What is the color or magic? Octarine, of course! "It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself. / But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple" (136).
The Discworld is a world that is flat and rests on the backs of four elephants, which subsequently are standing on the Great A'Tuin, a turtle swimming through the universe. This simple image, which opens The Colour of Magic, sets things up for the humorous immediately, and Terry Pratchett doesn't disappoint. This is an older novel, and the first in a long series, but I still think it deserves yet another look at it, simply because I love it (I'm not alone in this).
Rincewind is a wizard of sorts. The truth is, the only spell he knows, but doesn't actually know, is one of the eight great spells that lodged itself in his brain. Of course, this spell left no room for any others, so Rincewind was kicked out of Unseen University, and no one knows which spell took up residence in his mind. The first tourist, Twoflower, ever seen on the Disc attaches himself to the unfortunate wizard. Twoflower seeks adventure, the eternal optimist, quite the opposite of Rincewind. Can't forget Twoflower's Luggage, made of a magical wood--it follows him about, running on dozens of legs. Yup, a box with legs and attitude. Did I mention it eats anyone who threatens its owner?
The adventure ensues, and Rincewind and Twoflower are dragged all over the Disc. Fire and flood in the city of Ankh-Morpork, an ancient monster in a forgotten temple, an upside down mountain where imagination brings dragons to life, and near death at the Rimfall, where the water tumbles off the edge of the Disc. Fantasy and humor all rolled up into one. Love it. I know, I said that already, but I can't say it enough.
The Colour of Magic is split up into four sections. It's like four novellas combined into one novel, which makes it nice to read in small chunks, since each section feels like a completed story. If you're looking for something short and humorous to read, this novel is a good start. The only unfortunate thing is that it ends on a cliffhanger. Literally. Perhaps that was the point, though, to add yet another bit of humor by playing off that particular literary device. The good news is, The Light Fantastic continues the antics of Rincewind.
This time, I restrained myself from giving away any spoilers. I will mention that the second section, "The Sending of Eight", is my favorite. You can easily dive into that part of the book without reading the first bit. Heed this warning, though--once you start reading, it'll be hard to stop! Especially once you come across Death (some of the Discworld novels are centered around him as well, great fun).
Want to hear Terry Pratchett talk about The Colour of Magic? Click Here!
Pratchett, Terry. The Colour of Magic in Rincewind the Wizzard. Science Fiction Book Club Edition, 1983.
NEXT UP: Benefits of Critiques