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The Colour of Magic is the first novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, the series has now hit over 50 books and is one the most loved in any genre depicting a humouress chaotic fantasy world with wizards, witches, DEATH, Ankh Morpock, orang-utan librarians etc. I have been a lover of the Discworld novels since reading this book for the first time when it came out in the early 1980's, I have read this book many times but a friend gave me his copy recently so have read it all afresh for the first time in many years.
The book tells the story of the visit of the Discworlds first ever tourist, a slightly naïve young man called TwoFlower he is visiting the famous city of Ankh-morpock along with a huge walking luggage box and a lot of solid gold coins. He soon meets the worst wizard in the world Rincewind who only one knows one spell and it is one of the 8 fundamental spells whose uttering will end the world. Together they will take the reader through the streets of Ankh-Morpock for the first time and through them we will for the first time visit a fantasy version of London. Ankh-Morpock is a dirty, grubby city on the banks of the contaminated River Ankh it contains the whole world in terms of vice, destitution, opportunity and hope. We have a starched disciplinarian Partrician, the UnSeen University where wizards study and a host of orcs, trolls, heroes, gods and villains. Through it all Twoflower in his innocence and Rincewind with his jaundiced eyes will journey, TwoFlowers arrival sparks a battle between the Gods and through his actions the fate of Ankh-Morpock is decided.
Terry Pratchett is a national treasure in my opinion, his books are light, funny, sometimes incredibly perceptive social commentary and he sets the majority of his discworld novels in a form of Victorian London which has magic, visible Gods but also fairly modern technologies and institutions such as the papers, police force, football teams, postal service etc. He uses a recognisable world and gives it delightful twists, so the Unseen Universities librarian is an orang-utan, DEATH is a major character with a dry sardonic wit, the gods are fallible and his most famous creation the walking luggage with teeth made out of pure magic wood.
In this novel, we meet Rincewind for the first time he is a man in his late thirties, failed wizard and a bit of a waste of space but clearly intelligent and has a knack for languages. It is largely through his antics we will discover about the crazy world of the Discworld but here in this novel we meet him for the first time. He is slightly dishevelled and suffers from confidence issues he also has the problem of being able to cast only one spell which is uttered will end the world he stands upon. He is one of my favourite characters in the whole of literature, the wizard who fears magic, who's scared of heights, fighting, but somehow always finds a way to stay alive.
Give him a naïve tourist who wants to encounter all the famous sites Ankh-Morpock has to offer such as bar fights, meeting heroes and if possible having a pie from Cut me own throat Dibbler and a violent luggage who enjoys eating thieves and you have comedy gold.
After reading the book again after so many years I thoroughly enjoyed the story once again, the story of Rincewinds and TwoFlowers encounters with Gods is funny, intelligent and clever. There are plenty of funny dialogue, action sequences and a brilliant parody when Rincewind is seated in a modern jet plane when he supposed to be flying a dragon. The book is only 230 pages and in truth it only took me a couple of days to read but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I feel like reading the sequel The Light Fantastic also featuring Two Flower and Rincewind in the near future.
I get truly fed up of comedy nowadays. All those sitcoms starring a ragtag group of friends, usually with their own 'quirky' phrases and habits... Sigh. I relish a good giggle at something that actually sparks a neuron somewhere in my skull. After complaining about this to a friend a few years ago, they began harping on at me about how great Terry Pratchett's novels are, how much humour and witty puns can be found in a single novel from his Discworld series. Well, a few months ago, I decided that it was time to try a piece of the pie for myself and find out if Terry could satisfy my appetite for some intelligent giggles.
Being a glutton for punishment (39 books to date? This is going to take some time...) I decided to start right at the beginning, with 'The Colour of Magic'.
The book stars a character named Rincewind, a knee in the groin of every Wizard in Fantasy novels worldwide. Rincewind can't do magic, hates the thought of adventure, and shivers with fear at the very thought of a brawl in a bar (which are reportedly pretty frequent occurences in Ankh Morpok these days...). And yet, through it all, our humble protagonist values one thing above all - he is a student of the Unseen University, and his pointed hat adorned with crystals flagrantly sports the title of "Wizzard" for all to see.
Rincewind has become one of my favourite characters of all time, and it didn't take very long for that to happen. There's something endearing about the way he tries so hard to get out of a sticky situation, only to get dragged back in by powers beyond his conception. Watching him on his journey throughout this story is a true delight, especially as he is joined by a roster of equally memorable characters such as TwoFlower, the Unseen University's inept Faculty, DEATH, and many others.
I will say though, this book was pretty hard-going. It seems like Pratchett was still finding his way through his unique creation, and the style of the book made it quite difficult to keep going. Essentially, this was not a page-turner.
BUT, I would recommend it. Just not perhaps as a first read of the series - If you were to start with another book from Discworld, I'd say that 'Mort' is possibly the best choice.
This is where it all began. This is the place where the magic starts. This is the very first Discworld novel written way back in the mists of time (well, 1985). This is The Colour of Magic.
Looking back, it's not hard to see why it gave birth to such a successful and long-running series, although if you're completely honest, The Colour of Magic is not as enjoyable as many of the titles which were to follow. Pratchett's style is still very much in its infancy so whilst there is much to like about this first entry into the Discworld, fans who are only familiar with the later adventures might find it a little hard going.
The Colour of Magic introduced readers to Rincewind, the world's most incompetent wizard. Dragooned into protecting the hopelessly naïve Twoflower (the Disc's first tourist), he spends most of his time trying to escape Death by running away very fast...
There's a lot to like about The Colour of Magic and whilst Pratchett's style is still evolving, the trademark quirky, cynical humour is already present. It's perhaps not quite as pronounced as it was later to become, and in this first book Pratchett is clearly making more of an effort to introduce a proper plot and a more traditional narrative structure (it is the only one of the mainstream Discworld books to be split into something approaching chapters.) Despite this greater emphasis on plot, there are still plenty of funny moments - shrewd, cynical observations on life, some great one-liners and an all-round absurdity that generates tremendous amounts of fun.
It's true that at times, the Colour of Magic is perhaps a little too self-conscious and tries a little too hard to be a pastiche or parody of the fantasy/sci-fi genre. Pratchett attempts to cram in lots of clever references to science fiction (particularly during the book's early stages), but many of these are very obscure and will pass over the heads of all but the geekiest of readers.
This does mean that if you are used to the later Discworld books, you might find The Colour of Magic a little slow going. In between the humour are many layers of plot. This means that the book is not quite the all-round laugh-a-thon we have come to expect and the humour is more carefully woven into the fabric of the tale itself, rather than being the most important part.
Some people may also find Pratchett's style a little heavier here. Clearly out to impress with his (undoubted) intelligence, The Colour of Magic has a much more determined literary tone. Words sometimes feel as though they have been very carefully and deliberately chosen - often after great consideration - to ensure that they fit the rhythm of a particular passage, or to utilise some clever literary device. There is a greater attempt to appear "literate" (in the broadest sense of the word) and as a result, the book occasionally suffers from that novice author syndrome, where too many complex words are used where a simple one might be more effective.
The area in which Pratchett has always excelled is in the creation of memorable characters and that trend starts here. Rincewind, the world's worst wizard and greatest coward, is both instantly likeable and amusingly pathetic. Whilst he might not yet have developed into the full-blown coward of later books, his total fear of virtually everything leads to some very amusing situations.
The same can also be said for Twoflower, the naive tourist whose constant curiosity and sense of awe at, well, everything also leads to further funny passage, usually based around misunderstandings with Rincewind or the fact that they view the world in totally different ways (Twoflower through rose-tinted glasses; Rincewind through eyes wide with fear). The double act between the pair that evolves throughout the book is excellent, and it's a shame that after The Colour of Magic, they only ever paired up once again. Rincewind's fear-fuelled cynicism and Twoflower's puppy dog enthusiasm are superb and really help to drive much of the humour.
Other Discworld characters also make an appearance - some (such as Death) are more or less fully developed already (although Death's Olde Worlde style of English was quietly dropped). Others are certainly familiar, but undergo some fairly significant changes over the course of subsequent books. For fans of the Discworld series as a whole, therefore, it's interesting to read The Colour of Magic using the benefit of hindsight as it provides an interesting historical insight into how both the Discworld and its characters started out, and how they have evolved.
As a known Pratchett fan, friends and family often ask me for advice on which of the many Discworld books they should read first. My advice is always the same: it might seem perverse, but don't start with the Colour of Magic. It might be the first sequentially, and it might have a lot to like about it, but it's not as instantly accessible as some of the subsequent titles. It's not typical of the later Discworld titles and so is not a fair judgement on the series as a whole. My advice is always start with one of the slightly later books (Pyramids or Guards! Guards! Is a good one) and return to this when you've decided you like the series. Trust me: in a nonsensical kind of way, it kind of makes sense. Having said that, it was the first Discworld book I ever read and I enjoyed it more than enough to pick up all subsequent titles.
The Colour of Magic is not even close to being the best Discworld book. Indeed, it's so unrepresentative of the series a whole that it can almost become relegated to the place of "interesting curio". Yet, don't dismiss it out of hand. It might not be as consistently funny or as full of mad characters as later books, but its more subtle humour and greater emphasis on plot will still provide a lot of reading pleasure.
The Colour of Magic
Corgi, new edition, 1985
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
Hello everyone, it only seems right for me to reintroduce myself. Im loulou and Ive currently moved to York to study History at University. Although University seems like a lot of hard work I've some how managed to get myself on a course that gives me plenty of free time... hense I've taken up reading again.
I have always been a fan of sci-fi and fantasy stories so when my dad introduced me to his old Terry Pratchett books I figuered I'd give them a try.
The Colour of Magic is the first story in The Discworld Series of books, a series which focuses on a world nt unlike our own except its a flat disc being held up by four elephants standing on the turtel 'Great Atuin's' back... sounds perfectly normal right. Not only is the world itself a little weird but its inhabitants include wizzards, witches, trolls and plenty of other unusual creatures.
The Colour of Magic starts by introducing the town of Ankh-Morpork, home to the legendary Unseen Academy that trains the worlds wizzards. One wizzard however, Rincewind turns out to be anything but an ordinanry wizzard, for a start he's never mastered a single spell. With Rincewind being Expelled from the university its only right that he heads to the local bar (well wouldn't you?) where he meets Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist. Pratchett proves to be a comedic genius with Twoflower as he makes him the perfect tourist, the kind who thinks speaking very slowly to a foreigner will make him understand you and of course he has lots of money to burn, which is a problem when your in a town full of thieves and crooks. Rincewind takes on the job of Twoflowers official guide (for a rather nice payment might I add) as long as twoflower promises to keep his luggage, a magic chest, as far away from Rincewind as possible. For a chest that luggage is pretty mean... he tackles a tavern full of thieves alone without even a scratch.
The second section of the book, The Sending of Eight, takes us back to the Unseen University. The most magical book of all, The Octavo, is playing havoc and releasing vast amounts of magic into the University but none of the wizzards are sure why. While the Wizzards are trying to save the World, Rincewind and Twoflower make a new accuaintance, Hrun the Barbarian. This section of the book is possibly the funniest and I personally know I didnt put the book down until I'd finished reading it.
I'll go on to the third section of the book as I dont want to give the story away. The third section, The Lure of the Wyrm, see's Rincewind and Twoflower meeting the Dragon people... even though Rincewind doesn't believe in such silly things as Dragons. The section also focuses on the battle for power at the Unseen University, one of the most dangerus places on the Disc because everyone wants you dead so they can take your place.
The final section, Close to the Edge, introduces the Astrologers who are trying to figure out the gender of the Great Turtle. Unfortunatley Rincewind and Twoflower 'drop in' at the wrong time and end up being rather more important to the Discworld than they wanted to be. The ending to the story is left open to make way for the second book 'The Light Fantastic'.
I will admit, I loved this book. I watched the tv film on sky which is based on the Colour of magic and The Light Fantastic combined but even the film does not beat the book. I had such difficulty putting the book down, it has everything. It made me laugh, made me create a bond with the characters and even made me quite anxious at times. I am really reccomending this book to anyone who likes a good laugh or likes anything to do with fantasy.
My copy was my fathers so it didn't cost me anything but from buying the next few in the series I know the books are £7.99 in most book stores with many offering special deals on them. I have also been able to find a few of the older books in charity shops for a few pounds.
The cover of the book is Yellow and orange with the image of some troll like creatures stood in a doorway watching Twoflower's luggage attacking a large group of people. The illustrations on the front of all of Pratchetts books are pure works of art and draw my eyes every time I look at them.
The Colour of magic is Terry Pratchett's first Discworld novel. Published 27-odd years ago, it tells the story of a failing wizard (or "Wizzard" as written on his hat) who, after a series of events, involuntarily becomes the guide for Twoflower - the Discworld's very first tourist. They escape Ankh-Morpork (the Disc's biggest and most popular city), as it burns down and begin a journey across the Disc, meeting all things strange and wonderful. HOwever, little dfo they know that theyir lives are burrently being controlled by the gods. And Rincewind is Lady Luck's favourite plaything
Among the places they visit is Wyrmberg, an upside-down mountain which houses dragons that only exist in the imagination. They go to the temple of Bel-Shamharoth, and nearly go over the waterfall on the edge of the Disc, only to be rescued and taken to the country of Krull, a city perched on the very edge of the Disc. The inhabitants wish to know the sex of the Great A'Tuin - the tutle on which the Discworld rests. They plan on lauching a space rocket to orbit the turtle, and intend on sacrificin) Rincewind and Twoflower to please the gods, but the two hijack the capsule and are launched off the face of the disc...
This is Pratchett's first Discworld book, and there are places where you can definitely tell. The world is undeveloped, and so we're taken on this tour of the Disc as a way to get to grips with some of the places, and how the world works. It becomes apparent that the Disc isn't your typical fantasy world - it's rid of all the usual clichés, and is in fact more a mockery and a tribute to the more "classic" fantasy worlds. The dragon riders with the punctuation in their name - impossible to pronounce, but an obvious reference to the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffery
There were see that Discworld books aren't going to be like other fantasies. Ridding of the usual clichés, Pratchett has made a world around him like no other. It's a fantasy world, sure, but it feels so real at the same time. He himself described like Middle Earth, but after the wars have stopped and everyone's back at work.
This book introduces us to a few concepts, ideas and characters that will become usual in the world. Rincewind, first and foremost, becomes one of the most-used characters in the series (appearing in more books in the first 10 or 12, before disappearing a bit). They introduce Ankh-Morpork, which will be the setting for many, many other subsequent books in the series. The idea that Death is sentient, and has a personality is touched upon too.
It's underdeveloped, sure, but as a first book in a series it's really very good. It has all the jokes we expect these days and the style is still the same. Back in its day, and even today, it's crazy original, very funny and still a very good book.
After having the joy of meeting Terry Pratchett three years a go at a book signing unfortunately to say I hadn't read any of his work at that point, however, I did get a copy of 'The Colour of Magic' signed and it's been on my shelf ever since. However, as I was looking for some summer reading I decided it was time to pick up the book and finally read it.
And boy was I delighted!
Never before have I read a fantasy book that not only tells a good and original story but the langauge is humourous and joyful to read. Pratchett's writing clearly shows in this first book why he is known as one of Britain's greatest fantasy writers and I'm now on a mission to read the rest of the Discworld series.
So what's it about I hear you ask?
Well, Pratchett's protagonist is a failed wizard known as Rincewind who's given the unfortunate task of looking after Twoflower, Discworld's first tourist. Safe to say since meeting Twoflower, Rincewind's life becomes increasingly more interesting, mostly because one of the eight Great Spells has decided to take residence inside of Rincewind and now many people are searching for it and as a result poor Rincewind ends up in a variety of different situations where it seems that death is the only result.
However, DEATH (who is a character in his own right) doesn't seem to want to kill Rincewind just yet and by the end of the book Rincewind has found himself in a super sticky position that is concluded in the sequel book 'The Light Fantastic'
The characters in this book is what make it a joy to read. I personally identified with Twoflower who was overexcited at everything he saw in a typical tourist fashion, (this could possibly be a commentary on American tourists in England, but that's just my interpretation). I also love Pratchett's description and the way he masters language to the point where I was laughing out loud.
But what is Discworld? It's a multiverse that is apparently riding on the back of four elephants who are stood on a giant turtle and it seems some people are very curious to find out what sex the turtle is. Can't say I've read this in any other fantasy world which is what makes it stand out.
I definitely recommend this book and others in the Discworld series, you'll not ready another series like it!
The Colour of Magic - which is really half of a complete story, along with its sequel, The Light Fantastic - is where Discworld, and the real celebrity of Terry Pratchett, all began. He'd written a few books before this, but the Discworld series is the true cause of his enduring fame. Why "Discworld"? Because the stories set on a world shaped like a disc, of course! (Mind you, one of the footnotes for which Pratchett is famed implies that it may have been supposed to have been a pizza...)
As a long-time fan of the series who has only recently returned to read this book again, one thing that stands out is just how long the story takes to get into gear. Much of the opening section is more concerned with poking fun at the stereotypes of fantasy fiction than in actually moving things along. The parody is well done and humorously accurate for the most part, but it's quite a different experience from the later books in which you're propelled headlong into mayhem almost from the opening sentence.
The central character is Rincewind the Wizzard. At least, "Wizzard" is what it says on his pointy hat, although that extra Z may be the only reason that the Discworld equivalent of Trading Standards is not taking an interest in his case. You see that tomato over there? No, that one. Yes. That has about as much magical ability as Rincewind. Possibly less - and that's *after* it's been sliced up. Nevertheless, Rincewind clings to his status for all he is worth, the only times he stops clinging tending to be when he's running away from something. At this he *is* good, probably because he gets so much practice.
Into his life - without asking him, naturally - comes Twoflower, the first tourist on the Discworld and a man who sees a deadly bar brawl taking place half an inch away as a charming local custom not to be missed. He probably uses words like "folklorique" *even when people are listening*. He'd have a life expectancy of about one second around the large Discworld river port of Ankh-Morpork were it not for his companion, who is known as the Luggage because that's what it is: a big wooden chest that gets around on lots of little legs and tends to eat anyone and anything it doesn't like - which is, in general, everything in the universe other than its owner.
The rest of the novel is taken up with the adventures of these three. Oh, there's something approaching a plot here and there (a powerful spell has taken up residence in Rincewind's head - again, he had little say in the matter) and it all knits together somehow, but it does feel rather less coherent than the later books when Pratchett had really got into his stride. This book, The Light Fantastic, and the third in the series, Equal Rites, all share a feeling of being exploratory voyages in the sea of Discworld fun, and occasionally less sure-footed than they might be - if indeed you can be sure-footed at sea!
This "early work" feeling continues when considering the characterisation: the characters are broadly but not all that deeply drawn, without the layers of complexity often to be found later in the series. Death, for example (WHO SPEAKS LIKE THIS) is far less interesting here than he is to become. You feel you could probably sum up most characters in The Colour of Magic in a sentence, which is not the case in more recent books. The same goes for concepts: trolls, for example, are simple lumbering rocks here, whereas later on they become fully realised (if still rather solid of head) members of society.
It's hard to give a Pratchett book a truly poor rating, and I'm not going to do so here - but I can't give it a super one either. It's just not coherent enough, and it wastes too much time consciously making fun of the sillier fantasy conventions rather than - as later novels do - concentrating on the plot and letting the outside references and in-jokes take care of themselves. You can't really understand the Discworld without having read The Colour of Magic, and it *is* a worthwhile read, but you shouldn't assume that this is as good as the series gets.
This is the first of the Terry Pratchett Discworld series and is truly a fantastic book. This book (and all the subsequent books in the Discworld series) is a wonderful mix of Fantacy, comedy and down right silliness.
Pratchett introduces you to Rincewind a failing / incompetent wizard who is dragged (unwillingly) into adventure. The reader is then taken on a breath-taking and highly amusing journey through a land of inept heroes, wizards who can't do magic and second-rate dragons.
The book is fast paced and full of genuinely laugh out loud situations. With characters, that even though are full of flaws, are so easy to like and care about their plight.
If you are looking for a book for a holiday read you might be let down, but only by the fact you'll miss most of you holiday as your nose will be in the book as at times you just don't want to put down, The Colour of Magic.
The colour of magic is the first Discworld novel released by Terry Pratchett in the popular series. It introduces the magically warped world, which is flat and sits on the back of four huge elephants as it flies through space.
Although the story is not as complicated as the later books, it demonstrates Pratchetts wonderful ability to make the fantastical seem probable and introduces the world through a compelling and satirical tale.
To immerce yourself within Pratchetts creation; it helps to throw out all ideas of normality and accept that in his world things such as trolls, magic and Orang-utan librarians are no more consequential or unusual than turning on a light bulb.
The story follows two main characters:
Rincewind; who is a hapless wizard that failed to complete his training at the magic school Unseen University. He is incompetant at almost every spell and makes his living as a magician, a fate considered embarresing to any respectable wizard. He only knows one proper spell and it is one he must keep in his head becuase to use it could mean the end of the Discworld. He is a professional coward and throughout the novel must push his own limits in order to survive.
Twoflower; who is the first tourist to Ankh Morpork is brilliantly naive. He is happy to be experiancing a new culture and like many tourists sees his surroundings with rose tinted glasses. He makes his living selling in-sewer-ants in his home land of Trob and his gift of talking saves him many times although he fails to realise it. Ever the optimist his child like enthusiasm even in the most dire of circumstance lifts the mood of the novel and leads to some of its best scenarios.
The story follows them both on a satire of tourism as Rincewind gives Twoflower an eventful guided tour of the dangerous and unforgettable city Ankh Morpork. Twoflowers luggage causes chaos due to the fact it has legs, can bite and goes on an adventure all of its own.
Pratchett has created a perfect introduction to his discworld novels and although some of the charecters are not as well rounded as in later books, all the ground work is layed for later development. The story creates alot of empathy for the underdog Rincewind and does not dissapoint with the ending.
Overall it is a great start to a deservadly popular series by the master of satire Pratchett.
"In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling stars waver and part...See...Great A'Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters....(upon his back)... Berelia, Tubul, Great T'phon, and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose broad and star-tanned shoulders the Disc of the World rests..."
Such is our first view of the astounding Discworld where magic is so plentiful it can spontaneously bring sentience to trees and actually slows down the speed at which sunlight crosses the land! What would one pack in order to visit such a land and what would you pack it in? Idle questions perhaps as the Discworld has never had a tourist...til now that is!
Twoflower is a dangerously naive and optimistic traveler from a distant and mysterious country on the Discworld. He has packed up all his best traveling gear in his sapient pearwood Luggage and come to sample the dubious delights of Ankh-Morpork, a city better known for its complex and dominant odor than its cultural delights.
Rincewind, possibly the most incompetent wizard to ever disgrace an overly-spangled hat, is destined for many things...greatness and peace of mind not being high on that list! Rincewind, pawn of the Gods, is unwittingly roped into becoming Twoflower's tour guide on this mad romp through Terry Pratchett's' mad and hilarious Discworld. The Gods may be crazy, but hey they enjoy a joke as much as the next guy.
Before they know quite what they are about, Twoflower, Rincewind and the homicidal and, literally, fiercely loyal Luggage are about to embark on the journey of several lifetimes, much to Rincewind's regret.
This novel is an absolutely delightful introduction into this author's inventive and endlessly amusing world. Each of the Discworld novels that I have read thus far seem to be stand-alone works that don't really require one to start at the beginning of the series. However, I do recommend starting with The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, the further adventures of Twoflower, Rincewind and Luggage, simply because they are such an outstanding introduction to the most amusing series since The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Actually, this is the first author who has ever reminded me of the fabulous and hysterically funny Douglas Adams, which is high recommendation all on its own. Pratchett has a penchant for parodying a great many well-known characters and works throughout this series. Fantasy fans may recognize shades of The Gray Mouser and Fafhrd, and H.P. Lovecraft's Ancient Ones in this novel alone.
I have to say that for all the amusing characters, insane situations, intensely comedic moments and original world, the most entertaining character in this novel, for me, was without doubt Luggage. A sentient being made of the rare sapient pearwood, Luggage appears to be a large chest...until you notice it's menacingly glaring keyhole and the dozens of tiny pink feet propelling it toward you. You might get a chance to be startled before registering the large pink tongue, but then again you might not. Luggage, after the fashion of most traveling accessories across the multiverse, has a tendency to get lost and spends most of these first two novels trying to catch up to his erstwhile owner.
Rincewind is a curious character who shows up in several novels throughout the Discworld series. As a student in the Unseen University, the exclusively male wizard school, Rincewind dared to read a spell from one of the more dangerously magical tomes chained in the library. As a result, his mind became the home for one of the Great Spells that tend to keep the world, such as it is, in the relative order it has become accustomed to, and even Rincewind has no idea which spell he has absorbed!
Rincewind's mind has been unable to retain or learn any other magic since. It seems the other spells are afraid to share the same space with it. This hapless magic-user has been making his living mostly off of his innate gift with languages ever since. Which is how he comes to be hired by the enthusiastic, and dangerously optimistic, first ever tourist of the Discworld, Twoflower.
Together these three characters serve to give us a fast-paced tour of this Wonderland-ish planet and it's various inhabitants from Trolls to Dragon lords. For Fantasy fiction fans, I usually describe Pratchett's work as a cross between Douglas Adams and Piers Anthony. For the uninitiated, I simply say, "You gotta try this, it's hysterically entertaining!" I resisted this series for several years simply because so very many people recommended it to me, which tends to make me leery.
I quickly came to see what a great disservice I had done to myself! I've been making up for lost time ever since, and have been pouring my way through the Discworld as quickly as possible. I've tried to read them as close to "in order" as possible, but can say that it really doesn't make much difference after the first two novels.
Pratchett's marvelous sense of humor makes each Discworld novel an utter delight in this mundane, troubled, and oft times troublesome world of ours. With lines like, "Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos was lightning, he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'.", and...
"Picturesque meant - he decided after careful observation of the scenery that inspired Twoflower to use the word - that the landscape was horribly precipitous. Quaint, when used to describe the occasional village through which they passed, meant fever-ridden and tumbledown. Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the discworld. Tourist, Rincewind had decided, mean 'idiot'." Lines like this consistently brought forth irresistible laughter no matter where I was while reading The Color of Magic. The likelihood of uncontrollable public laughter is really the only drawback I've found to Pratchett's entertaining Discworld thus far.
This was the first ever Discworld novel and as such is not as polished as later novels come to be. Here too is little of the parody of our own world that makes this series so successful, nonetheless it is still a good read and well worth picking up as an introduction to Pratchett's imaginary world.
For the uniniated, Discworld is a flat disc set on the back of four elephants who ride the stars on a huge turtle swimming its way through the universe. This book introduces us to the character of failed wizard, Rincewind whose head contains one of the Eight spells of the Octavo and thus cannot contain any other magic. His life, and ours, is thrown into turmoil when he encounters the first ever Discworld tourist, Twoflower, who enters the capital city of Ankmorph accompanied by his magical walking luggage which appears to have a mind of it's own and is fearfully protective of it's owner.
From then onwards the book is a rollercoaster ride of laughs based around the idea of a hapless traveller abroad- featuring dodgy phrasebooks, misunderstanding and ever increasingly unfriendly locals. At times the novel is almost like a rough guide to Discworld as the story takes us from one end of the disc to the other and finally over the edge. All manner of magical beings are here as well including Dragons who only exist if you believe in them and Trolls who like only to bash and stomp!! Provided its not daylight that is...
As humourous fantasy novels go, Craig Shaw Gardiner's Malady Of Magicks series is funnier laugh for laugh and slightly sillier (those of you who have read this will remember the Trial By Custard) but Pratchett is still very good fun to read. The potential of how big this series would eventually come is evident here and although not as good as his later work is still highly amusing.
Well worth a read but don't be put off if you don't enjoy it as there are plenty of other Discworld novels now to enjoy (I think about 30 at last count) and if this is not your cup of tea there is sure to be one that is more up your alley.
Back in university one of my housemates introduced me to fantasy novels which I had never thought to read. One such author she recommended I read was Terry Pratchett and told me that he was a British author and wrote very funny books about a fictional place called Discworld. She borrowed me the first Discworld novel entitled The Colour of Magic and I began to read it. After reading about ten pages I gave up deciding that I could not stand his style of writing and was extremely confused with the novel already. Well three years later and after reading a few reviews on Terry Pratchett books I decided to give this novel a go again and this is what I thought.
What is the book about?
(Reading from the back of the book)
Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Certainly it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that universes are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers.
But just because the Disc is different doesnt mean that some things dont stay the same. Its very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea.
Things you Should Know:
Number of pages 287 (paperback).
Price - £6.99 from Amazon.
Author Terry Pratchett.
Twoflower The tourist who has disrupted the people on the Disc and who has such an enthusiastic look at life he wants to see everything an everyone. He has more money than anybody has ever seen, has a strange little picture box with a person and lizards in and also a snapping luggage case.
Rincewind The wizard who is charged with keeping Twoflower alive and out of trouble but always manages to find trouble. He calls himself a wizard but he actually knows one spell which everybody knows so he is easily manipulated.
This book is very hard going at first and to be honest I nearly gave up with reading it again but then when I got past the first thirty pages the book suddenly became interesting and intelligent and funny. In my opinion the first thirty pages are very boring and just confuse the reader by bringing in too much description straight away and too many characters that I cannot actually see have a great point in the novel. Pratchetts writing style seems tedious and uninteresting and does not keep the readers attention. Me and my sister both felt that the first thirty pages should have just been skipped and we would recommend most people to skim read them and not take it that they determine what the rest of the novel is like.
Apart from that little complaint I really enjoyed the novel and found it to be extremely laugh out loud funny. I am still going to say that Pratchetts writing style is a bit annoying to read because he seems to drift off the point quite a bit. At times it is hard to read because he will put random sentences in that make no sense to the story at all but because this actual novel is so random, I can forgive him for it. The story he has come up with is one of magic and strangeness like I have never read before and it kept me entertained till the end.
Like I said above this novel is laugh out loud funny and this is mainly because of most of the characters. Yes I know I have only mentioned two characters but this book has so many I would be here all day mentioning them. Rincewind is hilarious because although he is a wizard he only knows one spell so is pretty useless and he gets himself into some situations that you cannot help but think you dumb person. The character who amuses me the most is Twoflower and his willing to see good in everything that life throws at him. Even when faced with great danger, Twoflower just sees the bright side and does what most people would do and takes a picture.
Although the book is predominantly about the above two characters you meet many more on their travels including my favourite Kring. Kring is a talking sword who made me laugh so hard because he has the biggest ego and says things such as I have had a multidimensional existence and constantly mocks Rincewind. My other favourite character is Death who is written so well that you actually get chills when he appears in the book trying to claim Rincewind but not doing as well as he hoped.
One thing I do like about this fantasy book is that there are so many mystical beasts that pop up including trolls and dragons and I like reading thing that are out of the ordinary. The descriptions of everything are done well but not to the point that you get annoyed with them. The one thing that I will say about this book though is that you do have to read every single word or you do tend to get a bit confused and this includes descriptions. Pratchett does tell you a tiny bit about the Disc in the first few pages of the novel, things like the fact that the directions on the Disc are called Hubward on Rimward but also Turnwise and Widdershins. As you can imagine all these new words can get confusing so I would not recommend skimming any pages.
In conclusion I think that I would recommend this novel as it is a very good read and hugely entertaining. Although the writing style in my opinion is very hard to get used to I find that you can still enjoy the story and the characters are so wacky and wonderful that you cannot help but have a little laugh while reading it and with the novel only being 287 pages long you do not get bored and are left wanting the next instalment of Discworld.
The Colour of Magic gets four stars from me because the beginning is a bit boring and the writing style is not really what I am used to but I am looking forward to reading more of his novels.
Thanks for reading.
Ive been quite the fan of Science Fiction novels ever since I was a young teenager, and one of my favourite series of books is the Discworld novels written by Terry Pratchett. Although Ive read countless of the books, it came as a bit of a shock to find I hadnt actually read the very first book in the series, The Colour Of Magic. As soon as I realised this I had to remedy the situation and I have this very day finally managed to read it, and now Im going to share my thoughts on it with you.
On the back of a giant space turtle stand four enormous elephants, on whose shoulders rest a flat circular planet that from now on will be known as Discworld. While here in our world we have electricity and science, in Discworld they have magic, in fact the magic is such an intrinsic part of life that no-one thinks anything of it. This is also a world of gods, trolls and dragons that only exist if you believe in them hard enough.
---About our (anti-)heroes---
The book focuses on two main characters, well make that three, as the last of the trio may not be exactly a one but it certainly is full of character.
Now I suppose Rincewind could be very loosely described as a wizard, and he was a student at the Unseen University* so I suppose its as good a description as any. But hes not a particularly good wizard, in fact hes totally useless and only knows one spell (or at least it knows the inside of his brain) and if he ever uses it, it might just mean the end of the world.
There is one thing, however that Rincewind is very good at, and that is staying alive. If cowardice and running away were Olympic sports then hed not only win gold, but also hold the world record in both events.
*The Unseen University is where the wizards learnt to be wizards, a bit like Hogwarts but instead of girls they have an Orang-utan (the librarian).
As Discworlds first tourist TwoFlower is a bit of an oddity, as he experiences all that the world has to offer, he seems to float through the book, never showing any concern for his experiences. In his home kingdom, Trob, he is a Inn-sewer-ants salesman. And I would imagine a very good one at that, as he manages to sell it to one of his captors.
As with many tourists in our world, he gets by with a peculiar mix of naivety, generous tips and his trusty travel guide. As he travels chaos follows him, but somehow he never seems to notice.
Picture if you will a pirates treasure chest, now imagine that its grown hundreds of tiny legs and a gaping mouth with teeth !! Then add a touch of vicious determination to satisfy its desire to follow and protect its master and you almost have The Luggage. There is so much more that could be said about The Luggage, but Ill leave it there so that you can discover this piece of baggage for yourself.
---About the Story---
As the book opens we are transported to the twin cities of Ankh-Morpork, which just happens to be on fire, and our eponymous heroes are attempting their escape not only from the flames but also various parties that wish them dead.
As the book continues we are treated to a guided tour of Discworld, as we follow Rincewind & Co. as they struggle to survive the rigours of the ultimate in alternative tourism.
---About the writing style---
The writing style in this book is not quite the same as in the books that follow it in the series. Unlike the later book it is split into sections, that while not quite chapters, do give natural breaks for those times when you cant finish the book in one sitting.
There also dont seem to be as many postscripts* in this book as I am used to, they are still there but only a couple at the beginning of the book. This was a little disappointing for me, as I enjoy that feature in the books as it adds an extra layer to the story.
The humour was, however, the best part of the book, I found myself smiling, giggling and outright laughing as I made my though the book, it was one of the funniest I have read, and definitely upto the standard I expected.
There are however still plenty of layers in the story, as well as loads of parodies of our lives, I particularly liked the Discworld version of a camera, and Pratchetts take on trade unions.
* Just like this.
---Questions the book answers---
* Where do the gods go when theyve finished manifesting themselves?
* What does a frog really turn into when its enchanted?
* Do dragons really exist?
---About My Opinion---
Ill now give my opinion on various aspects of the book :
--The book cover--
The cover is what drew me to the first Discworld book I ever read, and this is just as eye-catching. Full of action, it really does represent the story inside perfectly.
While Im not sure there is really a storyline as such, (more a series of adventures), I loved this book and finished it in two sittings. I found that I really wanted to know what happened next, and felt as though I was being given a guided tour of Discworld.
