Mark Reads ‘The Color of Magic’: Part 5

In the fifth part of The Color of Magic, Rincewind and Twoflower run into trouble after leaving Ankh-Morpork, and the source of said trouble is made much clearer than before. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Well, now I know how there’s more of this book left. What the hell?

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE COMMENTING: The mods have let me know that dealing with spoilers has been particularly taxing for these posts. People are freely posting spoilers for future Discworld books. Please, please, PLEASE take extra care not to post any sort of opinion or expression or ANYTHING that in any way reveals any smidgeon of information about future canon. I realize this is frustrating, given how I’m barely in the first book, but I assure you the experience will be worth it. Thanks! — Mark

2: The Sending of Eight

So, this shit is funny, y’all. Genuinely funny and amusing, full of jokes that are subtle and adorable and which serve to poke fun at fantasy tropes while not claiming to be better than fantasy as a genre. In a lot of ways, this is a story about a newcomer experiencing a fantastical world, isn’t it? Twoflower could easily be a stand-in for the hero of a fantasy novel, but there are clever ways in which Pratchett twists the expectations for both him and Rincewind. Twoflower might be going through the journey of entering a fantasy world, but he’s completely unaware of this. Instead, he’s a stereotypical tourist, right down to the fact that he so completely misunderstands local cultures so much that his actions have these disastrous consequences, though they’re all ones that Rincewind has to face.

And if Rincewind is meant to be the hero of this narrative, he sure isn’t that good at it. WHICH IS JUST SO FUNNY TO ME. How many times does Pratchett remind us that Rincewind is a failure in these fourteen pages alone? Four? The man isn’t necessarily quick on his feet, he’s a terrible fighter, and he’s stubborn enough to FIGHT WITH DEATH. He’s not terribly moral, though I think it is very wonderful that he’s grown to enjoy Twoflower’s ignorant company. Even Rincewind recognizes that his companion is genuine, which is something he’s not all that used to as a citizen of Ankh-Morpork. And that lack of cruelty is a big reason why I’m loving this so much. Twoflower might be a fool, and Rincewind might be a failure, but goddamn it, this is fun and not mean.

Oh god, MAGIC. I love that Rincewind’s hatred of the Discworld’s magic system is brought up again. But honestly, it sounds so exhausting, doesn’t it? It takes hours to memorize a levitation spell? It’s no wonder Rincewind is considered a failure for not completing university. I don’t think it’s difficult to imagine that there’s an hierarchy to magic in this world, too, since it takes so much time to learn. So I’m interested to see how it’s applied in other contexts.

This is not that time, though, because in a very sudden and jarring twist in the narrative, about a thousand things happen at once. And seriously, while I had wondered before whether or not the game the Discworld gods were playing was really affecting anyone, this should have told me. The appearance of the five-meter troll should have been one clue, since it comes out of nowhere. But the dice? RINCEWIND CAN HEAR THE DICE BEING ROLLED. It’s the suddenness that’s so indicative of roll-playing, though. And I admit I don’t have a whole lot of experience with table-top RPGs, but even I can recognize that the rapidity of the troll’s appearance was meant to be a reference to what was actually happening.

BUT THEN PRATCHETT CUTS TO THE GAME ITSELF, AND THE LADY IS PLAYING AGAINST HER FINAL OPPONENT, FATE. Not only is this the confirmation I needed that the gods are playing with the lives of the humans below, but then I find out why Twoflower was tempted to seek out the temple of Bel-Shamharoth. Oh my god, that’s who Fate played on the gameboard, isn’t it??? That thing that “seemed to be all suckers and tentacles. And mandibles… And one great eye.” But even then, I didn’t actually fully understand the stakes here. All I got was that Rincewind was sort of used to his life being mostly shit, you know? After the troll’s death, the she-bear that Twoflower upset killed Rincewind’s horse, and he scrambled up a tree, which had a giant snake in it, and when he tried to escape from that while OPENLY DEFYING DEATH, he ended up grabbing a piece of bark that was slowly lowering him right to the biggest wolf that had been coincidentally tracking Twoflower anyway. For real, how is it that every bad thing that Twoflower unearths never seems to affect him?

At least the shocking last-second rescue by the dryad within the tree Rincewind clung to was the first bit of good fortune sent his way. (Was it sent? Is that part of the game? How much free will do these characters possess if their lives are a game being enacted by gods? Is Death just super fucking mad at the other gods for interfering in his job?) But that lasts… what? Maybe five minutes? It’s not long before the dryad – named Druellae – reveals that she knows where Twoflower is! He’s heading to the Temple of Bel-Shamharoth, which Rincewind knows as The Soul Eater. WHO EXISTS ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF A COIN THAT HAS GOOD/EVIL ON THE FLIP SIDE. So this being exists outside of morality and has a terrifying name. No, this isn’t funny anymore. It’s scary!!! Oh, fuck, I’m not ready for this. I’M NOT READY.

The original text contains the words “mad” and “insane.”

Part 1

Part 2

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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