Have you ever wondered what it would look like if Mel Brooks had decided to sit down and write a fantasy novel? Me too. And I’ve decided that the result would read a lot like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. And if that’s not something you’d be interested in I question your life choices. Full confession I’ve read Colour of Magic more than a few times and while it is not my favorite entry of the twenty plus novels set in Discworld it is up there. It’s also the first in the series and so as a holiday gift to you voracious readers out there I thought I might try and get you acquainted with a gift that will keep on giving. So in this edition of On the Shelf we take a look at Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic. (And no that’s not a typo, it’s just British.)
Published back in 1983 with only 506 copies printed the story follows Discworld’s very first tourist Twoflower and his reluctant guide the washed out wizard Rincewind as their combined ineptness gets them into then out of a mess of troubles thrown at them for the amusement of some of Discworld’s bored Deities. Pratchett’s ability to simultaneously lampoon and embrace the fantasy genre is remarkable. I would call it unparalleled but I think that would give you the idea that others had attempted it and failed. I’m not sure anyone else has even attempted something quite like this before or since. But it’s not just the realm of fantasy literature that feels the bite of Pratchett’s brilliant satire; many modern flaws are laid bare as well. Exposed for the flim-flam that they are by the ridiculousness of Discworld.
Overall the book itself is not all that long and plays more as the episodic misadventures of its main character’s than as one complete work a feeling heightened by its casual roll right into the next book in the series. Which is nice for those who like to read a bit more incrementally. I tend to read the whole thing in one siting but I’m weird like that.
Did I mention that Discworld sits on the backs of four elephants who are in turn standing on a giant turtle hurtling through space? Because if I did what are you still doing here? Go pick up your copy of The Colour of Magic now. It should be somewhere On the Shelf.