In the eleventh part of The Color of Magic, Twoflower and Rincewind face the edge of the world. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
4 – Close to the Edge
I just… it’s happening. NOW. Look, I went into the Discworld universe knowing that there were over forty novels. I knew there were overlapping series, that there was no one definite way to read everything, and that the story would jump all over the place at times if I read these books in publication order. I admit that when I start a long, dearly-loved series, I’m intimidated. It’s an intimidating thing! And I know that this isn’t a new thought or anything. When something has a big fandom, when canon is stretched over twenty books or ten seasons, it’s a scary thing to start at the beginning and simply… well, not know everything. I’ve always hoped that Mark Reads and Mark Watches could provide a starting point for folks who avoided a series because of how scary it seemed; it’s nice to know that there are others out there just as ignorant as you.
(Which, if I may go on a tangent, is why I’m particularly irked by the type of fan who knows everything about a canon and must make sure to not only show that off, but constantly demonstrate to other fans that they don’t know as much. That is one of the easiest ways to distance someone from enjoying the same thing you do, though I suspect that a lot of this behavior is from people who are fully aware that this is the end result. I always go back to my experience reading The Lord of the Rings for Mark Reads and recall how often people were furious that I wasn’t understanding every nuance or detail or name or place because I didn’t know what the fuck I was reading. I mean, sure, there’s an absurdity inherent in that situation: How can someone who is reading a work for the first time know everything about that work before they finish it? But that’s not why these people harassed me and pestered me so relentlessly. It was about controlling how another person experienced a text. And I hate it. It’s why my spoiler policy is so deeply important to me: I want there to be room for newbies to be utterly wrong. I want people to not understand things, to struggle to comprehend twists and turns, and to figure things out themselves, because that often results in a much more rewarding experience in reading fiction.)
So, given all of this, I figured that Pratchett would take his time expanding on this fictional universe. There are over forty novels. There’s a lot of Discworld to discover. We have visited four settings at this point. (Five if you count the realm of the gods!) There is an entire world sitting on this disc that’s got a circumference of at least 30,000 miles. I assumed (understandably so!) that we would explore a lot more of the actual worlds on the disc before we ever got to what was outside of it. That’s the reason for the surprise I exhibit here while reading this section: I DIDN’T EXPECT THAT WE’D BE AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD AND CONTEMPLATING WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO OFF THE RIM. It’s absolutely stunning to me, and it also makes me wonder why on earth so many people were so concerned that I was starting with this book. If this isn’t very “good,” then what the fuck comes after this??? BECAUSE THIS IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING TO ME.
Let me first start off with a prediction: I don’t understand why the Arch-astronomer is building a “great flying fish,” but I did catch that he needed a sacrifice in order to get the thing going. Oh, lord, there’s no way that this isn’t going to be Rincewind and Twoflower. I mean, he’s from Krull, and Tethis is the direct connection to that place. Besides, the launchcontroller says that “the ocean shall provide,” and I’m pretty sure he’s referring to Tethis or the other water trolls who patrol the Circumfence.
I was also surprised by how much time had passed. I’m still unclear where they left Hrun, and I don’t recall if he was ever mentioned again? Whatever, he’s gone, probably off acquiring more treasure and more scars. I am now aware, though, that basically from five minutes or so into the first video and all the way until the end of this section, I constantly kept saying, “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING.” Truthfully, even re-reading this part of the book now, it’s still a pleasant surprise to me, you know? Twoflower and Rincewing are heading toward the perilous plunge at the Rim and THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK. Unsurprisingly: Twoflower’s reaction to all of this.
“Don’t you understand?” snarled Rincewind. “We are going over the Edge, godsdammit!”
“Can’t we do anything about it?”
“Then I can’t see the sense in panicking,” said Twoflower calmly.
The best part is that we know he’s being utterly serious. He even pines for his picture box so he can PHOTOGRAPH THE END OF HIS OWN LIFE, which is so sincere and adorable it’s almost scary. Dude, you realize you won’t ever get to see the result of that photo because you’ll be dead, right? Still, I think it’s also incredible that he basically predicts what might actually happen:
“What happens after a ship goes over the Rimfall?” said Twoflower.
“Well, in that case perhaps we’ll just sail on through space and land on another world.” A faraway look came into the little man’s eyes. “I’d like that,” he said.
AHHHHH, HE MIGHT BE RIGHT??? Oh gods, everything that Tethis reveals in the following segment is just so goddamn cool. Right??? I mean, look, I never once thought or wrote, “Why is this book called The Color of Magic?” And then it’s explained to me, and it’s so beautiful because it fits in perfectly with the story. Hell, I just wrote an entire review about the power of imagination, and as it turns out, that’s the color of magic. Imagination and creativity deeply plays into the main theme of this novel, and there it is, at the rim of the world, the King Color, from which the Rimbow draws its seven other colors.
BUT THEN THERE’S A WATER TROLL. AND THE CIRCUMFENCE, which I actually pronounced wrong because my brain just filled in the missing letter. We must also take a moment to appreciate the Circumfence, one of the funniest ideas in the universe. Goddamn, Pratchett’s wordplay game is TOO STRONG. But seriously, it makes so much sense that someone would build a giant net around the disc in order to… well, see, I was going to say to stop things from falling off the Edge. But that’s not really what the Krull did here, is it? They actually wanted to catch things to claim for themselves. It’s a lot more selfish than a safety measure. Oh, and it means that Rincewind and Twoflower will be handed over to the Kingdom of Krull TO BECOME SLAVES. Which inspires Rincewind to flippantly reply that he’d rather jump over the Edge than ever become a slave.
WHICH INSPIRES TETHIS TO HOLD RINCEWIND OVER THE EDGE AND ASK HIM IF HE’S SERIOUS.
The whole thing was already surreal because I understood what a big deal it was that they were at the Edge of the disc. I understood how absolutely bizarre the very construction of the water troll was. (THERE WAS A FISH JUMPING WITHIN HIS BODY OH MY GOD.) And then Rincewind is staring at one of the “reasonablysized continent” masses of elephant, and he can see one of A’Tuin’s flippers, and the whole thing is just too much for my brain to handle. This is happening. I can’t ignore it. And the idea that there’s another world off the side of that rim… gods. Gods. It’s kind of incredible that in this first book of the series, I’m forced to think of these things already. I mean, the last section confirmed the existence of other universes, but are there other living entities that aren’t on the disc itself? What does happen when you go off the Edge?
I’m so excited to read more, y’all. This is SO MUCH FUN, and I can tell shit is barely getting real.
The original text contains the word “mad.”
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