Friday, March 02, 2007

Rincewind the Wizzard

Rincewind the Wizzard is actually a volume which contains The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, and Eric.

The Colour of Magic (1983) is the first Discworld book, and since I had jumped into the Discworld fantasies at the most current end, the first thing I noticed about this first story was a slight difference in writing style. In this first story, Terry Pratchett explains that the Discworld is flat, and supported by four elephants (astropsychology has been, as yet, unable to establish what they think about), which are in turn supported by Great A'Tuin the turtle.

Like all the later Discworld novels, this tale takes place in the city of Ankh-Morpork, which is generally described as a crowded, dangerous place with a putrid smell. Enter Rincewind the Wizard (his hat is labeled Wizzard because he can't spell), who is a totally inept wizard, a self-proclaimed coward who yearns for boredom in his life, and an adventure-magnet. Woe is Rincewind, because here comes Twoflower, Discworld's first and only tourist, who needs a translator and guide. Rincewind actually has a talent for languages, and Ankh-Morpork's leader, or the patrician, has ordered him to stick with Twoflower.

Pratchett had lots of fun making fun of tourists in this novel. I particularly love Twoflower's Luggage--and that's capitalized because that's its name. The Luggage is made of sapient pearwood, which is magical, and will follow its owner everywhere, at least eventually. The Luggage has a bit of a life of its own, with it's hundred legs, scary and dangerous snapping lid, and it's complete loyalty to its owner. The Luggage isn't going to let anyone hurt Twoflower, so watch out--the Luggage can really hurt someone.

The Luggage's talent for bodyguarding and Rincewind's talent for escaping DEATH (who always speaks in capital letters), are the winning combination that enable Rincewind and Twoflower to survive their dangerous adventures.

The Light Fantastic (1986) continues the adventures of Rincewind and Twoflower, but this time, the world is in danger of ending--specifically, it's in danger of colliding with a big red star, and the most unmagical wizard of all is the only one who can save the day. Why? Well, while Rincewind was a student at the Unseen University (that's where wizards go to school), he opened the most important book, the Octavio, on a dare, and one of the eight most important spells in the world got lodged in his brain. To save the world, all eight spells had to be said together again, and Rincewind was the only person who could do that. Of course, this wasn't as easy as picking up a book.

It's in this story that we meet the librarian at the Unseen University, who is an orangutan because of a magical accident. After experiencing a simpler life with less angst, he refuses to be returned to his human state. Rincewind is his assistant, and loves the job of reading all day and fetching bananas. Sounds like a great job to me, too.

After this adventure, Twoflower leaves for home, and gifts Rincewind with the Luggage, so that we can enjoy it some more.

Sourcery (1989)

There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son ... a wizard squared ... a source of magic ... a Sourcerer.

This is why wizards aren't even supposed to have sex, let alone get married and pump out little wizards. Ah, but that's what Ipslore (the eighth son of an eighth son), did, and then he tricks DEATH by entering his own staff before DEATH can claim him, and it is through this staff that he controls his son, Coin. The plan is world dominance, and once again, Rincewind is called upon to save the day.

Rincewind's character is very much expanded in this story, showing off his sarcastic style and the fact that he may be an inept wizard, but he's no idiot. Also, the Librarian becomes very interesting, and there are a lot more minor characters in the plot, too.

Eric (1990) is a novella-length story about a boy named Eric, the Discworld's only demonologist. Well, not a good demonologist. Eric is trying to summon a demon to grant him his three wishes: to live forever, meet the most beautiful woman, and rule the world. Unfortunately, he calls up Rincewind. Oh, and eventually, the Luggage follows. Eric is in for an adventure that will serve him right and teach him a lesson. (Experience is a very hard school.)

Pratchett gives organized religion an especially big kick in the butt in this last tale, and in all four stories, the gods are a very disinterested group with no work ethic at all, usually playing games and drinking. DEATH is the exception, being particularly organized and dependable.

I wasn't going to read all of these at one time, since I did have other plans, but they were so much fun to read that I found myself continuing to turn the pages. The first two beg to be read together, while Sourcery is definitely a book apart from the tourist's adventures, and also the longest. Eric is a short bit of fun. I highly recommend all of these.


TLP said...

Well, I must read these, because as you know, I also started in on the later ones. It would be nice to see if "sense" (toughly speaking of course) can be made of Pratchett's crazy worlds.

Doug said...

The Wyrd Sisters does not take place in Ankh-Morpark except a few scenes. Having read exactly one of Pratchett's novels, I thought I'd point that out.

actonbell said...

Thanks, Doug:) And that's interesting, that a non-Discworld book should still reference Ankh-Morpork.

See you tomorrow, Mom:)

Doug said...

It's a discworld book, but it takes place in an outlying kingdom.

Minka said...

*big grin*
ahhh... newcomers to the world of Pratchett!

Now about the little dispute above...The Discworld, much as our own, is made up of continents. There are quite a few and in the 30 Discworld novels we visit them all. Klatch is an important one (parodied on France I think!) and then there is Lancre, the kingdom Doug is referring to....we even leave the earthly atmosphere and visit Death´s domain...

Now as to your introduction, Actonbell...fabulous. All the time, I had a huge wide grin on my face and my head was nodding in approval and my hands clapped once or twice out of excitement.

I am a sucker, a nerd and a weirdo when it comes to Pratchett.
And I have to agree with you...there is some definite change in writing style from his first to his last. I like it, becuase I thought he got better with age. of course a synonym for teh theory that once upon our time, our own world was thought to be flat :) The Discworl series is a parody of our own very real earth in its beginnign stage...or so I always assumed!

I really shoudl stop now, shouldn´t I? just came all bubbling out of me :)

actonbell said...

Thank you for the expert insight, Minka:) I'll definitely keep reading these!

Minka said...

How do you liek teh Patrician of Ank Morpork? He is one of my favourite characters, besides Death and Granny Weatherwax :)

actonbell said...

I haven't met Granny yet, but I do really like the patrician, and I think DEATH is great. That sounds funny.

Minka said...

Actonbell, any of the books with the Ank Morpork police department are hilarious and the Patrician is always in them. I suggest Guards Guards, you have to be introduced to the over-sized dwarf by the name of Carrot, nothing quite like him :)

actonbell said...

Oh, yes! I met Carrot in Going Postal--or was it Thud!? I agree, they are just hilarious.