Terry Pratchett – Interesting Times

It’s time to start catching up with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. I’ve got two books on the desk ready to post about, and I’m about half way through the next one, so I’d better get on with it.

Interesting Times features the return of Rincewind, and is a sequel to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Some time has passed, and Twoflower (that tourist who caused Rincewind so many adventures) has returned home to the Agatean Empire, which can best be thought of as a Chinese culture with the knobs turned up to about 35. It’s a strictly regulated cultured, ruled by the usual warring families and so on and so forth. In order to keep things strictly controlled, a suitably evil leader wants to have a dangerous opposition to suppress, and works quite hard to create one. This being the Discworld, this doesn’t go too well.

However, copies of Twoflower’s memoir of his trip are circulating and inspiring a lot of people with tales of “The Great Wizzard”. And so, the Empire demands that the “Great Wizzard” is sent to them. Once it’s realised that the only person who spells wizard that way is Rincewind, he’s magically dragged back from the island he’d been happily marooned on and subsequently sent to the Empire.

And much of the usual fun and games follow. Cohen the Barbarian is back, accompanied by his Horde (a few other octogenarian barbarian warriors and a schoolteacher) and with a Cunning Plan to steal something quite substantial.

We learn some interesting things, like the magical Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which is

Named after the wizard Sangrit Heisenberg, and not after the more famous Heisenberg who is renowned for inventing what is possibly the finest lager in the world.

Cohen tells Rincewind about how rule-driven the Empire is, to the point that you can’t go to the privy without a piece of paper…

“Well, as a matter of fact I myself -”
“A piece of paper saying they can go, is what I mean. Can’t leave your village without a chit. Can’t get married without a chit. Can’t even have a sh- Ah, we’re here.”

As Rincewind’s arrival in the Empire involved him arriving at high speed, not to mention a canon disappearing at the same time, people were quite impressed:

“I saw him, I tell you! A legion of soldiers collapsed with the wind of his passage!”
The wind of his passage was beginning to worry Rincewind as well. It always tended to when he was frightened.

And sooner or later, it had to come. Rincewind, who never could do actual magic, is put in a position where he has to cast a spell:

Quanti canicula illa in fenestre

Which would seem to be something about asking the price of a small dog on display in a shop. Or “how much is that doggy in the window?”, perhaps. Waggliness of tail not specified.

As always, lots of jokes, lots of silliness, and the usual mix of serious points being sneaked in. Good fun, and it’s always a joy to have Rincewind back.

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