In the fourth part of The Light Fantastic, Rincewind and Twoflower survive their plunge because of druids and computers, and Trymon inches closer to discovering where it is that Rincewind is hiding. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
OH MY GOD DRUID COMPUTERS. I CAN’T DO THIS.
Let’s split up the two main plots unfolding so I can talk about each separately!
Trymon, Head of the Order
I suppose this confirms that Galder is indeed dead and gone, since Trymon is now the head of the Order! Immediately after his inauguration, he meets the the Professor of Astrology to discuss the rather unnerving presence of a star. Well, the red star. The one the Great A’Tuin is heading towards with zest and gusto. The one that will make the Discworld “disorganized,” which might be my favorite joke in this section. I don’t even know if I can choose! All of Trymon’s conversation with the astrologer is hilarious, and that’s not even addressing the parody of astrology charts. But I love the way that Trymon tries to be thoughtful and inquisitive, but he instead comes across as a fool. That poor astrologer, I swear. I don’t envy him at all.
But Pratchett is setting up a necessary conflict through all of this. We know that Trymon is desperate to elevate himself to power, and he’s already succeeded at making himself head of the Order. (Thanks, Luggage!) Now, he’s determined to obtain the spell that Rincewind holds in his head. In one sense, I suppose that Trymon’s story is very familiar in a fantasy setting, but Pratchett has twisted it so much that it doesn’t match up with the tropes. At face value, we’ve got a selfish, power-hungry wizard who wants to steal something from the mind of our hero. Except that Rincewind really isn’t a typical fantasy hero at all, since he doesn’t actually want to be a hero. There’s that whole bit where he desires a normal life instead of the ridiculous one he’s got, and it’s actually a neat way for Pratchett to toy with expectations. That’s nothing new for the series, since we saw this same dynamic in The Color of Magic. Still, it’s enjoyable!
Oh my god, the druids are SO MUCH FUN. We find out how Rincewind and Twoflower survived their plunge on the broom: They landed on a druid’s rock. Which is flying through the clouds. Because of persuastion.
I admit that I don’t quite know what Pratchett was poking fun at with the druids. Real druids? New-age aesthetics? It didn’t really matter to me, though, because there was enough humor here to appreciate without understanding every joke used. Like SMELLING BACON ON A FLYING ROCK. Or how saving burning bacon from further bacon is the best diplomacy in the universe. Or this exchange:
“You’re not trying to steal the rock?” said the druid, lowering the sickle a fraction.
“I didn’t even know you could steal rocks,” said Rincewind wearily.
And I didn’t know that the entire universe was held up by persuasion. Oh, the druids views on the universe are so fascinating and completely hilarious, but I was kind of distracted from thinking too much on this because:
“Ah, so you’re an astronomer?” said Twoflower.
“Oh no,” said Belafon, as the rock drifted gently around the curve of a mountain, “I’m a computer hardware consultant.”
what the fuck.
THIS ISN’T A MISTAKE, I’M ACTUALLY READING THIS BOOK AND THE DRUIDS HAVE COMPUTERS? Not just that, BUT THEY ARE BOOK BIGOTS, TOO. Oh my god, Belafon is horrified by the idea of books because THEY CAN’T COUNT. The information is stuck on a page in a static state, so apparently there’s no value in said information??? Oh my god, THERE ARE REAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO BELIEVE THIS, TOO. I can’t deal with this book. At least, I thought that was the case until they all arrived at the great computer of the skies, which apparently looks just like Stonehenge??? I mean, stones arranged in a concentric circle… that’s Stonehenge, right? HOW? HOW IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING? And you know, as soon as Belafon began to talk about how the computer was erring, I assumed that this was yet another joke about how you couldn’t depend on these computers, that the whole system was laughably flawed, that this was all poking fun at people who rely on technology to solve every problem, but then one of the druids mentions that it might be the universe that has gone wrong, not the computers.
Technically, he’s right, isn’t he? It’s at this point that Rincewind, falling asleep, has his mind transported into the Octavo itself, where the other seven spells reveal that the spell in Rincewind’s mind is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.
Actually, that’s not right. I would be remiss not to mention that they first argue about how life began, since all seven spells remember the original of all things completely different from one another. (If there was a Great Egg of the Universe, was there a Great Chicken at some point, too?) Then there’s this INCREDIBLE exchange that’s not only a joke, but a set-up for another punchline:
“You run away a lot,” said one of the voices. “That is good. You are a survivor.”
“Survivor? I’ve nearly been killed dozens of times!”
BLESS EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. But at least Rincewind now knows (somewhat) that the spell in his mind is loosely connected to the chaos of his life. And perhaps he’s realized that it all has to do with the red star in the sky, too. He certainly doesn’t want any part in this, though, but he doesn’t have a choice. He opened the Octavo, and now one of the eight spells is in his head, and somehow, this is all going to save the Discworld from massive disorganization via star.
Oh no! Disorganization!
The original text contains the world “mad.”
Mark Links Stuff
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.
– I will be at quite a few conventions and will be hosting numerous events throughout the US, Canada, and Europe in 2014. Please check my Tour Dates/Appearances page often to see if I’m coming to your city!
– Inspired by last year’s impromptu park event in London, I am taking Mark in the Park on the road! You can see all the currently-planned dates and pitch your own city here.