Mark Reads ‘Sourcery’: Part 3

In the third part of Sourcery, Rincewind meets a thief. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Oh shit, all hail Conina, y’all. ALL HAIL. She is the Glow Cloud of our lives.

I don’t think this is done perfectly, but this was so much fun to read. Pratchett has this tendency to cast the women in his books as mysterious as a whole gender to the men. I understand that this is largely due to the wizards and the protections they have in place to prevent a sourcerer from being… well, the only word I’ve got is “made.” From being made. Now I’m the one who sounds like they’re coming up with a ridiculous euphemism. Anyway, it’s popped up in every single book of his I’ve read so far, hasn’t it? You could see it in most of Cutwell’s and Mort’s interactions with Princess Keli in Mort, as well as Cutangle’s scenes with Granny Weatherwax. Here, Rincewind is mystified by Conina’s physical prowess or scandalized by the very thought that she might have to ever take off her clothes. I admit that part of my confusion in this book could be due to the fact that I don’t actually understand where it fits in the greater chronology. Does this take place before the events in Equal Rites? I’m guessing that’s the case, since Rincewind is so adamant that women aren’t allowed in Unseen University.

Anyway, this didn’t distract me from my appreciation of this character introduction, nor the hint at what the greater plot of Sourcery might actually be. Conina is finally named as the thief in the previous section, and we discover that she stole the Archchancellor’s hat. Which speaks. And is sentient. AND TOLD HER TO STEAL ITSELF. Unsurprisingly, Rincewind has no interest whatsoever in an adventure. Or a journey. Or a hero’s quest. Or anything that takes him away from the dull certainty of being the assistant librarian. But this is Rincewind we’re talking about! What kind of character would he be if he weren’t constantly forced to be the protagonist of a novel? I daresay that’s the point of him!

So this is how Sourcery kicks into motion: Conina arrives with the Archchancellor’s Hat, asking for a wizard to accompany her. And when the first fight breaks out, it’s not even over the hat itself! There’s a price that Conina has to pay for being the greatest thief the Disc has probably ever seen: people constantly want to kill her. But what I found so hilarious about the brawl in the Mended Drum was how quickly Conina was able to turn all the reputable disreputables against one another. Well, after she easily takes out a couple of the Patrician’s guards. I think “easily” might not be the right word, because Pratchett has created a character in Conina that’s a lot closer to an assassin. She dispels the men who come after her with creativity and confidence, and I imagine that’s because she constantly has to escape from… well, any place she’s at ever.

“Why are they chasing you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Oh, come on! There must be a reason!”

“Oh, there’s plenty of reasons. I just don’t know which one. Are you coming?”

Yeah, she’s my favorite. In a close second? The hat:

Oh, do shut up. She stole us because we ordered her to. It was a near thing, too.

“But she’s a –” Rincewind hesitated. “She’s of the female persuasion…” he muttered.

So was your mother.

Not to be outdone, Rincewind gives a brain-melting response:

“Yes, well, but she ran away before I was born,” Rincewind mumbled.

Oh, Terry Pratchett.

I appreciated the little joke made when the hat begins to reveal the importance of getting the hell out of Ankh-Morpork. The world was ending – again – and the hat needed to find “someone fit to wear” it in Klatch. But whatever, it’s a mission, it’s a quest, blah blah blah blah LET’S GET TO WHAT MATTERS.

I mean it, said the hat sulkily. The triumph of the Ice Giants, the Apocraplypse, the Teatime of the Gods, the whole thing.


From here, Rincewind and Conina head into the Shades and straight to the Troll’s Head, the hostel where Conina is staying. Has she stayed here before? How often has she had to hide in Ankh-Morpork? With every new detail given of her life and methodology, I feel like I’m getting the impression that her life is a non-stop procession of theft, run, kill, and hide. She’s set up to be a glaring contrast to Rincewind, who has only forced familiarity with any of these concepts. It’s not like he chose to go on adventures before, you know? But like his story in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, Rincewind is getting involved in something where he’ll be perpetually chased. I’m excited to see more of Klatch, but I’m extra excited to learn more about this hat.

There’s an eerie scene where someone tries to steal the hat from Conina. They actually steal it from Rincewind (no one is surprised about this), but the hat ends up FREEZING THE THIEF. So it’s got its own magic??? WHAT ELSE CAN IT DO? Really, though, that’s not the most memorable part here.

Rincewind nodded, and grabbed the frozen thief by his icicle arm. The man slipped out of his grasp and hit the cobbles.

Where he shattered.


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

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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