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Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
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May 18, 12

Read from May 10 to 18, 2012

Terry Pratchett introduced us to Discworld with “The Color of Magic” where we followed the adventures of the decidedly unmagical wizard Rincewind as he took on the role of tour guide for Twoflower, a tourist from the remote and isolated Counterweight Continent. Here, Pratchett turns the table and Rincewind finds himself visiting Twoflower’s homeland. He has been sent there by the wizards of Ankh-Morpork in response to a request from the Agatean Empire, which on the verge of civil war with the impending death of the Emperor. As the various factions maneuver and plot, Rincewind does the only thing he know how to do…try to stay as far away from trouble as possible. At the same time, the ancient hero, Cohen the Barbarian, and his Silver Horde of aged barbarians are also trying to use the chaos to their own advantage, and a populist “Red Army” is trying to overthrow the Empire and establish a new, collectivist government.

Combining disparate aspects of Far Eastern culture, including the Great Wall, ninjas, samurai warlords, a Forbidden City and much more, Pratchett somehow manages to condense millennia of Asian history into a single parody, from the Mogul invasions (who knew that Cohen the Barbarian’s first name was Ghenghiz?) to the Maoist revolution, with a population cultured to blind obedience and scheming lords who are extremely good at killing their victims slowly. It’s no wonder that ‘May you live in interesting times’ is a curse, not a blessing. But Rincewind already knew that…too bad that all his attempts to run away simply land him smack in the middle of it all, with typical comic results.
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