The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett
“In a distant and secondhand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part… See… Great A’Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters.”
A witty and satirical story that reinvented the fantasy genre.
The Colour of Magic was Terry Pratchett’s first-ever novel and the beginning of a series that would span three decades. Originally written as a way to make fun of fantasy stereotypes and clichés, it quickly became a multi-book award-winning series. Published in 1983, it’s set in the imaginary world of Discworld, a world in the shape of a large disc which rests on the backs of four giant elephants which stand on top of a huge space turtle.
The first in the Discworld series, as well as the first in the Rincewind series, it’s one of the most loved yet hated books ever written. The Colour of Magic includes cynical wizards, sentient clothes chests, parodic heroes, imaginary real dragons, and hydrophobic sailors.
The story follows Rincewind, incompetent and sarcastic as he accepts the position of tour guide for Discworld’s first ever tourist; Twoflower. He quickly realises that it’s not as easy a way to make money as he thinks. Trouble seems to follow Twoflower at every turn, but its Rincewind who pays the price. Between a town fire that would put 1666 London to shame, dryad inhabited treehouses, and dragons that can only appear if imagined, the pair are in for one hell of an adventure.
The Colour of Magic is witty and comedic and the very definition of ordered chaos.
- This book is the height of satire. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy paved the way for humorous fantasy, but The Colour of Magic brought it to a whole new level. It’s hilarious and ingenious, following the foolish Twoflower and cowardly Rincewind. Lighthearted and easy to read, it’s entertaining throughout. Think Monty Python meets Lord of the Rings.
- Pratchett is the king of imagination. Although Tolkien may have invented most of his characters, Pratchett has taken the old and made it new. From the world-weary-sick-of-its-job Death to barbarians that actually have a brain, it’s original and fresh and enjoyable to read.
- The characters are incredible. From assassins and thieves to pirates and wizards, Pratchett covers nearly every fantasy possibility. They’re interesting and well developed and you can’t help but fall in love with each of them.
- The plot, or rather, lack of plot, gets a little hectic. Pratchett seemed to have hundreds of ideas and only one book to include them all in. The characters jump from dramatic action scenes to even more manic situations without any break in between. After a while, it begins to get confusing.
- Due to its age, quite a few jokes go completely over the heads of modern-day readers. It was published in the early 1980s, making it almost half a century old. For anyone under the age of sixty, not every joke will be understood.
- Some of the imaginative inventions go just that little bit too far. Twoflower’s clothes chest, for example, has over one hundred human feet beneath it that carries it wherever it wants to go. This harmless but very very dark side of Discworld makes it unsuitable for younger readers.
Overall, I’d give Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic a three out of five. It’s without a doubt the most entertaining novel that I have ever read.
I’d recommend this novel to teenagers and older, but especially to fans of Monty Python, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and American Gods.
Want to read it for yourself?
Prefer to listen instead?