Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Color of Magic Book Review

by The Wanderer
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Fantasy, Humor
Series: Discworld Book One
Pages: 210

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Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has been one of the most profitable and respected series’ in fantasy.  With over 80 million books sold, and numerous awards, Pratchett has established himself as the premiere comedic fantasy writer.

The Color of Magic is the first novel from that series introducing readers to the naive Twoflower and the cynical Rincewind.  This story utilizes a brilliantly built world, and conflicting character personalities all with an underlying use of absurd humor and satire.

Pratchett parodies a lot of the major aspects of fantasy, and while I found his humor amusing, I never found myself in stitches. On the humor end of things I was expecting a bit more. Nevertheless I found the Discworld to be one of the most original fantasy worlds, and that I greatly admire.

Twoflower, a tourist from the Agatean Empire, comes to visit Ankh-Morpork in search of a hero.  Naive as he is, Twoflower is unaware the gold he’s carrying – worth a small sum in his homeland – is worth a massive fortune in the city.  With Twoflower’s life in danger it’s up to Rincewind, the world’s most cowardly and inept wizard, to guide him safely home.

Discworld is bizarre to say the least.  Consider the world’s calendar: an astronomical year lasts 800 days and is subdivided into 2 agricultural years which are subdivided into 13 months with weeks consisting of 8 days.   The location of the planet is even stranger. The Discworld is a flat planet that sits on the backs of four elephants. The four elephants sit on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a giant turtle that swims through space. It’s briefly touched upon that the Great A’Tuin also does corkscrews and rolls, usually to avoid space projectiles.

The Color of Magic starts off at a pretty frantic pace, and it took a little while to get acclimated with the jumpy characters and shifting plot.  In a nut shell this story basically pits it’s two main characters on a number of mini adventures, with each of the four parts the novel is separated into being a new adventure … or a new fantasy trope to parody.

These adventures are fun, but they are really spastic.  The transitions between each section of the book aren’t smooth at all, which tends to make it feel like Pratchett was running out of ideas for each parody. Instead of creating a natural succession of events, this book feels like four mini-stories all smashed together.

Rincewind is an entertaining character. A poor excuse for a wizard, he only knows one spell. His shortcomings make for a number of amusing cynical comments at his expense. Even more ridiculous is Twoflower’s great admiration for him.  This pair of adventurers and their relationship reminds me of Don Quixote and Sancho, true they don’t mistake any windmills for giants, but they do get caught up with plenty of dragons and trolls.

The ending went in an unexpected direction, and one that I really liked. That was my favorite aspect of the plot.  There are issues in this first Discworld book, but the originality of the world and a few strong characters really help the story overcome them.  If you’re looking to get started with the Discworld books, or if you’re looking for an entertaining fantasy parody. then I recommend you start here.

Score: 7.8

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