Pratchett, Terry. Eric.

NY: Harper, 1990.

As Pratchett fans know, the several dozen tales set on the Discworld aren’t a single series, or even a cycle. They’re a collection of skeins of stories featuring a variety of focal characters, though many of these overlap in various ways. (The two best subseries, I think, are those about the witches and those about the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork.)

The very first Discworld novel was The Colour of Magic (1983), the protagonist of which was Rincewind, a failed student wizard whose principal talent is the ability to survive by running away from things very, very fast. He’s also gifted with incredible luck — which is not a bad thing to have – and he’s followed everywhere by the Luggage, which has hundreds of tiny legs and is impossible to lose. To my mind, the Rincewind subseries, of which this book is a part, is one of the less successful areas of Pratchett’s work. Actually, this one is a pastiche of the Faust legend. Eric is an adolescent demonologist trying to summon up a demon to grant him the traditional three wishes, but somehow he ends up with Rincewind (who is theoretically dead, having semi-finally been blown up in Sourcery). Although Rincewind is not even remotely a demon, Eric thinks he is, so he ends up having to act like one. Or so he thinks. As usual, there are a lot more things going on than the reader realizes at the beginning. Eric announces he wants to (1) rule the world, (2) meet the most beautiful woman in all of history, and (3) live forever. And then, of course, the problems begin. But somehow, though it’s certainly not a bad book (I don’t think Pratchett is capable of writing a truly bad book), the dialogue isn’t as snappy or as drily funny as usual, the characters aren’t as engaging, and the plot doesn’t suck you in holding your breath. The palace revolution in Hell is nicely done, but in any of the better Discworld novels, it would be just part of the background. Ah, well. No one gets it exactly right every time.

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Published in: on 21 December 2011 at 7:31 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. If anyone can live forever, it’s Rincewind…


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