In the thirteenth and final part of The Light Fantastic, LITERAL BABIES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Light Fantastic.
This actually made me quite sad.
I guess that’s kind of weird because I’m only two novels into the entire Discworld canon, I have no idea if these characters will show up again, and I’m still a relative newbie in this fandom. And yet? This still felt like a huge ending to me, as if I was leaving the Discworld forever and this was my last adventure here.
I’m glad it’s not because HOLY SHIT THIS ENDING IS SO GREAT. After one of the most deeply serious segments of either novel I’ve read so far, Pratchett can’t resist setting up an incredible joke that plays off of a very common trope. We don’t know if Rincewind survived, but his “disembodied voice” wants Twoflower to do one last thing. It’s a scenario we’re familiar with, but it never ends like this:
“I want you to come and help me up before I lose my grip on this stone,” it said.
But even in this joke, there’s a substantial amount of character development for Twoflower. After spending two full novels as the blissfully unaware traveler, we learn that… well, he’s not nearly as blissfully unaware as we thought he was. He makes a pseudo-sarcastic comment. THEN HE TELLS RINCEWIND THAT HE SHOULD TAKE THE “EASY” WAY OUT AND JUST DROP AND DIE AND HOLY SHIT. Twoflower deliberately embarrasses Rincewind, and it was such a shocking – but entirely believable – thing to read. He even stops Rincewind from unleashing sass on Cohen, and look: HE CLEARLY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON. He isn’t ignorant; it’s all about how he chooses to engage with the world as it is, and that’s what Rincewind finally comes to understand about Twoflower. His optimism isn’t a flaw at all.
I’ll get to that in more detail in a bit. The big battle between Trymon and Rincewind now over, Rincewind turns to the Octavo to finally free his mind of the spell lodged inside of him. I understood what a massive moment this was for the story, and I love how Pratchett composed it. I love that people begin to show up as the spells leap out of the page and float around Rincewind. COHEN’S DOVE JOKE IS INCREDIBLE. And then Pratchett shocks me again by having nothing happen. Literally. Initially, I thought that was the joke! We were tricked into thinking that the Octavo spells were actually important when they did nothing at all. But after Bethan theorizes that Rincewind pronounced a spell wrong, I realized that the joke was a whole lot bigger than that. Yeah, this was foreshadowed in the first section of the first book painstakingly foreshadowed CONSTANTLY in this book. The spells were life, not death. The Big Bang. Great A’Tuin’s purposeful travel. All of it was so that Great A-Tuin could return to the place where their children would be born.
From the wreakage of one hollow shell a very small sky turtle paddled its way into the red light. It was barely bigger than an asteroid, it’s shell still shiny with molten yolk.
There were four small world-elephant calves on there, too. And on their backs was a Discworld, tiny as yet, covered in smoke and volcanoes.
THIS IS THE CUTEST PLOT RESOLUTION IN THE HISTORY OF FICTION. BABY TURTLES. BABY ELEPHANTS. BABY DISCWORLDS, ORBITING THEIR PARENT, AND HEADING BACK INTO SPACE, AND I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. Especially since it inspires this incredible moment in Rincewind, after Twoflower is upset about his picture box not being ready:
That’s old Twoflower, Rincewind thought. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate beauty, he just appreciates it in his own way. I mean, if a poet sees a daffodil he stares at it and writes a long poem about it, but Twoflower wanders off to find a book on botany. And treads on it. It’s right what Cohen said. He just looks at things, but nothing he looks at is ever the same again. Including me, I suspect.
Truthfully, we all appreciated different things about the world in our own way, and I find this message particularly relevant to what I do here on Mark Reads. This is how I appreciate books and fiction! Other people draw fanart or write fanfiction or go to conventions or build up collections. And after the journey that Rincewind just went on, which resulted in his own freedom, he realizes that he was always looking at Twoflower the wrong way himself.
It’s why it’s sad to me that this is ending with Twoflower and Rincewind going their separate ways. I could tell that Rincewind wasn’t very happy that Twoflower was going home because… shit, there’s so much potential here! He may not understand Twoflower’s need to go home in order to appreciate what he just went through. But he understands that there’s no one like Twoflower anywhere on the Disc. So it’s wistful that at this point, when Rincewind actually gets Twoflower completely, their adventure is over. I mean, I got the sense that Twoflower wasn’t going to travel again, since he gave his Luggage to Rincewind. (!!!!!) Like I mentioned before, I don’t actually know if we’ll see these characters again. I want so much more!
It’s exciting, though, to know that I’m going to keep reading Discworld books without knowing what the next one holds. Since I’m doing this in publication order, that means I get to jump around the various series. WHICH IS SUPER EXCITING. It’s so different for me. But I’m glad that this set of books was my introduction to the Discworld. They allowed me to get a glimpse of Pratchett’s style, and I felt like a saw a lot of the Disc. “A lot,” of course, is actually “not enough.” So onwards I go! I start Equal Rites on Monday. There’ll be no prediction posts since… that’s impossible, apparently? I guess I’ll find out soon.
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