Reviewing: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Content warnings: Well there is a lot of attempted murder and the luggage definitely eats people. 

My Rating: 4 Books out of 5

Highlights:

  • This book is all kind of bonkers and I kind of loved it
  • It’s like a D&D campaign where nobody has any skills and everyone keeps rolling 1
  • Yet somehow escapes
  • Rincewind resonated with my weary soul
  • Equal opportunity nudity for all genders and species

‘We’ve strayed into a zone with a high magical index,’ he said. ‘Don’t ask me how. Once upon a time a really powerful magic field must have been generated here, and we’re feeling the after-effects.’

‘Precisely,’ said a passing bush.


This book is just bananas. Honestly there’s so much to it that it would take me all day to break it down. The first of the Discworld series, which I have made it one of my life goals to read in its entirety, The Colour of Magic follows Rincewind, a deeply exhausted failed wizard, as he’s bullied by politicians into protecting Twoflower – the Disc’s first tourist. Along with his many legged, sentient, man (and woman and everyone else) eating luggage chest of course. For something without a face, that thing has very distinct expressions and all of them are angry.

It doesn’t help that Death themself is lurking not far behind, intent on doing his job and personally seeing to Rincewind’s demise – as all wizards, no matter how rubbish, are personally taken off by Death when the end comes. Of course. 

Pratchett went BIG with the worldbuilding. There’s a flat, round world on top of four elephants on top of a giant turtle just serenely gliding through the great abyss of space. There’s gods playing literal D&D campaigns with the world below them, there are dragons that may or may not be real, great big beefy but somewhat intellectually challenged heroes swinging talking swords, and quite an astonishing amount of people with very little regard for clothing. All throughout there’s that dry sense of humour characteristic to Pratchett’s writing that I just adore, because let’s be honest fantasy can lend itself to humour exceptionally well. When you take away ‘normal’ and ‘sane’ and ‘logical’ (Rincewind would love a world where logic, and not the whims of dice playing deities with grudges, ran the show) you’re left with imaginary dragons and space turtles and a fear of that number that comes after seven and before nine and must never be said aloud or even thought about for too long. 

I really love this world, I can’t wait to read more of it. 

The story itself was very hectic in terms of plot – I have seen a few reviews since reading mentioning this as a downside, and certainly there’s a LOT of things crammed into the 285 pages of this book. Given the high-fantasy nature of this series, there’s an awful lot to introduce, and the seemingly nonsensical jumping from place to place, and encounter to encounter mimics perfectly the games the Gods of the Disc are playing above, each roll of the dice heard across the world like thunder. This is not a book to read when half asleep, and I did occasionally have to re-read a page to clarify exactly what was going on, so I can see what people were getting at. What it did do, however, was successfully put across how much time had passed since Rincewind and Twoflower first met in a dingy tavern in Ankh-Morpork without giving us a play by play of every single day. 

Terry Pratchett was an utter gift to the writing world. I LOVE Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman of course, and read it on average once a year, and before I realised the Discworld was a thing in terms of an actual order, I read Going Postal years ago and remember thoroughly enjoying it (I’m really looking forward to re-reading that on my Discworld adventures). My decision to take up reading the Discworld series in order was partly a challenge to myself – can I read the entirety of a 41 book series without losing any threads of what happens when? – but also a tribute to an incredible writer who left a huge mark on the literary world. 

Next up in my challenge, The Light Fantastic

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