The Light Fantastic
February 1, 2017 7:54 PM - by Terry Pratchett - Subscribe

Book 2 in our Publication Order read through of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett.

“What shall we do?’ said Twoflower. ‘Panic?’ said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival. When the very fabric of time and space are about to be put through the wringer – in this instance by the imminent arrival of a very large and determinedly oncoming meteorite – circumstances require a very particular type of hero. Sadly what the situation does not need is a singularly inept wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world. Equally it does not need one well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind of its own. Which is a shame because that’s all there is…
posted by lazaruslong (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I actually liked this one rather less than The Colour of Magic. It reminded me of the Dirk Gently novels, where at some point, I look up and say, "I have no idea of what is happening right now." The individual sentences are fine, but the plot overall feels very...clotted.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:11 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

A more complete story than Colour of Magic. Introduces Cohen the Barbarian and Ysabell, Death's daughter (adopted). The Librarian turns into an orangutan, Death's a little more... uh, fleshed out, and the (Arch)Chancellor is a Weatherwax (which you'd think would earn a mention in the next book, but takes about a dozen more books to resurface).

I enjoyed the story more than CoM overall. He's not quite developed his full style, but there's enough fun bits and playful language to make it enjoyable. This is about the fifth time I've read it, though, and I think the fun comes more from those extra bits. Was very bored of it the first time I read it.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:16 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've read TLF once, during my 'must give the series respect' readthrough, and nah. Twoflowers could have been a good commenteriat for the farcical world, but stereotypism/racism.

Yes, I have to acknowledge Cohen the Barbarian is great, but I think the pivotal point where Discworld/Pratchett Woke was the next novel. Another breakpoint of accelerated Pratchett greatness was when where Pratchett "killed off" Cohen in #27 'The Last Hero.'

The Discworld computer games - back in the mid-late 90's - they were Discworld-ey and Rincewind-centric, but they never endeared themselves to me for some reason. Translation errors between prose and adventure game? Would not be surprised. English < > American < > World, too.

Or maybe I just don't like the Rincewind thing (from all angles).

DEATH's amazing story arch starts here, though. But it isn't essential. I think picking it up in 'Mort' is fine. Are there thing's I've missed about Ysabell?
posted by porpoise at 9:45 PM on February 1, 2017

I enjoyed this one although I've read it back-to-back with CoM and don't quite remember where one leaves of and the other starts.
posted by octothorpe at 12:23 PM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

TCOM ends with Rincewind and Twoflower falling over the edge of the Disc.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:36 PM on February 2, 2017

I'm glad I wasn't the only one having trouble following along. I kept having to re-read parts because I just couldn't understand what was happening. I enjoyed it, even if it did make me doubt my own intelligence.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 5:42 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I always think of the two books as basically just one unit, but I would agree that it gets a little lost in the weeks in the second half here. I don't think there's a single Pratchett fan who wouldn't agree that these early books are rocky and uneven at best, and that they are notable only for the seeds of brilliance that you can spot here and there that would later blossom.
posted by Scattercat at 6:12 PM on February 2, 2017

I'm actually looking forward to revisiting these first two after I've gone through the rest of the series.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 6:37 PM on February 2, 2017

Are there thing's I've missed about Ysabell?

Not in this one, no. Much like The Patrician in Colour of Magic (who may or may not be Veterinari) and the Librarian in this one, she appears but doesn't impact the story much. In these early ones Pratchett puts a ton of one-note characters in, and then revisits them in later books to actually turn them into detailed characters. As we'll see with Granny Weatherwax in the next book, sometimes he creates an interesting character to fit a story only to have them bend the world in later stories (and requiring a little bit of retrofitting with the character). Ysabell's appearance (and Death, come to think of it) is mostly noteworthy for what he does with the character after. Cohen's another example. Here he's a quick sendup of Conan as an old man, but in Interesting Times and The Last Hero he blooms because instead of being a joke he becomes real.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:35 AM on February 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Next book is up: Equal Rites.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:49 AM on February 22, 2017

I, too, was sometimes not sure quite what was going on, but I'm okay just letting it all slide over me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:32 AM on March 26, 2022

To be honest I felt lost in both TCoM and this one, but this one just feels much better to me. Tryman isn't the most memorable antagonist but his presence gives the story a shape that TCoM is utterly lacking. Death seems more like Death, Ysabel is a very welcome sight, and Cohen is wonderful. Glad to be getting past these and moving back towards the more confident books, but as weird as it is to go through this phase of what feels like rough-draft worldbuilding, it's at least a little bit fascinating.

Note: Nigel Planer read the version I listened to, and throughout it he pronounced "Tryman" as "Troo-mon" and Ysabel as "Oosabel" like he knows something about the letter Y that I don't. Does he, in fact, know something about the letter Y that I don't?
posted by Navelgazer at 6:29 PM on August 30, 2023

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