THE COLOUR OF MAGIC – TERRY PRATCHETT
256 pages – November 24 1983
On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…
If 2019 was the year I dipped my toe into the works of Terry Pratchett, then 2020 is the year I become thoroughly obsessed.
When it comes to the Discworld series, it’s difficult to know where to begin reading. With so many characters and so many books it can be overwhelming, but after reading the City Watch collection last year, I thought that The Colour of Magic was a good way to start 2020.
Put simply, The Colour of Magic is weird.
In this first book of the Discworld series we follow Rincewind, a failed wizard, who manages to get caught up in the adventures of Twoflower, an endlessly optimistic tourist in possession of lots and lots of gold.
Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant idiot.
And so begins an epic journey involving meddling Gods, imaginary dragons and a trip to the edge of the world.
The Colour of Magic could best be described as enthusiastic. It lacks some of the direction shown in Pratchett’s later novels, possibly due to the fact that it’s less a whole book and more like a few novellas stitched together. It’s also wildly inventive, with incredibly detailed world-building and a plot that meanders through the chaos of the Disc. Without prior knowledge I might have struggled to follow it.
However, even this early in the series it’s easy to see what makes these novels great. Terry Pratchett’s work is funny, and witty, and imaginative, and delivers lines that manage to be both incredibly sharp and sometimes poignant. His characters, even when stupidly positive or cowardly and bumbling, are entertaining. It’s not his best work, or my favourite, but it’s colourful and bizarre and I smiled when I read it.
I also now feel strangely attached to a sapient pearwood travelling chest that walks around on a bunch of little legs.
“When I think I might die without seeing a hundredth of all there is to see it makes me feel,” he paused, then added, “well, humble, I suppose. And very angry, of course.”
Overall, The Colour of Magic may not be the greatest of Sir Terry’s books, but it’s a solid start to a wonderful series.
3.5 / 5
You can also find this review on Goodreads.