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.