Title: The Light Fantastic.
Author: Sir Terry Pratchett.
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, humour, satire, adventure.
Publication Date: June 2, 1986.
Summary: A direct sequel to The Colour of Magic, the book takes readers on another off-beat journey with bumbling wizard Rincewind and hapless tourist Twoflower — both last seen falling off the edge of Discworld. The fate of the Discworld is in the bumbling duo’s hands as it hurtles its way toward a foreboding red star, threatening the fate of the entire universe.
My rating: 8/10
♥ Great A’Tuin the star turtle, shell frosted with frozen methane, pitted with meteor craters, and scoured with asteroidal dust. Great A’Tuin, with eyes like ancient seas and a brain the size of a continent through which thoughts moved like little glittering glaciers. Great A’Tuin of the great slow and flippers and star-polished carapace, labouring through the galactic night under the weight of the Disc. As large as worlds. As old as Time. As patient as a brick.
Actually, the philosophers have got it all wrong. Great A’Tuin is in fact having a great time.
Great A’Tuin is the only creature in the entire universe that knows exactly where it is going.
♥ It looked the sort of book described in library catalogues as ‘slightly foxed’, although it would be more honest to admit that it looked as though it had been badgered, wolved and possibly beared as well.
♥ It is said that the opposite of noise is silence. This isn’t true. Silence is only the absence of noise. Silence would have been a terrible din compared to the sudden soft implosion of noiselessness that hit the wizards with the force of an exploding dandelion clock.
♥ The point is that descriptive writing is very rarely entirely accurate and during the reign of Olaf Quimby II as Patrician of Ankh some legislation was passed in a determined attempt to put a stop to this sort of thing and introduce some honesty into reporting. Thus, if a legend said of a notable hero that ‘all men spoke of his prowess’ any bard that valued his life would add hastily ‘except for a couple of people in his home village he thought he was a liar, and quite a lot of other people who had never really heard of him.’ Poetic simile was strictly limited to statements like ‘his mighty steed was as fleet as the wind on a fairly calm day, say about Force Three,’ and any loose talk about a beloved having a face that launched a thousand ships would have to be backed by evidence that the object of desire did indeed look like a bottle of champagne.
Quimby was eventually killed by a disgruntled poet during an experiment conducted in the palace grounds to prove the disputed accuracy of the proverb ‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ and in his memory it was amended to include the phrase ‘only if the sword is very small and the pen is very sharp.’
♥ “Hey, don’t go,” the tree began, and then realized the hopelessness of it all. It watched him stagger off through the bushes, and settled down to feeling the sun on its leaves, the slurp and gurgle of the water in its roots, and the very ebb and flow of its sap in response to the natural tug of the sun and moon. Boring, it thought. What a strange thing to say. Trees can be bored, of course, beetles do it all the time, but I don’t think that was what he was trying to mean. And: can you actually be anything else?
In face Rincewind never spoke to that particular tree again, but from that brief conversation it spun the basis of the first tree religion which, in time, swept the forests of the world. Its tenet faith was this: a tree that was a good tree, and led a clean, decent and upstanding life, could be assured of a future life after death. If it was very good indeed it would eventually be reincarnated as five thousand rolls of lavatory paper.
♥ Strangely enough, he wasn’t particularly worried. Twoflower was a tourist, the first of the species to evolve on the Disk, and fundamental to his very existence was the rock-hard belief that nothing bad could really happen to him because he was not involved; he also believed that anyone could understand anything he said provided he spoke loudly and slowly, that people were basically trustworthy and that anything could be sorted out among men of good will if they just acted sensibly.
♥ The Forest of Skund was indeed enchanted, which was nothing unusual on the Disk, and was also the only forest in the whole universe to be called - in the local language - Your Finger You Fool, which was the literal meaning of the word Skund.
