Terry Pratchett – Sourcery

After the deathly delights of Mort, the next book in the Discworld series, and indeed my Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, takes us back to where we started – fun with the wizards and Unseen University. Rincewind, the Disc’s least competent wizard, has settled down to the moderately safe job of assistant librarian[1]. His homicidal Luggage (made of sapient pearwood, follows its owner anywhere, does the laundry and, err, makes people it doesn’t like[2] disappear) has settled down to snoozing on top of Rincewind’s wardrobe and all is peaceful.

But things are about to be disrupted. Magic on the Discworld has certain rules. The eighth son of an eighth son (eight being something of a magical number, you know) will be a wizard. And wizards are supposed to be celibate. It’s generally assumed that the reason for this is to prevent them being distracted from concentrating on higher magical matters, but there is a deeper, darker reason. You see, if a wizard were to, well, do it, and have children, and did so in a sufficiently enthusiastic manner as to have eight sons, then the eighth son would be a sourcerer. And a sourcerer is not the kind of person you want to have anywhere near you (near in this context being defined as “in the same universe”). In ancient times, when the Disc was young, the world had sourcerers – beings who draw raw magic into the world and can do pretty much what they like. Parts of the Disc are still dangerous to anyone hoping to keep their current shape following the ancient Mage Wars.

Ipslore the Red was a wizard who left the generally safe (more or less, give or take) environment of Unseen University, and went off and married. And, yes had eight sons. And just as he’s about to die, he passes his staff to his youngest son. And instead of floating off to wherever dead wizards go, he occupies the staff…

And so, not that long afterward, the youngest son, Coin, arrives at Unseen University and many Bad Things happen. Rincewind finds himself on the run with the Archchancellor’s hat, a singularly powerful artefact that is somewhat reluctant to be worn by the sourcerer. Along the way, he meets Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian (she just wants to be a hairdresser, but can’t help her inheritance), and a fun selection of other characters.

Can the apocralypse (it’s a sort of apocryphal apocalypse) be averted? Will War, Pestilence and Famine find replacement horses so they can ride out with Death? Will Famine have enough peanuts?

Can Rincewind save the world from the dreadful Things from the Dungeon Dimensions? Will the Luggage find itself? All these, and many other questions may be answered…

It’s all enormous fun (I’m not going to mention any of the jokes, there are just too many), and highly recommended.

[1] The actual Librarian is an orang utan, of course. He didn’t start out that way, but there was a magical accident. He resists all attempts to restore his original form.
[2] This being just about anybody, really

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

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