The light fantastic picks up right where The Colour of Magic left off, with Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage falling off the edge of the world. Despite having read, and enjoyed, a number of Pratchett’s novels aimed at a younger audience whilst I was younger I’ll admit to being wary of his adult Discworld novels.
Largely I place the blame for this at the feet of my father, who read The Colour of Magic before any other Discworld books were released, and only managed the first half of Mort before giving up. Since this is the worse half and The Colour of Magic isn’t his best novel I can’t help feeling that my dad has not managed quite the true flavour of the Disc.
The Light Fantastic is necessary to end the frustration of countless thousands of readers who have made it to the end of The Colour of Magic with a litany of unanswered questions, not least of which is ‘you’re leaving it like that?!’ But at the same time, after Rincewind and Twoflower have been unexpectedly rescued from certain death it starts a little pointlessly.
The thing which I found most frustrating whilst reading this book, as with many of Pratchett’s other early novels, was a lack of direction. It is a reasonable length into the novel before Rincewind and Twoflower have anywhere they actually need to be, but I think that this is something Pratchett developed later in his career.
Rincewind and Twoflower themselves continue to be interesting characters, and I particularly liked Rincewinds conversations with the Octavo. However the scenes starring secondary characters were everything I love about a Pratchett novel.
These scenes, although largely character exploration, were building the Discworld. These scenes built detail upon tiny detail; they show why you will get more from the Disc if you read the books in order. They have characters and facts which you know will come into play again and again and again.
I really loved Cohen the Barbarian and Bethan. I’m not really sure if it’s because of these books, and I don’t think it is, but Cohen the Barbarian is a feature in our culture; as a young man. This is the first instance I’ve heard of anyone developing him as an old man.
What would a hero do with no teeth?
I like that Bethan could see past his age and still want the classic hero/damsel romance, even if it did weird me out a little. I also liked the trolls. I love them being rocks, it’s an interesting concept which recently made a reappearance in Disney’s Frozen, but usually you hear of them being bad guys who get turned to stone when the sun comes up and that’s the end of them.
My very favourite part of this novel would have to be when Rincewind saved the day. I couldn’t help feeling that he really got one up on the wizards in the Unseen University who were always looking down on him.
All in all a really good book.