Response: The Light Fantastic -- Terry Pratchett

Submitted by hadrian on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 00:00

Recently I wrote about the Colour of Magic. Although the Colour of Magic is a great book it is hopelessly open-ended. Although perhaps hopefully is a better word as in this case it means a sequel called The Light Fantastic.

Potential Spoilers

At the end of the Colour of Magic our heroes are in more than just a sticky situation. For all intents and purposes the end could be called close as we could assume they would die an all manner of nasty ways within a relatively short time-span. It is exactly here that the parody allows a convenient way out. Without actually requiring any decent explanation both Rincewind and Twoflower can be saved simply through the introduction of a magical element. The fact that Rincewind, throughout both The Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic, nearly dies and indeed has multiple conversations with death yet always manages to survive is a continuing joke throughout the Light Fantastic.

The ability of fictional characters to survive, both in books and in films, is truly amazing. So much so that some have analyzed how much lives a character would actually require to survive. Near the end of the Light Fantastic Twoflower actually tells Rincewind he has nearly died twenty-seven times since they met.

Like the Colour of Magic, the Light Fantastic shows us many interesting places on the Discworld and my favourite is definitely the forest of Skund. I liked the way in which Pratchett describes these trees as actually talking but the main characters ignoring them because they would consider it crazy to talk to the trees. Such randomness is, of course, the most important part of both the Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic and it would not take much time to point out many other examples.

Just as in the Colour of Magic, Pratchett comments on language itself. At one point it is said that "Some people, thought Galder grimly, would have had the decency to put an exclamation mark on the end of a statement like that". A form of humour which serves the book very well.

The Light Fantastic is not devoid of social commentary either. At the very start, when reintroducing the Discworld, he states "fake fossil bones put there by a Creator with nothing better to do than upset archaeologists and give them silly ideas". Similar arguments have, after all, been used by some religious people to explain dinosaur fossils.

Like the Colour of Magic, of which the Light Fantastic is more of an extension than a sequel, this book is certainly worth reading. I enjoyed it more than the Colour of Magic itself but because of the limitations of the grading system which I have so randomly adopted I'm obliged to award it a 5/5 after all.

Happy Reading!