on June 6, 2002
First things first: "Eric" is the shortest Discworld novel to date. Even printed in a larger type face, it's slim on the bookshelf placed next to the rest of the series.
What that means is that Pratchett didn't provide this novel with multiple interwoven plots, there isn't the female friend/companion who turns into a love interest (a staple of his novels) and all of the action is very narrowly focused on failed wizard Rincewind's escape from the Dungeon Dimensions, where he was trapped at the end of "Sourcery."
He gets out when Eric, Discworld's would-be Doctor Faustus, a spoiled brat turned amateur demonologist, summons a demon from Hell and gets ... well, him. Somehow, Rincewind has been gifted with the power to grant Eric's rather venal wishes. These take the duo (trailed by Rincewind's sentient and extremely dangerous Luggage) through time and space. Along the way, we get parodies of Aztec religion and Ponce de Leon, a particularly well-done riff on the Trojan War (superior in every way to the quicker one in "Pyramids"), visit the beginning and end of the universe and see what Hell is really like.
Without the need to slow down for a B-story, Pratchett moves through the story at a rapid clip, making this one of the best Rincewind tales to date, as well as tying up a loose end. (Pratchett has a bad habit of doing that with Rincewind; the first Discworld novel ended with him falling off the edge of the planet.)
Know that you're getting what amounts to a novella in a novel's packaging, but otherwise, "Eric" lives up to the high standards Pratchett has set with his previous works.
Recommended to fans of Discworld and Pratchett's collaboration with Neil Gaiman, "Good Omens."
When last we left the inept wizard Rincewind (way back in Sourcery, the fifth Discworld novel) he was trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. He returns quite unexpectedly to the real world at the behest of the unique planet's only demon hacker Eric, who also happens to be a twelve-year-old kid. Having conjured a demon to grant him whatever he desired, Eric is rather disappointed to find that the "demon" Rincewind cannot really do anything at all except give lessons in how to run away from danger. All Eric wants is to rule the world, meet the most beautiful woman to have ever lived, and to live forever. Rincewind insists that he can't just snap his fingers and grant wishes, but said finger snapping miraculously takes him, Eric, and (always lagging behind) the Luggage to the land of the Tezumens where Eric is hailed as a god (pity the Tezumens hate their god so much). Later they wind up in ancient Tsort during the climax of the great war with the Ephebians; here Eric meets the world's most beautiful woman and is not impressed, while Rincewind finds an ancient ancestor pursuing the art of war without having to fight or creating a fuss. Next stop is the very creation of the Discworld itself, complete with creator-if you want to live forever, after all, you have to start at the beginning. The journey is far from complete, though, until Rincewind and Eric make their way to Hades, a land suffering (or not suffering, to be precise) under the micro-management of the new King Astfgl. Finally, we find out what has really been going on all along, and Rincewind and Eric try to find a way to get back home.
Eric is a play on the Faust concept; you can tell because the word Faust is crossed out and replaced with Eric right there on the cover of the book. Conjure a demon, demand your heart's desire, that sort of thing. It is really an unusual Discworld novel. It is short for one thing, less than half the length of most in the series, the kid Eric is about the only child one ever finds anywhere in the Discworld and is annoying enough for all the ones we don't see, and, despite his constant troubles, we really don't see very much of Rincewind's back gradually fading away from us as he runs from danger. The book isn't that bad, really-the story is pretty good once you grasp all of it, there's an entertainingly irritable parrot that makes up for his small vocabulary by referring to things as wossname all the time, and we get a very revealing look at the Discworld's realm of eternal punishment. Still, Eric is just not fulfilling and never strikes a strong chord with the reader. I view it as quite the Discworld anomaly. Just because it isn't as good as Pratchett's other novels does not mean it is not funny, witty, and enjoyable, though.
on February 27, 2002
A friend of mine hooked me on the Discworld series not that long ago. She has been reading them in order of publication and afterwards lending them to me. I had found until this moment that while I have enjoyed every book, the Rincewind novels have not been my cup of tea.
I found the extreme cowardice of Rincewind annoying. He showed no curiosity, no love, no qualities which made me interested in his continued well being. This has not truly changed in Eric, but for several reasons, I definitely enjoyed this adventure more than his previous.
First of all, the book is short! At just under 200 pages, Rincewind did not have much of a chance to get on my nerves. Second of all, Terry Pratchett weaved in several very interesting ideas. The honeybees of Death, the Faust tale, a comparison of demonology with computer programming, cowardice as impetus for strategic battle, and so much more!
