Apr 14, 2010

Annotation #6: Fantasy

Posted by Kirsten at 4/14/2010 01:12:00 PM

I’m gonna start this out with a little background before I talk about the book.

Somewhere out in the universe  there are four elephants riding on the back of The Great A’Tuin, a giant turtle. On the back of these elephants is the flat disc that is THE DISCWORLD.  The Discworld

Ankh-Morpork, a city located halfway between the rim and the hub of the Discworld, is a city that is so corrupt that even the criminals Lord Vetinariworry about being robbed and murdered. It is run by Lord Havelock Vetinari, who essentially has power over the entire city (and if anybody says any different you’ll never find out because this graduate of the Assassins' Guild will gladly have them killed). The city is located on the  River Ankh which is reported to be so polluted you can actually walk on it without sinking.

 

 Unseen University, home and school to the Discworld’s wizards, is located in Ankh-Morpork. Younger wizards experiment with magic and the older wizards try not to do actual magic at all. They’d rather spend their time trying to assassinate their brethren in the hope that they may become archancellor of the university. The official motto of the university is The official motto of Unseen University is "Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides", which basically means "Now you see it, now you don't". Of course The unofficial motto is "η β π", or "Eta Beta Pi" (Eat A Better Pie).  The university is steeped in so much magic that the building and its furnishings seem alive and the creatures living in it and on it such as the  gargoylesand pigeons have a human like The Colour Of Magicintelligence. It’s not uncommon, during a crises, to see the ants evacuating the building in an orderly fashion.

A fixture at the university is The Librarian. He used to be a wizard but a magical accident turned him into an orangutan and he rather likes the change. Just don’t call him a monkey or he might have to hurt you. He is in charge of the University’s library which contains the biggest collection of magical texts known on the Disc.  It is actually possible that  every book ever written and even those may have been, weren’t and even have yet to be written are located somewhere amongst the endles shelves of living books in the library.

OK, enough of the background. On to the book!

Sourcery-coverSOURCERY

by Terry Pratchett

Our story (the fifth novel in the Discworld series) begins with Ipslore The Red, a wizard who was thrown out of Unseen University because he fell in love, got married and had children (not necessarily in that order). Wizards in the DiscWorld are forbidden to reproduce because reproduction leads to (insert whispering voice here)”SOURCERY”. (return to regular volume) Ipslore himself is the 8th son of an 8th son and has just had his latest son who he has named “Coin”. This makes Coin the 8th son of an 8th son of an 8th son (or a wizard squared) which makes him a sorcerer or a source of magic which is not good.  Ipslore, still more than a little upset at being kicked out of the university, makes a prophecy just before his death, stating that Coin will not only go to the university, but that he will wear the Archancellor’s hat and rule over all wizards.

DEATH

 

Death forces Ipslore to place a loophole in the prophecy, but you’ll have to read to find out what it is. 

 

Ten years later (at of course the age of ten) Coin shows up at the university an he wields the most powerful magic any of the wizards have ever seen. In fact, the last time sorcery such as his was seen there was a massive war and the magical fallout affected the entire Discworld. He immediately begins making changes to not only the university, but to the wizards thought process forcing them to question why they are content to live in the university rather than ruling the Disc. He will change the fate of the Discworld forever. And not for the better. According to “THE LORE” (of the wizards that is) the last war between wizards almost destroyed the Disc and it it just cannot sustain the amount of magic and sorcery being brought into the world by the impending war between Coin and the Wizards who will oppose him.

What stands between the residents of the Discworld and the end of existence as they know it?

image The main defense is Rincewind, the most cowardly wizard in the history of the disc. He knows in his heart of hearts that he is a wizard but doesn’t have the talent to back it up. When it comes to danger, his philosophy revolves around run, hide and then run some more. Which is probably a good thing considering that danger and bad things follow him around like a puppy follows it’s owner. Wherever Rincewind is, you can be sure that danger and strange situations are never far behind. He is never seen without his wizard hat that spells out “WIZZARD” in rhinestones that are forever falling off. As long as he has his hat, no one can tell him that he isn’t a wizard, no matter how little magical talent he has. For Rincewind,the important part of running is not where he’s running to, but who or what he’s running from. He believes in preemptive karma. That if anything even remotely good looks like its going to happen to him, his karma throws something bad at him so that the good thing never happens.

 

Along with Rincewind, comes The Luggage The Luggage(Yes, Capital T and L.) Its a giant trunk made out of Sapient-Pearwood which means that it’s intelligent and alive and no one really knows quite how. You never know what’s going to be inside the luggage.  (When it’s ticked it likes to impersonate an inanimate trunk full of gold with its lid open and then when whoever made it angry reaches for the gold it gobbles them up!) In fact many residents of the Discworld have become quite creeped out when they’ve realized that The Luggage, which has no face whatsoever, is staring at them.

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In his efforts to run away from danger Rincewind meets up with Conina, the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian. (he’s a famous hero of the Discworld). She has the incredible skill of a barbarian hero and the looks of her mother, the concubine. She dreams of having a normal life and becoming a hairdresser. Unfortunately, those barbarian hero reflexes she inherited form her father make her more likely to slice and dice her customers than to trim their hair.image

The final member of our world saving crew is Nijel the Destroyer, son of Harebut the Provision Merchant. He used to be a clerk, but three days before his introduction he found a manual, Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You a Barbearian Hero! and left home. The classic barbarian hero is muscular, tall, and has a tendency to wear boots a loincloth, his weapons and not much else. Nijel, however, is described as a six foot tall pile of skin and bones and looks like dictionary definition of emaciated personified  and “as though a toast rack and deckchairs figured in his ancestry”. (pg. 129) Then of course, unlike your normal (if you can call them that) barbarian hero, he wears a pair of wooly underwear with his barbarian gear. He promised his mother after all!

These are the people responsible for the fate of the Discworld. Rincewind, Conina, Nijel and The Luggage are the only thing standing between utter destruction and life as it has been know on the Disc. Come find out whether they manage to overcome Rincewind’s survival instinct and save the Disc or if the Disc is doomed!

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I love this series, all 37 of Terry Pratchett’s novels.! The best part of his novels is that you run into his characters in multiple novels. even when they aren’t the main characters or focus in a book, you still tend to hear about them. Some of the characters, such as Rincewind, play an integral part in several of his novels. Reading each of Pratchett’s novels is, in a sense, like coming home. after you’ve read a couple, you know the Discworld and how it works and what to expect from it and Pratchett never disappoints. Pratchett’s novels fall into the comedic fantasy category and his humor is chock full of parody and situations that fill the reader’s need for laughter. Where else would you find three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse sitting around a table getting drunk and forgetting that they were supposed to be at, as Pratchett calls it, THE APOCRALYPSE. Death would have been their too, but his horse, Binky was not stolen, so he was on time for the end of the world.

At 288 pages, Sourcery, like the others in the series, is a quick read and provides plenty of entertainment. I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys a little humor reads this or another book in the Discworld series. Here are a couple other of my favorites, Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal and Thud!

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And lets not forget nine-year-old Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle (aka  Pictsies, The Wee Free Men, the Little Men,  'Person or Persons Unknown, Believed to be Armed', and occasionally 'The Defendants'), While this is written more for a younger audience, it still one of my and many other adult’s favorites!

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