The Colour of Magic Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Penfold » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:22 pm

I actually liked COM and LF (sorry for lumping the two together here) but I did feel that they were originally intended as stand alone books (in the same way as the Bromeliad became) and not as an extended series set in the same world. To be honest, I don't believe Sir Terry expected them to be so well received and only after seeing their popularity did he think to write his next book (Equal Rites) and set it on Discworld. I'm guessing from the way these first two were written, he had not planned to go on and develop the Discworld to such a large extent but I'm certainly glad that he spotted the potential and did. Mind you, from early interviews, I always got the impression that he was somewhat surprised by its popularity.

As for the Colour of Magic itself, any book that can poke fun at one of my favorite authors (Fritz Leiber) without causing me offence is alright in my view. Ankh-Morpork is a direct lampoon of Lankhmar and the first characters we meet are Bravd the Hublander and The Weasel (Fafherd and the Grey Mouser) and their opening dialogue is almost word for word for a passage in one of the Lankhmar books (even the Crimson Leech mentioned is a 'rip off' of the Golden Lamprey). The 'short story' style of Colour of Magic is also the same way in which Leiber wrote his series. There are also similarities between Sir Terry's version of Death's personality in this book and Leiber's Death character. Fritz Leiber was also heavily influenced by H. P. Lovecraft in his works, someone Sir Terry also lampoons extensively. Therefore, I do rather object when Sir Terry (or others) say the book takes the micky out of "bad fantasy writers" since I do not consider Moorcock, Leiber, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard amongst this number.

In short, I think Sir Terry merely set out to write a lampoon of popular fantasy at that time (consisting of two or three books at most) and originally had no intention of developing the Discworld into such an extensive or well developed series. :)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:31 pm

Also the Guilds were not 'there' except for the Thieves and Assassins they are not exactly specified as guilds as such, or that was not the impression of them I had :?

Part of Vetinari's success as a character lies with his association with the Assassins guild so if it is Vetinari then he's still being fleshed and isn't the full blown 'almost-benevolent' Tyrant yet
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Postby mystmoon » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:57 pm

Of course, there is the theory that Vetinari isn't the Patrician in COM, and Rincewind is instead threatened by Mad Lord Snapcase
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Postby pip » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:36 pm

That would make sense if you consider that Ricewind gets moved a bit ahead in time between Sourcery and Eric allowing for the time. Conveniantly Granny is also moved ahead in time post Equal Rites .
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Postby DaveC » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:31 pm

mystmoon wrote:Of course, there is the theory that Vetinari isn't the Patrician in COM, and Rincewind is instead threatened by Mad Lord Snapcase
Vetinari already seems to know Rincewind in The Last Hero, so is that because if had heard of him in Interesting Times? Or because it was him in CoM?
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Postby DaveC » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:09 pm

This discussion aint setting the world on fire like the discussions for the other books do!

I'll add that when I first read this and LF I really imagined it like a comedy Lord of the Rings, which I don't with the other books.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:08 pm

I think there's quite a lot of established negative opinions for CoM and for LF too Dave. It does depend on your age I think but mainly it stems a great deal from when you started reading the series. Because of that our most argumentative posters are being restrained for a change (apart from J-I-B of course :P ) as this book's not got a huge following necessarily so there's not so much satisfaction in getting contentious because the veterans on here know the arguments already.

Tony's pertinent point that I was following up on was that back in 1983 there was nothing like Discworld out there. For the adult mainsteam fantasy genre which was pretty dignified, or else overly child friendly and invariably at the Enid Blyton end of the readability scales LotR was still at the top of it's game from the 1969 release of the popular one volume paperback version. So for those of us old enough to remember the lack of humour in their fantasy addiction back then, CoM was literally a bolt out of the blue and a very welcome one indeed for most people.

