Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Color of Magic

Terry Pratchett
Completed 1/16/2016, Reviewed 1/21/2016
3 stars

I’ve been meaning to read the Discworld series for a long time.  With Pratchett’s passing last year, I decided that this year would be the year to begin it.  “The Color of Magic” is the first book in the series.  Some people had warned me that the first book wasn’t that good and to start with the second book.  Since “Color” is the only book in the series I have, I read it anyway.  It started a little rocky for me, but once I got through the first chapter, the rest of the book went pretty smoothly.  I enjoyed it.  It left me wanting more for the reason that the books get better as the series progress.

The book is basically 4 short stories or novellas rather than a fully linear plot.  The first story introduces Rincewind, a failed magician, and Twoflower, Discworld’s first tourist.  They meet in the capital city where Twoflower inadvertently causes an innkeeper to burn down his inn, and the fire spreads throughout the city.  Now on the run, they go on a journey which is actually controlled by the gods.  The journey takes them first to a town with a Lovecraftian secret, then to an upside-down mountain of dragons and their riders, a clear parody of “The Dragonriders of Pern” series.  Lastly, they go to a land of hydraphobes who want to send a rocket to the underside of Discworld to find the gender of the giant Turtle that supports the elephants that hold up the Disc.  The whole way, Rincewind is pursued by Death, who of course is a hooded skeleton carrying a scythe.

Perhaps the most fun part of the book is looking for the jokes.  They are most obvious with some of the names, like the capital city of Ankh-Morpork.  Some are more subtle, like the dragon rider names with punctuation in the middle of them, parodying the Pern names like F’lar and J’xom.  I’m sure there are many jokes I missed, but what I found was often laugh out loud funny.

However, I’m giving this book only three stars out of five, which still means I think it’s good.  It just wasn’t that remarkable for me.  Maybe I’m getting more cynical in my old age, or perhaps I’m just reading too much and it takes more to actually draw me in.  I’m hoping that subsequent books are better, mostly because I know that this is a beloved series, and I want to be on the Discworld bandwagon.  I look forward to the next books, knowing I need to read at least a bunch more before I decide on the whole series.  

1 comment:

  1. I had been warned off starting with this one when I decided to jump into Disc World. I actually started with one of the City Watch books, Thud!, and really enjoyed it. I felt like Pratchett did a great job of introducing the world and the characters even though the book is one of the more recent ones.

    That is the hard thing with prolific authors is that you want to go back to the beginning, but you assume that most authors got better as they went along. I didn't want my solo experience with his work (I had previously read his collaboration with Gaiman, Good Omens) to be colored by reading something "lesser", if that makes sense.

    If you have not seen the BBC tv/film version of Going Postal, I highly recommend it. It is really fun.