Finally, there was the fact that over the course of four books concerning our "wizzard", Terry has slowly been humanizing him. Not too much. He's still an abject coward. But, there have been little moments where you realize that there is (slightly) more to Rincewind that running in terror from everything he encounters. He is reasonably intelligent, for example. Do not let his ineptitude at magic lull you into taking him for a complete fool (sorry King Verence!).
Anyway, I highly recommend this and the rest of the Discworld books to anyone with a love of fantasy, humor, or intelligent fun!
on January 26, 2003
Mr. Pratchett is one of the funniest authors alive. This book, however, number nine in his laugh-out-loud discworld series, is a dissapointment. It's not the main character's fault (Rincewind the wizard is a very funny character in some of his other books). The plot, however, is kind of, well, [boring], and his writing is sub-par. My advice? Skip it, unless you want to read it just for completness
on March 23, 2003
Terry Pratchett has, in his other work, produced some of the finest fiction ever written, period. Therefore i have higher expectations of his work and judge accordingly. This little book, by Pratchett standards is an embarrasment to the entire series. Apparently the author felt it necessary to reclaim his inept 'wizzard' from the depths of the dungeon dimensions, possibly to appease his fans, so he whipped out this little fart of a story and then moved on. Poor Rincewind deserves better than this, and anyone planning to read their first discworld tale should avoid this trash like the plague. If you really <i> must </i> find out how Rincewind got away from the Dungeon Dimensions, this book is worth about [$$$] or less; personally, i think he'd have done better to wait and write the wizzard's revival into the beginning of 'Interesting Times' I'm sure the wizards of Unseen University could have summoned him themselves for the purpose of that story. I hear that this was originally to be a graphic novel with lots of fine pictures, but i don't really see how any amount of artwork could do much to help this pathetic work; it's missing the character developement, plot work, and the general magic that makes Terry Pratchett what he is, I've read other Pratchett books which I didnt feel were his best, but this is the only book by this author that i would ever call his worst.
on January 13, 2003
Eric is more of a Discworld novella than it is a novel. At 154 pages, it's not very substantive. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't a quality book. However, in this case, I'm sorry to say that Terry Pratchett dropped the ball a little bit. It's another Rincewind adventure, and like most of the other Rincewind books that I've read, it fails for the most part to entertain.
I've never been a fan of Rincewind or his luggage, which I know makes me unusual for a Discworld fan. Unfortunately, Eric continues the trend of sub-par Discworld adventures featuring the incompetent wizard. I just didn't find it that interesting or funny, and the main saving grace is that it's short. If it had been longer, I think my rating would have been less. The idea is clever, a parody of Faust with Rincewind unable to fulfill any of the functions that the devil does in the original play. The execution of it isn't even that bad, though it's not up to Pratchett's usual standards.
I guess my main problem with it is that Rincewind seems even a lesser part of things than he usually does. The luggage saves his bacon a couple of times, and the other times things just happen and outside forces end up dealing with things. I think he actually solves a problem himself once in the whole book. The concept of an observer who would rather be sitting home bored than actually taking part in all of these adventures may be a good one, but I don't find it very interesting. Because of that, Pratchett has to make the situation worth my while in order for me to like the book. Eric doesn't do that. There are amusing bits here and there, a wry comment or a funny situation, but as a whole it doesn't work for me.
Once again, Death gets the best part of the book, and he's only in it for two scenes. The part at the beginning of the book where the wizards attempt to call forth Death to tell them what's going on is hilarious, with it not working quite as the wizards planned. He always seems to get the best lines in any Discworld book. There are a few other parts of the book where I actually laughed (like where Rincewind becomes a living part of history by tripping over something and setting the city on fire), but the overall affect, for me anyway, was "ho-hum."
The thing that brings this book up to 3 stars, though, is the rendition of Hell that Pratchett has. Astfgl has made hell a boring place rather than a fiery place, because he's realized that souls can't really feel any pain, so eternal physical torment really isn't that bad when the soul can't feel anything. So he makes it intensely boring instead, with people chained to rocks and forced to listen to stories of hernia operations and vacations on the various circles of Hell. I found this idea very inspired, and had to laugh at quite a few of the bits here. I don't want to ruin any of the jokes here, since they were most of the funny ones in the book, but suffice it to say that Hell was the best part of the book, and the only real saving grace.
The book's ending, though, is as uninspired as the rest of the book. It's a bit anti-climactic and not very well-done. Once again, Rincewind is saved by the actions of outside forces (not even the luggage saves him this time) and things start looking up for him again. Pratchett gives a rundown of what's happened to the various places that Rincewind and Eric have visited, but even that is only mildly amusing and not up to Pratchett's normal standards.
I know there are fans of Rincewind out there. I've read a few reviews, and even they think that this is one of Pratchett's weaker efforts. If you're a fan of his, you may enjoy this book, though I would suggest checking it out from the library rather than buying it. If you're not a fan of his, than you may want to skip this one (unless you're like me, and want to read every Discworld book out there). Thankfully, it's short, so you won't spend too much of your life with this one.
on March 27, 2002
Let's be frank. <i>Eric</i> is easily the least of the Discworld novels, both in length and in quality.
Perhaps it's because Pratchett was trying to mimick the pessimistic style of his friend Douglas Adams (this is especially apparent when Rincewind and Eric meet the Creator of the universe). Perhaps it's because the "plot" is an incoherent series of wacky, madcap adventures. Perhaps it's because the main character is Rincewind, who despite his status as a fan favorite is less likeable than any other Discworld protagonist. Perhaps it's the lack of a strong villain to tie it all together. In any event, <i>Eric</i> manages to belittle Pratchett's powerful vision, turning what might have been a glimpse into the history of the Discworld into a cut-rate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
If you're a budding Pratchett fan, you'll have to read this sooner or later. Just don't expect it to approach the quality of <i>Feet of Clay</i> or <i>Soul Music</i>.
on July 7, 2001
So-Rincewind likes running from danger... we know that. So now he's running through the Dungeon Dimensions. The fact that a teenage demonologist wannabe has him on a leash doesn't seem to slow him down all that much.
It's Pratchett who slows down his pace in this book. There's little new in character development, mainly because Rincewind has little character at this point to develop (and had little character to start with!). Some reviewers think that this is a negative point-I disagree. Still, overall the book is too short on development. There's a nice parody of the Trojan wars that sets up Rincewind for an encounter with his Counterweight Cousin later on-so at best, this is a book of continuation.
It appears that Prachett didn't have many concepts to develop, and that's a shame. Considering all the people who'll eventually end up in Hell, it would seem he'd have lots of material.
It still has Pratchett's humor-but this time it's a bit dry. OK read, and keep it in your collection. Otherwise, a bit of a yawner.
Heavens to... Murgatroyd!
on May 1, 2001
I don't think "Faust" (or, rather, "Eric") deserves the scorn it has received. It is only a lesser Discworld novel because it is so short. Call it a novella, get over your preconceptions, and dive in for the fun.
The chief element of fun here is the welcome return of the (ineffectual) wizard Rincewind. He is my favourite Disc-denizen. When last we left him in "Sourcery", he was in a curious predicament, trapped in a dimension he couldn't run away from. Summoned to our world by a 13-year old demonologist (the title character), Rincewind must figure out how to grant wishes. This is all a very curious set up, kind of flimsy and flaky. Fortunately, Pratchett uses it as a diving board into a grand pool of hilarious satire.
Pratchett touches on some large issues in this slender volume. We get a sarcastic retelling of the Trojan War, and then a dip into the Odyssey. There's a section that concurrently examines both the beginning *and* the end of the universe (this is Douglas Adams territory Pratchett is treading in, and he more than holds his own). And we get a neat trip to Hell, that satirizes both eternal damnation and corporate culture (not a groundbreaking comparison, I know, but still a funny bit in Terry's hands). Eric (the character) is nothing more than Twoflower-lite. But that's okay, because the relationship between Twoflower and Rincewind in the first two Discworld books ("The Colour of Magic" and "The Light Fantastic") was golden. Eric continues in this tradition, his youthful ignorance and passion meshing perfectly with Rincewind's cynicism and cowardice.
My one complaint is that I wanted to spend more time in each location with these characters, and for the life of me I can't figure out why Pratchett didn't stretch this book out to usual length. I guess he wanted to leave us wanting more. I did.
on October 25, 2002
The fake title (Faust) says it all. The inept "wizard" Eric tries to summon a demon and accidentally pulls Rincewind back from the Dungeon Dimesions. I admit that the main purpose is to bring back Rincewind. And the story is very short - but there really is only one thread. The best points in the story are the parts about hell (funny place) and about the take off on the Trojan War (especially Lavaeolus, the "rincer of winds"). Get the book at the library and read it: you won't be disappointed. And if you are, it's short and over quickly. I still say that the part about Lavaeolus is worth it by itself. It's always funny to read about Rincewind and his ancestors (or most anything else about him).