The Colour of Magic

tcomTitle: The Colour of Magic

Author: Terry Pratchett

Summary: On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2.5/5

Review: I’ve never had the inclination to pick up a Terry Pratchett book. I picked this one up because it has dragons in it, and i wanted to tick that off my bookish bingo. To be quite honest, i wish i hadn’t bothered. I still have no inclination to pick up a(nother) Terry Pratchett book.

I had issues with the book almost immediately. To put a positive twist on it, i’ll say the book wasn’t boring; there was always plenty going on, lots of think about, imagine and keep track of. The book did, however, have too much happening. Pratchett has one hell of a vivid imagination, but that doesn’t mean he has to include every detail he thinks of in the bloody book. There were side characters whose history, present and future were thrown in over a few pages and then never heard of again, while adding nothing to the actual story.

Talking of the story, this book didn’t have one. What was the plot, exactly? Because i must have missed it. There was nothing driving the main characters. They hopped from one tricky situation to the next, never actually striving or aiming for anything, which in turn left me not rooting for anything. There was also nothing resembling a satisfying ending. Now, i love open and ambiguous endings, but there has to be some kind of conclusion; something has to be wrapped up, even if not everything. The problem here was there there was nothing to wrap up!

The main characters, Rincewind and Twoflower, i did rather like. They make an interesting duo, the inept cowardly wizard and the joyful naive tourist. It was funny seeing them repeatedly get themselves into sticky situations and fumble their way out of them. The luggage stole the show though. Other characters came and went, and i was mostly unconcerned with them; there were far too many passing characters to get attached to any. There was one specific set of characters i was highly disappointed with and, to be frank, pissed off about…

The female characters. For the number of characters in this book (a lot), the fact that i can count the females on one hand is bad enough, but then we get down to the characters themselves. The first two mentions of women were simply as whores. The second two mentions of women introduced them with the specific fact that they were beautiful and naked. The third mention was of a female hanging upside down and only talked about how odd her breasts looked that way around. The fourth, and marginally the least offensive of the lot, was simply “The Lady” who was also simply described as being “beautiful and that she had green eyes”. The fact that she is the character that outwits all the others can’t make up for the rest of her representation. Honestly, the general representation (and lack thereof) of women in this book and the fact that i have been told the later books get no better, is the main reason i will never pick up another book by Terry Pratchett.

It’s a pity, really, because at times Pratchett has an excellent way with words, being very witty, clever and generally amusing. But then, when it seems he’s trying so hard to be those things, he’s has to succeed a few times, right? And it’s not worth trawling through all the problems i had to find a few great passages.

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: Dragons.


About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

2 Responses to The Colour of Magic

  1. Tim McNulty says:

    The Colour of Magic was the first Terry Pratchett book I read, in about 1989, at a friend’s insistence. It isn’t particularly good and put me off reading any more Pratchett books for nearly 20 years. Terry even admitted himself that it wasn’t good.

    But his later books? Oh my! They are works of sublime genius! On a whim I picked up Night Watch in about 2009 and was blown away.

    I have been asked a number of times, “which Discworld book should I read first?” and my answer is always, “Not Colour of Magic or Light Fantastic”. “Wyrd Sisters” or “Guards! Guards!” are where he really begins to hit his stride.

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