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Interesting Times

(Discworld #17)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  41,832 ratings  ·  1,063 reviews
'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law'

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. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What
Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 4th 1998 by HarperTorch (first published November 1994)
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  41,832 ratings  ·  1,063 reviews

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Start your review of Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5)
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2018-shelf, humor
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
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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 ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)


"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
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!
David Sarkies
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love Pratchett (and those who don't)
Recommended to David by: Stewart Wymer
Shelves: comedy
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 o
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, altho
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humor
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
Mar 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: do-not-read

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 t
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, fantasy, 2015-reads
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 tra
Juho Pohjalainen
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 a
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantastical, funny
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.
3.5 stars.

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 Contine
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, pratchett, humor
There is a saying, often attributed to the Chinese - "May you live in interesting times." Usually when this is invoked, it's done so as a curse, the idea being that interesting times are more likely to cause you trouble than nice boring times, and perhaps that's true. The folks in Baghdad, for example, are certainly living in interesting times right now. The trouble is that not everybody is able to stay alive to enjoy them.

That's one of the problems with life as we know it - we long for things t
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, own-ebook, fantasy
Rincewind and Cohen The Barbarian with his geriatric barbarian Horde bring some interesting times to China, eh, sorry, the Counterweight Continent. We got a Red Army consisting of children, later of terracotta, eunuchs, the collision of barbarianism and civilization (civilization does not fare well in the comparison), and a deep criticism of regimes that so successfully oppress that they do not even need whips any more.

I am not a big fan of Rincewind, but after a few reads and re-reads he has g
Short version? Pratchett tries to return to his earlier style with the lessons he's learnt along the way. This starts out promisingly. Unfortunately then he tries to combine that earlier, sillier style with multiple serious political discussions and several unrelated books, all in a setting that is, to put it mildly, culturally insensitive. It doesn't work.

There are some great lines, but by and large it's just too dull and despite its good qualities it outstays its welcome (50 pages of long, dra
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humour
I hate writing this about a Terry Pratchett book but frankly this is really not one of his best. It almost became a "dnf" though the end was quite entertaining.

Having devoured the series from one it started and waited for each year's book I sort of drifted off probably a book or two before this one. Reading this suggests I was right! What is remarkable is just how good his writing became again later on. The Tiffany Aching books are among the best he wrote (IMHO). This one doesn't really bear com
Wiebke (1book1review)
This was such a great trip, hanging out with Rincewind and Twoflower again, seeing Cohen take over an empire and thinking about revolutions.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mighty Battles! Revolution! Death! War! (and his sons Terror and Panic, and daughter Clancy)!

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 n
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting Times is from the Rincewind subseries of Discworld. It’s been quite a few books since I’ve seen Rincewind, so it was fun to see him again. He always makes me laugh.

If you’ve read the earlier books, you may remember that Rincewind once had some adventures with Twoflower, a visitor from the Counterweight continent. In this book Rincewind finds himself, quite against his will of course, dropping in on the Counterweight continent and getting caught up in a revolution.

It was a lot of fu
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, humour
I rarely think of rereading this particular discworld book - not for any reason I can guess. My kids started reading this one aloud and sucked me right into it, and I am very glad. It is a truely delightful book, although we all tend to moan a bit about the awful things that Terry Pratchett came up with to keep doing to Rincewind.
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Yay for seeing Twoflower again! And any story with Cohen tends to be funny. I wish Lord Hong had been less one-dimensional though: his whole character revolved around "I can do everything better than everyone else." That gets boring very quickly. I would have loved to see him interact with Vetinari, since he held him in such high regard.
While Death only has a very small bit in this book, I still loved this one. Fate playing games with the others at the beginning is a great bit and there is lots to love in Cohen the Barbarian.

I am saddened that after having finished this one, I only have fourteen Discworld books that I have not read now.

Four stars.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't think I'd read this one before but I loved it. Though it's hard not to love a story with Rincewind in it!
Alfred Haplo
Interesting Times is my best Rincewind book to-date *, which is bizarre to contemplate. In recalling my past impressions of Rincewind’s character, something struck me at once. I no longer feel irked but indifferent by DiscWorld’s resident irritant and craven wizard, now relegated to necessary evil status. His is a character so entrenched with fans that changing anything about his personality might result in revolt. Instead, his surroundings are changed around him, with best wishes to everyone el ...more
There's a sense here that Pratchett is struggling to fit Rincewind's default 'live to run another day' ethos into his more developed mode of story telling. It worked (for a given value of 'worked') for picaresque adventures like The Colour of Magic or the Light Fantastic, where the point was getting from one piss-take of fantasy cliches to another as quickly as possible. By this point though the Discworld books had become vehicles for Pratchett to explore moral or political questions from a cock ...more
Simcha Wood
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose I'm just not much of a Rincewind fan, as the Discworld books in which he features are not among my favorites in the series. Interesting Times is one of the better Rincewind books (second only to Sourcery , but it doesn't quite keep up with the strong run of books that began with Witches Abroad .

Pratchett's storytelling skills and his sense of humor are both considerably sharper now than when he wrote the early Rincewind books, and even some of his sense of satire makes it in to I
I really enjoyed this book if Terry Pratchett. His humor is brilliant! I have read the colour of magic only, but at least I knew the basic characters. I love Rincewind and the Horde is amazing. I should read a bit more of the discworld for sure.
Ahmad Sharabiani
Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5), Terry Pratchett
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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, i

Other books in the series

Discworld (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Death, #1; Discworld, #4)
  • Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
  • Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)
  • Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)
  • Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10; Industrial Revolution, #1)

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“There is a curse.
They say:
May you live in interesting times.”
More quotes…