I can honestly say there was not even one paragraph that I was tempted to skip (and I have quite a short attention span) and I was really loathed to put the book down for the night.
Both major and minor characters were well developed, and I really found myself gunning for Rincewind in his survival attempts. Although some of the characters were not as well rounded as they become in later books (DEATH for example was not quite what he becomes), the start is there for later elaboration.
I must say that I didnt quite feel the same empathy with TwoFlower, but there again, this may have been quite intentional, as the character does seem detached from his surroundings.
Ive just finished reading this, and I cant help but feel that Ive somehow missed some of the jokes, so I can see myself reading it again in the near future. I do find that all of the Discworld books need to be read at least twice, as the first time Im concentrating too hard on the story, while on subsequent reads I can allow myself to look a little harder for the in-jokes.
---My Overall Opinion---
I was a little apprehensive that I wouldnt enjoy this book as much as I had the ones that I had read previously (that were later in the series), but I actually loved it. I found that I had started reading it knowing that the characters were not likely to be as well-developed, I found myself pleasantly surprised. I also found that reading this gave me the background information, that I hadnt even realised was missing, and Im sure as I return to the later books I will get even more pleasure from them.
I am therefore recommending this book not only to those new to the Science Fiction genre and writings of Terry Pratchett, but also to those who like me somehow missed the first book, as it truly is an excellent introduction to Discworld.
Available from Amazon for £4.89 or borrow it from your library for free.
ISBN : 0552124753
No. Pages : 238
The world is round. I haven't personally travelled it's circumference or employed any other scientific means to prove it myself, but it seems a reasonable theory and appears to makes sense so I'm quite happy to go along with it until a better one comes along. But there was a time, in a less enlightened age, when the powers that be decided that the world was, in fact, flat and that travelling too far in any one direction would result in falling off the edge.
I only mention this because I wonder how they would have reacted if they had also been told that this flat Earth was supported on the backs of four giant elephants who, in turn, were standing on the back of an even larger star turtle known as Great A'Tuin (or Chelys Galactica, to give it it's scientific name). For the residents of Discworld this is not mere conjecture but proven scientific fact.
"The Colour Of Magic" is British author Terry Pratchetts' first foray into the Discworld and was originally published in 1983. It tells the story of the cowardly, cynical, inept wizard, Rincewind. Well. I say wizard but that may not be strictly true. He failed to graduate from Unseen University (due in no small part to the fact that he sneaked a look at the most powerful magic book in the whole land. When he did this one of the eight great spells became lodged in his head, scaring the other magic spells away and refusing to leave) and he now earns a living trading on his extensive knowledge of languages. And he is trying really hard to stay out of trouble.
Discworld is about to receive it's first ever tourist in the form of Twoflower, a naïve, generous individual who appears to believe that everything in the world is an adventure and that his tourist status renders him invulnerable to any form of harm. He arrives along with his Luggage; a case made of sapient pearwood, which transports itself on hundreds of little legs. It is also fiercely loyal to its master, following him everywhere and deadly to anyone attempting to steal from it. I bet there are a few holidaymakers around who could do with one of these.
In an attempt to escape his humdrum life as an insurance salesman Twoflower has set off to explore the Discworld hoping to see dragons, heroic adventurers and a genuine bar fight. He is about to get all that he wished for ... and more.
On arriving in Ankh-Morpeth, Discworlds largest city, he encounters Rincewind and together they unwittingly set out on a series of adventures encompassing gods, sea trolls, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, the edge of the world and, of course, DEATH.
I'm only a recent convert to Terry Pratchetts' manic fantasy world. Despite having bought this book about two years ago and almost reading it on a number of occasions, for some reason I never managed to get further than the first few pages.
But recently I've been in one of my book moods (rather than the movie or playstation moods I usually tend to wallow in) and having read Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently" books again for the umpteenth time (and if you're interested I've written ops on both of them) I decided I wanted something new but with the same sort of humour.
I remembered that I had "Colour Of Magic", dug it out, dusted it off and got stuck in. And how very glad I am that I persisted this time. I'm now on the fourth in the series of thirty although at the speed he writes them, by you time you reach the end of this op there will probably be another one available.
Many people would no doubt say that you would be better off reading 'insert-random-discworld-novel-title-here' first as it's funnier but personally I like to do things in order, and being the first in the series I found this a great place to start.
The two main characters are instantly likeable and draw you along for the ride very quickly. In addition to these we meet a number of others who, while they may only have a fleeting appearance here, often return later in the series, in some cases in their very own novels. I could go into detail on a number of such characters but I think half the joy is discovering them in the correct manner (i.e. by reading the novels.)
It is a very funny book and there are many throwaway lines that will leave you with a wide grin on your face but it has to be said there is a lack of a decent overall plot. It does, at times, feel like the jokes came first and a story was created as an afterthought to string them together. As a comparison I would again point to the Dirk Gently books (did I mention I've written ops on them? ...ouch! OK, I guess I did) which have clever, engaging stories and the humour is derived from the resulting situations.
It's perhaps worth noting that Terry Pratchett does not write his books in chapters however, unlike the other Discworld novels, "The Colour Of Magic" is split into four parts, although each one follows on from the exact point the previous one finished.
For me the lack of individual chapter had two effects. It does mean that there is often not a good place to finish reading for the day but also it seemed to give the book a sort of rushed feel. For me chapters usually pace the book by taking a break from the main characters to have a quick look at other events that are going on in the story.
In other words it reads more like 'Heroes go here, do this, get attacked by them, go somewhere else, do this ...' rather than 'Heroes go here, do this. Meanwhile this happens. Back to the heroes who are being attacked by ... '
I guess this approach is a bit of a personal preference and although it won?t stop you enjoying the book you may take a little while to get used to it. Of course, this may also be attributed to the fact that being the first (and for all he knew, possibly the last) Discworld novel, Terry Pratchett has tried to cram an awful lot of ideas in. While most work well (Twoflowers' picture box, DEATH, the Luggage) others simply create a somewhat disjointed feeling or are simply covered a little too quickly (the dragons, the brief appearance on an aeroplane in our dimension).
