The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett [Book Thoughts]

On the whole, there’s nothing deep or complex about The Colour of Magic, but it will keep you entertained for a bit without the need for much investment in the story or the narrative.
-Imran

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It might seem like old news to anyone already familiar with him, but Terry Pratchett is one of the best-selling authors of the last two decades and is most well known for his Discworld series spanning 40+ books. The Discworld itself is a flat world balancing on the back of four elephants all balancing on the back of an enormous turtle floating through the cosmos, so this is clearly not a series that takes itself seriously. The Colour of Magic, originally published in 1983, is the first in the series (which doesn’t really follow chronologically as far as I can tell).

The Colour of Magic reads as something of parody of classic high fantasy but the jokes tend to stretch out quite a bit further so it’s funny even if you aren’t familiar with all the tropes that Pratchett is blatantly ripping off. The story follows the various misadventures of Rincewind, a failed magician who only knows one spell, and Twoflower, the Discworld’s first tourist. Near the beginning, Rincewind is blackmailed by his superiors into serving as Twoflower’s tour guide. Rincewind’s chief task is then to stop Twoflower from getting himself killed, which is easier said than done since Twoflower’s first impulse after seeing monsters or dragons is to whip out his camera while Rincewind’s is to run up a tree and start whimpering.

There are insurance scandals and barbarians and Lovecraft-ian demons and all manner of ridiculous things as the story goes from one arc to another that usually centers around the two of them getting in over their head and trying to get out alive. The story covers some five or so mini-stories in its 200 pages and ends without a definite resolution; probably an invitation from Pratchett to read the next one.

I found that, for the most part, it’s pleasantly written and genuinely funny. It’s not the modern kind of ‘random funny’ where the pages are littered with silliness and half-baked references but rather the subtle kind where the author is poking fun at something in every second sentence and often it pays to be in on the joke. I found it to be a pleasant break from the more serious works I’ve been reading lately.

On the whole, there’s nothing deep or complex about The Colour of Magic, but it will keep you entertained for a bit without the need for much investment in the story or the narrative.

See you next week

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