The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

details
Title: The Colour of Magic.
Series: Discworld #1.
Writer(s): Terry Pratchett.
Publisher: Corgi.
Format: Mass Market Paperback.
Release Date: January 18th 1985 (first published November 24th 1983).
Pages: 285.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Humour.
ISBN13:  9780552124751.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.

thoughts

There’s a number of fantasy writers out there who have been crowned Gods for their contribution to the genre in one way or another. With their incredible imagination and impeccable wordsmithery, they have set loose pieces of literature that have become impossible to overlook for fans of the genre around the world. Amongst these writers, the legendary Terry Pratchett is one that has had his name spewed in my direction by everyone that I can think of. Known especially for his books set in his Discworld series and for his work with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, rarely have I heard anyone disrespect the man for his work or his person. While the first book of the Discworld series isn’t the first book that is often recommended by fans to introduce neophytes to the author’s mind, it remains the beginning of something gargantuan. However, in my case, this was my foray into a universe where its comedy was my main enemy.

What is The Colour of Magic about? Set on a disc-flat world supported on the backs of four giant elephants who stand upon a ginormous sea turtle, the story follows Rincewind, an incompetent wizard, who serves as a guide to Twoflower, a tourist insurance clerk who is accompanied by a treasure chest with many legs. Together, they are off to explore various regions around the world with peculiar civilizations who are bound to complicate their journey. Throughout their adventure, they also end up realizing that Gods are also playing games with them and that nothing they do will be easy, as survival swiftly becomes a much more crucial objective than sight-seeing. Left in the hands of an inept wizard, the fate of the world, and the lives of this group, is now all but safe.

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Let’s just say it already. I did not find this funny. I did not laugh a single time. The Colour of Magic is by far the perfect example of a story that explains my general reluctance to pick up anything humourous. I have always thought comedy to be something utterly subjective, impossible to please all. Throughout this book, I have tried countless times to decipher Terry Pratchett’s sense of humour, to try and acclimate myself to his jokes, whether it was through one-liners or the countless interactions between bizarre characters, but nothing in this collection of short stories—I’m calling it for what it pretty much is—was able to crack a smile on my face. While I’m usually prone to bend in half giggling at clever and dark humour, I was unfortunately confronted with something that seemed set on the other side of the spectrum. Although his writing style is promising, it’s essentially the content of this story—or lack of—that never had a chance with me. While I could sum it and blame it entirely on British humour and high expectations, I honestly think there are flaws in this one that contributed to its failure to impress.

While the humour might not have been my cup of tea, the world-building was as wacky as expected. It’s one thing to have a world mounted on elephants and turtles but to have such idiosyncratic characters and creatures on all the continents was fascinating to read about, to say the least. You’d have to be ready for the unimaginable to fully embrace this book’s direction but you’ll also have to take into consideration that Terry Pratchett has a unique writing style as well. There’s no clearly-defined and coherent story, and this takes away a quintessential element that could’ve allowed the writing style to work better with me. It also doesn’t help that the spontaneous and sporadic point-of-view flipping makes things even harder to follow, just when you thought the plot was messy enough to give you a headache. If anything, I see this book as an experimental introduction to a world that I’ll surely learn more of as I give the next couple of books a chance to win me over.

The Colour of Magic is a humdrum adventure filled with quirky and eccentric events with an incompetent wizard, a naive tourist, and a thousand-legged luggage at the heart of it all.


EXHIBITA

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exhibitb

A two-part TV mini-series based on the first two books (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) was released in 2008, starring David Jason as Rincewind and Sean Astin as Twoflower.

