I at least had some expectations of Mr Pratchett’s work coming into this, having read The Colour of Magic a little while ago. It wasn’t the spectacular I was expecting from my friends’ descriptions, but there was definitely a lot to enjoy. So how does The Light Fantastic measure up? Well, things have definitely improved since his last effort. Oh, and just so you know, this review will contain some spoilers for the ending of The Colour of Magic, not that I think people will care much, seeing as I must be one of the few people who has only just started reading Discworld.
The Light Fantastic carries on from where The Colour of Magic left off, with Rincewind plunging over the edge of the Disc to what can be assumed to be certain doom. Except that it isn’t. Instead of dying in the vacuum of space, he finds himself falling to the base of a tree. It turns out that the great spell lodged in Rincewind’s head has saved him in order that he still be around to say it. The reason for this is that the turtle upon whose back the Disc is situated has its current course directed towards a star, generally not a healthy place for a world to be; in order to prevent the Disc from being destroyed the eight great spells of the Octavo must be recited at exactly the right time. So Rincewind must journey back to the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork in order to recite all eight spells in time. At the same time he also has to avoid the schemes and plots of Trymon, a wizard that wants the glory of saving the world for himself. This more focused storyline definitely works better than the odd jumping around that there was in The Colour of Magic, as it means that we get much more of an understanding of character and time span as well as there being more of an incentive to continue reading. My one real complaint about The Light Fantastic is that it occasionally introduces characters that either aren’t all that necessary (Lackjaw the dwarfish jeweller) or are interesting but are only there for a few scenes and then never seen again (Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan).
In regards to characters, my comments from my review of The Colour of Magic still stand for Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage; although I will add that my soft spot for the Luggage may have grown. The three main characters that are introduced are Cohen the Barbarian, Bethan and the aforementioned Trymon. Cohen the Barbarian is, as far as I can gather, supposed to mock Conan, although considering I still have yet to read any Conan the Barbarian, I say that with some uncertainty. In any case, he is presented as the Disc’s greatest hero who has managed to continue working as a hero well into old age. As such, he is formidable in battle, but occasionally has to pause while he tries to recover from putting his back out. He’s quite likeable and pretty much the only intentionally competent fighter in the book. Second is Bethan who is essentially the sane one out of them all; saved from being a human sacrifice, she’s initially resentful of the group for having interrupted an important ceremony in her culture, but she quickly decides that since she’s in the role of rescued damsel, she might as well put her all into it. Finally there’s Trymon, a character that I’m all too glad to wish defeat on, simply because he irritates me; he seems to be based on those bosses that attempt to sound business-savvy by changing policies that worked just fine as they were and by promoting things like ‘synergy’. I sincerely hope that my wrath is understandable.
Overall, a definite improvement over The Colour of Magic, but I think that there is still a lot of room for it to get better. I look forward to eventually reading the next instalment of the series. 3.5/5
Next review: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham