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The Colour of Magic

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Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant idiot.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. It plays by different rules. Certainly it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that universes are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers.

But just because the Disc is different doesn't mean that some things don't stay the same. Its very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea...

The Colour of Magic

FIRE ROARED THROUGH THE bifurcated city of Ankh- Morpork. Where it licked the Wizards’ Quarter it burned blue and green and was even laced with strange sparks of the eighth colour, octarine; where its outriders found their way into the vats and oil stores all along Merchants Street it progressed in a series of blazing fountains and explosions; in the streets of the perfume blenders it burned with a sweetness; where it touched bundles of rare and dry herbs in the storerooms of the drugmasters it made men go mad and talk to God.

By now the whole of downtown Morpork was alight, and the richer and worthier citizens of Ankh on the far bank were bravely responding to the situation by feverishly demolishing the bridges. But already the ships in the Morpork docks – laden with grain, cotton and timber, and coated with tar – were blazing merrily and, their moorings burnt to ashes, were breasting the river Ankh on the ebb tide, igniting riverside palaces and bowers as they drifted like drowning fireflies towards the sea. In any case, sparks were riding the breeze and touching down far across the river in hidden gardens and remote rickyards.

The smoke from the merry burning rose miles high, in a wind-sculpted black column that could be seen across the whole of the discworld. It was certainly impressive from the cool, dark hilltop a few leagues away, where two figures were watching with considerable interest. The taller of the pair was chewing on a chicken leg and leaning on a sword that was only marginally shorter than the average man. If it wasn’t for the air of wary intelligence about him it might have been supposed that he was a barbarian from the Hubland wastes.

His partner was much shorter and wrapped from head to toe in a brown cloak. Later, when he has occasion to move, it will be seen that he moves lightly, cat-like.

The two had barely exchanged a word in the last twenty minutes except for a short and inconclusive argument as to whether a particularly powerful explosion had been the oil bond store or the workshop of Kerible the Enchanter. Money hinged on the fact.

Now the big man finished gnawing at the bone and tossed it into the grass, smiling ruefully. ‘There go all those little alleyways, ’ he said. ‘I liked them. ’

‘All the treasure houses, ’ said the small man. He added thoughtfully, ‘Do gems burn, I wonder? ’Tis said they’re kin to coal. ’ ‘All the gold, melting and running down the gutters, ’ said the big one, ignoring him. ‘And all the wine, boiling in the barrels. ’ ‘There were rats, ’ said his brown companion. ‘Rats, I’ll grant you. ’ ‘It was no place to be in high summer. ’ ‘That, too. One can’t help feeling, though, a – well, a momentary—’ He trailed off, then brightened. ‘We owed old Fredor at the Crimson Leech eight silver pieces, ’ he added. The little man nodded. They were silent for a while as a whole new series of explosions carved a red line across a hitherto dark section of the greatest city in the world. Then the big man stirred. ‘Weasel? ’ ‘Yes? ’ ‘I wonder who started it? ’ The small swordsman known as the Weasel said nothing. He was watching the road in the ruddy light. Few had come that way since the Deosil Gate had been one of the first to collapse in a shower of whitehot embers. But two were coming up it now. The Weasel’s eyes, always at their sharpest in gloom and half-light, made out the shapes of two mounted men and some sort of low beast behind them. Doubtless a rich merchant escaping with as much treasure as he could lay frantic hands on. The Weasel said as much to his companion, who sighed. ‘The status of footpad ill suits us, ’ said the barbarian, ‘but as you say, times are hard and there are no soft beds tonight. ’ He shifted his grip on his sword and, as the leading rider drew near, stepped out onto the road with a hand held up and his face set in a grin nicely calculated to reassure yet threaten.

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In the tradition of classic British humour...Incidentally informative about everything from quantum physics to the behaviour of camels. He may parody history and myth, but at the same time he resuscitates and animates them.

Guardian

One of the best and funniest English authors alive

Independent

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