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Discworld #17

Interesting Times

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The oldest and most inscrutable empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise WHAT I DID ON MY HOLIDAYS.  Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water bufffaloes.  War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the ancienct cities.

And all that stands in the way of terrible doom for everyone is:

Rincewind the Wizard, who can't even spell the word 'wizard'...

Cohen the barbarian hero, five foot tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime's experience of not dying...

...and a very SPECIAL butterfly.

431 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1994

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About the author

Terry Pratchett

613 books41.4k followers
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987, he turned to writing full time.

There are over 40 books in the Discworld series, of which four are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal.

A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback - Harper Torch, 2006 - and trade paperback - Harper Paperbacks, 2006).

In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry published Snuff in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004, Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University in 2009, the University of Winchester in 2009, and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution to Public Service.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,570 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,853 followers
August 30, 2020
Alternative Asian history, Rincewind's average spin doctoring and political strategist skills, teleportation, Cohen the barbarian, again Rincewind as always unwittingly McGuffining around, , Gods manipulating the fate of humankind, and jokes about stereotypical fighter archetypes make war fun.

Uchronia and alternative history is big in this too, because China, just as many great empires before, had the chance of ruling the world, but preferred isolation. This can be seen in how respectfully Vetinari deals with the request, but also in real history with the sheer historical numbers of soldiers, military strategy, and technology, especially ships, gunpowder, and sheer quantity. Not to speak of potentially reaching most of the world by land, for instance, at this moment, extremely primitive and thereby vulnerable Europe or colonizing the Americas, but endless intern civil wars are costly.

Speaking of which, The Silver Horde is dealing with the danger of averaging in the military forces, an often hidden problem that can reduce the stability of well functioning dictatorships. It´s tricky for the poor despots, too many fit, young, but possibly revolting soldiers are as bad as geriatric armies, so it´s possibly the healthy mix to cement your nightmarish autocracy. But at least they haven´t lost their stupid, manly attitudes of fighting, killing, and most importantly, unsubstantiated hubris.

Pratchett uses the mixture of megalomania, bad management, the immense deficits of ideologies, faiths, politics, economics, etc. a lot in his whole work by showing how potentially world dominating forces are self sabotaging by losing their connection to reality. Possibly it's an, by evolution, inbuilt seld destruction system to ensure that complex systems such as human societies don´t get too mighty and thereby monocultural, although this could have failed with Mcdonalisation, Disneyfication, general Americanisation, but let´s see what time will bring.

I know, this running gag is getting lame, time to say bye bye to it, but I don´t know enough about Genghis Khan, Japanese and Chinese history, communism, if Rincewind has hidden elements of famous historical figures I don´t know, and if I am worthy or capable of adding more sophisticated literary analysis, but at least I can laugh about the bits and pieces I get and especially easier to spot puns and slapstick elements.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:

This one is added to all Pratchettian reviews:
The idea of the dissected motifs rocks, highlighting the main real world inspirational elements of fiction and satire is something usually done with so called higher literature, but a much more interesting field in readable literature, as it offers the joy of reading, subtle criticism, and feeling smart all together.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
October 8, 2019
Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Yun Fat Chow, David Carradine and Michelle Yeoh sit in an Italian pizza place in Queens and discuss Terry Pratchett’s 17th Discworld novel Interesting Times.

Bruce Lee: Ok, first of all, David, why are you even here, you’re not Chinese.

Carradine: Come on, you all know why, I played Kwai Chang Caine on King Fu in the 70s, don’t act like you don’t …

Michelle: Anyhoo - Pratchett, pays homage to Asian culture through his counter continent Roman eclef, The Agatean Empire, which is just China on the Discworld.

Jackie: But did he really pay homage and respect? I think he could have been making fun of us.

Yun Fat Chow: I thought that too, our great culture is seen as bureaucratic, myopic and superficial. Compared to Anhk – Morpork, which is practical and highly functional.

Jet Li: Yes, but this was really a vehicle whereby Rincewind can be seen as a greater hero figure, leading up to The Last Hero a few years later, he and Cohen the Barbarian are the clear protagonists here, and China and the Discworld Agatean Empire are just a literary foil.

Michelle: Lord Hong was a very effective antagonist, even if a caricature of Asian imperialism and hauteur.

Jet Li: Yes, I did like Pratchett’s description of Hong and I also like that one of the great families was the McSweeneys, that was hilarious.

Carradine: See? The McSweeneys was an indirect allusion to my portrayal.

Bruce Lee: No. No, it wasn’t, it was just Pratchett being funny. Nothing about you at all.

Carradine: You seem very sure, you answered very fast, you sure?

Michelle: Stop it, both of you. We also got to visit the wizards and the luggage and Death and this was just more Discworld magic and fun.

Pratchett (arriving late): Who wants to blow this pasta stand and go get some tacos?

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
April 9, 2021
Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5), Terry Pratchett

Interesting Times is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the seventeenth book in the Discworld series, set in the Aurient (a fictional analogue of the Orient).

Two gods, Fate and the Lady, oppose each other in a game over the outcome of the struggle for the throne of the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent.

The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a demand that the "Great Wizzard" be sent to the distant Agatean Empire, and he orders Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully of Unseen University to comply.

As the spelling, "Wizzard," matches that on Rincewind's hat, the faculty decide to send him.

Using the machine Hex, which has seemingly been augmenting its own infrastructure, they teleport him to the University from a desert island where he has been living since the events of Eric.

They offer him the right to call himself a Wizard, which he never actually earned, if he will let them send him to Agatea; he agrees.

Teleportation requires an exchange of mass, and they end up exchanging him with a very heavy live cannon (which they extinguish upon its arrival); this results in Rincewind arriving in Agatea at a very high speed, but he lands safely in a snowbank.

As is typical for Rincewind, his dedicated efforts to run from any kind of danger quickly embroil him in momentous events, and coincidence makes it appear on several occasions that Rincewind is responsible for significant feats of magic.

He encounters his friend Cohen the Barbarian, now accompanied by a "Silver Horde" of elderly warriors, who is planning to infiltrate the Empire and live a luxurious retirement by taking over as Emperor.

Rincewind eventually learns that the first Agatean Emperor supposedly conquered the land with the assistance of a "Great Wizard" and a "Red Army."

Now, a new "Red Army" movement of young people, dedicated mainly to the promulgation of mildly worded slogans, has been inspired by a supposed revolutionary tract, which turns out to be a travelogue of Ankh-Morpork written by Rincewind's erstwhile traveling companion, Twoflower, whom Rincewind ends up freeing from a dungeon and whose two daughters are leaders of the Red Army.

It turns out that the villainous Grand Vizier, Lord Hong, has made the harmless Red Army appear to be a threat to the Empire and had Rincewind brought to Agatea so that he could blame the problems on foreigners, then put the "revolution" down violently and turn to the conquest of Ankh-Morpork, whose culture he secretly seeks to emulate.

But when Hong murders the Emperor with the intention of framing the Red Army, it inadvertently creates the opportunity needed by the Silver Horde, who have infiltrated the palace.

Cohen and Ronald Saveloy, a member of the Horde who is a retired schoolteacher, had hoped to conquer the Empire by simply installing Cohen as Emperor, since almost nobody has ever seen the Emperor's face.

But Lord Hong leads four other lords who had been vying against him for the throne to rally their armies against the Horde, to the chagrin of Saveloy who had been trying to civilize the barbarians. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و یکم ماه آوریل 2020میلادی

عنوان: دیسک ورلد (جهان صفحه) کتاب هفدهم: اوقات جالب؛ نویسنده تری پرچت؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 21م

دیسک ورلد (جهان صفحه)، یک سری از کتابهای فانتزی هستن��، که روانشاد «تری پرچت»، نویسنده ی «انگلیسی»، نگاشته ‌اند؛ داستان‌های این سری در جهانی با نام «دیسک‌ ورلد (جهان صفحه)» می‌گذرند؛ که صفحه‌ ای تخت است، و بر شانه‌ های چهار فیل، با هیکلهای بزرگ، قرار دارد؛ این فیل‌ها نیز، به نوبه ی خود، بر روی پشت یک لاک‌پشت غول‌آسا، با نام «آتوئین بزرگ» قرار دارند؛ در این سری از کتابها، بارها از سوژه های کتاب‌های نویسندگانی همچون «جی.آر.آر تالکین»، «رابرت هاوارد»، «اچ پی لاوکرافت» و «ویلیام شکسپیر» به گونه ای خنده دار، استفاده شده ‌است؛

