by each other despite one always annoying the other. Mostly the optimist annoying the cynic. Their banter is everything and I found myself sad when ultimately they ended up apart.
The book is split into smaller, individual stories that are presented in chronological order as they tell of the misadventures these two have throughout the Discworld. Now what is Discworld I hear you all asking. Well it is a flat disc spinning along in the cosmos atop four large elephants who are riding on the back of a gigantic turtle swimming in the universe. It is marvelous. Now the kingdoms that preside on this disc have sent many expeditions out into space to get a better look at the turtle and elephants so as to better understand their world. This makes for the overarching story of the series as best I can tell at this point.
Though there was a lot of information, some of it even repeated, it never felt irrelevant to the world building. In fact I found it all necessary, because despite the amount of detail that goes into this novel, it is actually relatively short; coming in at 284 pages total. It was a quick joyous read.
GOOD POINT: It was just fun to read and so funny. I rarely laugh out loud while reading and so far Terry Pratchett has managed to have me do just that with two of his books. First with his and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens and now this. I can’t wait to see what happens when I read more of his stuff.
In addition to the two main characters we also have Luggage, a sentient suitcase/trunk that has many legs underneath (which just sounds like nightmare fuel) who is extremely loyal to Twoflower. Throughout the book we get to witness Luggage fighting his way across Discworld to catch up to Twoflower as well as see him attack creatures to protect him. I’m pretty sure that Luggage has committed murder and I am strangely okay with that knowledge.
If I’m being honest Luggage serves the purpose of being a perfect deus ex machina when the situation calls for it, but because the character (yes, it is also a character) was established from the beginning it doesn’t feel cheap. It actually makes sense for the story and I so appreciate that. I never rolled my eyes when Luggage came barreling in and pretty much saved both Rincewind and Twoflower’s lives. It was expected, but never too played out.
As far as the writing, it’s Terry Pratchett, of course it was masterful and oh my god how have I not read more of his stories? His descriptions were flawless and my absolute favorite bit of writing from him was how he introduced each character. It was detailed, but to the point. The exact amount you need to establish what needs to be established and also have it jump off the page and become real for the reader.
Of the two characters I would hope that I am as open to the universe as Twoflower is, but I get the feeling that I am built more of Rincewind’s logic. This usually causes the entire adventure to stall despite the fact that Rincewind has his reasons for thinking the way he does. I did love the character development in that Rincewind just sort of ends up going with the flow at the end. Whatever happens, happens and he just accepts it and it’s almost freeing for him. As I understand it the second book deals with him again and I cannot wait to pick it up and read it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially fantasy fans.
BAD POINT: Seriously, how did I not read this when I was a kid? It is a tragic missed opportunity that I will strive to correct.
5 Out of 5 Stars
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