The reason for this is regrettably all too common. When the first explorers from the warm lands around the Circle Sea travelled into the chilly hinterland they filled in the blank spaces on their maps by grabbing the nearest native, pointing at some distant landmark, speaking very clearly in a loud voice, and writing down whatever the bemused man told them. Thus were immortalized in generations of atlases such geographical oddities as Just A Mountain, I Don’t Know, What? and, of course, Your Finger You Fool.
♥ “What shall we do?” said Twoflower.
“Panic?” said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival; back in the olden days, his theory went, people faced with hungry sabre-toothed tigers could be divided very simply into those who panicked and those who stood there saying ‘What a magnificent brute!’ and ‘Here, pussy.’
♥ The druids of the Disc prided themselves on their forward-looking approach to the discovery of the mysteries of the Universe. Of course, like druids everywhere they believed in the essential unity of all life, the healing of power plants, the natural rhythm of the seasons and the burning alive of anyone who didn’t approach all this in the right frame of mind, but they had also thought long and hard about the very basis of creation and had formulated the following theory:
The universe, their said, depended for its operation on the balance of four forces which they identified as charm, persuasion, uncertainty and bloody-mindedness.
Thus it was the sun and moon orbited the Disc because they were persuaded not to fall down, but didn’t actually fly away because of uncertainty. Charm allowed trees to grow and bloody-mindedness kept them up, and so on.
Some druids suggested that there were certain flaws in this theory, but senior druids explained very pointedly that there was indeed room for informed argument, the cut and thrust of exciting scientific debate, and basically it lay on top of the nest solstice bonfire.
♥ He felt that the darkness was full of unimaginable horrors - and the trouble with unimaginable horrors was that they were only too easy to imagine…
♥ “Can’t they just use flowers and berries and things?” he said. “Sort of symbolic?”
“Has anyone ever tried?”
Rincewind sighed. “Look,” he said. “No self-respecting High Priest is going to go through all the business with the trumpets and the processions and the banners and everything, and then shove his knife into a daffodil and a couple of plums. You’ve got to face it, all this stuff about golden boughs and the cycles of nature and stuff just boils down to sex and violence, usually at the same time.”
♥ “But as for me, I know I’m meant to be wise. And wise men do what the times demand.”
♥ It was the clock. It was very big, and occupied a space between two curving wooden staircases covered with carvings of things that normal men only see after a heavy session on something illegal.
It had a very long pendulum, and the pendulum swung with a slow tick-tock that set his teeth on edge, because it was the kind of deliberate, annoying ticking that wanted to make it abundantly clear that every tick and every tock was stripping another second off your life. It was the kind of sound that suggested very pointedly that in some hypothetical hourglass, somewhere, another few grains of sand had dropped from under you.
Needless to say,the weight of the pendulum was knife-edges and razor sharp.
♥ The Death of the Disc was a traditionalist who prided himself on his personal service and spent most of the time being depressed because this was not appreciated. He would point out that no-one feared death itself, just pain and separation and oblivion, and that it was quite unreasonable to take against someone just because he had empty eye-sockets and a quiet pride in his work. He still used a scythe, he’d point out, while the Deaths of other worlds had long ago invested in combine harvesters.
♥ “He’sh mad?”
“Sort of mad. But mad with lots of money.”
“Ah, then he can’t be mad. I’ve been around; if a man hash lotsh of money he’sh just scshentric.”
♥ Trolls are one of the oldest lifeform in the multiverse, dating from an early attempt to get the whole life thing on the road without all that squashy protoplasm.
♥ “Legend?” he said. “What legend?”
“It’s been handed down from mountain to gravel since the sunset of time,” said the first troll. An interesting metaphor. To nocturnal trolls, of course, the dawn of time lies in the future.
♥ But she was too big to be a thief, too honest to be an assassin, too intelligent to be a wife, and too proud to enter the only other female profession generally available.