از سری «دیسک ‌ورلد» بیشتر از هشتاد میلیون نسخه، در سی و هفت زبان، به فروش رفته‌ است؛ این سری در برگیرنده ی بیش از چهل رمان (تاکنون چهل و یک رمان)، یازده داستان کوتاه، چهار کتاب علمی، و چندین کتاب مرجع، و مکمل است؛ از این سری، چندین رمان تصویری، بازی کامپیوتری، نمایش تئاتر، سریالهای تلویزیونی اقتباس شده ‌است؛ روزنامه ی «ساندی تایمز» چاپ «انگلستان» از این سری به عنوان یکی از پرفروش‌ترین سری کتاب‌ها نام برده، و «تری پرچت» را، به عنوان پرفروش‌ترین نویسنده ی «انگلستان»، در دهه ی نود میلادی دانسته است؛

رمان‌های «دیسک‌ورلد» جوایز بسیاری از جمله جایزه «پرومتئوس»، و مدال ادبی «کارنگی» را، از آن خود کرده ‌اند؛ در نظرسنجی «بیگ رید»، که «بی‌بی‌سی» در سال 2003میلادی، در «انگلستان» انجام داد، چهار رمان سری «دیسک‌ورلد»؛ در فهرست یکصد کتاب برتر قرار گرفتند؛ همچنین مردمان «انگلیس»، در این نظرسنجی، چهارده رمان «دیسک‌ورلد» را، در شمار دویست کتاب برتر، دانستند؛ تا کنون، از این سری، چهل و یک رمان، به چاپ رسیده است؛ «تری پرچت» که پیش از درگذشتش؛ در ابتدای سال 2015میلادی، از بیماری «آلزایمر» رنج می‌بردند، اعلام کردند که خوشحال می‌شوند که دخترشان، «ریانا پرچت»، به جای ایشان، به ادامه ی این سری بپردازند؛ تا جلد بیست و ششم رمان این سری، رمان «دزد زمان (2001میلادی)» به دست «جاش کربی»، به تصویر کشیده شده ‌اند، اما نسخه ‌های «آمریکایی»، که انتشارات «هارپرکالینز» آن‌ها را، منتشر کرده، دارای تصاویر روی جلد دیگرگونه ای هستند؛ پس از درگذشت «جاش کربی»، در سال 2001میلادی، نقاشی‌های روی جلد کتاب‌های بعدی این سری، بدست «پائول کربی» کشیده‌ شدند

کتابهای اول و دوم: «رنگ جادو»؛ کتاب سوم: «زنان جادوگر»؛ کتاب چهارم: «مرگ»؛ کتاب پنجم: «سورسری (برگردان فارسی جادوی مرجع)»؛ کتاب ششم: «خواهران ویرد»؛ کتاب هفتم: «هرم ها»؛ کتاب هشتم: «نگهبانان! نگهبانان»؛ کتاب نهم: «اریک»؛ کتاب دهم: «تصاویر متحرک»؛ کتاب یازدهم: «مرد دروگر»؛ کتاب دوازدهم: «جادوگران خارج»؛ کتاب سیزدهم: «ایزدان خرد (خدایان کوچک)»؛ کتاب چهاردهم: «لردها و بانوان»؛ کتاب پانزدهم: «مردان مسلح»؛ کتاب شانزدهم: «موسیقی روح»؛ کتاب هفدهم: «اوقات جالب»؛ کتاب هجدهم: «ماسکراد»؛ کتاب نوزدهم: «پاهای خشت (فیت آو کلی)»؛ کتاب بیستم: «هاگفادر»؛ کتاب بیست و یکم: «جینگو»؛ کتاب بیست و دوم: «آخرین قاره»؛ کتاب بیست و سوم: «کارپه جوگلوم»؛ کتاب بیست و چهارم: «فیل پنجم»؛ کتاب بیست و پنجم: «حقیقت»؛ کتاب بیست و ششم: «دزد زمان»؛ کتاب بیست و هفتم: «آخرین قهرم��ن»؛ کتاب بیست و هشتم: «ماوریس شگفت‌انگیز و موش‌های آموزش‌دیده‌اش»؛ کتاب بیست و نهم: «ساعت شب»؛ کتاب سی ام: «مردان آزاد وی»؛ کتاب سی و یکم: «هنگ بزرگ»؛ کتاب سی و دوم: «کلاهی پُر از آ��مان»؛ کتاب سی و سوم: «گوینگ پوستال»؛ کتاب سی و چهارم: «تود!»؛ کتاب سی و پنجم: «وینتراسمیت»؛ کتاب سی و ششم: «بدست آوردن پول»؛ کتاب سی و هفتم: «دانشگاهی‌های نادیدنی»؛ کتاب سی و هشتم: «نیمه‌شب بایست بپوشم»؛ کتاب سی و نهم: «اسنوف»؛ کتاب چهلم: «بالا آمدن مه»؛ کتاب چهل و یکم: «تاج چوپان»؛

کتاب هفدهم اوقات جالب: مخالفت دو خدا سرنوشت و بانو، در یک بازی بر سر نتیجه مبارزه برای تاج و تخت امپراتوری «آگاتا»؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
October 29, 2018
Interesting Times
When Cohen Established that Dynasty That Time
Rincewind Gets a New Suit.

I really enjoyed this Pratchett, being one of the few people who actually think that Rincewind is a likable anti-hero, or rather, a good runner. But sometimes even good runners get caught in the affairs of Wizzards and revolution. Okay, maybe it's Wizards and if I count him, it's only Wizzard, but you get the idea. :)

Welcome to China-ish, buddy! The Emperor would like to meet you. Or chop off your legs so you can more easily search for that head that you just lost.

Classic Pratchett. And a welcome change from Ankh-Morpork. :)
Profile Image for Zach.
28 reviews3 followers
August 16, 2011
I'm going to just say right off the bat that the Rincewind novels are not my favorite. I realize that it is Discworld blasphemy, but hear me out. Out of the entire Discworld main character cast, Rincewind makes the fewest decisions and has no desires other than to flee from trouble. As sort of a Forrest Gump/Scooby Doo hybrid (Forrest Doo? Scooby Gump?), his misadventures consist of finding himself in trouble, trying to escape, and then lucking out in some grand fashion. While it makes for good entertainment, I respond better to characters who actually try to tackle problems, whether it be through scheming (Vetinari), trickery (the witches), or just good old-fashioned detective work (the City Watch).

That being said, the highlights:

-- The dialogue. Once again, Pratchett employs rapid fire exchanges to great effect, and his characterization is so solid that formally acknowledging who said what is not necessary. You can see this primarily in the dialogue between the Unseen University faculty and also the Silver Horde (Whut?).

-- The jokes. As is typical, there is no shortage of puns, jokes, and cultural references here, from the multiple meanings of Auriental words to several different running gags [urinating dog].

-- Ankh Morpork vs. the Agatean Empire. While not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, there are several passages that draw astute comparisons between life in Ankh Morpork and the Empire, ranging from peasant life vs. the ruling elite to the concept of fiat currency. These illustrate that Discworld is more than just trite satire--it provides a commentary on our own history and society.

Also of note -- It's very strange that I've read two consecutive books that make a reference to the Naglfar, a boat made from the fingernails and toenails of the dead, from Norse mythology.
Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews210 followers
June 8, 2020
Fab fun, and more tomorrow

So for once it really is tomorrow. Where to start with this book, many other people have mentioned it is a parody of China during the days of the warring Empire, blind obedience and huge multi layer civil service running the show. Add into Sir Terry's wonderful parody, a wizard that cannot do any spell and never actually passed any exam at the unseen university in Ankh Morpork, a bunch of geriatric Hero barbarians (accompanied by an ex teacher trying to civilise the barbarians), the luggage, that has returned home and decides to , and the welcome return or re-appearance of Two Flower. Add into the mix a brief appearance from the Wizards from UU and Lord Vetinari, DEATH, The Gods, War, Terror, Panic and Clancy 😊 and you have a recipe for an amazing novel, and this is certainly one of those.
I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and one evening whilst reading it I had to re-read it to my wife, and I was literally crying with laughter, tears running down my face as I read out half a page of humorous, genius, magic literature. 5 stars without a doubt
Profile Image for Gehayi.
84 reviews17 followers
May 2, 2023

Okay. I'm going to have to say something controversial here. This book is downright horrible.

I realize that's practically blasphemy, since it was written by Terry Pratchett (whose work I generally love). I know that Pratchett was a satirist. I am aware that it was spoofing books like James Clavell's Asian Saga (Shogun, Noble House, King Rat, etc.), in which a white guy handles Asia better than the Asians and ends up in charge. I remember Clavell's books and the miniseries made from them. I realize what Pratchett was going for.

