on December 9, 2002
Not only is The Color of Magic the beginning of an amazing series, there is something about the book that you can't put your finger on that makes it one of the best I have ever read. Rincewind and Twoflower are good characters and the sheer randomness and hilarity of the books makes them excellent aside from everything else.
on January 31, 2002
Having started reading Discworld books further into the series, I was worried that the first two stories would be lacking in quality. I needn't have worried that standards or style would be inferior, in fact the first two books are now my favourite in the series.
Pratchett begins his exploration of the Disc with parody of the fantasy genre. Later on in the series he focuses more on developing the mechanisms and realism of the Discworld, but here there are more laughs, and more subversion of the genre.
The relationship between Rincewind the cowardly student wizard and Twoflower the naive, good natured tourist is always amusing and compelling. The plot is perhaps slightly less complicated than later books, but still strange and magical, while firmly rooted in the cynical common sense of the English.
Also the books feature my favourite Discworld character, the tenacious, slightly sinister Luggage! It's an easy read that flows well and has some spot-on humour.
on January 6, 2001
I have reviewed the two opening books to Discworld separately elsewhere. Needless to say both works begin one of the most imaginative and original series ever to grace the world of fantasy fiction, and, because of their inseparable relationship in terms of story, their republication as one work makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, Pratchett's new publisher, Collins, has not presented these gems in a manner for which the work is deserving. The text is riddled with punctuation and spelling errors, at times forcing the reader to reread the text for sense, a problem that was equally in evidence in "The Fifth Elephant." Collins is fortunate to have this author now in their stable of fantasy writers---they certainly have no other fantasy author of his stature---and should feel a responsibility---to the work, to the author, and to the readers---to present Mr. Pratchett's marvelous fiction in a manner equal to the riches of its contents. For this reason, don't waste your money on an inferior packaged product. There are still good hardbound copies of the original publications around, if you desire these works in cloth, as I do, that justify their expense, both in terms of presentation and text. This is merely a shoddy reprint, undeserving of purchase, and it is for this reason I have given it only three stars. Pratchett's work deserves far better.
on June 2, 2000
There are now about 24 books in the DiscWorld series, possibly 25 if you live in Britain. But these are the two books that began the series. This is where it started.
I don't usually like parody. Harvard Lampoon's "Bored of the Rings," for example, has never impressed me. But Pratchett has brought parody, and parody of the fantasy genre in particular, to a new level in the DiscWorld series.
Pratchett's writing in these early books, as you would expect, isn't nearly as good as it gets later, but his characters are just as wonderful and his sense of the absurd is working overtime. There are outright parodies (Cohen the Barbarian, a lifetime in his own legend), homages (Firtz Leiber's Ffahrd and the Grey Mouser) and horrible puns ("luters, I expect"). No fantasy novel emerges unscathed.
Like most parodists, the plotting here is weak, with Rincewind, the most incompetent wizard in literature, and Twoflowers, the quintessential tourist, careening from disaster to disaster. In later books, Pratchett's plotting is impeccable, but here it's just not that good. But you don't read these two books for the plot, you read them for the laughs, for the fun of recognizing characters and books, and for the sheer hysterical madness.
The books are a delight. I caution you against reading them in bed - your laughter will disturb your partner - but otherwise whole-heartedly recommend them.
on February 23, 2000
I'd give this book a five, but as someone else said- you have to leave room for his future works which get better. The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were Pratchett's first two novels, and possibly the funniest stuff I've read yet. I'm usually into the more serious works of fantasy fiction, but reading this parody of the genre left me in stictches.
It takes a bit to get into it because it starts off by describing this world as being a flat disk carried on the back of four giant elephants who in turn, are on top of a enormous turtle. Don't ask. Then we meet our heroes: A short tourist with four eyes who doesnt speak the language, and has enough gold to capture the attention of every lowlife thief and robber. The tourist's luggage which is made from the magical wood of a special pear tree and as a result- it has a mind of its own, many feet and teeth and follows the tourist everywhere. And the third main character is Rincewind... a failed, coward of a wizzard who can't learn any new spells because he accidentally memorized one of the eight most powerful spells on the disk- a spell so powerful that no one knows what it does and he dare not say it. In fact all other spells are AFRAID to go near it.
This is just the beginning. Pratchett's wit and spaced-out imagination take the reader on a wild ride where nothing in fantasy is sacred. Now these first two books come together in one book, and I say thats the way they should have come from the beginning. The first book ends with a cliff-hanger (disk-hanger) that is neatly resolved in the second story. And hardcover is a plus, because this IS a classic that belongs on any fan's shelf. It is highly recommended as a breath of fresh air to any fantasy fan- serious or not.
I think I liked it even better the first time I read it eight years ago at 16. Oh... and if you are Brittish- add one star! They all love Pratchett!
Also, if you liked this one- you might enjoy Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth. It has the same type of fantasy-mocking humor. It's not bad!