The father of this child, in the opening scene, manages to thwart death by transferring his spirit to a wizard's staff - the staff that his son, the sourcerer, will wield. The wizard is determined that his son will grow up to humiliate all the useless wizards at Unseen University who ridiculed him and turned him out. His son will have enormous power, and all the wizards will bow down to him, and he will rule the world. YOU'RE ONLY PUTTING OFF THE INEVITABLE, says Death in his voice that is "as hollow as a cave, as dense as a neutron star."
Death is patient - he knows he has only to wait. But in the meantime, the sourcerer is growing up under the baneful influence of the staff, and when he shows up at Unseen University years later, Rincewind is the Discworld's only hope for saving them all. And to look at Rincewind, who's never actually successfully used a spell, ever, even though his hat does bear the word "Wizzard" on it, it doesn't seem as though he's going to be a whole lot of help.
It was fun to see Rincewind again - I thought we'd left him behind - and to spend some time in the company of his magical luggage, a trunk made of sapient pearwood that has hundreds of little feet that transport it wherever its master goes. And also I loved seeing my favorite librarian again - the Unseen University librarian, who was transformed into an orangutan during an earlier adventure, and he won't allow the wizards to change him back. I loved the way he acted to protect his beloved books.
The story is full of Pratchett's usual witty humor and memorable characters, and although I can't say this one was my favorite in the series so far, it is still always such a pleasure to enter Pratchett's fantastical worlds, not to mention a delight to experience his masterful use of language. I also enjoy seeing how much fun he has poking affectionate fun at the many cliches that abound in fantasy fiction.
Here are a couple of my favorite, non-spoilery passages, in the hope that those of you who haven't done so yet will be inspired to give his books a try.
Nijel was one of those people who, if you say, "don't look now", would
immediately swivel his head like an owl on a turntable. These are the same
people who, when you point out, say, an unusual crocus just beside them, turn
around aimlessly and put their foot down with a sad little squashy noise. If
they were lost in a trackless desert you could find them by putting down,
somewhere on the sand, something small and fragile like a valuable old mug that
had been in your family for generations, and then hurrying back as soon as you
heard the crash.
* * *
Rincewind was used to the dressy ways of wizards, but this one was really impressive, his robe so padded and crenellated and buttressed in fantastic folds and creases that it had probably been designed by an architect. The matching hat looked like a wedding cake that had collided intimately with a Christmas tree.The actual face, peering through the small gap between the baroque collar and the filigreed fringe of the brim, was a bit of a disappointment. At some time in the past it had thought its appearance would be improved by a thin, scruffy moustache. It had been wrong.
Books in the Disworld series:
1. The Color of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
6. Wyrd Sisters
8. Guards, Guards
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
19. Feet of Clay
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. The Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
29. Monstrous Regiment
30. Going Postal
32. Making Money
33. Unseen Academicals
Sourcery (#5 in the Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett (Signet, 1989)
Also reviewed at:
A Book a Week: "But what did I love? The Librarian. The books. I don't want to give too much away, but the Librarian was almost my favourite character, intelligent, quick thinking, and surprisingly sympathetic for an orangutan."
5-Squared: "This was kind of a "transition" book for Pratchett- the tone is just a tad bit more serious than his earlier works, and the book loosely examines the themes of Power, Ambition, and Self-Sacrifice. With time, Pratchett's Discworld books get longer, a smidgen less zany, and a dab more insightful as his writing style evolves."
Just a Weblog: "Overall the book is fairly decent, but I feel that I've probably read too many of his books too quickly or something, because I just wasn't pulled into the story one bit."