Friday, February 20, 2009

Where it all began

I have been enjoying Terry Pratchett's novels for years, but there are gaps in my reading, particularly in the Discworld series. After having such a blast with his Tiffany Aching novels last year, I decided to start at the beginning and read all the Discworld novels in order (but within no specific time frame - it will take me a while, as you can see by the sheer number of books in the series). It has been longer than I like to think since I read this one - at least twenty years, which makes me feel old. I had vague memories of an incompetent wizard and surprisingly clear memories of a trunk with many legs. Anyone who's read this book will, I have no doubt, remember that trunk - in fact, it might even be their favorite character!

The novel opens with a huge fire blazing through the city of Ankh-Morpork, and then we backtrack to get the story of how the fire started. It all began with the arrival of something never seen before: a tourist. The concept of tourism is nonexistent in Ankh-Morpork - but the concept of fleecing a tourist who has no idea what his money is worth? Well, that one is quickly grasped and embraced. Twoflower, the tourist, is set upon by all sorts of rascals set out to get a share of the gold he keeps in his unusual chest. Made of sentient pearwood, the chest follows him about on dozens of little legs and has its own unique way of ensuring Twoflower and his money will not be unwillingly parted.

Rincewind, a failed wizard, is initially among those who wish to fleece the tourist. But he finds himself in the position of having - on pain of dire consequences - to accompany Twoflower in his travels and keep him alive. This is not an easy task, as Twoflower, an eternal optimist, is intent on experiencing as much of Rincewind's world as possible, including tavern brawls and anything else he deems fun and exciting. Twoflower's idea of fun and exiting nearly gets Rincewind killed in all kinds of creative ways everywhere they go, dragging them into one impossibly hilarious situation after another. Rincewind can't figure out why everything's going wrong for him - but somewhere Discworld's gods and goddesses are having a game of dice...

This a fun novel that pokes affectionately at fantasy stereotypes and introduces characters and concepts that will be more developed in subsequent books of the series. It is not necessary to begin reading Discworld novels with this first book, and while it's a wonderful little book, it's certainly not the best one - the series gets better and better over time - but it sure is fun to see where it all started. I look forward to continuing my exploration of Discword from the very beginning.

Books in the Discworld series:
1. The Color of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort

5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards, Guards
9. Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting Times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. The Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. Nightwatch
29. Monstrous Regiment
30. Going Postal
31. Thud
32. Making Money

The Colour of Magic (#1 in the Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett (Corgi Books, 1983)

Also reviewed at:
Adventures in Reading: "As Pratchett has described it himself, it’s a novel of travel and exposes the reader to the Discworld at its roughest stage. This is the “primordial goo” that the rest of the Discworld bubbles forth from and definitely worth a read."
A Book a Week: "Like Adams, Pratchett lampoons everything and anything, including his own story. He clearly had an incredible amount of fun writing this tale and inventing the Discworld in general. Or letting it invent itself. The fact that the reader has just as much fun is a byproduct."

10 comments:

  1. Everybody always says that the first few books are not the best and that they get better as you go along. This has me stumped though as to whether I should read the series. I read this, The Colour of Magic, and absolutely adored it with a passion. I was so anxious to read more. So I read one of the books that featured Death, can't for the life of me recall the title, and it was ok.

    Then I read the first witches book, is it Equal Rites? See I can't even remember the titles and it was less than alright. Then I tried book #2 The Light Fantastic but only got halfway through and never picked it up again.

    I feel like I fell in love with the luggage and he doesn't seem to be in any other books. But I don't know, every time I read a glowing review of a Discworld book it makes me want to read them and like them.

    PS: I think the Bromeliad Trilogy is one of the funniest things ever written.

    I'm giong to watch your reviews of this in order and see if I can decide whether to give it a go once more.

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  2. Oh, I like the covers from that edition of the series. To me they tend to capture the madcap feeling of the contents. This is one series read I can't blame you for, I've been meaning to go through this one for a long time. I think there's an ILLO copy of The Light Fantastic on the way for me.

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  3. I so need to read them all in order again.

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  4. Nicola - that's an interesting experience you had with this series. Have you read the Tiffany Aching ones? I've read the first one in the Bromeliad Trilogy and really need to get to the rest of them. They are funny!

    I think the later books in the series delve deeper into the characters - they're funny but also touching and thought provoking. I will keep you posted on how the reread goes!

    Kiirsten - I like these covers, too - and it was fun to actually read the original book I read so many years ago. I've moved around a lot over the years, but that was one I always hung onto. :-)

    Nymeth - Want to join me in my reread? :-D

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  5. I will read this series one day. I will read this series one day. I will read this series one day. Maybe if I repeat it enough times I'll actually get around to doing so!

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  6. Well, you'll be reading enough reviews of books from this series while I reread them to keep reminding you, at any rate! I'm sure you'll enjoy it once you take the plunge. :-)

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  7. I really must get around to reading the first two Discworld books. I started with the third book (Mort I think...) and never did go back to the beginning. I'm also keen to read The Bromeliad Trilogy. Hope to get to those this year and am sure it'll be another series, like Tiffany Aching, where I'll wonder why on earth I didn't read them before! Story of my life...

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  8. Cath - I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the first two, particularly as you're reading them out of order. I'm sure you'll enjoy them when you get to them!

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  9. I've really got to start this series soon. I've picked up a couple of the books here and there but didn't really want to get started until I had at least the first 5. I'm mainly only missing the ones from 10-21.

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  10. "Only" the ones from 10 - 21! I had to laugh. Sounds like you could get started without worring too much about running out of books right away... :-)

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