So she’d become a swordswoman and had been a good one…
♥ No one knows why, but all the most truly mysterious and magical items are bought from shops that appear and, after a trading life even briefer than a double-glazing company, vanish like smoke. There have been various attempts to explain this, all of which don’t fully account for the observed facts. These shops turn up anywhere in the universe, and their immediate non-existence in any particular city can normally be deduced from crowds of people wandering the streets clutching defunct magical items, ornate guarantee cards, and looking very suspiciously at brick walls.
♥ He was talking to himself. Twoflower had wheeled his horse and was trotting back, demonstrating all the horsemanship of a sack of potatoes.
♥ “What are you looking at?” said the wizard, “He can go back if he wants, why should I bother?”
The Luggage said nothing.
“Look, he’s not my responsibility,” said Rincewind. “Let’s be absolutely clear about that.”
The Luggage said nothing, but louder this time.
♥ Twoflower tried to stand up and caused the horse of another man to rear, throwing his off and bringing his head down to the right level for Rincewind to kick it as hard as possible. Rincewind would be the first to call himself a rat, but even rats fight in a corner.
♥ All the cities around the Circle Sea had a special area set aside for the gods, of which the Disc had an elegant sufficiency. Usually they were crowded and not very attractive from an architectural point of view. The most senior gods, of course, had large and splendid temples, but the trouble was that later gods demanded equality and soon the holy areas were sprawling with lean-to’s, annexes, loft conversions, sub-basements, bijou flatlets, ecclesiastical infilling and trans-temporal timesharing, since no god would dream of living outside the holy quarter or, as it had become, three-eighths. There were usually three hundred different types of incense being burned and all the noise was normally at pain threshold because of all the priests vying with each other to call their share of the faithful to prayer.
♥ It went on and on, a quiet, clear voice that used words like 'cleanse' and 'scouring' and 'purity' and drilled into the brain like a hot sword. Where were the wizards? Where was magic? Had it ever really worked, or had it all been a dream?
Rincewind began to be really afraid that the gods might get to hear about this and be so angry that they’d take it out on anyone who happened to have been around at the time.
But somehow even the wrath of the gods would have been better than the sound of that voice. The star was coming, it seemed to say, and its fearful fire could only be averted by... by... Rincewind couldn't be certain, but he had visions of swords and banners and blank-eyes warriors. The voice didn't believe in gods, which in Rincewind's book was fair enough, but it didn't believe in people either.
♥ The jeweller had produced a very large and dirty axe, guaranteed to add tetanus to all the other terrors of warfare.
Pearl of cities!
This is not a completely accurate description, of course - it was not round and shiny - but even its worst enemies would agree that if you had to liken Ankh-Morpork to anything, then it might as well be a piece of rubbish covered with the diseased secretions of a dying mollusc.
♥ There is only really one way to describe the effect of the smell of Ankh-Morpork has on the visiting nose, and that is by analogy.
Take a tartan. Sprinkle it with confetti. Light it with strobe lights.
Now take a chameleon.
Put the chameleon on the tartan.
Watch it closely.
♥ “Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out,” said the shopkeeper. “That’s what I’ve always thought. No-one goes mad quicker than a totally sane person.”
♥ The star was bigger than the sun. There would be no night tonight. On the opposite horizon the Disc’s own sunlet was doing its best to set normally, but the general effect of all that red light was to make the city, never particularly beautiful, look like something painted by a fanatical artist after a bad time on the shoe polish.
But it was home.
♥ There was no real need for the torches. The Octavo filled the room with a dull, sullen light, which wasn’t strictly light at all but the opposite of light; darkness isn’t the opposite of light, it is simply its absence, and what was radiating from the book was the light that lies on the far side of darkness, the light fantastic.
♥ It should be pointed out that currently Great A’Tuin was very pleased and contented, and feelings like that in a brain the size of several large cities are bound to radiate out. In fact most people on the Disc were currently in a state of mind normally achievable only by a lifetime of dedicated meditation or about thirty seconds of illegal herbage.
♥ “The important thing about having lots of things to remember is that you’ve got to go somewhere afterwards where you can remember them, you see? You’ve got to stop. You haven’t really been anything until you’ve got back home.”