Friday, March 27, 2009

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

I first found out about Pratchett and his Discworld novels during my exchange trip to England in college. I was out of reading material and a friend of mine gave me one of his books to read. Eight years later and I'm still reading his books! 

The first book in the Discworld series, The Color of Magic introduces us to the very colorful creation of Pratchett's mind. Discworld is carried on the backs of four giant elephants, which in turn are carried by Great A'Tuin the turtle. The gender of Great A'Tuin is in question, and the main objective of Krull through the years was to discover if Great A'Tuin was male or female. 

Then there is Ankh-Morpork, in which we find the wizard Rincewind, though to call him a wizard is a great exaggeration. He finds himself pressed into service by acting as a tour guide for Twoflower, the tourist. Through the book, the hapless wizard is led on more adventure than he had ever wished to encounter. 

The book is great set-up for the series, as Twoflower and Rincewind find themselves traveling across the Discworld in search of adventure (or in Rincewind's case, avoiding it). The book is not a quick read, but needs to be savored, as Pratchett uses humor and satire to paint his world. He throws a lot of fairy tale and fantasy plot devices into the book, though by no means does he limit himself. The city of Ankh-Morpork, for example, is based off the city of Budapest in that it was once two cities separated by a river. The Patrician of the city is very Machiavellian in his methods.  There is also Hrun the Barbarian, who is the epitome of every hero in any story--from his long, flowing locks to his single-mindedness in finding damsels and treasure. 

The cover of the book is my biggest issue, as it is very boring. Pratchett's books are full, and the American covers fail to fulfill that. The British covers, on the other hand, are very busy. 
With the British covers, I frequently find myself trying to figure out who are what characters and what is going on! They're not known for their attractive qualities, and they don't look contemporary, but rather something I would pick up at a yard sale or flea market. With the smell of decaying paper. 

Regardless, there must still be some kind of happy medium between the two covers. The American cover fails to deliver for the goods inside, while the British cover delivers the goods too well. 

Lastly, I found out today that there is a movie for The Color of Magic. Granted, it was a television movie and only seen in the United Kingdom, but I am still curious enough to wish to see it. At first I thought it might be an animated movie, but no, it is quite live action. It stars Sean Astin as Twoflower and Jeremy Irons as the Patrician. (That last bit is enough for me to want to see it. 
Granted, they are going to take some liberties with the story. The movie includes the character "Cohen the Barbarian" (see his play on things?) while the book had "Hrun the Barbarian." It also includes characters that will show up in later books in the Discworld series. Some research shows that the movie is based on The Color of Magic as well as the next book, The Light Fantastic.

In a perfect world, the Discworld series would continue. Alas, Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, which means the end of Discworld will come sooner than we all could wish for. 

No comments: