Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Re-read: "The Colour of Magic" by Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Corgi Books
Page count: 284 pages
Rating: 2 stars
Re-read started: February 19th, 2010
Re-read finished: February 22nd, 2010

My husband has been spending the last month or so pretty much exclusively re-reading the works of Terry Pratchett (he claims to have read lots of other stuff in January, but the only ones I can recall seeing him read are Pratchett ones). He was telling me that I should try re-reading The Colour of Magic, which is Pratchett's first Discworld novel, and probably one of my least favourite. It's one of the few ones I've only read once before. He feels that it's interesting to see a series' origin, and where things come from.

I'm sorry to say that I didn't like it much more on a re-read. While I love many of the Discworld books intensely and think Pratchett is a genius writer, I just don't think the first books of his truly monumental Discworld-series are very good. The Colour of Magic is not unfunny, I certainly giggled and even laughed out loud a few times while reading it, but I just don't think it's very good. In the book, Rincewind, a very inept wizard, who only actually knows one spell, is given the task to guide Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist, and owner of the fearsome Luggage (a magical trunk on legs who follows its owner everywhere - no matter what) around. During the course of their adventure, Rincewind cheats Death several times, they escape a great fire in Ankh-Morpork, meet and fly on dragons and even see over the rim of the Disc.

Of all the many recurring Pratchett characters, I just can't seem to grow fond of Rincewind. I think he's lame, pure and simple. When he doesn't outright annoy me, he just bores me. Hence, it is very difficult for me to invest in anything that happens to him. With the exception of Thief of Time, all my least favourite Discworld-novels are the ones featuring him. I will probably re-read several of the Pratchett books over the next few months, as it's been quite a while since I read most of the older ones, but I doubt I'll prioritize the Rincewind ones. I've also realized that I if I don't like the early works of an author, I don't have the patience to revisit them if I didn't like them the first time. I would much rather spend time reading the books I actually enjoy.


  1. People keep telling me that I would love the Discworld series. I just might have to give it a try.

    Do you think you have to start at the beginning to enjoy the series, or can I skip to the better volumes, since the first books aren't that great?

  2. The Discworld series is huge, and Pratchett has several groups of characters he tends to have the books revolve around.

    The Ankh-Morpork City Watch books start with "Guards! Guards!" and are all pretty much excellent.
    The Lancre Witches Books (featuring a group of eccentric witches) start with "Weird Sisters" - there is one book prior to this which features Granny Weatherwax, but I'd recommend a beginner skip that one.
    The Death books (as Death is an important recurring chararacter) start with "Mort", otherwise there are some books that don't have recurring protagonists that are a good introduction - "Pyramids": set in a sort of ancient Egypt type kingdom, "Moving Pictures": which revolves around filmmaking, "Soul Music": all about rock n'roll (and features Death's granddaughter Susan. "Soul Music" was the first Discworld book I read, and it got me pretty much instantly hooked.

    The Discworld books are not for everyone, I know people who just can't get into them, but most people I know absolutely love them, at least if you get past the first 4-5 or so, which are a bit rough compared to the latter ones.

  3. Malin's right. When I started Discworld, I jumped in with Wyrd Sisters and Guards!Guards! Both are great to start with - funny, witty, clever, and starring heartbreaking characters. Sam Vimes and Granny Weatherwax are well worth getting to know. Go for it! You have a lot of laughs and rueful deep thinking ahead of you. Pratchett is the Dickens of our age - that's not hyperbole. Their books share a depth of characters, intricate and absorbing plots, fully realized, vivid, humorous worlds, and above all a rueful, realistic, affectionate knowledge of human nature that understands how laughing at our own frailties helps us live with them.