• Wish I were reading actual copies of these books so that the footnotes would have asterisks in-text and appear at the bottom of the page they're sup...more• Wish I were reading actual copies of these books so that the footnotes would have asterisks in-text and appear at the bottom of the page they're supposed to be on. In pirated copies of Pratchett, they appear at the end of the whole text document. :(
It is a well-known established fact throughout the many-dimensional worlds of the multiverse that most really great discoveries are owed to one brief moment of inspiration. There's a lot of spadework first, of course, but what clinches the whole thing is the sight of, say, a falling apple or a boiling kettle or the water slopping over the edge of the bath. Something goes click inside the observer's head and then everything falls into place. The shape of DNA, it is popularly said, owes its discovery to the chance sight of a spiral staircase when the scientist's mind was just at the right receptive temperature. Had he used the lift, the whole science of genetics might have been a good deal different.
This is thought of as somehow wonderful. It isn't. It is tragic. Little particles of inspiration sleet through the universe all the time travelling through the densest matter in the same way that a neutrino passes through a candyfloss haystack, and most of them miss.
If there are words to describe what happened to the wizard next then they're imprisoned inside a wild thesaurus in the Unseen University Library. Perhaps it's best left to the imagination, except that anyone able to imagine the kind of shape that Rincewind saw writhing painfully for a few seconds before it mercifully vanished must be a candidate for the famous white canvas blazer with the optional long sleeves.
He reached out for Rincewind's shoulder just as something went past very high overhead, making a noise like a flock of geese on nitrous oxide.
Take it from me, there's nothing more terrible than someone out to do the world a favour.
'But he may do something stupid!' 'I should think that is very likely,' said Creosote primly. 'While we do something clever and sit on a baking beach with nothing to eat or drink, is that it?' 'You could tell me a story,' said Creosote, trembling slightly. 'Shut up.' The Seriph ran his tongue over his lips. 'I suppose a quick anecdote is out of the question?' he croaked. Conina sighed. 'There's more to life than narrative, you know.' 'Sorry. I lost control a little, there.'
• With a library's worth of battered, refugee books:
'Um,' [Rincewind] said, 'er, do you mind if I go away? I faint at the sight of glue.' The Librarian shook his head and jerked a preoccupied thumb towards a tray of tools. 'Oook,' he commanded. Rincewind nodded miserably, and obediently handed him a pair of long-nosed scissors. The wizard winced as a couple of damaged pages were snipped free and dropped to the floor. 'What are you doing to it?' he managed. 'Oook.' 'An appendectomy? Oh.'
• And, finally, a Discworld book with a relevant, absurd lesson imparted to the hero by the end, instead of this string of random adventures other books have been having! It wasn't thematically reinforced throughout like in later books, but I was glad to spot one.
'There was something else I was trying to say,' said Rincewind, letting go of the hand. He looked blank for a moment, and then added, 'Oh, yes. It's vital to remember who you really are. It's very important. It isn't a good idea to rely on other people or things to do it for you, you see. They always get it wrong.'
WHAT IS THAT SENSE INSIDE YOUR HEAD OF WISTFUL REGRET THAT THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY APPARENTLY ARE?
'Sadness, master. I think. Now -'
I AM SADNESS.
A pretty boring Death book, all in all. Haven't yet read any others, but judging wizard books by Colour of Magic was a bad plan, so. Mort didn't seem to have any character traits besides really disliking when people called him "boy" instead of by name; both female characters were penciled in as romantic leads, either for Mort to get infatuated with and make stupid decisions about (Keli) or to wait patiently by the sidelines for Mort to come to his senses (Death's "daughter" Ysabell). Wasn't any great shakes thematically, either.
"It's a witch's hat because you wear it. But you're a witch because you wear the hat. Um."
"So -" prompted Granny.
"So people see you coming in the h...more "It's a witch's hat because you wear it. But you're a witch because you wear the hat. Um."
"So -" prompted Granny.
"So people see you coming in the hat and the cloak and they know you're a witch and that's why your magic works?" said Esk.
"That's right," said Granny. "It's called headology." She tapped her silver hair, which was drawn into a tight bun that could crack rocks.
"But it's not real!" Esk protested. "That's not magic, it's it's -"
"Listen," said Granny, "If you give someone a bottle of red jollop for their wind it may work, right, but if you want it to work for sure then you let their mind make it work for them. Tell 'em it's moonbeams bottled in fairy wine or something. Mumble over it a bit."
She bought a spice pasty to eat while exploring (the stallholder carelessly shortchanged her, and only realised later that he had inexplicably handed over two silver pieces; also, rats mysteriously got in and ate all his stock during the night, and his grandmother was struck by lightning).
Why was it that, when she heard Granny ramble on about witchcraft she longed for the cutting magic of wizardry, but whenever she heard Treatle speak in his high-pitched voice she would fight to the death for witchcraft? She'd be both, or none at all. And the more they intended to stop her, the more she wanted it.
She'd be a witch and a wizard too. And she would show them.
One side-effect of using magic is that one tends to have realistic and disturbing dreams. There is a reason for this, but even thinking about it is enough to give a wizard nightmares.
The fact is that the minds of wizards can give thoughts a shape. Witches normally work with what actually exists in the world, but a wizard can, if he's good enough, put flesh on his imagination. This wouldn't cause any trouble if it wasn't for the fact that the little circle of candlelight loosely called "the universe of time and space" is adrift in something much more unpleasant and unpredictable. Strange Things circle and grunt outside the flimsy stockades of normality; there are weird hootings and howlings in the deep crevices at the edge of Time. There are things so horrible that even the dark is afraid of them.
Most people don't know this and this is just as well because the world could not really operate if everyone stayed in bed with the blankets over their head, which is what would happen if people knew what horrors lay a shadow's width away.(less)
Far more readable than Colour of Magic and closer to Pratchett's current style. It helped that, unlike in Colour, the plot progressed at a steady and...moreFar more readable than Colour of Magic and closer to Pratchett's current style. It helped that, unlike in Colour, the plot progressed at a steady and reasonable pace instead of jumping around trying to parody one fantasy convention after another.
Bits that caught me by surprise and made me laugh most:
• It should be pointed out that currently Great A'Tuin was very pleased and contented, and feelings like that in a brain the size of several large cities are bound to radiate out. In fact most people on the Disc were currently in a state of mind normally achievable only by a lifetime of dedicated meditation or about thirty seconds of illegal herbage.
• 'Rincewind, all the shops have been smashed open, there was a whole bunch of people across the street helping themselves to musical instruments, can you believe that?'
'Yeah,' said Rincewind, picking up a knife and testing its blade thoughtfully. 'Luters, I expect.'(less)