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Sourcery - Terry Pratchett
Member Name: Pingu
Sourcery - Terry Pratchett
Date: 15/10/01, updated on 15/10/01 (48 review reads)
Advantages: Fantastic Read...
Disadvantages: ...But nothing new
Well the race is on. I'm in the middle of my annual re-reading of the Pratchett books - this year thrown out slightly by the surprise mid-year release of Thief of Time. I'm only up to Sourcery, and I've just discovered that there are two books due out in November. This could seriously put my schedule out of joint.
Sourcery is not one of the best Discworld novels, it must be said; which is a shame, since it follows Mort, my all-time favourite. I must make clear that I am not saying it's a bad book. Far from it. It's still infinitely better than anyone else. Tom Holt, Andrew Harman, Robert Rankin - Pratchett could make his weekly shopping list sound funnier than their best efforts. But this tremendous success means that there is no measure for a Discworld novel, other than a comparison with the best Discworld novels; which means that a review of the 'not-so-best' ones will sound slightly critical, when actually it is simply that they are not quite so fantastic as the others.
The book is nominally about a young boy called Coin, who is the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son, which - as any idiot knows - makes him a sourceror, a source of magic. His father, Ipslore, should never have had children, since wizards are forbidden certain mattress-located activities, but he had a row with his peers at Unseen University, and was thrown out. So he has an eighth son. This is not all though. When Death comes to claim Ipslore he avoids dying by hiding his soul in the boy's staff - and, since separating him from it would also kill Coin, Death has to let him stay there.
So Ipslore tries to run his son's life from the confines of the staff. Coin goes to Unseen University, as an eight year old boy, and seizes control from the resident wizards, demanding to be made Arch-Chancellor. He also gives the wizards fantastic power - as a sourceror he is a channel for magic to enter the Discworld.
or less all you see of Coin. The real plot involves Rincewind the completely incompetent wizard from the first two Discworld novels. He suddenly finds himself being commanded, by the Arch-Chancellor's hat, to take it away from the university so that it can't be worn by the Sourceror. And so he sets off on one of his adventures in which he always seems to run endlessly from one disaster to another.
Also the Luggage gets his own little side-plot after being rejected by Rincewind and going off for a sulk.
I won't ruin any more of the plot. Basically this is Pratchett's 'Star Wars' book. It's about the battle between the dark side and light side of magic - wizardry and sourcery - and the question of whether great power gained without the required effort is a good idea. It is a sound plot, with far fewer needless diversions than in the first few books, where Pratchett gave the impression that he'd had lots of unrelated ideas, and somehow wanted to get all of them in. There are also no ridiculous Deus Ex Machina.
It's just that there is nothing particularly new. Reading this only a couple of weeks after The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, I felt I was reading the same book again to some extent, with a couple of elements borrowed from Equal RItes.
But, as I said, I would still rather read this than anything from any of the other pretenders to the comic fantasy crown. It is a very good book, and if you aren't reading it in quick succession with the others, it would be fantastically entertaining.