Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Light Fantastic: Terry Pratchett
Most people, or at least most readers of book blogs, know about the Discworld series of books by Terry Pratchett. However, I did not know until three or four years ago what that world was like so I will share a short description with you. As described in this book, the Discworld is a flat disc-shaped world "carried through the starry infinity on the backs of four giant elephants, who were themselves perched on the shell of a giant turtle. His name – or Her name, according to another school of thought – was Great A'Tuin."
For the second time recently, I have read a fantasy novel where I was lost for the first few chapters. This time I have a bit of an excuse. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett is a sequel or continuation of The Colour of Magic, the first Discworld Book, which I have not read. Although Pratchett does bring the reader up to speed, I still found the set up, the style of writing, and the structure confusing.
The basic story is that a red star has appeared in the sky and is going to collide with the Discworld. There appears to be only one person who can save that world: Rincewind, the wizard. However, he is an incompetent wizard and he doesn't even know that imminent destruction is on its way. He is travelling with Twoflower the tourist and The Luggage. Later in the story they meet up with Cohen the Barbarian and Bethan, a young girl about to be sacrificed by the Druids.
This book was very clever and funny and entertaining, after I stopped being confused. I read it as an introduction to the Discworld books, and it filled that function well, although now I wish I had read The Colour of Magic first. Parts of this book reminded me of Douglas Adams' The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, except that this is fantasy, with wizards and really weird stuff like talking luggage and Cohen the Barbarian (a very old version of Conan).
There are numerous suggestions online for ways to approach the Discworld books. Since I am a novice in this area, I will just note that some people say read them in order of publication, other suggest starting with various groupings of books, such as the Night Watch series, the Death series, or the novels centered around the Witches. If you want a description of some of the story arcs within the Discworld books, see the article at Wikipedia.
My plan is to read Mort next, the first book in the Death series. I also have the book that follows that, Reaper Man. Then I will move on to Guards! Guards!, the first novel featuring Sam Vimes and the City Watch, a series that has been highly recommended.
I just recently discovered this article at NPR Books which is titled There's No Wrong Place To Start Reading Pratchett.
Also see the reviews at read_warbler for The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.
Publisher: Signet, 1988 (orig. pub. 1986).
Length: 255 pages
Series: Book #1 in the Discworld series
Source: Borrowed this book from my son.