Monday, November 2, 2009

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett


It takes more than a bit of magic and someone being blown to smoke in front of him to put a wizard off his food.


As suggested on Nymeth's blog last week, Discworld books are notoriously hard to summarize. My last attempt was not particularly useful (fishy's question was "yes, but what is the book about?" when I asked him to read over the review, as I was feeling that I was missing something) but I hope that I might have better luck with Sourcery. That's because this book does have a fairly straightforward plot, relatively speaking. Relative to some other Discworld novels, anyways.

An eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son -- a wizard squared -- is bound to be a sourceror. And that is what Coin son of Ipslore is. It does not bode well for the wizards of the Discworld, or anyone else for that matter, that Ipslore really hated his brother wizards for exiling him. Because sourcery is the most powerful magic on the Discworld, a wizard's eighth son with a grudge is probably going to be a very bad thing. And it is! But enter Rincewind (reluctantly) and the lovesick Luggage and a very clever Librarian, and the world just might be saved.

How's that? It goes without saying that there's a lot more happening than all that, but I think that sets up the events in Sourcery pretty nicely.

I didn't love this book. I didn't hate it, and I certainly read through it quickly enough. It just felt a little more scattered and flat than I've come to expect of the Discworld (ha ha, flat, get it? sigh). It meandered at points, and I occasionally found myself skipping paragraphs to get back to the action. And while I enjoyed many of the characters, there were a few who seemed either predictable or forgettable. Not to mention Coin. None of his fault, he was squarely in Very Creepy Child territory. Considering that the night before I started Sourcery I had nightmares involving Very Creepy Children and then met Coin the following day, the effect was heightened. But even then, Coin felt very hollow. I think he was supposed to be hollow, and we weren't supposed to feel emotionally close to him, which is good, because he was a Very Creepy Child. It did make some of the ending a little hard to buy.

But what did I love? The Librarian. The books. I don't want to give too much away, but the Librarian was almost my favourite character, intelligent, quick thinking, and surprisingly sympathetic for an orangutan. I don't know any orangutans, but that's one I'd like to know. The books themselves inspire a surprising amount of sympathy -- but then, they are magic books.

Also, I love Rincewind. I don't know if I'm in the minority on this; when people talk about Discworld characters they love, Rincewind doesn't seem to be on the lists. But I'm extremely fond of him, and fonder each time I meet him. He's just so... cowardly. And defeated. But he's a wizard, and damn what anyone else has to say about it, and I do admire that. I enjoy his knack for staying alive despite the odds, his uneasy relationship with DEATH, his dedication to his hat, and his absolute desperate need to be home. I like his tendency to shriek at the slightest thing because I can hear it in my head, and is part of what makes him such a vivid character to me. I even like his weak and ultimately failed attempts at pompousity. I feel so warmly towards his character, and I don't get any more Rincewind for several books.

But I will be strong -- because the next book is Wyrd Sisters! Hello Granny Weatherwax, nice to see you again.

And I will leave you with this thought:

"I meant," said Isplore, bitterly, "What is there in this world that makes living worth while?"

Death thought about it.

CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.

11 comments:

Darla D said...

Oh, no - you're ahead of me now! I have to get to this one soon. And I like Rincewind, too!

Marg said...

Must read more Pratchett!

kiirstin said...

Darla - A little healthy competition is good for us, right? *sneaks off to see where the library's copy of Wyrd Sisters is*

Marg - I'm not 100% sure I would recommend this one, but if you're a completist like me and have to read it all, it's enjoyable enough.

celi.a said...

I've (gulp) never read any Discworld books. Feel like I should...

Also, I see that you're doing NaNo! You should find me! celialarsen. :) Good luck!

kiirstin said...

celi.a - done! Good luck to you too. :)

The Discworld books are very funny, I think, although not everyone thinks they're as funny as I do. Plus they have emotional depth. So, of course I recommend that you try them! Especially since you do like fantasy.

Cara Powers said...

I agree, Sourcery is not one of my favorites. Yay, Granny Weatherwax. I really enjoyed Wyrd Sisters.

kiirstin said...

Cara - Looking forward to it!

Nymeth said...

This and The Last Continent are my least favourite Discworld books, so I agree that it falls a bit flat (ha ha :P). As for Rincewind, I may not love him as much as some other characters, but I do like him a lot :)

kiirstin said...

Nymeth - he does have to compete with Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax, so really, he doesn't have much of a chance!

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

This looks good - I have not read any of these.... too many books, so little time. :)

kiirstin said...

Sheila - I hear you! The Discworld books do go fast, though...