The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
In The Light Fantastic only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world...
It has been far too long since I’ve read a Discworld novel.
I read Pratchett’s Dodger a couple years ago, but that one fell short for me – the humor and absurdity I love so much in Discworld was not there. I’ve been meaning to read more of this universe for the last couple years… but The Light Fantastic in particular? It’s been on my TBR since I read The Color of Magic in my senior English class. It’s been on my TBR longer than I’ve had an official, trackable TBR. So it’s about time I read it. I’d like to take a moment to thank my first ever Reading Rush for pushing me to acquire a copy. I read it in less than 24 hours.
Terry Pratchett’s writing is… not for everyone. I love it – I think he’s witty and quirky and while the series defies the vibrant way I usually like my world’s written, it’s still somehow endearing. I think the humor adds to that. The only author I can fairly compare him to is Douglas Addams – Discworld’s tongue-in-cheek humor reminds me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It moves the story along while adding amusing asides that will make any reader chuckle at the sheer absurdity and casual commentary. It you like serious science-fiction, you find it in The Light Fantastic or any of his other works. But if you’re looking for a quick, amusing, fantasy (sci-fi?) read, then you need look no further. Discworld checks all my boxes for an amusing afternoon read.
Even though it’s been over a decade since I read The Color of Magic, I fell right back into this book. Twoflower’s hopeless optimism balanced by Rincewind’s cautious pessimism. They’re a really good pair, and when you throw in the Luggage as it’s own silent, ambling character, they’re a lucky, ambling trio. The character traits are clear without being crowded with too many adjectives. Pratchett doesn’t spend a lot of time describing visuals, and when he does, he’s blunt. As such, I have no idea the color of Rincewind’s eyes and while I know that Twoflower has hair, I have no idea what color. It leaves a lot of room for imagination, and it’s done in such a way that I never felt his style fell short… simply that he preferred to focus on different aspects of the story.
I particularly appreciated the plot in The Light Fantastic. I’ve read a lot of books lately with heavier levels of drama or romance – Pratchett doesn’t bother with all that fluff. There are whole scenes that are generally pointless other than to introduce a minor character or make a joke, but they are brief enough to be humorous. When it comes to the plot devices, there are a lot of times where the reader is asked to simply… trust. A particular scene comes to mind where someone asked Twoflower why he’s not scared about the impending red star, and he basically just shrugs his shoulders and says “Rincewind’s not afraid, and he’s afraid of everything, so it’s probably fine.” The twist at the end is perfect and creative and I loved it, but it was very quick. This is not the type of book you skim – it’s so deliberately written that if you read it too fast, you’ll miss something important.
Still, I think the pacing is important. Because it’s not flowery and descriptive, anything slower would come in monologues, and it would be, frankly, boring. I really liked that it was a quick, easy read. It’s different than most things being published these days, so it threw me at first… but I liked the difference. One thing I would caution – I think The Light Fantastic really requires reading The Color of Magic. Most of Discworld comfortably stands alone, but this one started off so quickly that I think I would have been a little lost if I hadn’t already been acquainted with the characters and the basic format of the world. Obviously, you can do as you please and jump in without reading book one – most of Discworld really does stand alone if you want – but I think it’s a betetr experience with some previous experience.
All said, I generally enjoyed this one. It was a breath of fresh air in my slew of current reads. Of course, I recommend anything Discworld, but I’ve always enjoyed Rincewind (and Death, Death’s scenes are the best) and The Light Fantastic is a particularly good installment.
The Light Fantastic is staying on my shelf.
I mean… this is definitely a book I’d read again. It’s a book I could read in one sitting, it’s an easy read, and it’s humorous. I don’t particularly like the edition I have? It’s a mass market paperback, which I’m not crazy about anyway, but it’s also really skinny and not very comfortable to hold in my hand. I may replace it with a different edition someday, but for now… yup, this one’s a keeper!
Have you read any of the Discworld series? The Light Fantastic is actually my fifth in the series – I’ve read Thief of Time, Feet of Clay, and Carpe Jugulum as well as The Color of Magic. If you’ve ventured into this quirky, wonderful universe, I’d love to hear about your favorites!