08/06/2007

The Colour of Magic (by Terry Pratchett)

I hadn't read this book for a long time. It's the first of the epic 'Discworld' series by Terry Pratchett, and I remembered it as being not as good as later novels. Still, it felt like time for a re-read after at least ten years.

It features Twoflower, an enthusiastic and rather naive tourist who has come to visit Ankh-Morpork. Rincewind, the young and somewhat incompetent wizard is good at languages, so he takes Twoflower under his wing.. which leads to a variety of adventures and a literal cliff-hanger at the end of the book - the only one in the Discworld series, leading directly on to the second novel (The Light Fantastic).

I found it a bit slow to get going, and not as obviously humorous as some of the later ones. Pratchett seems to have been experimenting with style in this novel, using literary references to good effect, but clearly thinking in terms of fantasy rather than the satire on ordinary people that comes across later on. This book features gods (in a kind of pagan Greek style), dragons (very like Anne McCaffrey's), heroes, monsters, water-trolls... and more. I'm not really a fan of fantasy as such; if the non-human races behave in ways I understand (or at least can recognise), then that's fine. This is what happens in later books, but 'The Colour of Magic' had (in my view) too many strange creatures, and not enough human interest.

Still, I kept reading and found the end more interesting than the beginning. Recommended for any Pratchett fan who's managed to avoid it so far, but not to anyone unfamiliar with the Discworld.

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