Friday, April 20, 2012
Book Review: The Colour of Magic (A Discworld Novel) by Terry Pratchett
From Goodreads.com: "On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out.
"There's an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet..."
As the series title states, this fancifully absurd world exists as a flat disc, which rests on top of four elephants who are in turn on top of a turtle, while the gods play dice to decide the occupants' fates. Scientists and philosophers strive to figure out the hows and whys of the world (for example, the all-important question of the sex of the giant turtle), and Rincewind the wizard and Twoflower the world's-very-first tourist are repeatedly caught in the middle. They survive bar fights, dragon flights, magic spells, fires, and shipwrecks, and the action really never stops. And the sapient luggage is their friend, is full of gold, and eats bad guys, so, there's that.
I really enjoyed this book. The writing was very clever and made me giggle several times; but it was a little too far on the absurd side for me to love it. I will say that the style grew on me though as the book progressed. I have not read the rest of the series, but if I find out that it does not turn into the silliness that Hitchhiker's Guide (which this writing style very much reminds me of) turned into as its series progressed, I probably will. Another small complaint is the ever-present misogyny that the male, British, 20th-century authors whom I've read all seem to have, presented as a severe lack of female characters other than mainly as sex objects. I believe that, among all of the multitude of characters the heroes encounter, there were three women in this book. One is a dangerous, unpredictable goddess ("Luck") who's rarely present but admittedly powerful; one a naked dryad; and the last a dragon-warrior princess who wears very little and whose sole goal is to find a husband. However, it really only grated on me when these characters were present, and since they weren't present for very much of the book, I could ignore it and enjoy the rest of the story.
All in all, a good book and a talented author.
I also recommend the movie of the same name with Sean Astin and Tim Curry, which I believe combines this book and the next in the series (since the story goes a little bit beyond what I read in Color of Magic). The movie captures the feel of the book very well. It's a little long (something like 3 hours 20 minutes), but it's worth it.