But Interesting Times just isn't funny--unless you like jokes about rape; jokes about paralysis and deafness; jokes involving ageism; fat jokes ("ARRGH!" = "your wife is a big hippo"--why not make it "your hat is a big hippo"? It would be even sillier!) China and Japan being smooshed together in a fantasy conglomerate (the cultures aren't the same! Seriously, Pratchett, you couldn't just pick one?); scenes in which the tonal quality of Asian languages is mocked; scenes in which freed Agatean captives call an old white man "Master" (because THAT doesn't have any invidious connotations); young people who want a revolution but who are trying to be polite about it are derided as useless and are shown to be in need of a Mighty Whitey who can teach those Agateans how to rebel; revolutionary slogans are treated as roughly as meaningful as advertising slogans; the very style of writing in Agatea (pictograms) is treated as inefficient and a waste of time (and lets not even get into the running gag of "picture of a dog pissing = exclamation point"); the antagonist has a severe boner for all things Ankh-Morporkian and despises his own people--both of which are treated as correct opinions; the Agateans do not end up ruling themselves--instead (spoilers) an old white barbarian does, and it's implied that this will be much better for Agatea; on and on and on, stereotype after stereotype. Kite fighting, tea ceremonies, the names of Twoflower's daughters (Pretty Butterfly and Lotus Blossom), the homophone "Auriental" (punning on a word that a lot of people of Asian heritage consider offensive)...it never stops.

And most of this is not being filtered through characters. The narrative, which is filled with Orientalism, states it as fact. To quote Reappropriate.co:

"In Orientalism, Asia is not defined by what Asia is; rather, Asia becomes an “Otherized” fiction of everything the West is not, and one that primarily serves to reinforce the West’s own moral conception of itself...Orientalism purports to be a faithful recreation of Eastern traditions and peoples, but actually draws upon real practices and traditions to create an Eastern construct that is largely exaggeration and myth."

And that's pretty much what we've got here.

I've read this book in the past and, while it was never one of my favorites--I am not a Rincewind fan--I somehow managed to miss all of the problems. I liked the golem army. I liked Ronald Saveloy getting carried off to Valhalla. But this time? I flinched at every stereotype, every mocking word. I felt ashamed that I was reading the book at all. And this is Pratchett, Pratchett, who gets praised for being so perceptive and for humanizing people. I was appalled. I expected Pratchett to satirize bigotry and ignorance and to show how both can be damaging. Not this.

I do believe that Pratchett did better in other books, and that he will be remembered for those works. But this is going to be a blot on his record...a book that scholars will be eager to ignore.
Profile Image for Tony Z .
102 reviews
September 10, 2015
Hay una maldición.
Ojalá vivas en tiempos interesantes.

La quinta es la vencida, hasta ahora esta es la historia más sólida que leo del mundodisco sin dejar de ser graciosa, teniendo como protagonista a Rincewind el mago más cobarde que ha existido y que no importa que tanto trate de huir de todas las situaciones que se le presentan, los dioses o el destino, al parecer, siempre lo eligen como candidato para salvar al mundo.

Los personajes del libro me encantaron especialmente la Horda de plata , que prueba que la edad es solo un número (que probablemente ellos no sepan contar) y que para ser héroe solo importa la actitud y la barbarie, a esta cuerda de viejitos cool se les une el Señor Saveloy “el profe” que tratara sin mucho éxito de civilizarlos.
¿Sabe? Resulta usted muy culto para ser un bárbaro —dijo Rincewind.
—Oh, cielos, yo no soy bárbaro de siempre. Yo era maestro de escuela. Por eso me llaman Profe.
—¿Y qué enseñaba?
—Geografía. Y me interesaban mucho los estudios aurientales. Pero decidí dejarlo para ganarme la vida con la espada.
—¿Después de ser profesor toda su vida?
—Supuso un cambio de perspectiva, sí.
—Pero... bueno., seguramente... las privaciones... los peligros terribles, el riesgo diario de muerte…
El señor Saveloy se animó de pronto:
—Ah, también usted ha sido maestro, ¿verdad?

De una forma satírica y atrayente Pratchett describe la cultura China, y lo cruel que puede ser una rebelión (muy al estilo Rebelión en la granja), por ello, y porque el final me encanto, este es, hasta ahora mi libro favorito del mundodisco, por eso pienso leer más de sus historias descabelladas.
—No —dijo Rincewind.
—Pero no se puede hundir uno en el hielo.
—No. Uno se resbala primero y luego se hunde y luego el hielo le golpea en la cabeza. Sin contar a las ballenas asesinas. Y unas focas enormes com lof diemtef afí.
—Esto es descabellado, lo sé —dijo el tesorero en tono jovial.
—¿El qué? —preguntó el conferenciante de Runas Recientes.
—Esta parte de la cabeza donde se me está cayendo el pelo.

Profile Image for Kerri.
989 reviews368 followers
December 23, 2021
This one seems to be have very mixed reviews here on Goodreads, but I loved it. I get the points about the insensitive aspects, but I thought they were deliberately done-- satire. Satire of the tropes and clichés to be more specific. Still, clearly not everyone read it that way and it's interesting to read their takes and explanations.

Aside from that, I tend to love Rincewind. Admittedly he doesn't capture my heart in quite the same way as the witches or Death, but he's weirdly relatable and his intense desire to flee trouble and disaster makes sense really. Also we get the see Twoflower again! I'd missed him. He and Rincewind are a great pair and even though I only started reading these books this year, it felt wonderfully nostalgic to see them reunited.

Cohen the barbarian is another favourite. I'm not sure why I like him so much, but I for all his violent ways and troubling world views, there's something endearing about him.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
604 reviews260 followers
April 22, 2023
Lord Hong, the Grand Vizier of the Agatean Empire is busy hatching his plans of (Disc)world domination. With the old emperor's ailing health and the Revolutionary Army's inexperience, it looks like nothing is standing in his way... except for the so-called Great Wizzard featured in a travel log of dubious origins. Not prone to flights of fancy, Lord Hong nevertheless decides to take precautionary measures.

... which is how Rincewind, whose hat proudly proclaims him as a Wizzard, finds himself teleported to the Counterweight Continent, and reluctantly teaching the Revolutionary Army the wise ways of We-- erm Ankh-Morporkan rebellion.

help help I'm being repressed

After the numerous references in previous books, I was looking forward to a trip to the Aurient (a.k.a. the Counterweight Continent): i.e medieval China with a pinch of communism thrown in. A sizeable pinch that is.

Things start out well-enough with Lord Hong being the quintessential evil pretty boy genius; you know, as opposed to the cackling ones. Then there were Rincewind's language skills, that often reach their limit, and cause him to go through several iterations of a phrase, before finding the right tonality and intonation.

Agatean was a language of few basic syllables. It was really all in the tone, inflection and context. Otherwise, the word for military leader was also the word for long-tailed marmot, male sexual organ and ancient chicken coop.

[Rincewind] said, 'Just give me all your food and... unwilling dogs, will you?'
They watched him impassively.
'Damn. I mean... arranged beetles? ... variety of waterfall? ... Oh, yes... money.'

Fra-Gee-Lay. Must be Italian

Unfortunately, that's where this book's charms made a screeching halt. The parodying of corrupt government officials, supposedly chosen based on their proficiency in poetry, felt like a rather tiresome trope. Har-dee-har-har. Communist/Totalitarian regimes are crumbling because they employ ass-kissers. Unlike say a certain democratic high school facing parental backlash due to teaching 6th graders about supposedly pornographic Renaissance art.

... aaaaanyway, somewhere along the line, I was waiting for Rincewind to get humbled by the Agatean culture, and see that it's not just his Western Ankh-Morpokan ways that can save the world. Only, this never quite happens, and he accidentally wins the uprising with minimal casualties. OK, so The Horde storyline was funny and illuminating, but I really didn't like all the belittling of the revolutionaries.

Score: 3/5 stars

I'm probably a big hypocrite, seeing as I totally enjoy when other people's culture, language and traditions get ridiculed. When it comes to the whole corrupt officials who know nothing about their job and can only recite random memorised phrases... that hits a bit too close to what our parliamentary debates sound like. I'm now feeling singled out.

So... let's just move along quickly, before the butt-hurt intensifies too much.


Other stories featuring Rincewind the Wizard:
book 1: The Colour of Magic
book 2: The Light Fantastic
book 3: Sourcery
book 4: Eric
Profile Image for Stefanie.
90 reviews10 followers
May 3, 2016
The problem with Rincewind books is that I really like Rincewind, and Rincewind books tend to have more problematic elements than the other Discworld books, and also the most recycled. This is the worst culprit of Pratchett's rather casual racism (and also the overuse (see: any use at all) of rape jokes--what was with that?).

