In the fourteenth and final part of The Color of Magic, Rincewind and Twoflower must face the inevitable. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Turns out I wasn’t even remotely prepared FOR THE FIRST BOOK. THE FIRST BOOK. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FIRST GODDAMN BOOK.
Holy shit, y’all.
This is an incredible mixture of suspense, of comedy, of parody, and of adventure, and I have to repeat myself: I have no idea why so many folks thought it absolutely necessary to tell me that this series doesn’t get “good” for a few books. THIS IS SO MUCH FUN. And this cliffhanger is built on a premise that absolutely inspires a person to read more: What’s beyond the Discworld? Which I still can’t believe is something being addressed this soon into the series, but I imagine that once I get much further in Discworld, it’ll be a lot of fun to look back on this. But for now? Holy shit, everyone, HOW DO YOU END YOUR FIRST BOOK LIKE THIS?
Pratchett sets the scene brilliantly by dropping us into the surreal amphitheater where the events of this finale take place. I use the word “surreal” on purpose because the very idea of a theater that sits on the literal edge of the world is so intriguing to me. I imagine that it was built specifically for the purpose of launching the Potent Voyager, no? Well, I guess it could have also served as the place for public executions and sacrifices, but the design is so deliberate that I wouldn’t put it past the Krullians to have constructed it for only one thing. It’s here that the many plot threads introduced over the book – Tethis’s story, the Luggage, Rincewind and Twoflower’s escape, Twoflower’s desire to see as much of the universe as possible – all converge in a sequence that is utter chaos. And that’s what I love so much about how this ends. It’s not a story of inevitability so much as it’s one of entropy. All things collapse, and all things fall apart. And Rincewind’s plans from the very beginning of this book, which were just to get some of that gold that Twoflower so willingly gave out, have now completely and utterly disintegrated.
And he’s also plunging through space.
We’ll get to that. For many of these characters, everything rapidly goes wrong. I loved how quickly the Arch-astronomer knew that he had a disaster on his hands because the chelonauts walked wrong.
Heroes always walked in a certain way, for example. They certainly didn’t waddle, and one of the chelonauts was definitely waddling.
And just as the Arch-astronomer is going to curse the fake chelonauts, the Luggage gloriously arrives. Make no mistake: the Luggage’s sea-monster entrance is ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS. Covered in seaweed and able to expel every single curse and spell flung at it, it consumes a guard and sets the entire amphitheater into a frightened sense of anarchy. This all happens in FOUR PAGES, and it only got progressively worse after this. Because then EVERY MAGICIAN IN THE WHOLE PLACE CASTS EVERY SPELL IMAGINABLE, which has the hilarious side affect of not only draining nearly all mana out of Krull, but combining with other forms of magic to create temporary new spells. I particularly loved this part:
A shower of small lead cubes bounced out of the storm and rolled across the heaving floor, and eldritch shapes gibbered and beckoned obscenely; four sided triangles and double-ended circles existed momentarily before merging again into the booming, screaming tower of runaway raw magic that boiled up from the molten flagstones and spread out over Krull.
I’m really loving it when Pratchett takes his surreality and goes even more surreal than before.
I’m glad, then, that we cut to Rincewind’s point of view, and he’s still just as disgruntled as ever. Sure, I get it. It’s not like the appearance of the Luggage has guaranteed them an escape; plus, I think it’s easy to imagine that at that exact moment, all Rincewind could think of was how much his whole life had been ruined by that box. And then Twoflower opens the Luggage and Tethis steps out, and this is just the greatest thing ever. I mean, of course the Luggage couldn’t actually consume Tethis. He’s as impervious to physical attacks as the Luggage! I then found myself saying, “OF COURSE” about a billion times after this, particularly when Twoflower suggested that they climb into the Potent Voyager in order to avoid the shower of arrows coming their way. This was inevitable, wasn’t it? So was the timing of the mechanism that set the ship on its journey to the Rim, the one that would send the spaceship over the falls and into the great beyond of space, the one that was supposed to be used to determine the gender of A’Tuin, but now was going to be the briefest escape pod in the history of the universe.
Because it really does go off the rails and into universe and that’s it. That’s the end. RINCEWIND DIDN’T MAKE IT INSIDE THE SHIP AND HE FELL OFF THE EDGE OF THE WORLD AND THAT’S IT.
Well… sort of. Rincewind wakes up after “The End,” and he is stuck in a tree that is growing out of the earth the constitutes the Rimfall. And I have SO MANY QUESTIONS about what precisely happened, and I know that none of them are going to be answered in this book. Where are the others? How far down does this “cliff” go? WHAT THE HELL?
But there was one plot left unresolved the whole time: What was going to become of Fate’s desire to ensure that Rincewind died?
For the moment, not much. Death arrives to claim Rincewind’s soul, and Rincewind, ever the stubborn wizard, refuses to go with a reason. You see, he’s not actually dead yet. And while he’s on that tree branch, he has no reason to die at that moment. Hey, he could eat the fish and the birds! There’s plenty of water. So why has Death arrived right then?
THERE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A REASON, said Death. I CAN JUST KILL YOU.
“Hey, you can’t do that! It’d be murder!”
Which is the funniest thing anyone has ever claimed of Death ever. And yet, I was still prepared for nothing:
The cowled figure sighed and pulled back its hood. Instead of the grinning death’s head that Rincewind had been expecting he found himself looking up into the pale and slightly transparent face of a rather worried demon, of sorts.
“You’re not Death! Who are you?” cried Rincewind.
“Death couldn’t come,” said the demon wretchedly. “There’s a big plague on in Pseudopolis. He had to go and stalk the streets. So he sent me.”
I’D FORGOTTEN ABOUT THAT. But… what??? WHO IS THIS DEMON.
“No one dies of scrofula! I’ve got rights. I’m a wizard!”
THE BEST PART ABOUT THIS IS THAT HE’S NOT EVEN JOKING. Death itself HAS to claim a wizard! And bless Rincewind for fighting for his gods-given right to die as he’s supposed to. I love that it’s because of this that Rincewind makes a decision that to me is a big deal. Rincewind isn’t necessarily afraid of taking risks, but he’s certainly a pragmatic, self-serving person. Even at the end of the book, that’s the case. But he chose to let himself fall into the great expanse of the universe at that moment, and I don’t think you would have ever seen him make such a decision before this point. There’s something deeply poetic to me about him letting go, about him making the decision to allow the universe to decide his fate. Because he can’t control the plunge at all. He has to let the chips fall as they may, and this time, he is the chip.
Sure, there really doesn’t seem to be any alternative, but it’s still damn cool.
With that, I can’t believe I’ve already finished my first Discworld book, I get to write my first Discworld predictions post, and THIS BOOK ENDED ON AN ENTIRELY UNFAIR CLIFFHANGER. Wow, this is unreal, and I had so much fun reading this. I’m glad that people were wrong, that I ended up enjoying the first book in this fictional universe as much as I did. That means that somehow, there are better books than this one? SOMEHOW???
Onwards to The Light Fantastic I go!
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