The Colour of Magic: Terry Pratchett

Ruby and I have frequent quality daughter/daddy time on an evening. We both love books and read together when we can. We’ve read all the Harry Potter books, The Hobbit, and loads of other kids’ books and now we have embarked on our biggest book series yet: all of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett.

The idea was to do them in order but we didn’t actually decide this until we’d already read The Last Hero (illustrated edition), and Going Postal (hardback edition). I’ve already read most of the series, so this is going to be a fantastic way of re-reading the whole thing. I’m intending on writing a review after each too, although I think we all know how good I am at keeping to writing projects.

So, the review: let me type some words about this book.

Terry Pratchett’s wife must have thought he was on drugs when he initially thought up the concept of the Discworld. A disc-shaped world travelling through space, supported by four elephants on the back of a gigantic turtle? That’s just a bit on the far side of absurd isn’t it?

It is indeed thoroughly eccentric and very silly, but the storytelling in Pratchett’s books is always grounded in (our) reality. The best of the Discworld novels all have something to say about us, and while The Colour of Magic doesn’t dig quite as far into the human condition as later books it does provide for a very engaging and amusing read.

The Colour of Magic
The Colour of Magic

Rincewind is a failed Magician and the ‘hero’ of our story. He is the ultimate survivor with the knack of always knowing which direction is best for running away. He is joined in the four adventures in this book by Twoflower – a tourist from the other side of the disc – and his sapient (and very grumpy) luggage.

Rincewind and Twoflower find themselves at odds with Fate, who seems inclined to precipitate their deaths. Fate, it turns out, is a bit of an arsehole. This is the thread that leads us through four separate, but linked, tales around the Discworld.

We meet many interesting characters on the way, and are introduced to many a landmark that we know and love from the series. My favourite places in this book are the Broken Drum, the Circumfence and the Wyrmberg. Pratchett’s imagination has gone wild in some of these locations, and while many of the details of Ankh-Morpork are yet to be fleshed out there’s some impressive world-building going on in what is a fairly short fantasy novel.

The action is slick, the jokes come along at a good rate, and this is a really good introduction to the whole series. While you could jump in elsewhere – or even read these books in any order – there’s satisfaction to be gained by reading them in the order they were released. Some of language is a bit fruity for younger readers (‘whore’ is used a few times – plus a description of libido that set of a very uncomfortable conversation with my ten year-old – and a use of ‘piss off’) but Ruby found the whole book to be a fascinating, funny, silly adventure.

The Colour of Magic finishes on a bit of a (literal) cliff-hanger & I have already sourced the next book (The Light Fantastic) from my local librarian – my mate Luke over the road. He’s got all the books, while I seem to have mislaid most of mine. Bring on the next one!