In the tenth part of The Light Fantastic, the group comes upon a town convinced that the rapidly approaching red star is a sign of cleansing and judgment. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch The Light Fantastic.
I now recognize that demanding to know what the hell is going is an exercise in futility. Lord, THIS SECTION IS SO GOOD.
The… cult? I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE THIS
I genuinely think the the crowd of people that Rincewind, Twoflower, and Bethan face is one of scariest things I’ve so far in the Discworld. And it’s interesting to me that Pratchett includes these people at this point in The Light Fantastic. There is now an undeniable physical ramification of the red star in the sky: the Disc is heating up. We have a general idea of how someone will be able to save the Disc, but the book deliberately leaves us in the dark otherwise. There’s been a hint that A’Tuin is heading towards the star on purpose, and the spell within Rincewind actually speaks through him here to pass along a metaphor. A turtle metaphor. FOR REAL. But if Great A’Tuin had finally managed to make it to the “ocean” after their birth, what does the red star represent??? I STILL DON’T KNOW.
And I think it’s pretty realistic that some portion of the Discworld – the portion of the population that these characters just happen to run across – would view the star as more than just an oncoming apocalypse. It’s a judgment. Their world is literally heating up, and, through Dahoney, we also learn that the star appears to have stripped the entire world of magic. LEGITIMATELY. And while there’s certainly a lot of humor present in this section, I don’t think it’s all that funny anyway. Hell, even Death’s appearance bodes poorly for the Disc. If he isn’t a fan of the end of the world that’s about to happen, then what does that mean???
But it’s when the crowd recognizes Rincewind as a wizard that this genuinely felt frightening to me. (I suppose that given all the stuff I’ve read about mobs and riots for Bloodhound, my mind instantly went to the worst place imaginable here!) The horrible irony of this all is that Rincewind is the worst wizard ever, so it’s not like he could prove he wasn’t a wizard OR protect himself. AND HE KNOWS IT.
AND THEN THE SPELL FIGHTS BACK. I was happy that Pratchett treated this as seriously as he did at first because Rincewind just killed someone, and it really was a jarring thing for this to happen. Of course, the spell took control of Rincewind’s body to do it, and it’s not like this is the first time someone has died to ensure that Rincewind stays alive. He’s (kind of) already accepted that the Octavo spell within him will do anything to prevent his death. But this felt so visceral, y’all!
That being said, I found it incredibly hilarious that almost immediately, Rincewind becomes near-drunk with power. I suppose that’s not quite accurate; he becomes drunk off of a one-time use of power, since he doesn’t do magic once after this. He is almost euphoric here because this is LITERALLY the first time he’s ever known what it feels like to cast a spell! THIS PART WAS MY FAVORITE:
“Would you like me to do a spell?” said Rincewind. He pointed a finger at a passing dog and said, “Wheeee!” It gave him a hurt look.
“Making your feet run a lot faster’d be favorite,” said Bethan grimly.
“Sure!” slurred Rincewind. “Feet! Run faster! Hey, look, they’re doing it!”
“They’ve got more sense than you,” said Bethan.
I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT THIS CHOOSES TO BE. And it’s also incredibly fascinating and fulfilling to read because there’s a chance in the dynamics between these three characters. Suddenly, Bethan and Twoflower are the ones taking care of Rincewind, who is blissfully unaware of the dangers of his surroundings. Hell, the text itself even acknowledges that Twoflower is VERY AWARE OF HOW DANGEROUS THIS SITUATION IS. Oh my god, THIS FELT SO HUGE TO ME.
And then the disappeared. More on that in a bit.
AM I GETTING EMOTIONAL OVER DENTURES? Yes, the continuation of the joke about Cohen discovering the existence of dentures is funny, but the fact that he gains so much ridiculous confidence and certainty just from the promise of getting to eat something that isn’t soup??? THIS IS DEEPLY BEAUTIFUL TO ME. I think that Cohen even makes a friend because of this: Lackjaw the dwarf. I mean, Cohen easily dispatches the red star men who try to come and kill Lackjaw for not submitting to their TERRIBLE beliefs, and I think it’s certainly because of his DIAMOND DENTURES that Cohen is so fierce in these scenes. He disarms (dislegs???) one man by tricking him into thinking that he’s teaching him how to hold a sword. IT’S INCREDIBLE. Of course, he does get a bit in over his head, especially when he confronts one of the red star people about book burning. (I can’t believe I walked into that joke, too. I KEEP DOING THIS. It’s all your fault.) I think he realized that taking on all those people at once was a terrible, terrible idea. Why ruin his glorious moment when he and Lockjaw could steal things from an in through improvised choreography???
AND THEN THEY FIND THE LUGGAGE!!!! YES, I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS, TOO. It’s always fun when a new character has to cope with the existence of the Luggage and all the weirdness it brings. But it was through this scene that I then realized what had happened to Twoflower, Rincewind, and Bethan: THEY HAD FOUND ONE OF THOSE STORES THAT CONSTANTLY CHANGES LOCATION. The Luggage had seen Twoflower enter the store, but it disappeared before it could get inside.
Which brings me to
How are these people going to get out of the store? And even if they do get out of that place, they won’t exit it in the same place where they entered it, right? I definitely don’t understand all the logistics of this sort of place, since I don’t know if the owners can direct the location where they show up or if it’s random.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE IDEA THAT THE SHOP IS ALSO FULL OF SOUVENIRS AND RANDOM SHIT? I don’t think there was a single thing here that was particularly useful, so it’s almost like a waste of a magical, non-permanent shop? Like, why would you have dust-covered soap? Does this mean the owner hasn’t had any visitors for some time? WHERE DID HE GET A SURVEILLANCE CAMERA? HOW IS THIS BOOK REAL?
The original text contains the words “mad” and “lame.”
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