Terry Tuesday: The Colour of Magic (#1)

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I’ve tried to get “Terry Tuesday” up and running a few times now, but every time I’ve tried I’ve fallen behind schedule and then quit because I can’t fit in a pleasure read every week on top of my request schedule

So, my solution was to read Discworld whenever I can, write the reviews and stockpile them until I have enough for several months – hopefully, this will make Terry Tuesdays a success!

I’m going to be reading and reviewing all 41 books of Discworld, then moving on to other things Terry did like the spin-offs, cookbooks, games, and other books like Good Omens and The Long Earth series. With the exception of the first two books and the last two books, any of these can be read as a stand alone, so if you like the sound of a book go ahead and pick it up, and don’t worry about how far along it is in the series.

I love Discworld more than any other series ever, but, that doesn’t mean I love them all. Some of these books will have lower scores than you may expect me to give – but I also anticipate my first 100/100 to come in this series. It’s extremely rare when I go above a 90/100, those are typically reserved for the GRRM’s, the Abercrombies, Bancroft’s and other masters of the genre – but I still haven’t given a 100 yet. I see it coming.


This is the book that started it all, and it’s also one of the more divisive since some people love this book, and others bounced off of it hard and it took them a while to give Discworld a second chance – and there are others that just never tried again. The latter grouping is why I tell people not to start here, come back and get to it later once you’ve tasted what Discworld can be at its best.

This is a story about the first tourist to Anhk Morpork, his name is Twoflower, and he’s an insurance salesman that decided he wanted to get out and see the world. There are technically three continents on the Discworld, the main continent is where The Hub, Ankh Morpork, and the Ramtops are located – the people living here are under the impression that this is the only continent. There are fables and stories about a “Counterweight Continent” but no one really believes it exists. But it does exist, and it’s called the Agatean Empire. The Patrician of Ankh Morpork is aware of its existence, and occasionally he communicates with the leader of their Empire via Albatross mail. Twoflower is from this counterweight continent, and it’s causing quite the ruckus.

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Twoflower has met up with Rincewind, a reoccurring character in the Wizards subseries who gets a lot of novels later on. Rincewind is a failed wizard, he can only knows one spell that he was granted accidentally when he fiddled around with the spellbook that contained the eight spells of Creation. He’s a cowardly fellow and runs from most situations, so when he meets this Twoflower who has a habit of getting himself into dangerous situations not knowing any better, his first instinct is to run the other way instead of agreeing to be his tour guide.

The Patrician has another plan for Rincewind, however. He has received some Albatross mail instructing him to keep Mr. Twoflower safe and secure and return him in one piece. Rincewind is threatened into helping Mr. Twoflower, or suffer a very creative and unfortunate execution. Seeing no other options, Rincewind has agreed to show Mr. Twoflower around the city and make sure he gets back to the Agatean Empire unharmed. Twoflower makes this extremely difficult, what he wants to see is the gritty ‘real’ life of the Morporkians, and this is a very unwise decision. The lower grittier life of Anhk Morpork will get you killed very quickly, even if you aren’t loaded with gold like Mr. Twoflower. At one point, Mr. Twoflower explains the concept of insurance to the owner of The Drum, a local pub for the lower class citizen. The owner decides that fire insurance would be a great idea, especially considering he can insure it for far more money than it really would cost to replace it. Predictably, the bar burns down almost immediately after being insured…. but it doesn’t just burn down the bar, the entire city is aflame. There are oil containers exploding and spreading fire through the entire city and everything is utter chaos.

To make things more complicated, the Patrician receives a second piece of mail from the Agatean Empire, this time from the Grand Vazier, who has an opposing opinion on what should happen to Mr. Twoflower. The Emperor is just a child, so the child leader’s instructions are to be forfeited and under no circumstances is Mr. Twoflower to return to the Counterweight Continent. The Patrician sends out the Assassins Guild to take care of Mr. Twoflower, so he and Rincewind are now trying to evade assassins as well as make it through the blazing underbelly of Ankh Morpork alive. Not an easy feat.

This is a very whimsical book, some of the environments are surreal, some don’t make sense, there are dragons, trolls, dwarves, personified DEATH and Fate, Assassins Guilds, and ‘cameras’ that are really just demons in a box that draw whatever they see really fast. Then, of course, this book introduces the very famous “Luggage”, which is made of sapient pearwood, has a mind of its own, and has a homicidal attitude towards those that mean harm to its master. It’s an absolute nuthouse and it’s so much fun.

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Pratchett has a distinct style, and even though it wasn’t 100% developed when he wrote his first book, he’s still instantly recognizable. One of those bits of style being his footnotes he leaves all over the place – sometimes these footnotes take up the majority of a page. I can see where some people would find these annoying, and honestly, I prefer the shorter footnotes over the rambling ones because when I was reading these for the first time, sometimes I would lose track of where the story was because I was so distracted by this page long side note. Later books have a tendency to make me belly laugh even when I’ve read the book several times over – this one didn’t give me that. I smiled from time to time, I saw the underlying cleverness but it just wasn’t quite there yet.

It had been a long time since I visited this book, I usually skip over it when I do re-reads and I go straight to Mort, the third book in the series. I’ve never really connected with this story, despite smiling a few times I never laughed out loud from the first two books in Discworld, and that remained true on my re-read. This isn’t a ‘bad’ book, it’s an okay-good book but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the others.

Audience:

For people who like:

  • absurd humor
  • satire on tropes
  • multi pov
  • fast reads
  • high fantasy

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 10/15
  • World Building: 12/15
  • Writing: 12/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 13/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 6.5/10

Final Score: 75.5/100

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