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Book reviews by: R. S. Leergaard

General reviews of books (old & new) that I like. I'm also an amateur writer with several stories up on Wattpad under the pseudonym R. S. Leergaard

Compact Discworlds: The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort



See Rincewind run. Run, Rincewind, run. That, in a nutshell, sums up the essence of Terry Pratchett's first main character, Rincewind.


His first two Discworld novels—The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic—are actually one long story split into two short novels starring Rincewind, a failed wizard, and Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist.


Rincewind is a self-avowed coward who spends all of his time running from danger only to find greater danger at his destination. He's coerced by the Patrician into accompanying and protecting Twoflower, a tourist from the Counterweight Continent, who has managed to leave that very restrictive society in order to see the world, meet heroes and villains, buy questionable sausages from disreputable street vendors . . . you know, have an adventure.


For most Terry Pratchett fans Rincewind is an all-or-nothing character. He's either their favorite character or they hate him. There's very little middle ground, though I'm one of the few standing in the firmly undecided category. I'm not fond of his mostly cowardly nature, but when push comes to shove, Rincewind usually does the right thing - and always regrets it.


While it's easy to tell the the author [Pratchett] is just getting his feet wet in his new universe, his wisdom and humor are evident right from the start and first time readers will notice a magical reflection of the 'real world' in this one.


All that being said, it is not necessary to begin reading the Discworld series from the beginning, and I am in the camp of fans who do not recommend it. About the only things you'll miss are some basic world building, which you'll easily pick up in later books, and the scene where Unseen University's librarian gets turned into an orangutan. That story, specifically which spell does it, is never repeated in any other book (later books only say that an out of control spell did it, they never again say which one, and I'm not going to tell you here). While I don't recommend starting with the first two books, at some point they must be read.


Most of Mr. Pratchett's early books are unrelated to each other, though several characters have multiple stories and there is some crossover, but the series can be started anywhere in the first six to eight books or so without losing too much context. After Guards! Guards! some characters start repeating (including Rincewind, who pops up briefly in other books (book five) and stars in a couple more much later books).


The third book, Equal Rites, is as good a place as any to start. While Death is arguably Mr. Pratchett's most iconic character, Granny Weatherwax, de facto leader of the Ramtops witches, is right up there at the top of the list and this is the story that introduces her. Many of the author's most famous (and quotable) quotes come from Equal Rites.


A dying wizard arrives in the village Bad Ass, far up in the Ramtop Mountains, and bequeaths his wizard's staff to the eighth son of an eighth son . . . village blacksmith, Gordo Smith. There's just one problem. Gordo Smith's eighth son is a daughter. The Discworld's first, and only, female wizard. What comes next is a wild, and often hilarious, exploration of what it's like to be a woman (or in this case an eight-year-old girl) in a man's world.


Book four, Mort, is the first book where Death is a main character, though he has at least a cameo appearance in very nearly every book. Even if he's never mention by name, Death is instantly recognizable by his voice. HE ALWAYS SPEAKS IN ALL CAPS.


In Mort, Death takes on an apprentice, Mort of course, then decides he wants to find out what it's like to be human and goes on vacation. Mort, however, is not yet ready for the full responsibilities of being Death and makes a mess of it. Complicating matters is that Mort is slowly falling in love with Death's adopted and very human daughter, Ysabel.


Even if your first exposure to Terry Pratchett's Discworld is this compilation, I still recommend starting with Equal Rites and/or Mort before going back to the first two stories. You won't miss much except the surprise, and eventual joy, of the librarian becoming an orangutan, and you'll be captivated by the hidden depths of the Discworld as Mr. Pratchett begins to really hit his stride in the later books.


I was, anyway.




*Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is probably the only series I know of that can best be described with an oxymoron - “These books are seriously funny!*