Monday, February 13, 2012

The Colour of Magic

Title: The Colour of Magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
List: #93 on BBC Top 100
Worth reading? Maybe.

I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. I am sure that, no matter what I say, the legions of Terry Pratchett fans will not agree with me. It’s not that The Colour of Magic is a bad book. I just think it’s kind of a non-book. I started it. I read it. I finished it. And now I would be perfectly happy never thinking about it again. So I’ll think about it for the next ten minutes and then stop.

Like Good Omens, which Terry Pratchett co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, this book has a wonderfully humorous tone. Terry Pratchett appears not to take himself or his book too seriously. And, in certain circumstances, I think that works. For example, in Good Omens, I loved the tone. I think the difference is that Good Omens had a plot. The Colour of Magic does not.

Instead, the focus of the novel is on the characters. And mostly because they are just outrageous. The main characters are Rincewind, a failed magician, Twoflower, a tourist, and The Luggage, a giant sentient wooden box that sprouts legs and follows his owner Twoflower around no matter where he goes. Sounds promising, right? But alas, it’s really not. They are just kooky characters who meet other kooky characters in their travels and don’t develop or grow in any way. And to all of this there is no point and no plot and no real conclusion. To be fair, there is a vague back plot of the gods playing a dice game where the characters are the pieces in this game, but that doesn’t really lend a cohesiveness to the story. And, again, that is a concept that I think has more potential in theory than in practice.

Maybe the point is that Terry Pratchett is making fun of the fantasy genre? In that case, I’m not quite sure why he wrote a total of 39 books (and counting?) in the Discworld series. Which reminds me, the story takes place on Discworld, a giant disc carried by four giant elephants on the back of a giant turtle traveling through space. And I think the 39 books are tied together because they all take place on Discworld.

In any case, I don’t understand the hype. Maybe this is one fantasy series that I’m just not geeky enough for. Or maybe I’m too geeky and this book isn’t enough of a fantasy? Who knows. But count me among the unconverted. On the bright side, the book was only 285 pages, so I breezed through it! As for reading the other thirteen Discworld books on the BBC list? I don’t know... maybe if they’re the only books off the list available on my local library’s eBook site…

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