Discworld marathon blog...

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Postby Quatermass » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:21 pm

REVIEW: The Colour of Magic


So...yeah. Coming back, to the very beginning of the Discworld series after so long is strange. It's a shock, rather like jumping into a vat filled with ice-cold hydrofluoric acid, and yet, reading The Colour of Magic is considerably more pleasant than that...

Rincewind, a failed wizard with only one, possibly world-ending spell in his head, is roped into becoming the guide for Twoflower, the Discworld's first tourist. From the town of Ankh-Morpork to the temple of Bel-Shamharoth, from the Wyrmberg to the deadly country of Krull on the edge of the Disc itself, Rincewind and Twoflower are on an insane odyssey across one of the strangest worlds in the universe...

I have to confess, this Discworld novel feels very different from the later ones that I am used to. Pratchett was still feeling around as an author, and you feel, at least looking back on it in retrospect, a lot of mythology and background that was later discarded, or at least ignored. The Colour of Magic hasn't much plot to speak of, being mostly a fantasy-style road trip from one adventure to the next.

And yet...what is actually there is so entertaining that you forget about the lack of plot, and merely sit back and enjoy the spectacle. Pairing one of the most cowardly characters in fiction this side of Flashman (whom Rincewind was based on, apparently, though Rincewind is more likeable) with a fearless one (who defies all conventions of being heroic, being, instead, a mildly insane tourist with little sense of personal safety or self-preservation) is a good move.

The opening segment set in Ankh-Morpork is perhaps the most interesting overall, given that it sets up Rincewind and Twoflower's relationship, as well as establishing other characters and organisations that would later play a role in the mythos. It is interesting to read of a Patrician (said by Pratchett to be Vetinari, albeit one who is either obese, or has at least two chins), and the Guilds, even before they develop properly.

I feel it disappointing that the incidents and concepts in later parts of the book weren't developed later in the series (although the Wyrmberg concept does get re-developed into Guards! Guards!, and Krull gets mentioned in The Last Hero), as they were entertaining enough and intriguing enough in their own right, if fairly underdeveloped. There was real, but wasted, potential here.

Overall, The Colour of Magic hasn't aged well as a Discworld book, especially in light of the later books and retcons. But as a stand-alone book, and as a piece of entertainment, it is still damned fine.



8/10

First words: In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part...

Last words:There didn't seem to be any alternative.
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:34 pm

I'm not sure how the Wyrmberg idea is developed in G!G! The dragons both books are very different and from different origins. :?

And yes, it's a very different style to the later books, mainly because Terry was writing parodies of existing fantasy books in the first few. The Wyrmberg for example seems to be a parody of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider boks. :)
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Postby Bouncy Castle » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:38 pm

Young adult Discworld books must be read at the time they were published


Dear Sir

Please supply one time machine.

Yours faithfully

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The rest of us are a bit crap.
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:45 pm

:roll: Have you never heard of LSpace Bouncy? :P
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Postby Quatermass » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:48 pm

Tonyblack wrote:I'm not sure how the Wyrmberg idea is developed in G!G! The dragons both books are very different and from different origins. :?

And yes, it's a very different style to the later books, mainly because Terry was writing parodies of existing fantasy books in the first few. The Wyrmberg for example seems to be a parody of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonrider boks. :)


The only McCaffrey books I've read are two of her Brainship books and the first Acorna book. Never read the Pern books...

Re Guards! Guards!: It was that whole thing about 'real' dragons only existing in potentia, and needing both magical intervention and someone's mind to let them out. I wonder what would have happened if Twoflower got his hands on a copy of The Summoning of Dragons and a decent lot of magic. Twoflower may be a decent enough person, but I also think that he is mildly insane. He'd summon a dragon not for power, but just for the sake of having a dragon, without quite realising how dangerous it would be for him, or for anyone nearby. And that is probably a bad thing, rather like summoning Cthulhu to have a unique pet.


Bouncy Castle wrote:
Young adult Discworld books must be read at the time they were published


Dear Sir

Please supply one time machine.

Yours faithfully

Bouncy Castle (Miss)


*VWORP! VWORP!*

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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:53 pm

The Wyrmberg dragons were dragons of the imagination given form by the magical field of the Wyrmberg itself.

The dragon in G! G! was something else. Although I can see certain connections, I do think they are different beasts. :)
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:21 pm

Poohcarrot's mini blog :D

1 The Colour of Magic 7
2 The Light Fantastic 7
3 Equal Rites 6
4 Mort 8
5 Sourcery 7
6 Wyrd Sisters 8
7 Pyramids 10
8 Guards! Guards! 10
9 Faust Eric 7
10 Moving Pictures 7
11 Reaper Man 7
12 Witches Abroad 9
13 Small Gods 9
14 Lords and Ladies 8
15 Men at Arms 8
16 Soul Music 10
17 Interesting Times 9
18 Maskerade 7
19 Feet of Clay 8
20 Hogfather 10
21 Jingo 10
22 The Last Continent 9
23 Carpe Jugulum 8
24 The Fifth Elephant 8
25 The Truth 9
26 Thief of Time 10
27 The Last Hero 7
28 The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 9
29 Night Watch 8
30 The Wee Free Men 10
31 Monstrous Regiment 6
32 A Hat Full of Sky 8
33 Going Postal 10
34 Thud! 8
35 Wintersmith 7
36 Making Money 6
37 Unseen Academicals 7
38 I Shall Wear Midnight 8
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
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Postby Willem » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:35 pm

