Laurie's Reviews > Sourcery

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
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Feb 15, 2011

it was amazing

No, that title isn’t a misspelling. It’s one of Pratchett’s plays on words that he’s so fond of. Because in this book – which was the fifth Discworld novel- sourcery is when magic goes beyond wizardry and taps into the very source of magic- raw power that ordinary wizards can’t touch.

‘Sourcery’ takes on sword and sorcery fantasies, taking satirical swipes at pretty much all the big ones- Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Fantasia, The Tempest, Conan the Barbarian, 1001 Nights, Fafhrd and Grey Mouser- with a few bits from Omar Khayyam, Kublai Khan and Casablanca along the way. But unlike many satires, this is also a great story.

When the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son is born, he is not just a wizard but a sourcerer. His father, who was fated to die shortly after the child’s birth, tricks Death by becoming a part of the wizard’s staff he gives to his infant son, which allows him to control his son and the power he wields. Father isn’t completely sane, and his aim is to destroy the Unseen University and its wizards- and the world. He puts this action into motion when the boy is 10, thinking it’s going to be an easy thing. But he hasn’t counted on the inept wizard Rincewind and his sentient pearwood Luggage, the Unseen University’s orangutan librarian, a wizard’s hat, the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian’s daughter, a would be adventurer who is learning adventuring from a book, and a genie who doesn’t follow the usual genie pattern.

While all these characters are funny, not one of them is flat or there just for a single joke. They are all interesting people who have backstory and dimension, people who we come to care about. And while the events of the prospective end of the world happen in a ridiculous fashion, the threat and danger is real. It’s not an easy task to make a satire that incorporates these things. One of my favorite Discworld novels so far- other than the Tiffany Aching ones, of course.
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February 15, 2011 – Shelved
February 15, 2011 – Finished Reading

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David Sarkies I like how the characters are developed in the Discworld novels and not, as you suggest, one joke wonders. You are right that Pratchett's characters are certainly not flat (even though some are a little annoying).

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