Mark Reads ‘Eric’: Part 8

In the eighth and final part of Eric, everyone gets what they want. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Well, that was a strange book. Novella? Very long short story? While there have been plenty of small moments along the way that made this enjoyable, I don’t feel like it’s very complete. We learn the fate of Astfgl, and we find out how Rincewind and Eric get out of Hell, but… what happens to them?

There’s a distinct lack of any sort of extended characterization that’s often typical of the Discworld books thus far. That doesn’t mean I need things to remain the same, and I’m always willing to read a book that plays with my expectations. But I don’t think that Eric did that. We’ve got similar elements from past books here that re-appear in ways that don’t really challenge the reader. Astfgl’s behavior reminded me of how the Supreme Master spoke to the Brethren, for example. The Luggage arrived to save everyone at the last minute. The resolution of Astfgl’s anger reminded me a lot of how Good Omens ended, but not quite as funny. Not terrible, though, and I’m struggling to find a way to address this without it sounding like I hated this experience. I didn’t!

I think that Eric ultimately feels uneven. Rincewind jumps from one adventure to the next, much like he usually does, but it lacks the unity of a strong story. I feel like this was about Rincewind’s attempt to return home after being trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions, and then it turned into his journey with a petulant thirteen-year-old who believes he is a demon, and then… what does this turn into? That’s where the problem lies: it ends without any resolution on the characters who star in it. Like, I have so many questions! Did Eric ever realize that Rincewind was not a demon? Did Rincewind get home? Where did the road to Hell put them on the Disc? Did Eric ever come to understand how awful and misguided and gross his wishes were? Does he become a better person or a worse one or does he remain unchanged? What does Rincewind do with his life when he returns to the world? Does anyone react strangely to the return of a previously-dead man? Well… this is the Discworld, y’all, that probably happens a lot. Did he have a beautiful reunion with the Librarian??? What happened to da Quirm that destined him for Hell? Did they just leave him behind? I suppose they’d have to, since he was corporeal. Is the parrot corporeal, though???

I don’t necessarily need every question answered, and there’s something enjoyable in having to fill in blanks on your own. But this book’s ending – after Lord Vassenego properly disposes of Astfgl by promoting him – makes me think there’s a chapter missing or something. Now, there is something ironically hilarious about Vassenego’s coup. He basically uses Astfgl’s despised logic against him, convincing him he won some auspicious award and has been made Supreme Life President of Hell. Pratchett also ties up some loose ends, referencing those affected by Eric’s three wishes, and it’s like an attempt to give everything an end and a conclusion, and yet, I didn’t feel satisfied. There’s too much missing for my taste, too many stories left incomplete with no promise that I’ll ever get closure. Again, this book made me laugh, and there are plenty of clever scenes. But some of this exists to set up a punchline, and that can only entertain me to a point.

At the end of the day, Eric is witty, but I didn’t find it as invigorating as most of what I’ve read of Pratchett’s work. I know that along the way, I had been wondering how this book was even possible, and I chalked that up to being unable to see the full picture. Now that I’ve got it, though? I think I understand why this felt like such a jarring, staccato narrative. It was all rushing to this ending, one where most of my questions along the way would be unanswered.

I’m actually kind of fascinated by this because I tend to like everything y’all recommend to me! While I don’t think anyone thought that this was THE consummate Discworld book for me to read, it’s still neat to be able to be a little more critical than usual. SO THERE’S THAT! Anyway, I’ll be starting Moving Pictures next, and I have absolutely no clue what it is about. Even though this wasn’t my favorite thing, I’m still thrilled to see what happens next on the Disc.

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

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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