I used to be a devoted fan, but I stopped reading fantasy, somewhere along the line. With that being the case, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed The Color of Magic, the first title in Terry Pratchett‘s legendary Discworld series. If you aren’t a fantasy fan at all, fear not. The novel’s lighthearted tongue-in-cheek will draw you in, nonetheless.
The story here is fairly straightforward. A bumbling foreigner named Twoflower comes to visit the trade city of Ankh-Morpork. He doesn’t speak the language, and — partly out of an effort to avoid causing offense — he overpays for everything. Twoflower is accompanied by the Luggage: a trunk crafted from rare, sapient pearwood. Put simply, he’s an easy mark.
Enter Rincewind, the reluctant hero of The Color of Magic. Pratchett’s Unseen University dropout has little magical ability, but his knack for languages makes him Twoflower’s perfect tour guide.
Together, the two men embark on a journey to the — literal — ends of the earth and back. The Color of Magic is a classic quest narrative, one that evokes The Hobbit and The Book of Three.
I don’t normally bring up how a book reads, except to say that it was fast, slow, or downright mucky. However, after a conversation with a fellow book nerd who was less enthused with The Color of Magic, I feel it necessary to mention that this novel is not suited to skimmers.
To fully appreciate Pratchett’s writing style and humor, you must read most of the words on the page. That’s something I haven’t done since high school, and I didn’t slow down to read every single word in The Color of Magic. As you can imagine, I spent several pages lost in confusion, several times throughout the novel.
That isn’t to say that I did not like The Color of Magic. Pratchett’s humor calls to mind Douglas Adams and his The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The novel manages to make many clever — even literary — jokes, but does so without going over the heads of less-informed readers. It’s a fantastic read that anyone can enjoy.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Image Credit: Robin Zebrowski