Title: The Light Fantastic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Published: 1986 Pages: 241
A year ago I discovered Discworld for the first time with The Color of Magic, and I can't believe it has been that long since poor Rincewind was left hanging over the side of the world! I have loved my Discworld journey thus far, but I have to say I preferred The Color of Magic just a tad. Perhaps timing? But now I'm really looking forward to traveling around at leisure (check out this Discworld reading guide the lovely Nymeth introduced me to). I'm thinking about pursuing the "Death" novels or "Witches" novels next.
What is Discworld? Well, I'm probably not the best to describe it to you, but it is a world (flat) that rests upon four giant elephants who stand upon an even more giant turtle, A'Tuin, who floats leisurely through space. The Discworld series contains over thirty novels, The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic being the first two. These two are sequels, but as I understand the rest are pretty much stand alone novels with running themes.
The Light Fantastic is a continuation of Rincewind and Twoflower's journeys across Discworld. Rincewind is a fairly inept wizard who cannot perform magic because long ago a spell lodge itself in his mind. It happens that this spell is an incredibly important spell from a powerful collection of eight and the fate of Discworld rests in all eight of these spells being said at the same time. When a giant red star begins on a crash collision course towards Discworld, the importance of that spell grows exponentially, but can Rincewind stay out of enough trouble to keep himself alive and the spell safe?
Reading this book provided for constant amusement. I love the tongue-in-cheek humor of this novel and the cleverness. Pratchett doesn't always give away his humor easily, and I always felt satisfied when I got it. In one scene, Twoflower is playing a game of cards: "It's a special kind of playing...In your language, it's called a thing you put across a river, for example" he concluded, "I think." "Aqueduct?" hazarded Rincewind. "Fishing line? Weir? Dam?" "Yes, possibly." So, I'm thinking to myself--I know there's a joke here. Ooooh! Bridge! :) As with CoM I felt like I never quite got everything that should have been funny, perhaps because I'm not as familiar with the fantasy genre, but I definitely had a lot of giggle out loud moments.
And then there were the things that made me go "hmmm." Poor Death is so misunderstood, and even though he plays a small role in these two novels, he's one of my favorite characters. "The Death of the Disc was a traditionalist who prided himself on his personal service and spent most of the time being depressed because this was not appreciated. He would point out that no one feared death itself, just pain and separation and oblivion, and that it was quite unreasonable to take against someone just because he had empty eye sockets and a quiet pride in his work" (104). Although the subject matter and humor make these books feel light, Pratchett is always seeming to sneak in more serious food for thought.
One of the qualms that I have with this book, and I fear the rest of the series, is that there are no chapter breaks. Looking back at my review for CoM, it seems that I had a difficult time following that book as well. The focus of the novel shifts frequently and I often had a tough time figuring out what was going on. I've tried to put my finger on what it is that I'm having a tough time with, and I think that Pratchett transitions so quickly that my brain doesn't always have time to process. This works well for me visually (like a movie), but in a book I felt like I always need to backtrack a bit to remember what was going on. Because I was reading this book in short amounts, it was a big pitfall. Other than that I really enjoyed the book. It seemed like this novel was more plot driven than the first, and that helped me focus more on the story. I would recommend this book, but read Color of Magic first.
Have you made the journey into Discworld yet? What are your favorite Discworld novels?
Date Finished: May 27, 2009 #27