So I really struggled with whether to give this two or three stars. I felt if I gave it two stars, it would indicate that I didn't like this book at all. Which isn't true! There were lots of great things about this book, except it was tainted by the pervasive use of Asian stereotyping and the rehashing of the typical Rincewind plot. So I added the extra star because of a return of an old character I really liked, the development of that character, and a few new ones (mainly Pretty Butterfly).

So really this is a 2.75 rating (that just feels right, I know I know) rather than a 3. But it is my least favorite of the series so far.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,018 reviews3,436 followers
October 27, 2018
It all starts with the gods playing another game. Because Fate always wins - at least if the other players adhere to the rules. Which his new opponent doesn't. Resulting in a very interesting butterfly effect. ;)

In this 17th Discworld novel Rincewind is returned to Unseen University and makes a deal with Ridcully to go to Discworld's oldest Empire to help them with their current revolution in exchange for being allowed to come back for good and being called a wizzard wizard. Due to the fact that the old Emperor is about to die, the struggle to determine his successor was about to begin, but there were also workers uniting after reading What I did on My Holidays.

This was a marvellous way of coming full circle with the first two ever novels in this series. In fact, it was so nicely done I almost cried.
As those following my reviews know, I'm not too big a fan of the wizzard and still think he needs a strong supporting cast in order for books with him to be compelling. Fortunately, he had just that in this novel in form of good old Conan the Barbarian and his barbarian horde.

Conan, Teach and the other barbarians were marvellous. From the way the horde was trying to have another gloriously volatile and blood-spattering adventure (almost guaranteed considering that the Empire has ninjas and samurai!) to them wanting to learn to be "civilized" in order to adapt to the "modern times" (which is where Teach came in), not to mention Teach's origin story and why he thought he'd fit in nicely with Conan and his bunch () - it was all hilarious and wonderful.
Just like all their raunchy jokes.

In this volume, therefore, we get an Asian empire (part Chinese, part Japanese, which was quite a surprise since there was a certain way I had always pictured Twoflower - probably because of the movie), themes such as oppression, slavery even, revolutions and sacrifices, diplomacy and "civilized ways". As mentioned in this book's blurb, "There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick."

Whenever I read a Discworld novel, it is like putting on my favourite piece of clothing. I feel cozy, warm and at home at once no matter where the respective volume takes us (not least also because of Nigel Planer always narrating the stories greatly and him being a constant by now).
Pratchett's distinct way of combining dark humour, unique characters, sharp social commentary / criticism with a fast-moving adventurous plot is simply marvellous. So while this will never be one of my favourite volumes, I enjoyed every minute of it.
One example: Interesting spin on human psychology and thinking outside the box (or, rather, inside it).

P.S.: Is it possible that Gaiman took the name of one of the Empire's families for one of his characters in American Gods???

P.P.S.: The funniest expression here: "homeopathic warfare": BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

P.P.P.S.: More Luggage(s)!
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,529 reviews979 followers
January 2, 2017


"May you live in interesting times!" is a long established curse on the Counterweight Continent of the Discworld. The Agatean Empire is just heading this way as its aging, demented Emperor is about to die and five noble families who have fought one another for centuries: The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys ( very old established family) and the Fangs gather their armies around the capital city of HungHung in preparation of the war of succession. High above them in the clouds around Hub, the Gods are having a betting game on the outcome, with Fate and Luck throwing the dices. The outcome may turn on the reluctant actions of a Great Wizard from ancient history, one that is prophesized to return and awaken the Red Army of the first Agatean Emperor. A Great Wizard, or a great 'wizzard' ? Now, who on the Discworld is liable to mispell his job description?

Adventure! People talked about the idea as if it was something worthwhile, rather than a mess of bad food, no sleep, and strange people inexplicably trying to stick pointed objects in bits of you.

Rincewind would have none of this adventure business, preferring to remain on the isolated, deserted tropical island where he landed at the end of his last adventure ("Eric"). Not even naked Amazons in search of bed mates could tempt him. I wonder what is the connection in Rincewind's mind between hot babes and mashed potatoes?

He really craved dullness. He'd really liked his island. He'd enjoyed Coconut Surprise. You cracked it open and, hey, there was coconut inside. That was the kind of surprise he liked.

Unfortunatelly for Rincewind, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, and the Arch-Chancellor of the Unseen University, Mustrum Ridcully, decide it is in the interest of international relations to send the great 'wizzard' on a mission to the Agatean Empire. With the help of Hex (Hal's deranged AI cousin built with ants and magick by young wizard Ponder Stibbons) Rincewind is teleported to the other side of the Discworld and right in the middle of 'interesting times'.


Rincewind is probably my least favorite lead character in the Discworld universe. He is a bit of a one-trick pony : a coward who in trying to run away from trouble lands in even deeper s__t, yet manages to save the day by pulling the wrong lever or knocking down the evil overlord just as tries to pull the plug on the world. After reading mostly later issues of the series, it was a bit of a shock to go back to the silly jokes, easy puns and pratfalls that marked the early episodes. The line ""Your wife is a big hippo!" is repeated about twenty times in the text. Please don't get me wrong : even on an off day, Pratchett is still one of the funniest men ever to put pen to paper, but I got used to the more subtle and more far reaching satire of his later novels, not to mention the passion over thorny issues and the deep humanism that characterizes the lead characters of these episodes - Sam vimes, Tiffany Aching, Moist von Lipwig.

With Rincewind doing what he does best (being a coward and running away from trouble: "Luck is my middle name," said Rincewind, indistinctly. "Mind you, my first name is Bad." ), the novel is saved by another recurrent character, one that makes the times 'interesting' whenever he shows up :

This is Ghenghiz Cohen. Doer of mighty deeds. Slayer of dragons. Ravager of cities. He once bought an apple.

Cohen the Barbarian is a hilarious parody of every mighty-thewed barbarian that has infested the sword & sorcery genre since Robert E Howard. Cohen has his own plans for retirement from the heroing business and he is keen on a last heist in the Forbidden City of HungHung, residence of the ailing Agatean emperor. To help him overcome the forty thousand strong garrison of the citadel, not to mention the five hundred thousand strong armies of the five lords (The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys and the Fangs ) surrounding the city, Cohen has put together the Silver Horde - Discworld's answer to the Magnificent Seven francise. The silver in the Horde's title comes from the white hairs of its geriatric heroes - Boy Willie, Mad Hamish ( "Whut? Whut? Whutzeesayin'?" being the whole range of his conversational skills), Truckle the Uncivil, Caleb the Ripper, Old Vincent, Teach. The last one being the brains of the outfit, a former teacher named Ronald Saveloy, who is trying to instill in the Horde some rudiments of civilized behaviour, since your regular barbarian needs brawns not brains.

Self-doubt was not something regularly entertained within the Cohen cranium. When you're trying to carry a struggling temple maiden and a sack of looted temple goods in one hand and fight off half a dozen angry priests with the other there is there is little time for reflection. Natural selection saw to it that professional heroes who at a crucial moment tended to ask themselves questions like "What is my purpose in life?" very quickly lacked both.

The plot is 'interesting' with a lot of plots and twists and surprises, some of them scary, some quite spectacular and funny. The satire part was weaker than usual, with the attempt to use China as a source of inspiration illustrating certain post-colonial insensivities and patronizing atitudes toward the culture - calling its ancient traditions a stale society ready to be plucked by the enterprising adventurer/merchant and launching a lot of barbed arrows at the revolutionary Red Army and its leftist beliefs. The lack of political subtlety is compensated though by the fun of coming across old friends, sometimes in new disguises. 'Disembowel-Meself-Honorably' Dibhala is the Counterweight doppelganger of the infamous Ankh-Morpork street seller 'Cut-Me-Own-Throat' Dibbler. Here are a few cameos from these old friends:

It was a beautiful afternoon. Lord Vetinari was sitting in the palace gardens, watching the butterflies with an expression of mild annoyance. He found something very slightly offensive about the way they just fluttered around enjoying themselves in an unprofitable way.

- - - -

Well, we are wizards. We're supposed to meddle with things we don't understand. If we hung around waitin' till we understood things we'd never get anything done. [Mustrum Ridcully]

- - - -


- - - -

"How about Organdy Sloggo? Still going strong down in Howondaland, last I heard."
"Dead. Metal poisoning."
"Three swords through the stomach."
"Slasher Mungo?"
"Presumed dead in Skund."
"Well, they only found his head."

[Cohen and the Silver Horde discussing old acquaintances in the hero business]

I saved a last quote from Ridcully as an example that even the least favorite characters have a chance to shine and to embrace the wider humanist worldview of the author :

"Don't go around believing that Great Wizards solve all your problems, because there aren't any and they don't and I should know because I'm not one!"


