Mark Reads ‘The Light Fantastic’: Part 2

In the second part of The Light Fantastic, Rincewind deals with Twoflower’s ignorance, and Trymon plots to get ahead. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

You know, in hindsight, not a lot happened in this section. But it didn’t feel slow! It’s definitely a set-up for future plots and a vehicle for Pratchett to make jokes about maps and toilet paper. WHICH I APPRECIATE GREATLY. Let’s discuss!

Twoflower’s ignorance

I really do think that Twoflower is harmless, and I rather like him a lot. I also can’t deny that he has a very particular view of the world, and it’s clear here that it’s based entirely on the knowledge he’s gleaned from books. I didn’t necessarily read this all as some sort of biting commentary on anything, but I’m sure we all know the type of person that Pratchett describes here. They’re the ones who insist on ignoring reality in front of them because it clashes with the knowledge they already have.

Thankfully, Twoflower is not an asshole about this at all. He’s just confused. Why are the trees talking? Why can’t he eat the acorns? Or the mistletoe? Why do things look different than they were described or pictured in his books? Why isn’t that gnome wearing a red hat? (Actually, if there’s any sort of commentary here, I like the idea that this is all a big joke at the expense of prescriptivist thought. Who cares if the gnome doesn’t have a red hat? IT’S STILL A GNOME.) Twoflower is actually upset by how reality diverges from the world he thought he knew, but Rincewind doesn’t quite have the heart to force Twoflower to confront this:

He wanted to say: Look, the life of gnomes and goblins is nasty, brutish, and short. So are they.

He wanted to say all this, and couldn’t. For a man with an itch to see the whole of infinity, Twoflower never actually moved outside his own head. Telling him the truth would be like kicking a spaniel.

I’d never really thought about Twoflower like this until this line. And it’s the honest truth, because the man still filters the entire universe through his own understanding of how things work. It’s why he’s such an eternal optimist. The world inside his head doesn’t have room for cynicism or violence or ill will. I find it charming most of the time, but how else is he going to react to the world as they spend more time exploring the disc? (I say “exploring,” but that’s mostly Twoflower’s version of events. I’m sure Rincewind would say he is “foolishly stumbling from one disaster to the next.”)

Oh, let me yell about the next “disaster.”

ACTUAL GINGERBREAD COTTAGE

ACTUAL GINGERBREAD COTTAGE!!!! WHICH YOU CAN EAT AND IT REGENERATES ANYTHING YOU EAT

this is already the best thing in the universe YOU CANNOT DISPUTE THIS.

Trymon

Like the last book, Pratchett is willing to liberally switch point of view in order to give us multiple angles of the story. I’m super interested in Trymon and what it is that he’s planning. Actually, I find the wizards as a whole to be a rather hilarious bunch (though they’d probably be angry if I told them that), so I’m always eager to see what ostentatious display of absurdity they’re going to attempt. And then fail at. Or have interrupted. And lord, I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.

Pratchett’s constant parody of fantasy narratives is a treat to read because it’s so pervasive. There are jokes hidden within single sentences, or the joke is THE ENTIRE SCENE. You’ve got the following bits just in the first wizard POV section:

  • The line about the most powerful wizards actually not quite being the most powerful wizards.
  • “When a wizard is tired of looking for broken glass in his dinner, it ran, he is tired of life.”
  • MUTUAL DISTRUST AND SUSPICION.
  • No one fighting Galder when he dramatically suggests the Rite of AshkEnte.
  • MAGIC CONS
  • YOUNG WIZARDS, THOSE WHIPPERSNAPPERS.
  • Wax and pins.
  • The line about how the wizards really are so dramatic that they use all these occult items for the ritual when you could really just use “three small bits of wood and 4 cc of mouse blood.”
  • DEATH.
  • DEATH ARRIVING FROM A PARTY
  • DEATH HOLDING A HANDFUL OF CHEESE CUBES AND PINEAPPLE ON A STICK.
  • DEATH REFUSING TO LET GALDER PERFORM ALL THE DRAMATIC LINES HE PRACTICED.
  • Oh my god, Death’s smart ass answer to “what happened this morning?” BEST.

All of this leads to a revelation about what this book might actually be about: In two months, if all eight Octavo spells are not spoken on Hogswatchnight, “the disc will be destroyed.” Destroyed, you say?

THE WORD “DESTROYED” SEEMS QUITE SELF-EXPLANATORY TO ME.

Yes. Yes, it does.

So Trymon, the most organized wizard on the whole Disc*, sets out to do… something. Research! That much I know, but I don’t know why he’s doing this. I loved that we went back to the library of the Unseen University and THE LIBRARIAN IS STILL AN ORANGUTAN. This is kind of cute???? Oh my god, I want an orangutan to be the protector of my books!

The Hero

Well, I thought the hero was Hrun, but they don’t have any teeth??? Or no front teeth? WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS?

The original text contains use of the word “mad.”

Part 1

Part 2

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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