Terry Pratchett – The Colour of Magic

So this is where we begin with what I’ve chosen to call my Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. The Colour of Magic was first published in 1983, though I didn’t catch on until about 1987, when I saw a review of Equal Rites, which led me to starting at the beginning.

This is where we are first introduced to the Discworld, a round flat planet which rests on the backs of four rather large elephants, which in turn rest on the back of Great A’Tuin, a very large turtle, swimming through space to an unknown, and perhaps unknowable destination. On the Disc, magic works, the Gods live on the top of a mountain, and people are, well, people. And so are the dwarves, trolls, and other species you might encounter.

The story concerns the visit of the Discworld’s first tourist, a delightfully naive character called Twoflower, who has four eyes[1] and a homicidal piece of luggage, which follows him everywhere. He arrives in the Disc’s greatest city, Ankh-Morpork, where he acquires a guide. His guide is the failed wizard Rincewind. Rincewind’s main reason for failing at Unseen University is that a spell from the Octavo, believed to be the Creator’s own book of spells, has lodged itself in his brain, and no other spell dares to share the space with it. The other reason is that he’s just not very good at magic.

Unlike every other Discworld book, this one is divided into four episodes, which could work as separate stories, more or less. There’s the general introductory bit, which involves mocking the conventions of heroic fantasy, there’s the have some fun with H P Lovecraft bit, and there’s the gently parody Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders bit. The dragons section works particularly well, with lots of characters having names like Lio!rt and K!sdra[2], heroes with magic swords (bloody annoying magic swords, to tell the truth), and dragons with an interesting approach to existence.

The final section involves something of a cliffhanger ending, and Rincewind and Twoflower find themselves involved in a scientific experiment.

This is, of course, all great fun. There are jokes, absurd situations, enjoyable characters, and much more. But this was just Terry beginning to find his feet. Much greater things lie ahead.

[1] For reasons of reasons, the cover artwork shows Twoflower with quite literally four eyes,  rather than wearing glasses.
[2] Interesting choice of punctuation. No more or less pronounceable than all those names with apostrophes embedded in them…

3 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett – The Colour of Magic

  1. Pingback: Terry Pratchett – The Light Fantastic | Losing it

  2. Pingback: The Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon | Losing it

  3. Pingback: Terry Pratchett – Interesting Times | Losing it

Comments are closed.