This where it all began….
The Discworld series has evolved to such an extent that the early books seem out of place. Whenever I introduce someone to the series I always tell them not to be put off by the first couple of books as they can be a difficult & testing read. That’s not to suggest that they are bad books, not in the slightest but compared to what the series would become they pale in comparison. The Colour of Magic is the first Discworld book released in 1983. I wasn’t even born then…
Rincewind is a wizard, of sorts…an incompetent, failure of man who feels the need to point out that he is a wizard to everyone having stitched his title into his hat (misspelled as Wizzard though). Rincewind’s problem is that no other spell will lodge itself in his mind long enough for him to learn it. As a student at the Unseen University (the Discworld’s premier school of magic) he sneaked a look into a powerful magic book called the Octavo. The book houses the 8 most powerful spells in the entire Discworld & one of them leapt from the pages & housed itself in Rincewind’s head. Now no spell will dare stay there out of fear.
For all his failings as a wizard what Rincewind is incredibly good at is surviving, mainly thanks to his legs (he runs away…a lot).
The Colour of Magic introduces the Discworld’s first ever tourist, Twoflower who hails from the Counterweight Continent. Twoflower is a pleasant man who has heard tales of wonder & beauty about the Disc’s biggest city, Ankh-Morpork. This is something of a surprise to the inhabitants of the city as its more of a seething cesspool of nastiness & debauchery. Rincewind by a series of unfortunate events ends up being tasked with serving as Twoflowers guide & protector. A task that seems nigh on impossible considering how the inhabitants of Ankh-Morpork see strangers with pocketfuls of gold.
The duo will strike up the unlikeliest of friendships & end up travelling to the edge of the Disc during their adventures. All with that wonderful splash of Terry Pratchett humour.
The Colour of Magic is a wonderful introduction to the character Rincewind, one of the the most famous & important of the entire Discworld series. He is a lovable rogue but one you can relate to & have sympathy for. Twoflower & his innocence is adorable & the wonder in which he sees things rubs off on you as the reader. Together they make a wonderful pairing & you’ll be transfixed by their travels & the many characters they meet.
This is the early days of the Discworld series so it is steeped more heavily in magic & lore. The Discworld is a magical place but filled with such threat as to make you wary of what using it means. It’s interesting to read things that would become so relevant in later books as well as many plot points that get shuffled off over time.
The story is spilt into chapters that could stand as short stories themselves (something later Discworld books would abandon) which in itself makes for difficult reading. The book moves at a frantic pace perhaps trying to cram to much in at times.
Stick with it though as the series as a whole is one of the most incredible things you’ll ever experience.
The Colour of Magic