Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Light Fantastic


The second installment of the late Terry Pratchett’s Discwold series, and the second to star the wizard Rincewind, opens with a brief description of the home of the gods of the eponymous world, Cori Celesti, and mentions debate about the gender of the turtle suspending the world, Great A’Tuin. Twoflower has become the world’s first tourist and a friend of Rincewind as of the events of the book’s predecessor. The action soon moves to strange cellars of Unseen University, with wizards opening a peculiar book that releases a fireball, which the warlocks pursue.

The Light Fantastic briefly touches upon theology, with a mention that the gods of Discworld are busy battling the Ice Giants to interfere in the affairs of the population, and Rincewind talks to a tree with speaking ability, which supposedly starts a new arbor religion. Twoflower is back on a ship known as the Potent Voyager from a trip beyond the edge of Discworld, and on their way back to the central city of Ankh-Morpork, they run into rain in the Forest of Skund, where they meet a gnome named Swires that takes them to a gingerbread house, which satisfies the hunger of his guests.

A wizard named Trymon, who plays a somewhat antagonistic role later on in the story, studies at Unseen University, while another sorcerer, Galder Weatherwax, works his own magical talent, believing that spells hold the key to the mysteries of the Pyramid of Tsort, although this subplot is pretty much forgotten for the remainder of the novel. Snow quickly comes to Discworld, and trolls have a bit of a starring role, Rincewind and Twoflower eventually finding themselves captives of a female vagabond named Herrena. Rincewind’s animate Luggage returns to the sequel, although the two have occasional fallings-out that result in their occasional separation.

The antediluvian Cohen the Barbarian returns, too, and wishes to marry a woman named Bethan, although there is a huge gap in their ages. The main goal of the story, to prevent the Great A’Tuin from entering the range of the star providing daylight to Discworld, eventually becomes central, with star cultists and anti-magic zealots ultimately arising. When Twoflower and Rincewind return to Ankh-Morpork, hell breaks loose, with the book concluding satisfyingly, although there are occasional faults such as the mentioned forgotten subplot. Even so, although this is a short book, it definitely packs a punch, as is the case with the author’s other works in the pantheon.

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