Pratchett and I continue to have an unsteady relationship. He entices me with Good Omens, co-written by him and Neil Gaiman. Thoroughly lets me down with Feet of Clay, my introduction to the Discworld. Re-instills my faith in him with Hogfather. Now, with The Light Fantastic, he’s inspired sheer disappointment once again.
As with Feet of Clay, his humor doesn’t feel as natural as in his other works, inducing far more groans and eye rolls on my part than smirks or laughs. Whatever you point to, though, there are clear signs of this being him just starting out. Even characters I’d consider favorites so far, such as Death, feel half-baked in this installment, like Pratchett wasn’t sure where to go with them. I imagine Death has evolved throughout the series, except I barely recognized him as the one seen in Hogfather, that book’s respective highlight.
Death in beta-format, however, I can deal with; what bothered me the most were the characters created for this particular story arc, namely Rincewind. He’s a wizard minus the magic who spends most of his time wallowing in self pity over this unfortunate fact. Furthermore, his every success seems to altogether be an accident or wholly due to luck. In short, he’s the embodiment of the worst aspects of Harry Potter, yet blown even further out of proportion, and thus a character I haven’t even a passing interest in following.
Maybe my opinion would’ve been different if I’d read The Colour of Magic first, giving myself the necessary background information on this story and its characters. I must say, though, the chances are slim if the reviews I’ve read are anything to go off of. The Light Fantastic is widely considered to be a vast improvement upon its predecessor, and Rincewind is just as popularly referred to as one of Pratchett’s worst character creations. If anything, it would’ve made me biased against the book from the start. Still, I feel that I owe it to Pratchett to read it… at some point. Just not anytime soon. I at least have to read Making Money first. It should even out the scales, balancing the good with the bad, and make The Colour of Magic easier to swallow.
Travis Smith’s blog, containing this review, as well as others, photography, and more, can be found here.