In the eighth part of The Color of Magic, Hrun, Rincewind, and Twoflower begin their next adventure, which is more disaster than anything else. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
3 – The Lure of the Wyrm
Holy worldbuilding, this is great. And it’s great for a purely selfish reason: I don’t know what the Discworld looks like. I don’t know how big it is, though I have an idea of the scope of it when I think about turtles and elephants. It’s gotta be huge. But we’ve really only seen Ankh-Morpork and Bel-Shamharoth’s temple, and there’s apparently so, so, so much more. (Including where Twoflower is from! I wonder if we’ll get a book in this series set in that nation.)
It’s here that the Wyrmberg, a literal inverted mountain, is introduced to us, and goddamn, if an upside-down mountain that’s home to dragons and ring walking on the ceiling isn’t the coolest shit ever, then you can get out of my face. I mean, the more I think about it, you have to have dragons here, or else how are you ever going to get to the top of the Wyrmberg? Bat flight? (WHOA, THAT’S A COOL IDEA, NO ONE STEAL IT FROM ME.)
Right after this, Pratchett elaborates on the origins of magic and how they’ve come to affect the Discworld as it exists, which I imagine must frustrate Twoflower because at one point, the world was much more sensible about magic. Well, sort of. Compared to the current system of magic, that is! Of course, humankind in those days reacted poorly to creation. No wonder! Isn’t it a bad move? (HEY, I KNOW ONE DOUGLAS ADAMS QUOTE, SHUSH.) Anyway, Rincewind can’t feel good about being in a zone “with a high magical index,” the least of why is because he isn’t very magical himself. It’s like the world is gently making fun of him. I mean, would you feel great if you were a wizard and couldn’t do magic and then a dead, roasting pig flew away from your fire? No? I wouldn’t. Pigs are flying, and you’re still a shit wizard.
Which makes me wonder what sort of powers Liessa Wyrmbidder’s father has. He’s a wizard! Does he know more magic than Rincewind? Actually, that might not matter since HE’S ACTUALLY DEAD. Yeah, I really have to get used to the fact that every other page of this book is going to through some incomprehensible curveball at me, such as this one:
Her father did not bother to watch her go. One reason for this was, of course, that since he had been dead for three months his eyes were in any case not in the best condition.
It’s presented so matter-of-factly, y’all! As if Pratchett is saying, “Well, obviously he didn’t watch her. HE’S DEAD, DUH.” Oh my god WHAT. It’s clear to me that Rincewind and his traveling companions are about to unknowingly walk into yet another comedy of errors. We’ve got some sort of inheritance power struggle going on, and in this case, Liessa is trying to find a way to circumvent the Wyrmberg law that only a man can ascend to the throne. So, she reasons that if she finds man she can easily control, then she can take the throne!
If she had a man, things would be different. Someone who, for preference, was a big strapping lad but short on brains. Someone who would do what he was told…
OH GOD. OH GOD. Somehow, I kind of feel like Hrun really wouldn’t have a problem with this???
It’s because of this that DRAGONS. That’s it. That’s the sentence. Do I need to say anything more?
Wait, yes, I do:
“You don’t understand!” screamed the tourist, above the terrible noise of the wingbeats. “All my life I’ve wanted to see dragons!”
I think I should also stop trying to apply any sort of logic to Twoflower. He’s a beautiful creature, I accept this, and I accept him. THIS IS AMAZING. It’s both a commentary on touristy while being immensely endearing. I can’t help but find Twoflower endearing because he truly just wants to experience another world. He wants to witness things, take neat photos of them to show his friends back home, and have adventures. And while I don’t think we should ignore the fact that Twoflower’s cultural naïveté is responsible for…. well, everything before this… I’m of the opinion that Twoflower is basically harmless.
In a sense, Rincewind is as well, and that’s the point of the next bit of scenes, where Kring decides that Rincewind is going to be The Hero without any desire to be so. And look, I think I’m so-so in terms of genre-savviness. Sometimes, I get certain tropes, and other times, it all feels so new to me. I was much more of a science fiction reader/watcher growing up. But I can’t ignore that Kring is such a hilarious parody of heroic dudes in fantasy. In this case, Rincewind becomes the reluctant hero who actually has virtually nothing to do with the actual heroics at hand. I mean, Kring threatens to decapitate Rincewind if he doesn’t go rescue his friends! Rincewind responds in kind:
Later, [K!sdra] remembered only two things about the fight. He recalled the uncanny way in which the wizard’s sword curved up and caught his own blade with a shock that jerked it out of his grip. The other thing – and it was this, he averred, that led to his downfall – was that the wizard was covering his eyes with one hand.
It’s just so funny to me that Pratchett puts someone like Rincewind at the center of this fantasy tale! Rincewind is a self-admitted coward and failure, and he’s pretty fine defining himself that way. He has no interest in saving the day; he’s not out to complete quests or rescue anyone. And when he’s thrust into a difficult situation, he’s much more like to run and hide than do anything risky at all. Even when he’s got a MAGICAL SWORD THAT CAN DO INCREDIBLE THINGS, he still can’t even come up with the right things to say. He’s a goddamn hot mess, and I love it.
It’s because of this that DRAGONS. (Sorry, had to use that again.) Not just any ol’ dragons, but translucent dragons who become more solid as they reach their home. I still like my theory that this is a way or them to stay safe, even if I’m wrong. Oh my god, could you imagine flying through the air on a dragon AND BEING ABLE TO SEE THE GROUND THROUGH THE DRAGON’S BODY? (Which just makes me want to know what the hell is Rincewind’s event involving heights that made him retroactively terrified of such things. Oh god.)
But y’all. THE FIGHT IN WYRMBERG. Can we just take a moment to talk about this part?
“Well?” he asked, in a whisper. “Any suggestions?”
“Obviously you attack,” said scornfully.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” said Rincewind. “Could it be because they all have crossbows?”
“You’re a defeatist.”
“Defeatist! That’s because I’m going to be defeated!”
BLESS EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT THIS. I love that Kring is annoyed that Rincewind doesn’t know what to do, despite that he’s clearly outnumbered and out-skilled. (That’s a word because I said it is. Hey, at least I didn’t use “disobeyal” in a review again.) And really, I didn’t see how Rincewind could escape Lio!rt, K!sdra, every single person with a crossbow pointed at him, and the death that was certain if he didn’t navigate the rings on the ceiling. (I STILL FIND THIS INCREDIBLY FUCKING COOL.) I should have remember that Death had made a promise at the end of the last section, but alas, I did not. It’s in the split-second that Rincewind spots Death behind Lio!rt that he’s able to duck (SO HE BASICALLY DOES AN UPSIDE-DOWN SIT-UP, RIGHT??? OH MY GOD, I LOVE THE CEILING RINGS) and swing over to Lio!rt and grab hold of the man’s arm. I admit that despite re-reading the end of this section, I’m still completely confused. What exactly did Lio!rt do here? What rings are they talking about? I don’t understand the mechanics of this. Regardless, I know that Death is gonna be pissed. Rincewind missed his appointment AGAIN.
The original text uses the words “mad,” “crazy,” and “idiot.”
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