Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic, Terry Pratchett

Zany: entertainingly strange, amusingly unconventional or unusual.

You know, I haven’t used that word in eons (or the word eons either, now that I think about it). It’s a wonderful word for Scrabble, but I don’t even use it there because of the eons thing.

Zany is the best possible one-word description, however, for Sir Terry and his second installment of the Discworld series (there are thirty-three altogether). Back for an encore is Rincewind the wizard, Twoflower the tourist, and the Luggage. Their mission: to save Discworld from a catastrophic collision with an eerie red star.

Yeah, sure. Rincewind, a wizard so inept that he can’t do magic, is going to save the world. Forget Twoflower too: as the voice of reason, all he does is piss off Rincewind. It’s a good thing, then, that they will have some help. Introducing what I think is one of the best character-names in fiction, Cohen the Barbarian.

Cohen is the best warrior of all time, but like every human, he has his problems too. He’s eighty-seven, and every time he’s in a fracas, his back locks up. He stands, stiff as a board, until his seventeen-year-old bride-to-be Bethan rubs his back with liniment (it’s only his back that gives him trouble).

Part of Pratchett’s genius is his ability to cram so many scenes into a mere 240 pages. If I were to try to describe a tenth of what goes on in The Light Fantastic, I would sound crazy instead of zany. But Pratchett pulls it all off with aplomb—humor, action, profundities—and a touching scene at the end of the book.

So it’s on to the next installment for me, Equal Rites, with only thirty to go after that. Sigh.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have so much Terry Pratchett to catch up on, it's not even funny. If I had a real job to quit to stay home to read, I would.

Wandering Coyote said...

Great review, Charlie! I'll have to get this one, too, since I did start reading some Pratchett this year and really enjoyed it. "Cohen the Barbarian." Love it!

Kim Ayres said...

My favourite bit of this book is when Rincewind is trying to explain to Twoflower why the mushroom he's found isn't edible. Cracks me up every time :)

Charlie said...

BARBARA: Why don't you just quit your home job and stay home and read?

WC: It appears that you jump around in the series like other people do. My anality will not allow me to do that.

KIM: I knew that Sir Terry would elicit a comment from you. Yes, the inedible mushroom, and the little fellow standing on Rincewind's foot. Not only funny, but educational too.

kara said...

b-rock reads to me from a terry pratchett novel at night. i think it's called "the wee free men". we get about three pages in before i pass out. not terry's fault. or b-rocks. i just get tired. we've been reading it for months. there's no point to this story. the end.

Charlie said...

KARA: Thank you for your *snore, drool, cough, zzzzz*