Thursday, February 3, 2011
Review: The Color of Magic
However, I had heard Discworld mentioned lots of times before as a funny Douglas Adams-y take on fantasy and even caught part of the film Hogfather one day on TV.
So I was intrigued and checked out my library's e-book version of the first novel in the series, The Color (or Colour, if you're British) of Magic.
The Plot in a Sentence or two:
The sort of, kind of, but not really a full wizard, Rincewind, is paid by the fiscally frivolous Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist, to show him around. Along for the ride is Luggage a sentient chest that has dozens of little legs and sometimes teeth and Hrun the Barbarian who can use two syllable words when he thinks about it. They go through lots of adventures, cheating Death along the way (who really has had it up to here with Rincewind) with the help of the Lady (whose name starts with L, is fond of gambling, and disappears when you acknowledge her).
What I liked:
Pratchett has a great sense of humor and it really shows through the work. He winks and nudges the reader with how silly the cliches of fantasy are while fully incorporating them into his works. I love his nods at the multiverse and our world (for one brief moment, Rincewind and Twoflower find themselves in our dimension. A short page or two, but is hilarious in it's own right. Rincewind also learns of the "magic" of Twoflower's country: economics). The plot is full of big action set pieces that hold your interest and keep the novel moving.
What I didn't like:
For all of its genre breaking, the things I didn't like about the novel are the same things that I don't enjoy about fantasy: Too many characters to keep straight. So many countries and races and changes of scenery that it's hard to keep them individualized. However, because the book had a humorous, parody edge, I didn't stress out as much about trying to remember how everything tied in. By the first quarter of the book, I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
I really enjoyed the book and plan on continuing to read them. I felt a bit intimidated when I found that there's 30 something books in the series, and you really shouldn't read them chronologically. Luckily the website The L-Space Web has a detailed reading guide so you can follow the different major characters on their adventures.
Not enough to fully change my mind about fantasy in general, the book was good enough to help me keep an open mind.
What about you, how do you feel about fantasy? Any favorites I should try?