Mark Reads ‘The Light Fantastic’: Part 3

In the third part of The Light Fantastic, a bunch of incompetent, feuding wizards converge on the cottage where Twoflower and Rincewind are, and two totally competent wizards battle one another at Unseen University. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Light Fantastic.

ALL RIGHT, COUNT ME IN. I’M IN, I WANT TO MORE. Holy shit, that reveal with the stars is TOO MUCH.

Galder vs. Trymon: THE MAIN EVENT

Yes, this book is written with a humorous tone in mind, but I loved that for a moment, the story felt UTTERLY SERIOUS. Because holy shit, Trymon is now very desperate to take Galder’s place BUT GALDER IS NOT TAKING TRYMON’S SHIT.

There are so many lovely jokes and details revealed before their confrontation, though. Y’all, Galder “tuned” his floorboards to make specific notes when stepped on so that he’d know exactly where someone was in his office. THAT’S SO INCREDIBLE. And really, it’s all part of Pratchett’s detailed character development of Galder. Every single thing mentioned here builds up his personality, from his flair for theatrics to his cunning. This man loves being a wizard, and he’s going to milk the entire thing for all he can get. SERIOUSLY:

For example, he happened to know that the green liquid bubbling mysteriously through a maze of contorted pipework on one of the benches was just green dye with soap in it, because he’d bribed one of the servants.

HOW COULD YOU NOT ENJOY THIS? Oh my god. Of course, I understand why Trymon hates Galder. He hates the dramatics, he hates the absurdity of Galder’s being, and he hates DISORGANIZATION. But above all, he hates the way that Galder treats him:

Deep in his gray eyes was the faintest glitter that said he had a list of every slight, every patronizing twinkle, every gentle reproof, every knowing glance, and for every single one Galder’s living brain was going to spend a year in acid.

SWEET MOTHER OF BEAVERS, that is intense. And it’s fascinating to me that Galder is portrayed as… well, irritating prior to this. I personally enjoy his strangeness, but I got the sense that he wasn’t actually that great of a wizard. He seemed to be steps behind everyone else; he was cruel and rude; and by every standard, he was very much a trope. He’s the bumbling antagonist wizard who we’re meant to hate and who isn’t very talented when you get down to it. But that’s because we’re seeing this through Trymon’s eyes. There are multiple lines where Trymon hints towards knowing the truth about the Pyramid, implying that Galder is a fool. Then there’s that ridiculous moment where he fires an arrow into a mirror, and I honestly thought he was just showing off and nothing would come of it.

And then Trymon takes advantage of what he perceives is Galder’s lack of attentiveness, and THROWS A KNIFE AT HIS NECK. Which misses because it magically orbits around Galder’s neck and is then flung into the door next to Trymon’s ear. CAN WE TALK ABOUT THESE TWO AMAZING LINES?

“I must congratulate you, master. I can see that we must all get up very early in the morning to get the better of you.”


“Early in the morning?” said Galder pleasantly. “My dear lad, you will need to stay up all night.”

INCREDIBLE. With just one scene, I now have to think about Galder differently. He deflects another attack later in this section from Trymon, and then… I DON’T ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND. Did the Luggage – which was transported to Unseen University due to Galder’s arrow WHICH ACTUALLY WORKED – EAT Galder? Did it crush him? WHERE IS HE????

Gingerbread Cottage Chaos

So, given that I’ve been reading the Enchanted Forest books over on YouTube, I am currently greatly in favor of wizards being portrayed as completely clueless and foolish. IT’S SO MUCH FUN TO READ, especially since most of the fantasy genre makes them powerful figures of wisdom and lore. NOPE. NOT HERE. Rincewind and Twoflower, who are completely unaware of what Death set in motion by revealing the Hogswatchnight prophecy, have an absolutely delightful conversation about the gingerbread cottage. They don’t know that various bands of wizards are converging outside. And really, when you’re talking about meringue mattresses and marzipan tables, can you bother paying attention to the outside world? Of course not!

And so, the competing groups of incompetent wizards are spread throughout the forest, hiding from one another, attacking one another, mistaking one another for monsters, probably being eaten by monsters, and all of them are not being friends with the trees. (The trees just want someone to talk to them!) This is actually more than just a joke in and of itself. Pratchett has to divulge this in order for us to understand the chaos the emerges from all of these wizards being in the same place at the same time. It’s worth it because of this paragraph alone:

The scene below was indescribable but since that statement would earn the death penalty in the reign of Olaf Quimby II the attempt better be made. Firstly, most of the struggling wizards were trying to illuminate the scene by various flames, fireballs, and magical glows, so the overall lighting gave the impression of a disco in a strobe-light factory; each man was trying to find a position from which he could see the rest of the room without being attacked himself, and absolutely everyone was trying to keep out of the way of the Luggage, which had two Venerable Seers pinned in a corner and was snapping its lid at anyone who approached.

It’s beautiful. IT IS POETRY.

Referencing Rincewind’s hatred of heights and flying from The Color of Magic, the story then takes a VERY DISTURBING TURN, one that I WAS NOT READY FOR. Rincewind and Twoflower escape, unsurprisingly bickering the entire way because duh. Along the way, they pass by the shaman from earlier (who definitely did not see them, nope, not at all) and Pratchett drops another great line about the Ice Giants, who sound like jerks. The two goofballs appear above the cloud layer (AGAIN, I mind you, since Twoflower guided his dragon above the cloud layer in the last book) and what the FUCK:

Rimward, in the direction of Great A’Tuin’s travel, the sky had been swept of stars.

In that circle of blackness there was just one star, a red and baleful star, a star like the glitter in the eye socket of a rabid mink. It was small and horrible and uncompromising. And the Disc was being carried straight toward it.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH SHIT. oh shit.

The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “idiot.”

Part 1

Part 2

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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