Recommended for fans of the Discworld and series completists.
Profile Image for Carol Rodríguez.
368 reviews24 followers
January 19, 2020
En esta novela Pratchett realiza una sátira de la antigua China, la China del comunismo y la China de la censura; habla de alguien parecido a Gengis Kan y de la naturaleza de la rebelión, así como de algunas costumbres asiáticas en clave de humor. Como era habitual en sus libros más inspirados, no deja títere con cabeza y aprovecha para atacar, sobre todo, a los regímenes dictatoriales y la censura impuesta por ellos.

Confieso que en algunos puntos de la novela me llegué a aburrir un poco, se me hacía algo pesado y absurdo de más, y es que la de Rincewind sigue siendo mi subsaga menos favorita de “Mundodisco”. Otros momentos, sin embargo, me parecieron geniales, muy ácidos y divertidos. En fin, creo que es un libro con el que desarrollé poco antes de la mitad una relación amor/odio (puede que por una cuestión de estado de ánimo), pero en cierto punto, pasado el bache y centrándome en la lectura, le empecé a coger la gracia y al final me quedo con lo positivo. Me parece que es una de esas novelas que va dejando poso y dentro de un tiempo la recordaré y me parecerá mejor.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,206 reviews1,329 followers
November 11, 2020
The 17th Discworld novel sees incompetent wizard Rincewind (in his fifth outing) is sent to the Agatean Empire, clearly a satire on imperial China.
Whilst their he finds himself in various crisis during a political uprising.

I do have a fondness for Rincewind as I opted to read in publication order so Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were by first two Discworld stories.
With throwbacks to them stories it made me realise how little the wizard has featured since the earlier books.

Whilst this instalment had plenty of humorous moments there's a danger of being offensive towards another culture, unfortunately many of the stereotypes haven't aged well - especially the white saviour trope.
Maybe Prachett was going for how China is handled in fantasy or trying to converge the silliness of the earlier books with more pressing topics that had started to feature as the series progressed.
One thing thats quite telling is that Rincewind pretty much takes a backseat from this point on.

There's still plenty of good moments and any Prachett is still an enjoyable read including the trusty hilarious footnotes.
Profile Image for Yulia.
43 reviews5 followers
January 14, 2023
І знов, це були неймовірні пригоди, вже друга книга підциклу про Ринсвільда яку з однієї сторони не хочеться випускати з рук, а з іншої - хочеться розтягувати як на довше.
Цього разу головний герой переноситься до світу наповненого алюзіями та сарказмом до культури сходу, американської мрії, проблем пізнього усвідомлення несправедливості світу та сліпої покори. Так, деяки моменти в книзі звучали дуже знайомо бо, нажаль, і сучасним українцям довелось жити у «Цікаві часи».
Й звісно неперевершений гумор автора допомагав пройти крізь усі пригоди, тож книга попадає до улюблених) і без посмішки я вже, навряд, зможу їсти пюре 😁
Profile Image for Ümit Mutlu.
Author 41 books294 followers
December 27, 2019
Tekrar hoş geldin Rincewind.

Ta Eric’ten beri yoktun zira ortalarda. Aslında, bu uzun yokluk süreci biraz tuhaftı aslında, ne de olsa tüm seri seninle başlamıştı. Sonradan işler biraz değişti tabii; seri salt parodiden ayrılıp hicve kaydı, mesajları ve karakterleri derinleşti, olay örgüleri giriftleşti ve aslında tüm Diskdünya, enikonu genişledi. Senin zamanındaki pek çok şey artık öyle değil mesela. Nicedir yoksun, Ankh-Morpork bile bir hayli gelişti.

Yine de değişmeyen şeyler var tabii. Mesela... Zararına Dibbler ve çokluevrenin her yerindeki yansımaları. Sihirbazların alabildiğine lakaytlıkları. Disk’in büyü alanının müthiş dengesizliği, nüktedanlığı. Ve elbette, Rincewind’in bitmek bilmez seyahatleri.

Bu açıdan bakılınca, Rincewind’in biraz da bir Jules Verne karakteri olduğunu düşünebilirsiniz aslında; sanki Voyages extraordinaires’in tüm karakterleri tekleşip bir araya gelmiş de Rincewind’in ürkek bacaklarına akmış gibi... Rincewind’in bu kitaba dek ziyaret ettiği yerler saymakla bitmez çünkü, ki içlerinde Cehennem’in dibi bile var. (Gerçekten.)

Bu kitapta ise, Diskdünya’nın en gizemli, en dışa kapalı imparatorluğu var: Agatea. Agatea, daha ilk kitapta, Büyünün Rengi’nde adını duyduğumuz bir yer, İkiçiçek’in de memleketi. Elbette bariz bir Uzakdoğu parodisi burası; salt Çin, Japonya ya da Kore falan değil, tümünün (eh, elbette birazcık da oryantalist –ama komik bir oryantalist– bakışla) ele alındığı bir diyar. Çin Seddi de var örneğin, Japon kültürüne ait pek çok unsur da. Ama en baskın olanı, en azından bu kitap özelinde, yönetim türü.

Büyük bir devrim yaklaşıyor. Kıpırdanmalardan belli. Samizdatlar dağılıyor, elden ele geziyor... İnsanlar, Seddin dışında da bir dünya olduğunu artık fark ediyor. Çünkü, tıpkı “Ne mümkün zulm ile bidâd ile imhâ-yı hürriyet / Çalış, idrâki kaldır muktedirsen âdemiyetten” diyen Namık Kemal gibi (lisedeki Edebi Metinler dersi sağ olsun, eheh), ne kadar baskılarsanız baskılayın, gerçekler illa ki sızacak yer bulur kendilerine. Ne Demirperde dayanabilmiştir buna, ne de Kuzey Kore dayanabilecektir.

Her neyse. Büyük devrimin yaklaşıyor olması aslında o kadar da mühim değil, diğer yandan bakınca. Çünkü Rincewind de yaklaşıyor. Cidden. Uçarak. (Ve inişi de yine çarparak oluyor zaten.) Tabii, hızla yaklaşan bir Rincewind’in en büyük sorunu (ya da katkısı), Arzu Film ekolündeki Şener Şen misali ortalığı karıştırıp dağıtmasıdır. Burada da bundan şaşmıyor Rincewind. Ve bu kez, bu sayede, müthiş bir sorgulama başlatıyor.

“Nasıl hem bu kadar iyi niyetli, hem de bu kadar aptal olabiliyorsunuz? Köylüler için yapabileceğiniz en iyi şey, onları rahat bırakmak. Bırakın kendi işlerine baksınlar. Okuma yazma bilen insanlar okuma yazma bilmeyen insanların adına savaşmaya başladığında, sonunda her zaman başka türden bir aptallık geliyor. Onlara yardım etmek istiyorsanız, bir yerlere kocaman bir kütüphane inşa edin ve kapısını da açık bırakın.”

Rincewind devrime değil, evrime inanıyor ve bu, onu benim gözümde hakiki bir kahraman yapıyor. Tarihteki nice büyük devrime inanmadığımdan, onları küçümsediğimden ya da olası devrimleri görmezden geldiğimden değil. Ama biliyorum ki, her zaman ve ancak, evrimleşme yoluyla gerçekleşmiş devrimler kalıcı olabilir.

Her neyse. Politikayla işim yok şu an. Ama Rincewind’in –ve dolayısıyla romanın– bakışı da bu işte. Ve ben bu romanda en çok bunu seviyorum.

Sevdiğim diğer şeylerden biri ise Gümüş Ordu grubu; yani Barbar Cohen ve arkadaşları. Dedelerden oluşan fakat tam anlamıyla eski toprak oldukları için asla yenilmeyen bu harikulade grup, romanın hem en komik, hem de tuhaf şekilde en erdemli diyaloglarına imza atıyorlar:

“Barbarlık ha?” dedi Cohen. “Hah! Biz insan öldürdüğümüzde, bunu orada, o anda, gözlerinin içine bakarak yaparız ve öte dünyada onlara bir içki ısmarlamaya da bir şey demeyiz, hiç sorun değil. Fakat ben, küçük odalarda insanları yavaş yavaş doğrayan, güzel görünsünler diye kadınlara işkence eden veya yemeklerine zehir koyan barbar hiç tanımadım şahsen. Uygarlık mı? Eğer uygarlık buysa, onu... güneşin parlamadığı yerine sokabilirsin!”

Gümüş Ordu’nun, ilerleyen romanlarda tekrar karşımıza çıkacak olması güzel.

