Mark Reads ‘Interesting Times’: Part 3

In the third part of Interesting Times, the wizards gather around Hex and attempt to send Rincewind to the Counterweight Continent. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

The Rules of Magic

You know, I suppose I never truly thought about the magical system in the Discworld at length because it never really mattered that much. I do love worldbuilding surrounding magic in fantasy novels (and it’s why I’m so eager to start Young Wizards here tomorrow), but I never stopped to examine how Pratchett built a world around magic. (At least, I don’t remember doing it.) I think that’s mostly because magic isn’t ever the focal point of any one story. It’s there, it happens, but it’s never explained in any great detail. So I wonder, then, if the whole bit about the “rules” of magic that opens this section is meant as a bit of a joke about the rigid “rules” that often accompany magic in fantasy books. We honestly have never seen any rules in these books. We just know magic is powerful, wizards sometimes use it, Rincewind can’t do it at all, and in the end, magic is as mysterious and chaotic as anything else in the Discworld.

And this is where the Hex comes in. Even if this bizarre version of a computer might actually help to simplify magic, to reduce spells to some sort of basic framework to help take out the guessing that so often comes with it all, it’s still very much a Discworld magical thing. CLEARLY:

What he suspected they were dealing with was a specialized case of formative causation, always a risk in a place like Unseen University, where reality was stretched so thin and therefore blown by so many strange breezes. They were just putting physical clothes on an idea that was already there, a shadow of something that had been waiting to exist.

The Hex reminded me of some of the PC builds my college buddies used to put together back in my freshman year. Since it was the only year I lived on campus, I spent a lot of time in the other dorms. I can’t even begin to explain some of the builds I saw because I’m so ignorant about PCs that I don’t even know what it was I was looking at. Now, I’m sure that technology has outright wasted the capability of those things, but I do remember how much shit was just added on top of whatever they started with. There were intricate fan systems meant to keep it all cool so they could play games on the highest graphics setting. I recall tubes and wires and blue lights and I’m sure I sound like the most ridiculous amateur ever. BUT IT WAS RIDICULOUS! Impressive as hell, but I never understood them at all. I just knew you could play games on them and run like four programs at once, and all this seemed utterly impossible for anyone else.

Yeah, that’s what I think of when I read about the Hex.


I truly was not surprised that Ridcully wasn’t afraid of the Luggage. Of COURSE he wouldn’t be! The Luggage is far too interesting and violent for him to be anything other than fascinated by it. Seriously, how great was this line?

The Luggage backed away. It was used to terror, horror, fear, and panic. It had seldom encountered interest before.



I admit that Rincewind’s story still feels very, very familiar, almost bordering on repetitive. Without knowing much about the “adventure” that awaits him on the Counterweight Continent, it’s hard to see this as all that different from his previous books. The man craves dullness, and the universe has repeatedly conspired to make sure he gets very little of it. (Well, I suspect the Lady and Fate are mostly responsible for this.) So the little emotional moment here where he quietly wishes for Coconut Surprise is cute, but it’s nothing new. What I did find really cool was the idea that even though Rincewind didn’t seem to want to be home, there were still things he missed about it. If he’d been able to return to Unseen University and live a quiet, unassuming life, this would have a whole different feel to it. Alas, he arrives home and is immediately sent to a place he doesn’t want to go to do something he has no interest in. Yet I loved that even amidst this, he still made sure to get something he missed all too much:

“Now go down to the kitchen and get some potatoes.”

A man after my own heart, y’all. So I think it’s important that he makes a huge request of the wizards before he allows himself to be sent six thousand miles away: when he gets back, he is allowed to be a wizard and never go anywhere ever. I suppose I should change that to if he gets back. I don’t really have all that much faith that they can perfectly remove him from the Counterweight Continent in time, but hey. They did find him on that deserted island! So… yay? Maybe?

The Counterweight Continent

I wonder which of the preconceived ideas that the wizards have of this nation are correct and which are total bullshit. They can’t even seem to agree on any one thing about the Counterweight Continent aside from… well, it being large. Is it a culture of politeness? Is the Agatean Empire “tyrannical” or a “repressive government”? Again, we know very little about them, and the brief scene from the perspective of the Red Army tells us that they’re looking forward to Rincewind’s arrival and that they’re fighting against some sort of repressive government. I think. I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW. And right now, that’s the main thing that’s captured my interest. I’m assuming that Rincewind made it, so… WHAT IS IT LIKE? Will we see Twoflower again????

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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