It was not the first adult-oriented 'comedy' fantasy opus however, but it was mainstream in the UK. Has anyone read Bored of the Rings? :lol: It's a parody with bell's on. As a very loyal afficionado of Middle Earth I still highly recommend this scurrilous slimline tome (on purpose of course) - it's utterly relentless in it's p*ss-taking as it was published by the Harvard Lampoon writing team that regrouped as The National Lampoon magazine who eventually brought us the legendary movies Animal House and the Vacation series...

CoM was much better written than Bored and more satisfyingly funny, so when I got my copy of CoM I was thrilled to see there was a sequel and, like I said in my 1st post I fell in love with Terry's books. It only got better with each new one as he developed the disc so of course CoM and LF aren't up to scratch anymore but without them and their selling like hotcakes there wouldn't be any classic and evolutionary Discworld at all. So be kind to this book I say! It all started here and so what if it's lost ground - Shakespeare's work started out pretty stinky as well but look how he did. Terry IS the Shakespeare of SF&F but he had to start somewhere and I still think with CoM that, in context, he started pretty high indeed :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:06 pm

Actually, there's a fairly serious message in this book if you dig for it and it relates to Twoflower as the tourist with too much money.

This is like someone who goes to (for example) Africa and hands out a Dollar to a beggar. $1, while nothing to an American, could represent a week's (or more) wages to someone in the third world. Twoflower puts himself at risk through sheer ignorance. I think it's a point that Terry makes really rather well in this book. :)
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Postby DaveC » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:09 pm

Cool, I understand the arguements have al been done through. After I 've read each book I go back to these discussions, as if reading all the reviews when a film comes out!

It's probably in no particular thread where these are discussed is it?
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Postby DaveC » Fri Oct 08, 2010 5:10 pm

Tonyblack wrote:Actually, there's a fairly serious message in this book if you dig for it and it relates to Twoflower as the tourist with too much money.

This is like someone who goes to (for example) Africa and hands out a Dollar to a beggar. $1, while nothing to an American, could represent a week's (or more) wages to someone in the third world. Twoflower puts himself at risk through sheer ignorance. I think it's a point that Terry makes really rather well in this book. :)


I agree, I was imagining all the eyes in the dark, trying to get at his money, confused but ruthless.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:37 pm

DaveC wrote:Cool, I understand the arguements have al been done through. After I 've read each book I go back to these discussions, as if reading all the reviews when a film comes out!

It's probably in no particular thread where these are discussed is it?

I think we probably brought it up in the Pyramids discussion thread because we were dwelling an awful lot of the difference between UK and the USA in terms of avant garde comedy (with much reference to Monty Python). I think in one of pooh's earliest post(s?) in this thread he mentions it again in comparing the comic devices between CoM and Pyramids and whilst I love to argue the toss with pooh he makes a very good point. :twisted: That's probably the most memorable exchange on the subject of why the 1st 2 are so 'naff' against what follows, the answer to which is simply because they were first and so you have to enjoy them for what they are and will become. :)

We all recognise that there are 'one off' elements in Discworld and naturally the best 'themed' books become serials - so the Watch and Witches are the most dominant of the series. I actually think the one offs like Small Gods and Moving Pictures and Pyramids' are more interesting because they're taking us away from the more familiar haunts even if they invariably start and/or finish somewhere that is as with the latter 2 novels. Small Gods is still my fave Discworld book and only seriously threatened by Nightwatch which is the wildest card so far in the Watch series...

Anyway I think that CoM and LF, because they're the first, would appeal more if people weren't constantly comparing them to any of the later books, even the Rincewind books. If you treat it as the beginning then its obvious we're getting an introductory whistlestop tour around the Disc, seeing it through the eyes of someone who's allergic but conversely magnetically drawn to horrific situations and places and a wide-eyed innocent abroad who's almost criminally ignorant of what he's getting into, as Tony's saying.