Sonuç olarak, İlginç Zamanlar, iki açıdan serinin önemli bir kitabı: İlki Rincewind’in dönüşü sebebiyle, ikincisi ise Sihirbazlar alt serisine bir “büyük roman” kazandırması sayesinde. Evet, İlginç Zamanlar, “büyük” romanlardan biri; Eşit Haklar gibi, Küçük Tanrılar gibi, Asayiş Berkemal gibi.

Son olarak, Görünmez Üniversite söz konusu olduğunda kaçınılmaz olan “akademik eleştirilere” de minik bir örnek vereyim ve bitireyim. Bitirmek istemiyorum ama bitireyim. Evet.

“Görünmez Üniversite’de pek çok şey gerçekleşiyordu ve ne yazık ki eğitim de onlardan biri olmak zorundaydı. Öğretim kadrosu bu gerçekle uzun süre önce yüzleşmişti ve bu durumdan kaçınmak amacıyla yıllar içinde kusursuzlaştırdıkları muhtelif yöntemler vardı. Ama bu hiç sorun değildi, çünkü adil olmak gerekirse, aynı şeyi öğrenciler de yapmıştı.
Sistem pek güzel işliyordu ve bu tür durumlarda hep olduğu gibi artık bir geleneğe dönüşmüştü. Derslerin yapıldığı açıktı, çünkü ders programına açık seçik yazılmışlardı; derslere kimsenin uğramaması ise konuyla tamamen alakasız bir ayrıntıydı. Zaman zaman, bunun aslında derslerin hiç yapılmadığı anlamına geldiğini savunanlar çıkıyordu ama kimse derslere uğramadığından, bunun doğru olup olmadığını bilen de yoktu. Fakat sonuçta, özellikle de Muğlak Düşünce araştırmacıları tarafından, derslerin, özünde yapıldıkları öne sürülüyordu. Yani hiç sorun yoktu.
Dolayısıyla, Üniversite genellikle kadim üniversite yöntemleriyle çalışıyordu: bir sürü genci bir sürü kitabın yakınına koymak ve birinden diğerine birtakım aktarımlar olacağını ummak. Ve bu esnada, söz konusu gençler, tam olarak aynı umutla, barların ve meyhanelerin civarında dolanıyordu...”
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,813 reviews316 followers
August 22, 2015
Rincewind in China
22 August 2015

When my friend leant me this book he simply said 'Rincewind' at which I rolled my eyes. I must say that Rincewind is certainly not my favourite Discworld character, even though some of the books in which he has starred have been quite good. However I wasn't really expecting anything all that much to come from this book, even though it is one of the Discworld novels and I am slowly making my way through each of them (and it was also a bit of a time out from some of the heavier novels that I have read).

It turned out that it was a good thing that I didn't expect all that much from this book because if you aren't expecting all that much then it is really easy to exceed those expectations. In fact I really enjoyed this book, and even Rincewind was quite cool, especially when you appreciate the nature of his character (namely that his main rule of survival is to run away as fast as possible, and that a boring life is a good life because a boring life means that your lifespan is inevitably going to be much longer).

This time Pratchett takes us to China, or at least Discworld's equivalent of China – the Agatean Empire. This was a little odd because with the first book the suggestion was that the Agatean Empire was in fact Japan (in which Pratchett was poking fun at the stereotypical Japanese Tourist – Twoflower). However, it now turns out that it is China and that people weren't supposed to actually leave the country and visit the world on the other side of the wall. In fact the powers that be discourage that simply by telling everybody that there is nothing behind the wall except demons and ghosts.

Thus therein lies the problem. Not only did Twoflower leave but when he returned he wrote a book called 'What I did on my Holidays'. Sure, it sound's like some primary school essay, but I am sure that primary school essays have managed to morph themselves into revolutionary documents. Actually, there have been countless numbers of books that have morphed themselves into revolutionary documents, despite the author having no intention beyond simply writing a fascinating story.

The other issue is that the emperor is dying, which means that there is an opening for a new emperor. Sure, the Emperor should have an heir, but that doesn't seem to be the case here, and even if he did having an heir does not necessarily mean that that heir is going to become emperor, namely because there is some other guy who wants that title – Lord Hong. As one can expect from a farcical comedy, nothing seems to go right for poor Hong. Sure, he manages to kill the emperor, but before he can take the title as his own he suddenly discovers that somebody has beaten him to the punch – Cohen the Barbarian, or as we find out – Genghiz Cohen.

Cohen the Barbarian

If there is one thing that I absolutely loved about this book it has to be the Silver Horde (which is a play on the Golden Horde, otherwise known as the Mongals). Here we have a handful of old men, who happen to be barbarians, sneaking into the city to steal the throne of the empire. Sure, most people expect old men to be weak and frail, but that would be a huge mistake when approaching the Silver Horde. In fact at one point the end up beating up a room full of ninja.

I also quite liked the idea of the wall. We all think that the Great Wall of China was built to keep the Mongal Hordes out (and good job it did to – NOT), however Pratchett suggests that that is not the case – it is designed to keep the people inside. We can't have plebs leaving the country, learning new ideas, such as rebellion, and then bringing it back and corrupting people – they've already had a problem with one person doing that. Anyway, as Cohen says, how is a wall going to stop a horde of barbarians? They ain't going to get there, see the wall, and decide that it is all too hard and go home again. No, they are going to take wood from all the trees lying around and then build ladders so they can climb over it.

This whole thing about keeping the people in made me think about China back when it was written. Back then you hardly had any Chinese travelling abroad – these days you have heaps. I was sort of wandering whether Pratchett was having a dig at some of these closed countries, though prior to the 19th Century China was a pretty closed country and many of the peasants were intentionally kept ignorant so as not to upset the balance (apparently the Chinese Script was invented to make it really hard for the general populace to become literate). Still, I'm not sure if you are meant to think too deeply with a Terry Pratchett book (though then again it is satire, so I am probably wrong), but then again it is something that I do enjoy doing.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
813 reviews138 followers
March 15, 2021
This book (Corgi paperback edition, 1995) contains one of my favorite front-of-book review blurbs ever:
'A complete amateur . . . doesn't even write in chapters . . . hasn't a clue.'
-Tom Paulin, on BBC 2's Late Review
I love the subversiveness of this inclusion now as much as over two decades ago when I first saw it.

Rincewind is few people's favorite Discworld character but I enjoy him a lot on my current series re-read. His intelligent approach to cowardice is always welcome. He makes a great anti-hero and foil for fantasy and adventure tropes. The Luggage makes only a minor appearance here, while Cohen the barbarian, also part of Rincewind's frequent entourage, is a significant part of this adventure. No longer merely a mis-naming of Conan, he is now also a mis-naming of Khan.

The story is largely a direct sequel to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, with the caveat that Rincewind's starting position varies wildly with each adventure and the faculty of Unseen University has solidified and matured since our favorite "wizzard"'s last appearance. Events conspire to land Rincewind on the counterweight continent, in the Agatean empire (as an alternative to Jade, much more colourful), where the Disc's first tourist, Twoflower, originated. Rincewind and others find themselves embroiled in the social upheaval brought about by the revolutionary essay, "What I did on my vacation."

The plotting was particularly strong for a Discworld novel, which can meander even at their best. I think it was the singular most cohesive story yet in the series. The biggest drags on the book are the frequent appeals to Western stereotypes of China, and the extremely cringey light rape-based humor. These don't stand well AT ALL and they shouldn't have in 1995 either. The recurring premise is, isn't it hilarious that he's too old to get it up so he can't rape with his pillaging any more? Pratchett is incredibly thoughtful about many matters, but not so much here.
Profile Image for Hymerka.
609 reviews102 followers
December 26, 2022
Кажуть, там дуже нудно. Очевидно, їхнє найбільше прокляття — "Щоб ти жив у цікаві часи!"

Цьогоріч мені Миколай уже традиційно приніс нових пратчеттів, і це перша ціла книжка, яку я прочитала з лютого, спишемо це на магію сера Теренса.

Здається, я готова помаленьку читати, а от щодо написання відгуків поки не знаю, тож коротенько: це книжка про дискосвітню версію Китаю, а точніше про те, як цей дивний екзотичний Китай бачать умовні європейці. Ринсвінд так само чудується незвичним для нього традиціям і культурі і дивно тішиться, коли йому щось нагадує про дім (як-от вуличний продавець їжі). Тут багато Коена і його ватаги і, здається (виправте мене, якщо я помиляюсь), це перша книжка, де вони виходять на перший план (у мене з ними асоціюється найперше ілюстрована The Last Hero, яка ще не перекладена українською).

У цьому томі мені було якось особливо жалько Ринсвінда, він наче той вуличний пес, який у своєму житті пізнав самі штурхани і копняки, аж хочеться, щоб автор нарешті відпустив його на відпочинок.

Відсутність переслідування — не причина припинити втечу.