While I respect your personal opinions and decisions on this, I would like to advise you on changing your scale. If you think an 'average' book deserves a 7.5 you've been very lucky in your reading material :) You've probably got reader's bias (you're reading stuff you know you like, meaning your scores will be on the high end anyhow). I'm predicting a lot of 8-8.5-9 scores which honestly doesn't make for a very interesting list. Compare tv.com, where people can rate episodes of shows. Usually, episodes will score very, very high over there because it's mostly fans rating them. Fans will often rate a bad episode higher than deserved, because, well, they're fans.
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Postby captainmeme » Wed Mar 30, 2011 3:56 pm

poohcarrot wrote:Poohcarrot's mini blog :D

1 The Colour of Magic 7
2 The Light Fantastic 7
3 Equal Rites 6
4 Mort 8
5 Sourcery 7
6 Wyrd Sisters 8
7 Pyramids 10
8 Guards! Guards! 10
9 Faust Eric 7
10 Moving Pictures 7
11 Reaper Man 7
12 Witches Abroad 9
13 Small Gods 9
14 Lords and Ladies 8
15 Men at Arms 8
16 Soul Music 10
17 Interesting Times 9
18 Maskerade 7
19 Feet of Clay 8
20 Hogfather 10
21 Jingo 10
22 The Last Continent 9
23 Carpe Jugulum 8
24 The Fifth Elephant 8
25 The Truth 9
26 Thief of Time 10
27 The Last Hero 7
28 The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 9
29 Night Watch 8
30 The Wee Free Men 10
31 Monstrous Regiment 6
32 A Hat Full of Sky 8
33 Going Postal 10
34 Thud! 8
35 Wintersmith 7
36 Making Money 6
37 Unseen Academicals 7
38 I Shall Wear Midnight 8


I have to say that your's isn't quite as in-depth as Quatermass's...
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:59 pm

It's a MINI blog. :lol:
"Disliking Carrot would be like kicking a puppy."
"You kicked a puppy," Lobsang said accusingly.
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Postby Quatermass » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:49 pm

Willem wrote:While I respect your personal opinions and decisions on this, I would like to advise you on changing your scale. If you think an 'average' book deserves a 7.5 you've been very lucky in your reading material :) You've probably got reader's bias (you're reading stuff you know you like, meaning your scores will be on the high end anyhow). I'm predicting a lot of 8-8.5-9 scores which honestly doesn't make for a very interesting list. Compare tv.com, where people can rate episodes of shows. Usually, episodes will score very, very high over there because it's mostly fans rating them. Fans will often rate a bad episode higher than deserved, because, well, they're fans.



....

Your point?

I'm not lucky about my reading material. I'm mostly picky about it. So what if I have reader's bias? The score is based on my entertainment value.
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Postby Willem » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:01 am

Quatermass wrote:
Willem wrote:While I respect your personal opinions and decisions on this, I would like to advise you on changing your scale. If you think an 'average' book deserves a 7.5 you've been very lucky in your reading material :) You've probably got reader's bias (you're reading stuff you know you like, meaning your scores will be on the high end anyhow). I'm predicting a lot of 8-8.5-9 scores which honestly doesn't make for a very interesting list. Compare tv.com, where people can rate episodes of shows. Usually, episodes will score very, very high over there because it's mostly fans rating them. Fans will often rate a bad episode higher than deserved, because, well, they're fans.



....

Your point?

I'm not lucky about my reading material. I'm mostly picky about it. So what if I have reader's bias? The score is based on my entertainment value.

My point being that using a scale from 1 to 10 when you'll probably only use 6-10 or 7-10 is wasting half your scale :) Waste not, want not!
Also, that fan's reviews often aren't an interesting read because of the aforementioned bias.
I have a nagging feeling your reviews will lead to the books being discussed here (instead of in the monthly book club thread) with the difference being, you'll be the discussion leader here. And honestly, I'm not sure that's a good thing.

I might be wrong though, it's happened before. I remember it well, it was in 1986... :twisted:
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Postby LilMaibe » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:12 am

Have to agree with Willem here. Most of scale is useless like that. And, unless I managed to miss it completely, how are your ratings put together? Especially if some books that repeat a topic that has been done better before get a higher rating than the book that had the better handling of a topic.
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Postby Quatermass » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:04 am

.......

So is there any point to me doing this at all? Well? Should I continue? I don't see any point now, really. You two in particular just killed my interest in re-reading the Discworld series, all because you nitpick about the way I rate things! This is how I rate all books I read!

Thank you very much for killing this thread, you two. I hope that you're happy. If you're going to comment about my scale and not my actual arguments as to why they deserve it, then I see no point in continuing. At least Tony made interesting points...
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Postby pip » Thu Mar 31, 2011 10:30 am

Quatermass wrote:.......

So is there any point to me doing this at all? Well? Should I continue? I don't see any point now, really. You two in particular just killed my interest in re-reading the Discworld series, all because you nitpick about the way I rate things! This is how I rate all books I read!

Thank you very much for killing this thread, you two. I hope that you're happy. If you're going to comment about my scale and not my actual arguments as to why they deserve it, then I see no point in continuing. At least Tony made interesting points...


Always interested to hear what others get from each book to be honest Q.
Theres a few bits i hadn't thought of so always worth a read.

While the guys point about biased marking is slightly true this blog is one persons marks so they are consistent so even if only half the scale is used its clear which he thinks are the stronger and weaker books for him.

I'd say keep going. Tony, maibe and a few others seem to have enjoyed reading them anyway. :D
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