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45 comments

  • You aren’t alone in this. I read this as well as a couple of the other ones in the series, and I could not get into it. Have you read any Christopher Moore? He’s the funniest I have ever read. Like, I had to put down the book I was laughing so hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I like the cover because it looks mischievous (corpses in the trunk?). The title makes it sound playful. And then it’s a comedy? A weird combination.
    I don’t really like reading comedy, either, because I am rarely able to connect with the humor.
    Have you seen the mini series? It looks like it has the potential to be funny, but I can see how the ridiculousness can overshadow the focus on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s pretty cool, mysterious and quirky! I’ve always been skeptical about comedy but I told myself that fantasy comedy might be fun. For now, this didn’t impress me but I’ll keep on trying. I haven’t seen the mini-series and will try it out after I finish book 2 since it’s what the mini-series covers. Not sure it aged too well compared to modern shows though hahah

      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve read some of the other Discworld books before this one and fans agree Color of Magic isn’t a good start. Trust me, it gets A LOT better. I recommend you read “Guards! Guards!” or “The Hogfather”. There’s a much better blend of mystery, action and humor in those stories, the plots are more solid and the characters far more likable (Death in particular is a massive improvement).

    Liked by 1 person

  • Very interesting review Lashaan! I have heard a lot of good things about Terry Pratchett, but never read any of his books, so I was very curious to read your review when I saw your post! Now, I don’t know if I will like it as I am always a bit cautious when it comes to comedy/humour… Are you still motivated enough to read the sequels? Thanks for sharing anyway 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Juliette! It’s definitely not what you’d expect and will need to expect the unexpected to really enjoy the first book. Then again, you can start anywhere and the first book was often not recommended as first read. I’ll try more though since I own book 2 to 5 already anyways. Hopefully it will be a huge improvement!

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  • Well, maybe try some of his Death sub-series? I really liked these first couple of books and enjoyed Discworld less and less the longer it went on. Most people I talk to think the opposite of me though 😀 Some of them even liked the Watch sub-series. No accounting for taste I guess 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely most intrigued by Death so far and hope that’s where I’ll click with Pratchett. So far people have indeed told me the opposite (things get much better as you progress through this world) but I think I’ll be more sporadic with this universe or else I fear I’ll get tired of it quickly. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  • I can certainly see your perspective and understand the humor not working. I’ve had issues with some books in the past that were supposed to be humorous, and also with some other British humor. But in this particular case I guess it worked for me. I enjoyed the book and almost thought of it as this crazy travelogue of some impossible country across the ocean. I think I’ve only read 2 Discworld novels so far, but I do hope to read more. I tried one of Pratchett’s short story anthologies (Where’s My Cow?) and had more issues with that, it didn’t work for me the way the novels have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s pretty cool to hear that this worked a lot better with you than me and your description of it as a crazy travelogue is very accurate! I’ll have to power through a couple more books to really understand if it’s the humour, the stories, the universe or the writing that really doesn’t work for me but this still remains one of the most interesting reading experiences so far!

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  • Ahoy there. This is how I feel about Pratchett and Moore and Dawson/Hearne. Not me type of humor I guess. Though I did like the first book of the hitchhiker series. But I be weird and laugh at the low brow humor in Shakespeare. It’s like movies. Not funny airplane, space balls, or the man-child humor of Seth Rogan type movies. Funny clue, galaxy quest, and the princess bride. Ye got me pondering and discussing books and types of humor with me First Mate. Arrrr!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

  • My thoughts about this (and the next in the series) were frighteningly similar. I know he’s widely beloved, but I just don’t get the appeal. (and wish I did!)

    Liked by 1 person

  • Earlier this year I tried to listen to the audiobook of The Colours of Magic more than 3 times and couldn’t get past the first 10%. I really like the concept of his Discworld series, so I’m still thinking of giving it another try. Maybe next year I’ll be able to buy the book and read it instead of listening 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do hope that your attempt with a physical copy will prove to better than those with audiobooks but man, it ain’t as accessible as I wish it was. Hopefully some of the other books will change my mind about Terry Pratchett and his stories!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Having tried – and failed miserably – to read Good Omens, my project of reading the much-praised Terry Pratchett has suffered a little, so I’m comforted by the fact that not everyone can appreciate this kind of humor, which is notably a difficult beast to tame…
    Like you, I will make another attempt by trying out a Discworld book before throwing in the towel.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mean, I think if Good Omens didn’t work out so well, it’s probably going to be even tougher with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, if you ask me. I hope to try Good Omens though since I feel like Neil Gaiman’s style might make Terry Pratchett’s humour more digestible… Hope our next attempt will be much better than our first!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Great! Prachett’s Death is probably the best personification of the concept/character I’ve read in recent years. In all fairness to Color of Magic, it was the first book in the series and one of Prachett’s first books, so the writing only improves from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  • It really isn’t the place to start your Discworld adventure… not right now, with all the other books published. That being said, I’ve read it first over 20 years ago, loved it instantly – and still do. For me, it’s a great parody of classic fantasy tropes, not on the level of later books, great satires of everything that’s wrong with our world, but still a little gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I remember when you recommended me to not start with The Colour of Magic too. I think I just need to power through a couple more of his books to really see if it’s just me and his humour or if it’s really him and his stories that don’t click with me. I’m still glad that there are MANY out there who adore his work. Maybe a re-read when I get much older will prove to be much more enjoyable. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’d recommend reading one of the industrial revolution books, just to see how you like it. If you disliked the first one that much, you’ll probably feel similarly about the second..

        Liked by 1 person

        • True. It’s just that I own the first 5 books though 😂 I fear the second will be very similar to the first but at least I’ll have completed that arc. I’ll try hunting down other books in the Discworld series though.

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  • I adore Discworld! I am planning to re-read The Colour of Magic. Certainly it’s a certain type of chaotic humour (reminiscent of Douglas Adams?) and very British. It’s also satire of our own world dressed up as fantasy. At last you tried the book and now you know that the series is not for you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad to hear how much you enjoy this since it gives me hope that maybe it’s just a question of getting used to the world/writing/humour. I won’t give up for now but, indeed, at least I tried the first book and know what to expect from Mr. Pratchett! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! And I think perhaps his style changes a little throughout the series, as it ran for about 30 years?! You could always try a book dealing with different Discworld characters, like one which focuses on the witches. Equal Rites is the first to have witches in, if you were going through the series in order of publication.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Ohhhhh!! SO THAT’S WHY IT’S TITLED – Discworld!! 🤣🤣🤣😍😍

    But DAMNN!! SOO MANY SHOTS FIRED IN THIS REVIEWWW, Lashaan! 😉🤣🤣🤣 Well, I still love dreading it very much! I can’t say anything about it yet because I haven’t read it but the Discworld series is something I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, ever since I read Good Omens because MAN WAS IT A HILARIOUS READ! 🤣🤣🤣

    Have you read Good Omens then?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha I had the same exact reaction as you when I read it! 😂 I haven’t read Good Omens but I’m keeping it on my list to be read at some point. But at least there’s more chances that you’ll enjoy this one if you didn’t have a bad time with Good Omens hahah I’ll however be taking a break from Pratchett for a little before I end up taking out the big guns against him if my next experience is just as uninspiring! 😂

      As always, thank you so much for reading, Rain! 😁

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  • I haven’t read any of his books yet but have a couple someone gave me a while back. I’ve been worried about not liking them and being the only person in all of fantasy to feel that way. I don’t have this one though…so we’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Shame this wasn’t for you- but I will say this isn’t the best book- I think I liked it more when I read it cos it wasn’t the one I started with. I do recommend giving it another go, but I personally think it’s better to start with Mort or Guards Guards… if you’re not totally put off that is!

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    • Yep. I know how much you enjoy his books, especially some of the later ones. I won’t give up just yet but hopefully I’ll find one that will impress me! Thanks for the recs, I remember Mort being one of your suggestions to me back when I asked you about which books I should give a try too hahah

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