— Але… ну гаразд… а як же постійні злидні, жахливі небезпеки, щоденний ризик смерті…
— О, ти теж вчителював?

Чотири Вершники, поява яких передвіщає кінець світу, відомі під іменами Смерть, Війна, Голод і Чума. Але й менш значущі події мають своїх Вершників. Наприклад, Чотири Вершники Звичайної Застуди — це Кашель, Соплі, Ломота та Нестача Хустинок; Чотири Вершники, які з'являються перед святковими днями, — Гроза, Буревій, Сльота й Сум'яття.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,773 reviews1,773 followers
January 22, 2018
One of the worst curses you can fling at a Discworld character is “May you live in interesting times,” hence the title of the book.

But aside from it’s promising title, the 17th Discworld book was a bit of a letdown after the fitting soulful musings of Soul Music, but it almost made up for it in sheer volume of jokes and witticisms alone. I wanted to quote something practically every other page. The perfect Discworld book is funny, biting, and deep-hitting. This one was mostly just amusing, although it did have some in-world continuity to fall back on that gave it a little extra oomph.

Although it can be read on its own, Interesting Times is a Rincewind book, and in many ways it’s actually a direct sequel to the very first Discworld books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. We first met Rincewind and the flat disc of a world he lives on (carried around space by four giant elephants perched on the back of an even more giant turtle) when he is shanghaied into playing guide to a hapless tourist named Twoflower from the faraway Counterweight Continent. The two of them have many ridiculous adventures together, which mostly consist of Twoflower being delighted by everything, including and most especially when his life is in danger, and Rincewind being inept and terrified by it all, but somehow stumbling through and saving the day anyway. Interesting Times turns the tables and finds Rincewind an unexpected tourist on the Counterweight Continent, only it seems he’s been called there because Revolution is brewing, and Twoflower’s tales of his adventures in Ankh-Morpork and beyond (which he wrote up and titled “What I Did on My Summer Holidays”) have lent him the moniker The Great Wizard. The people want him to help them overthrow their cruel Empire, a task for which he is monumentally unfit.

There’s also some stuff with The Luggage and a group of old, old men (like, SERIOUSLY old) led by Cohen the Barbarian who are also in the country to do nefarious things to the Empire. The joke with them is mostly that they’re so old you’d think they’d be incompetent but they are still the most deadly people in the room, even the one in the wheel chair, and there’s this whole thing about them trying to learn to be “civilized.” It mostly all works.

The ending felt a little too coincidental for me, and again, it was mostly all surface level humor (although still very funny), so it’s definitely not one of my favorites in this series, but still a good read. What this book lacks in plotting and such it makes up for in enthusiasm and jokes about really old mangy men.

[3.5 stars]
Profile Image for Victoria Unizhona.
89 reviews7 followers
December 26, 2022
Пратчетт для мене один з улюблених авторів, бо беручи будь-яку книжку з всесвіту Дискосвіту я впевнена, що знайду саме те, що шукаю. Це і чудовий гумор, сюжет, відсилки та атмосферу. Окрема похвала Видавництво Старого Лева, які регулярно видають нові і нові твори у хорошому оформленні і з майстерним перекладом.

Цікаві часи - це п'ята книга з підциклу про Ринсвінда, чарівника-невдаху, який завжди знаходить пригоди собі на голову. Ця книга сильно відгукується з першою з циклу - Колір магії. Ми знову зустрічаємося з Двоцвітом і з головним героєм потрапляємо на Противажний континент - домівку славнозвісного мандрівника - та зустрічаємо ще багатьох неординарних персонажів. Там зараз ой як весело - імператор на порозі смерті і впливові родини тільки і чекають можливості зайняти трон. Добавте до цього міксу ще пристарілих варварів, чарівників та дрібку магії і вийде неймовірна суміш.

Сама назва має цікаве походження. Імовірно словосполучення частина китайського побажання .“Щоб ви жили у цікаві часи!”. І ні - це не хороше побажання. Бо саме такі часи - повні нестабільності, смертей і інших нових досвідів.Навіть Ринсвінд говорить, що хоче жити у нудні часи - де він не потраплятиме в пригоди на межі життя і смерті так часто.

Весь сюжет крутиться навколо імперії і її негативних сторін. Автор вдало зумів відіслатися на імперський Китай (за деякими теоріями Японію) і показати всі його особиливості. Зважаючи на наш контекст сьогодення, дуже легко побачити і росію у всьому цьому наративі

Начальників, які тільки і роблять, що ховаються і віддають накази -

Я не раз зустрічав людей, які балякають про жертви заради загального блага. Але самі вони нічим не жертвують! Ви чуєте, як хтось кричить “Вперед, хоробрі товариші!”, однак потім помічаєте, що він ховається за бісовою скелею і єдиний носить стійкий до стріл шолом!

І про імператорів

Раніше імператори не були жорстокими клоунами, перебувати біля яких було так само безпечно, як на мілині в шлюбний сезон крокодилів. Не завжди при смерті імператора відбувалася громадянська війна. Воєначальники не мали повноважень керувати країною. Люди мали не лише обовязки, але й права.

І про слабкість та жалюгідність опозиції, яка не тільки не знає, що хочуть прості люди, а ще й як взагалі виборювати свої права - коли плакатами і піснями тільки розсмішиш владу (в сучасному варіанті - водіння хороводів і плакати навіть не з закликами, а з зірочками…)

Де влада, оточила країну стіною і говорить, що там за нею жахи і привиди та і взагалі нічого живого нема.

Де люди з рабською психологією, не те, що не думають про свободу, але й не знають, що з нею робити.

Де брехня і правда - дуже розмиті поняття і часто існують одночасно.

Загалом дуже багато відсилок, всіх і не згадати, але їхня влучність і багатозначність - неймовірні. Вміє Пратчетт через сатиру і іронію передати проблематику.

Цікавий нюанс, що читаючи, я поверталася до попередніх сторінок і знаходила звязок і нові значення - тому однозначно вартуватиме перечитування.

Дуже рекомендую познайомитися з Пратчеттом - він справжній митець створювати неймовірні світи і гратися з сенсами.
Profile Image for Matt.
642 reviews
April 13, 2016
Discworld’s Counterweight Continent is explored for the first time in the series as author Terry Pratchett sends the inept wizard Rincewind to the walled off landmass where he meets up with some old friends in a reunion of the series’ first two books.

The Discworld’s version of China & Japan is the Agatean Empire, a mysterious place which only the rest of the Discworld can speculate about, sends a message to Ankh-Morpork for the ‘Great Wizzard’. After several uses of magical quantum mechanics transportation and threats Rincewind finds himself in the middle of a battlefield as the five warlord families are preparing for the succession war upon the Emperor’s death. Unfortunately for Rincewind he finds himself the focus of the rebellious Red Army as well as Lord Hong, who is secretly funding the rebels as part of his plan to conquer Ankh-Morpork once he is Emperor. Along with Rincewind return to prominence is Cohen the Barbarian and Twoflower, though the former’s story arc is bigger and best secondary plot of the book while the latter’s two daughters are part of the Red Army’s leadership. And despite his best efforts Rincewind is always in the center of the action as he is unknowingly the favorite ‘pawn’ of The Lady in her game against Fate.

The return of Rincewind and Cohen after so long being written about is a welcoming development in ‘Interesting Times’ and Pratchett seems to enjoy allowing his first protagonist to suffer the excitement of grand adventures, especially after seeing where Rincewind finds himself at the end of the book.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews227 followers
November 25, 2018
Part of the Pratchett reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2018.

Rincewind gets recruited by Mustrum Ridcully and the faculty of Unseen University to go to the Counterweight Continent and the country of the Agatean Empire, Discworld's version of China (with quite a few Japanese bits). The Agatean Empire is experiencing a period of unrest with the Emperor about to die and the county's warlords gathering to determine who the next Emperor will be. There is, of course, a Grand Vizier called Lord Hong, who's up to his neck in plotting. There's also the Red Army, a group of rebels inspired by the book "What I Did On My Holidays" whose unknown author refers to events in far-off Ankh-Morpork and his travels with the Great Wizzard. Oh, and the whole place is about to be invaded by the Silver Horde of barbarians led by Genghis Cohen.

There's some important milestones here, particularly with the naming of Hex and its introduction as a sentient magical machine. It's also great to have Rincewind and the events of the very early Discworld novels integrated with the mostly separate Unseen University faculty cast that was established and continued from Reaper Man. But for me the highlight of the book was the Silver Horde and the return of Cohen the Barbarian, complete with his fantastic group of geriatric warriors.
Profile Image for Juho Pohjalainen.
Author 5 books282 followers
October 11, 2019
With the first couple Discworld books, Pratchett was still looking for his own place in the world and trying to figure out what kind of stories he wanted to write about at all. They ended up rather different, far less honed, less cohesive, and plain weirder than the later books - but they still had their own special charm in them, something to like about them.

