Jun 28, 2011

[Books] Sourcery

SourceryWhile I love Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, for one reason or another I never got to like one of its most famous characters - Rincewind the Wizard.

To you non-Pratchett fans, Rincewind is probably the worst wizard on the Disc. He failed all of his assessments at the Unseen University and he can't peform a spit of magic on his own. His only claim to fame is the fact that one of the 8 magical spells of the Octavo is lodged in his head and he has a knack of surviving the end of the world many times over. He always runs from danger (and just about everything else for that matter) and his only redeeming quality is not part of him at all - it's the enchanted Luggage that follows him around these days.

It's hard to define what exactly I don't like about Rincewind - maybe it's his lack of any personal motivation other than running away from danger with little regard for anything (or anyone) else. Maybe it's the fact that he spells the word wizard with two z's. Maybe he just doesn't strike me as funny.

So naturally in my quest to read every single Discworld novel ever written, I find myself now stuck with mainly the Rincewind books in my unread pile - and thus I'm slowly working through them now. And they're not as bad as I initially perceived them to be...more or less.

Sourcery is the fifth book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels and the 3rd such book to feature Rincewind the wiz(z)ard. It's one of the shorter novels, and yet I found it to be quite the surprisingly fulfilling read.

On the Discworld, it is said that the eighth son of a eighth son is fated to become a wizard. But the eighth son of an eighth son of the an eighth son is something far greater - what they call a Sourcerer, who is a source of true magic.

Thus the book centers around the coming of one such sourcerer due to the machinations of Ipslore the Red, a wizard who defies the Unseen University and has eight sons in order to create such a being of power. And just before his death, he manages to cheat the Grim Reader himself by bonding his soul into his staff, which he had pass on to his new son named Coin.

Years later, the Unseen University's latest Archchancellor is about to be named when the most likely candidate mysteriously disappears just as Coin arrives. In the meantime, Rincewind, the Librarian and the Luggage just happen to be outside the University as all this comes to pass. At a pub they encounter Conina, the daughter of the legendary Cohen the barbian. The girl desires to become a hairdresser but she seems to hack a knack of being a barbarian warrior - including her most recent theft of the fabled hat of the Archchancellor.

Rincewind as portrayed by David Jason.Image via WikipediaDespite this being a Rincewind book, I think the story worked since he wasn't too much in the forefront. Of course we still had to deal with him running helter-skelter across the Disc in his efforts to stay alive, the rest of the story was nicely throught-provoking without getting too long-winded.

The core beauty here is how Pratchett dissects the Discworld's unique view of magic and why wizards have become blubbering idiots instead of the all powerful beings we know them to be as based on other fantasy stories. His concepts are rather intriguing and they do explain a lot about how magic tends to work on the Disc in later novels. Plus there are the ultimate risks brought on by coming of the Sourceror and the risk of a new wave of Wage Wars between the overpowered wizards.

One of the more interesting characters introduced in the book is Conina the hairdresser by day, master thief by night (or whatever). She's a delightful contrast of her passions versus her barbarian nature and it's a shame we haven't seen her in any other Discworld tale sense. I suppose she's busy with...but wait, that would be spoiling things now wouldn't it? Needless to say, I'd LOVE to read about another adventure with her again but I really doubt that will happen.

Sourceror is definitely one of the better Discworld novels out there and probably the best Rincewind-related story that I've read as well. It gets 4 random creations of wild magic out of a possible 5.

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