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The librarian

The Colour of Magic

The Colour of Magic is the first book of Terry Pratchett's long 'Discworld' series. When I first began reading them - about seven or eight years ago - several people suggested that I didn't start with the first two (The Light Fantastic being book two) but began instead with Equal Rights and Mort. This I did and I think this was sensible, but the result was that I've been putting off and putting off actually reading the books that started the Discworld series off. This omission was one reason that I was so pleased when I heard about the Terry Pratchett challenge I'm doing as it gave me an opportuniy to read these first two books, plus various others that I've missed for one reason or another. So, this is The Colour of Magic and the question really is, 'what was I afraid of?'




Rincewind is what you might call a failed wizard. It's not entirely his fault, he had an encounter with a serious book of spells and was never quite the same again. But still he's basically an inept cowardly sort and greedy at that. He comes across Twoflowers, a four-eyed tourist from the mythical Counterweight Continent - the very first tourist ever as a matter of fact - and together they manage to start a fire that lays waste to the city of Ankh-Morpok. Escape becomes necessary and, together with Twoflowers's rather unusual 'luggage', they flee the city.

Their adventures take them on a tour of the Discworld. First they come across Hrun the Barbarian and end up fighting an eight-legged monster in a labyrinth of caves - shades of Lovecraft's Cthulhu here. Then they find dragons, which are not supposed to exist, along with dragonriders, in an upside-down mountain and again have to fight their way out. This bit was rather Anne McCaffrey's Pern in flavour I thought. Lastly, they end up on the rim of the world where the seas flow over the edge in a huge waterfall, and get caught up in a local 'space' type mission to find out what's actually over the edge. And while all this is going on what are the Discworld gods up to? Helping or hindering?

I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this. It certainly is different in flavour to the later Discworld books. It's split into four or five novella type stories, all linked of course, and each one is much more of a spoof on the fantasy genre than later books are. Pratchett's humour is to the fore of course, although he still had to get into his stride I suspect. Death, for instance, a favourite character of mine, is slightly different - I'm guessing Pratchett still had to flesh his character out somewhat. He eventually became a lot more philosophical and kind of 'innocent' than he is here, where he's chasing after Rincewind desperate for him to die. I can't imagine him doing that in the later books.

One thing I really did enjoy about the book was the tour around the Discworld and discussions on the different countries and nationalites that make up the world itself. It was 'almost' a traditional fantasy novel in that respect and I liked that aspect a lot. I can't remember whether later books mention as many different part of the Discworld but I don't think so and perhaps that's a shame.

Anyway, all in all a very good read. I'd really like to read The Light Fantastic straight away as I gather it's very much a sequel, but I can't. A library book I have (The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths) is reserved by someone else and I only have it until the 17th. What with a busy week coming up (grandaughter coming to stay) I really need to start that if I'm to have any chance of finishing it in time.

Comments

Oh I adored these two books - they were where I started, and what hooked me in to start with... It's been years since I've read them, mind - and I'm not nearly as mad on his later ones, to the point that I've not yet read the rest, either... Shall have to catch up with my re-reading, I think... *g*
I won't say I have a 'preferance' for the later ones because that's not quite true. They're different, it seems to me, and I feel that he has honed his humour to the point where he's got to be one of the cleverest authors alive for his use of language. I'm using this year and the various book challenges I'm doing to reread a few of my favourites. Books like Carpe Jugulum and The Fifth Elephant will do very nicely for the Halloween challenge.
I started with Colour - I guess when it had just been published in the US and I picked it up at the library. I enjoyed it very much, but was disappointed with The Light Fantastic when it came along because it seemed to have a different tone, rather more slapstick. (I enjoy it now, though.)

My faith was restored with Equal Rites, however, though Granny Weatherwax comes across odd, a bit of a pale shadow of her later developed self. Not unreasonable, of course!

I'm re-listening to the Tiffany trilogy on my mp3 player while walking and choring. Stephen Briggs is quite brilliant!
Terry Pratchett audio is something I haven't considered and must do at some stage. Tony Robinson has done a few I think and those I would like to hear.

I'm using this year to reread a few of my favourites and would actually like to reread all of the Sam Vimes books at some stage. Good Omens is on the list too.
The Colour of Magic was my Disc World first love, and it always perplexes me a little to read comments that disrespect it, and advise people not to start at the beginning, but ease their way back to it from the "superior" later books. I wish the people dispensing all of this free advice (advice, I might add, that costs nothing, and is worth every penny of it) would just shut it and let others make up their own minds about what books they want to read, in what order.

Well, of course TCoM started at a different place from most of the books, it was the very first one. I suspect Terry Pratchett thought there would only be one, instead of a series, and he was getting a lot of things off his chest regarding Sword and Sorcery fantasy writing in general. Then, of course, it just became too popular to let it rest, and the Disc World developed as the author devoted more time and thought to it. But oh, the funny lines in that first, wonderful book! (***SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn't read the book!!!***) The dead sea monster with the look of surprise on its face still gets a chuckle from me even after all this time!

But anyway, I'm very glad you enjoyed the ride on reading TCoM. The film (made for TV?) version that cast Sean Astin as Two Flower came the closest to the way I had imagined it all, but I suspect there is no movie that could possibly convey all the wise-ass humor and kindly wisdom of Terry Pratchett's books themselves.
Well, In people's defense I do need to say that I did ask for the advice. :-) I can't complain then about actually getting it. lol.

TCoM was so much funnier than I was led to expect from people's comments. I was delighted with the humour to be honest and chuckled rather a lot. I'm going to have to look up the movie... I think there have been several now but they were originally on Sky1 which we don't have, so weren't able to watch when they were originally aired. I can't tell you how much that annoyed me at the time.
"Well, In people's defense I do need to say that I did ask for the advice. :-) I can't complain then about actually getting it. lol."
oh. then never mind...(lol!)

TCoM is one funny sequence after another, and I can understand why he never wrote another quite like it; it would exhaust anyone to try to do that again. But he's so witty that he's had great success keeping the fans happy and laughing. He knows how to touch people emotionally as well. (***Another SPOILER ALERT*** For example, the house-fire scene in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents where Maurice saves one of his charges, staggers out of the fire and dies. Oh! It makes me snivel every time I merely think of it...even though I know that a Disc World cat has nine lives for real...)

I can empathize with your annoyance at finding out that something you really wanted to see was on a subscription channel you don't have. I'm always trying to tune in some great-sounding movie or documentary, only to see the Subscription Channel banner. Grrrr.