In the midst of the current Lord Of The Rings revival (thanks to the spectacular films) it's nice to take some pretty standard fantasy fare - magic, wizards, dragons, trolls, adventurers - and poke fun at them. I've already made some comparisons with Douglas Adams books (and talking of Douglas Adams, I've written two ops on his Dirk ... Oh, never mind) but if you like that sort of thing it's very likely that you will enjoy this if you give it a chance. In fact come to think of it, the Arthur Dent & Ford Prefect characters from the Hitchhikers Guide series are not a million miles away from Rincewind and Twoflower.
Be prepared for a cliff-hanger ending (of sorts) that gets resolved in the second Discworld novel which is called "The Light Fantastic" A review on that is currently in the works.
As I said "The Colour Of Magic" is the first in the Discworld series and while many have told me it's not the best it is a great introduction to a truly bizarre place. For me the good points far outweigh the bad and the fact that this may not be the funniest of the series simply means that I have more to look forward to in the future. Highly recommended.
Thanks for reading.
© Nomad 2003
"The Colour Of Magic" by Terry Pratchett
285 pages, published by Corgi, £5.99
ISBN : 0-552-12475-3
Some websites worth a look
The L Space Web - http://www.ie.lspace.org/
Discworld monthly - http://www.ufbs.co.uk/dwm/
Terry Pratchett Books - http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/
Finally just a little footnote for anyone who read my last op on Chris de Burgh. Sorry about the word count. I really did try, honest.
Where can you find the following things – a talking sword, a troll made entirely of water and a walking treasure chest with a nasty bite? Yes, that’s right, in the same place as you will discover how frightening it can be to utter the total of two times four (Shhh!). And what frogs really turn into, when magic spells abound. And a dragon that’s so real, you must have imagined it. Of course, I am talking about the wonderful Terry Pratchett, author of the amazing Discworld books, of which this is the first. He is one of my favourite writers and I love his skewered visions, his witticisms and his impossible situations, which can be so easily envisioned. Pratchett’s a bit of a Marmite bloke – you love him or hate him. Invariably, comments on Pratchett reviews fall into three camps – “He’s brilliant, I especially loved…” or “I tried to read one, but just didn’t get it!” or “I keep meaning to read him, but…” Well, I’m not sure which group I’m writing this for. The fans will have already read it or be planning to, the haters won’t touch it with their worst enemy’s bargepole and the middle camp will mean to read it, but… The Colour of Magic was published in 1983. There are 285 pages and it only took me a few days to read. Although it is good and worth a few days of your time, it lacks the order, control, precision and definite direction of the later books. At times, you wonder if Pratchett hasn’t let his mind wander slightly too far, forgetting to leave us a map and a compass. The plot becomes quite confused in parts and feels a bit like a meal, which would be improved by taking out a few of the ingredients. It starts off well. We are in Ankh-Morpork, home to most of the Discworld novels. We are introduced to Twoflower, who is a rare commodity - a tourist. You can tell he’s a tourist because
he wants to see the sights – that means barbarians, monsters and lots of action – and all faced with a kind of naïve complacency that he is going to come out unscathed. You can also tell he’s a tourist because he isn’t used to the local currency and has a tendency to be far too generous with his monetary tips. He doesn’t know the local language either, instead relying on a Discworld version of Berlitz to throw out random words, which almost get the message across. You can also tell he’s a tourist because he’s carrying his luggage with him. Well, actually, it’s Luggage. The capital L makes all the difference. Oh and he doesn’t carry it, it follows him, often at quite a turn of speed too – but that’s not surprising when you consider how many legs it has. It is made of sapient pearwood. So that explains everything. Especially the teeth. Twoflower encounters an almost wizard called Rincewind. He’s a university dropout. However, despite not graduating from the Unseen University - that’s a bit like Hogwarts but with an orang-utan in charge of the library – he did gain possession of one of the eight spells. Well, it’s probably fairer to say it gained possession of him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what it does, but the consequences of uttering it would probably be enormous and very final. Things start innocently enough. Rincewind and Twoflower become acquainted and end up supping in the local pub, the Broken Drum. When Twoflower gets into conversation with the owner, Broadman, he chats about his job. Although this is an unknown profession in Ankh-Morpork, the devious innkeeper soon gets the gist of it. He pays Twoflower an “inn-sewer-ants-polly-sea” then goes downstairs with candles, kindling wood and lamp oil… This is the start of a series of adventures for Rincewind and Twoflower, who end up making r
ather an impressive pair. They encounter a series of fantastical creatures, tour magical lands and journey to the edge of the world. Literally. Unusually for a Pratchett book, this is not a continual block of text. It is separated into sections – The Colour of Magic : Prologue, The Colour of Magic, The Sending of Eight : Prologue, The Sending of Eight, The Lure of the Wyrm and Close to the Edge. This means it is easy to find a logical place to stop reading – something that is harder in a normal Pratchett novel without breaks. As you would expect with Pratchett, the characters are brilliantly drawn, with some lovely gems of information thrown in for good measure. His inventive mind and boundless imagination create such amazing things, that you cannot help but wonder where he goes in his dreams and nightmares. However, my main criticism of this novel is that he tries to cram in too much. While large parts of it are a pleasure to read, scintillating, exciting and thrilling page-turners, some parts seem stuffed full of everything, so the story becomes somewhat lost in the endless slivers of detail. It feels almost as if Pratchett felt this would be his only Discworld novel, so he decided to use all his ideas in this one. This is why it isn’t my favourite Pratchett. It is very good and worth reading, especially as Rincewind is quite a regular character. You will find all the elements of humour and fantasy you’d expect and you’ll find plenty to laugh about. You’ll learn to know the characters and care about their fate. What you won’t find is the perfect Pratchett. But keep reading his novels, it’s in there somewhere. *** The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett is available in paperback for £5.99, published by Corgi. (Woof.) Check out the website www.booksattransworld.co.uk/terrypratchett ***
The first book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. It's set on a flat world sitting on the backs of four elephants, who hurtle through space. We are introdcued to the strange adventures of Rincewind, the wizard, and Twoflower, Discworld's first tourist.