In the tenth part of The Color of Magic, it’s clear that the entire universe has conspired to manipulate every event in my entire life so that I would, at this very point in time, read this section of The Color of Magic. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I don’t even know what to say.
I really don’t. I mean, how can you say anything of significance about Hrun’s completion of the second task (and possibly the third, which I don’t quite understand) when Rincewind magically willed himself within the consciousness of his parallel universe counterpart? How am I supposed to talk about Death hilariously showing up to claim Greicha’s soul at the exact moment where Greicha says that Death is nowhere close to claiming him when Rincewind became himself in our universe? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DISCUSS ANYTHING WHEN MY FAVORITE TROPE IN ALL OF FANTASY IS SURPRISINGLY DROPPED INTO MY LAP IN ONE OF THE MOST SHOCKING PASSAGES I’VE EVER READ?
I genuinely don’t know how to write about this. This one scene has absolutely dwarfed everything before it because it’s both so incredibly written, so completely out of right field, and so undeniably hilarious. AND MOST OF YOU KNEW THAT I LOVE ANY STORY ABOUT PARALLEL UNIVERSE MORE THAN I LOVE NEARLY ANYTHING ELSE. (Except puppies you can’t fucking top that for me.) My favorite trilogy I ever read for Mark Reads? His Dark Materials. I’m currently losing my shit over Deep Secret. AND THAT ONE SHOW THAT I LOVE SO MUCH THAT I ACTUALLY DON’T WANT TO SAY WHAT IT IS BECAUSE THE EXISTENCE OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES WAS ACTUALLY A SURPRISE FOR ME. (Sevatr, zl onol, V zvff lbh fb zhpu.)
Still, I don’t want to ignore what’s important about the scenes that precede The Thing. Pratchett sets up this idea of willpower, belief, and imagination initially through Twoflower, and we find out that his powerful imagination brought forth Ninereeds. Then, as Hrun fights Lio!rt and Liartes, we learn that unconsciousness causes these imagined dragons to pop out of existence. This is all intentional. It’s funny, yes, and I actually enjoyed that this simultaneously grew Hrun’s character. He’s forced to examine the life he’s lived and how Liessa’s offer of lordship might give him a happiness he deserves to have:
In short, life had really left him with little more than a reputation and a network of scars. Being a lord might be fun.
And I love that this is a glimpse of something new for Hrun, one that would give him a life that’s so wholly different than the one he’s had. So… was the third test to have sex with her? Yes? Sort of? I’m confused???
Regardless, I admit that the next section… hmmm. It didn’t bore me at all, but I didn’t get it. There’s a longer scene that addresses Rincewind’s fear of heights, more specifically the fear he has of hitting the ground from a significant height. Honestly, I didn’t know what Pratchett was doing, and it’s only in hindsight that I understand this. (Does that mean his line about the “brief silvery flash in the landscape” was foreshadowing or a hint towards what was about to happen?) He was setting up all the pieces so he could knock them down. The kicker, of course, was Twoflower’s ridiculous desire to GO VISIT THE STARS ON THE BACK OF A DRAGON, which is of course NONSENSE because you can’t breathe in space, Twoflower. Oh, bless his heart. Whatever Twoflower wants, he pursues without an ounce of cynicism.
So, it’s all a set up. After “rescuing” Hrun, who didn’t really want to be rescued in the first place, Twoflower pushes his dragon higher and higher in the atmosphere, until he blacks out from the thinning oxygen, which then causes Ninereeds to disappear, which then leaves the three men aboard the dragon to plummet towards the Disc, and I was certain one of two things would happen: Rincewind would suddenly imagine a dragon in defiance of Death’s teasing, or he’d utter the eight words for the Spell and it would reveal itself as something that could help him.
I did not expect him to end up in an airplane.
It wasn’t until the line about the little windows and the silver wings that I realized the utter impossible had happened. And I say “impossible” not because Pratchett isn’t allowed to do anything like this. On the contrary! It’s just that I didn’t realize our universe existed in this fictional world. I assumed this was an entire fictional world separate from our own with no potential for crossover because that’s how most fantasy operates. (Silly me, thinking the Discworld would obey anything as frivolous as that!) And suddenly, Rincewind is on an airplane, stopping a hijacker, and he’s wearing Earth clothes, and he understands English, and I understood absolutely nothing. (Except one thing: Is there seriously a bearded and “swarthy” terrorist on this plane? Boo. No, thank you.)
And then Pratchett explains it to me. Y’all, I’m still so impressed with the long section that starts with, “Ripples of paradox spread out across the sea of causality.” It’s verbose, ridiculous, and so poetic that I’m in love. As wordy and heady as it is, I understood it. I understood what Pratchett was saying: Rincewind, either intentionally or accidentally, had transported himself and Twoflower into our universe, which had bent all of space and time to accommodate all of the quintillion extra atoms to compensate for the collision, and it had saved their lives. Not only that, but Rincewind and Twoflower had names in this existence that were much like their own in the Discworld: Rjinswand and Zweiblumen. (OH GOD IT TOO SO LONG FOR ME TO GET THE ZWEIBLUMEN JOKE.) But even funnier?
THE LUGGAGE CRASHED THROUGH ALL OF SPACE AND TIME IN ORDER TO RESCUE TWOFLOWER. oh my god THIS IS THE BEST THING. And I adored that Pratchett mirrors the same narration to un-do the atomic shift; again, it’s poetic, it’s funny, and it’s so damn entertaining.
Much like the previous two segments, though, I’m left wondering how the hell there’s more to this book. Dropped into the ocean, we know that Twoflower, Rincewind, and Hrun have survived. But where in the Circle Sea are they? What happens next? WHO CARES BECAUSE THEY TRAVELED TO A PARALLEL UNIVERSE AND BECAME VERSIONS OF THEMSELVES. (Who was Hrun in this alternate universe? Was he not there?)
Incredible. I’m still in awe.
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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