The Light Fantastic
I’m not going to lie, every time I picked up this book, I heard Sam Rockwell saying “let’s trip the light fantastic” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Totally unrelated to the actual book, but it couldn’t be helped. Aside from that, I enjoyed this story more than I did the first book of Discworld (The Color of Magic). I was oddly thrilled to discover that Rincewind and Twoflower were still our leading characters and, I have to say, the addition of Cohen the Barbarian and Bethan was both welcome and highly entertaining. A hero with no teeth that pronounces every “s” as a “sh” had me laughing out loud (particularly when he’s talking about sitting by the fire). It’s very rare to find such a combination of humor and fantasy, but Pratchett always combines the two into the perfect recipe.
Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.
In The Light Fantastic, only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world.
It kind of stuns me the way Pratchett can talk about huge big ticket items while keeping his books light and clever. In this book, he covers religious intolerance in a big way without bogging down the story. I mean, they basically have a witch hunt on the Disc (though in this case, they’re hunting for wizards) and Pratchett does a marvelous job of subtly weaving in the impulsions that can drive a group of people to clamor for death without clouting me over the head with it. I don’t know if he actually had Group Think or mob behavior on the mind, but he built it in and highlighted it in stark relief.
Aside from the heavy stuff, which actually manages to feel light when you’re reading it, Pratchett once again did a delightful job of crafting an entertaining tale. I love that the one person who can save the world is the most inept one on it. I love that he resolutely refuses to believe that the trees are talking to him because if they are then he’s finally gone around the bend. Pratchett paints his world in every sense available. From the scent of Ankh-Morpork to the syrupy golden light of the Disc’s sun, Pratchett creates a vividly realized world and he populates it with things made of magic and imagination and everything that’s good in fantasy. With every turned page, I smiled at some other tiny fact Pratchett included. More people could take a page out of his book.
4 ink bottles.
Character Believability: 4.5 Buffys
Character Investibility: 4 Doctors
Pace/Urgency/Tension: 4 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 5 Snyders
Language: 5 Feegles
Mystery: 4 Sherlocks