Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Written while waiting for my flight and gathering my thoughts for the upcoming AAS-related post. Here are my thoughts on a book I finished several weeks ago: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.

This is the second book in the Discworld series and picks up immediately after The Color of Magic, hence I would recommend reading the two together. I should have had this post up earlier and in the time since I've forgotten some details, but I hope it is still useful for those interested in the Discworld series of books. Given it's such a tight sequel with the prior book, this review is shorter than usual.

Overall Impression
This is a fine addition to the Discworld novels and a necessary conclusion to the story of The Color of Magic. Given that it picks up right after that novel, reading this book is absolutely essential to finish the story. Yet, despite this, this book feels somewhat different with a somewhat more focused plot rather than the random meandering in the prior novel.

There were a few points were I felt the story disconnected from that of The Color of Magic, particularly at the start. For example, wasn't Tethis the sea troll in the space capsule? And wasn't Rincewind inside it, too? Though, to be fair: Rincewind appears outside it at the very end of The Color of Magic. I wonder sometimes if my Kindle version is skipping sentences on me (and I did catch this once). I feel I've been missing descriptions and events that would have made it clear what was going on on a few occasions.

The story picks up immediately where The Color of Magic left off: Rincewind and Twoflower are taking an unexpected journey over the Edge of the Discworld. The style is very similar to the prior book, though in this case there is a little more focused: a red star has appeared in the sky and it looks like the turtle (and thus, the Discworld) is headed straight towards it. That's bad and to make matters worse it looks like the spell in Rincewind's head will be important for it, which is bad for Rincewind.

We follow most of the characters we've already met, but introduce a few more, for example, from the Unseen University. Trymon from the University seemed far more evil and had a larger role to play in the movie, which was my first introduction to this series. Hence, I felt a bit disappointed at how little he actually does in the book. The focus, as before though, is on Rincewind and Twoflower.

Setting / World Building
The world is the Discworld, a flat disc on the back of four giant elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle. As with The Color of Magic, we see many crazy things that are perfectly "ordinary" in the Discworld, such as the stone-based computer used by the druids and the trolls, which in Tolkien-esque fashion turn into stone with the daylight (and yet back to flesh at night). Not much to add here, given it's a direct sequel set in the same world we've seen and a lot of the fun part in reading is discovering the craziness of the Discworld.

Final Thoughts
This book wraps up where we left off in The Color of Magic and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. I would honestly group the two books as a single story since there is no point in reading one without the other. I was, actually, tempted to just write one review for the pair. This book, however, is somewhat more focused on the big picture given that there are clear villains and a goal for the main characters to achieve.

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