Also it's interesting to see how Twoflower begins to get a little more savvy as they go along, so that by the time they're on the Circumfence he's still full of wonderment, but also completely thrilled with the ride and questions why Rincewind is so reluctant to enjoy the unfamilar and the downright dangerous. It's not until Interesting Times that we get to know why he's like this, although there are glimpses of how narrow and dull his life in the empire in the insewerants/echognomics elements :lol:
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Postby DaveC » Fri Oct 08, 2010 7:47 pm

Am now 15 pages from the end of my first read of Night Watch and love it, it is so different and got me really emotional!

Back to topic, I do think I see them as less troublesome because I started there and saw the natural progression, despite noticing the formula begin to formulate in the rest of the series's
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Postby swreader » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:03 am

As I said in Pooh's poll thread, this is not and probably will never be a Pratchett book that I enjoy re-reading. If I had started here, don't know if I would ever have gone further.

Still it is an important book, because the success of these books led to the further development of Discworld, and to the creation of a series that are much more than these books promised. I hate to quarrel with you Jan, but it's simply not true that there were no other comic writers of sci-fi/fantasy at the time. Robert Asprin, for example, began the Myth series before Terry (and died in 2008 in bed where he had been reading a Terry Pratchett book). There were others--but not many who developed in the ways that Terry did.

Still, as a first book in a comic series, I rather think that Piers Anthony's Xanth series, especially in the early novels, is as good as Terry's early novels.

But the difference between these two authors, and Terry's work is that Discworld, finally, has much more capability of retaining the humor and parody, developing into satire and significant comic/satiric work that makes Pratchett's work properly compared with Dickens, Twain and others.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:15 am

swreader wrote:I hate to quarrel with you Jan, but it's simply not true that there were no other comic writers of sci-fi/fantasy at the time. Robert Asprin, for example, began the Myth series before Terry (and died in 2008 in bed where he had been reading a Terry Pratchett book). There were others--but not many who developed in the ways that Terry did.

No quarrel Sharlene - I wasn't trying to say that Terry was the first comic fantasy writer just that there was (almost) nothing like his writing out there in the early 1980s. I don't know Robert Asprin (so thanks for the recommendation :wink: ) so he just wasn't on my radar and, as you say there aren't that many centrally and successful humourous works in the SF&F genre even now.

Thinking about this seriously for a moment - on the SF&F humour front it's actually far more realistic to cite movies and TV for bringing in comedy elements to 'imaginative unrealities' reading. How about Star Trek? Admittedly heavy-handed (it's Bill Shatner-oriented so it would hardly be that classy :twisted: ) there's a fair bit of humour in there - I nearly dislocated my jaw laughing at the Trouble with Tribbles the 1st time and there was another one with several series of beautiful female androids too, but I can't remember the name :roll: .

There were some nice comic touches in Forbidden Planet too (wonderful Leslie Nielsen :lol: ) but I think Star Wars, 6 years before CoM (come on! It's fantasy space cowboys/Robin Hood/King Arthur isn't it? :twisted: ) is possibly where people began to be receptive to deliberate touches of humour and comic set-pieces in their more fantastic genres. In fact humour's present in most of the SF&F genre to some degree, just not as the central element (Tolkien's hobbits are very funny in places for instance, even without the 2nd breakfast quips... :roll: ). So I think there's always been the possibility for humour, but the thing with Discworld is that it's parody and satire come through very strongly and that's where so few fantasy writers can come close to Terry and in his best books have no hope of bettering him.

To really love a book there has to be a reason behind it and I love CoM for what it was at the time - a rare and special discovery that led into a lot of pleasure and laughter. CoM literally 'called' to me - also why Josh Kirby will always be closest to my heart as THE Discworld illustrator - because it was the cover that made me pick it up in the first place and buy it with barely a glance at the 1st page, which for me is a very unusual action because I'm generally very picky about buying books, especially by authors I don't know.

Of course it's not the best of Terry by a long way, but it signifies the start of something very special and I won't criticise it simply because it can no longer compete with greater books - if he hadn't written CoM and LF they would never have been written at all perhaps. :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:46 pm

You have two weeks to read or reread Making Money for the discussion starting on Monday 1st November. :)
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