Interesting Times is the best of both worlds: it's a throwback to those first two books, while at the same time fitting the more refined and developed structure of the later books. It finds just the right tone between hilarious and dramatic, hitting both without either of them getting in each other's way. And Cohen and Twoflower were both some of my favourite characters in the books.

It's not the absolute best in my books, Discworld-wise, but it ranks pretty high up there.
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews331 followers
August 10, 2015
Essentially this is silly, racist and obvious, a typical Rincewind book really. But to counter that you have a lot of fun with Cohen the Barbarian and to counter that you have and old man in a wheelchair whose sole purpose for being in the novel is to shout "What?!" to everything. Because he's deaf you see. Yeah it's that kind of Discworld book.
Profile Image for Crispitina30.
315 reviews40 followers
October 18, 2016
Este libro me ha emocionado, destrozado y hecho reír a partes iguales.

Considero al señor Pratchett un maestro no sólo por su ingenioso sentido del humor y su amplia imaginación, sino por su capacidad de narrar historias que, además de sacarte varias carcajadas, te hacen reflexionar sobre la vida.

En esta novela del Mundodisco (la quinta de la Saga de los Magos o Saga Rincewind), nuestro querido Rincewind se ve envuelto en esta ocasión en una aventura desarrollada en el Imperio Ágata. Al parecer, un diario titulado Lo que hice en mis vacaciones es tomado erróneamente como un panfleto revolucionario, y esto ha hecho sacudir el imperio y a su gente a niveles insospechados.

A pesar de tratarse de Pratchett, la trama se desarrolla muy bien y de forma bastante clara prácticamente desde el principio, y las cosas no ocurren exactamente como uno se las espera. De hecho, hay bastantes giros argumentales y muchas sorpresas. Nos reencontramos con Cohen el Bárbaro y conocemos a la Horda de Plata, un grupo de bárbaros entrados en años que no se cortan un pelo (del poco que les queda, claro) en hacer las cosas a su estilo; y con Dosflores, mi personaje favorito de todo Mundodisco.

En cuanto a las sorpresas que he mencionado antes, una de ellas involucra a este hombrecillo: se descubren cosas de su vida y su pasado que te hacen quererlo aún más. Ocurre lo mismo con Rincewind, por quien cada vez siento más simpatía y comprendo mejor las razones de su comportamiento y forma de ser. A estas alturas, podría decirse que considero a Rincewind uno de mis mejores amigos literarios .

Todas estas sorpresas contribuyen al factor emotivo y de reflexión del que hablaba en el principio de la reseña. Momentos en los que no puedes más y comienzas a preguntarte por qué la gente deposita su confianza en ti, si eres un desastre. Momentos en los que te cuestionas qué significa realmente la vejez. Momentos en los que quieres hacer entender a los demás el porqué de tu lucha, aunque parezca en vano y haya pocas posibilidades de victoria. Momentos en los que todo parece estar perdido, y quedas sólo tú.

El libro ha tenido un ritmo bastante constante, pero las últimas 150-100 páginas han acumulado toda esta catarsis emocional. Sin embargo, este desplome de emociones se ve excelentemente compensado por el inconfundible y siempre presente humor de Pratchett.

—Esto es descabellado, lo sé —dijo el tesorero en tono jovial.
—¿El qué? —preguntó el conferenciante de runas antiguas.
—Esta parte de la cabeza donde se me está cayendo el pelo.

Y esto sólo es un fragmento de las dosis de risa que os esperan.

Por último, ya sólo me queda destacar las múltiples referencias a la cultura oriental para plasmar el imperio agateano, y la crítica que hace el señor Pratchett en lo que respecta a su forma de gobierno.

Y el final…abierto, como de costumbre. Y desconcertante.

Termino esta reseña muy contenta y emocionada por todo lo que me ha aportado esta lectura. Mundodisco tiene tantos libros que es imposible que todos me gusten por igual, pero de este me llevo un maravilloso recuerdo y una lección de vida que estoy segura que no olvidaré.

Una vez más, gracias, maestro Pratchett.
Profile Image for Tanya.
500 reviews271 followers
April 13, 2021
I have a really hard time reviewing Discworld books, so this will be short. Once I'm through reading them chronologically, I think I'll start over and go by sub-series, because I'm clearly having trouble remembering characters from one sub-series-book to the next (I spent a good chunk of the book thinking "who the fuck is Twoflower?").

The Rincewind novels are without a doubt my least favorite—he's just not an engaging protagonist. Everything that happens to him, happens passively and as an accident / result of his bad luck; he spends every single book trying to get away from the action. Which would be entertaining if he were a secondary character, but is mostly kinda infuriating because he isn't. His books are also the ones where the shitty Pratchett jokes usually come forth (i.e. the mildly racist/sexist and rapey ones). There was one in particular in this one that really made me cringe. Why, Terry?

With that said, this was overall one of the more enjoyable Rincewind novels, where I actually didn't mind his aversion to adventure at all—mainly because it was juxtaposed to Cohen and his elderly Barbarian Horde. I really enjoyed the socio-political aspects of this one as well, but found it a bit disjointed. The Luggage, for instance: it was clear that he didn't have a place for it in the main narrative, but couldn't just leave it out, so came up with a tiny, silly sub-plot. Then again, there were some jokes that made me laugh out loud to the point that I had to put the book down (the pig Latin spell and the bit about oral sex come to mind).


My other reviews for the Rincewind / Unseen University Wizards sub-series:
1: The Colour of Magic · ★★
2: The Light Fantastic · ★★★
3: Sourcery · ★★★★
4: Eric · ★★★
5: Interesting Times · ★★★
6: The Last Continent · ★★★
7: The Last Hero
8: Unseen Academicals

All my reviews for the Discworld series in publication order (work in progress):
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,022 followers
September 15, 2023
Trigger warnings: racial stereotypes, racism, death, murder, xenophobia, mentions of rape, mentions of slavery, violence, war

Yeah, I think I'm going to have to disagree with my past self's assessment that this was a tiny bit racist because it's more like a hell of a lot racist at times. Yes, it's a product of its time. But I think the part I struggled with the most was the fact that it's a mishmash of different Asian countries actual histories, mostly Japan and China. And at times it felt so much like China that then it would completely throw me when sumo wrestlers were mentioned.

Honestly, what I enjoyed most this time around was Mr Saveloy, the former teacher. Because as someone working in education? ACCURATE. (I also liked the idea of The Luggage with little baby luggages, although the reality of it somewhat gives me the ick)

On the whole, the Rincewind books are probably my least favourite subset of the Discworld series (with the exception of The Lost Continent, obviously). And it's been years since I'd read this one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Rincewind still annoys me as a character and there were some "uhhh, that's a tiny bit racist" moments in it because it's now 20-odd years old, on the whole this one was fairly enjoyable.

It features Rincewind going to the Counterweight Continent, where Twoflower has been thrown in jail for distributing copies of his book about what he saw in Ankh-Morpork, which allowed the population to see how oppressed they've been blah blah blah.

Overall, it was fairly enjoyable and I'm glad I finally reread it. But I can probably go another five years or so before I reread this one, I suspect.
Profile Image for Sonia.
309 reviews99 followers
February 5, 2017
Todo lo que vaya a decir a partir de ahora está influenciado por el hecho de que sigo leyendo la saga de los magos de MundoDisco sin que acabe de gustarme, simplemente por terminarla, para luego empezar otra a la espera de que quizás esta acabe siendo de mi agrado.
Reconozco la maestría del autor para la ironía, su imaginación desbordante y su capacidad de parodia, capaz de abarcar a toda una sociedad o la idea tan limitada que podamos tener de ella pero estas historias no pasan para mí de entretenidillas. Les falta complejidad y profundidad y cuando se llevan unos cuantos libros del mismo palo, algunos personajes, por persistentes, acaban cansando.
Lo mejor en este caso de Tiempos interesantes es la hilarante cuadrilla de los bárbaros a la que he disfrutado más que al propio Rincewind.
Dentro de la línea general de la saga, es este un buen libro, que seguro que los fans de Terry Pratchett van a disfrutar. Se nota que el autor, llegados a este punto, ya tenía unos cuantos de ellos a sus espaldas y ha perfeccionado el estilo. En mi caso sin embargo, estos libros siguen dejándome bastante tibia. Quizás tengan razón aquellos que me dicen lo de: es que están mejor los de la guardia, o las brujas o la muerte. Ya veremos.
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