Original Release Date: 1983
Original Publisher: Colin Smyth
Far away, in a land shaped like a saucer, which sits balanced on the backs of four elephants, who in turn ride the shell of a giant, deep space-swimming turtle (gender unknown)…live Rincewind and Twoflower. Diehard cynic and failed wizard, Rincewind is bound to Twoflower (Discworld’s first ever tourist) by fate. (The magistrate’s threat if Twoflower should come to any harm might also have had something to do with it…)
Together the two set out to follow Twoflower’s insatiable appetite for adventure, danger, and whatever other legendary predicaments strike his fancy—and end up towed in the wake of his uncanny penchant for trouble. In fact, if not for the undying devotion of Twoflower’s sapient (and apparently carnivorous) pearwood luggage, neither character could make it through the dragons, the inferno, the 8-legged demon, shipwreck, or kidnapping mayhem that ensue. Finally, washed up at the end of the world, it’s up to their combined (and questionable) wits to save them from virtual annihilation…
Packed with a brilliant combo of sparking wit and superb writing, it’s no wonder this first installment of the Discworld bibliography spawned the 38-odd books that followed…and their devoted fans. Hilarious, adventurous, inventive, but above all precise, even in its absurdity, Pratchett’s prose provides not only some welcome relief from the conventional fantasy world, but is first-rate reading all on its own.
I highly recommend this to those seasoned fantasy-lovers looking to investigate the roots, influences, and permutations of today’s otherworldly fiction—or just those seeking something truly original, witty, and lighthearted. While I do think a younger reader would get a kick out of the superficial storyline, the satiric undercurrent of its humor, as well as some mature content, really make it a more satisfying read for the older bibliophile. In fact, the more you know of the allusions contained (Rincewind’s wizardly problems are a cracked mirror to those of LeGuin’s Ged, for instance), the more fun it becomes.
**This is the only Discworld title “to be continued.” It is finished in The Light Fantastic. If you intend on speeding through this title—which, if you’re anything like me, you will—I recommend having the second book handy, to avoid frustration. The first ends…well, abruptly, as is absolutely fitting, considering the circumstances.**