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.