Discworld Book #5: Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

I am so tickled by the idea of modern day knighthood.  What exactly is it that makes Terry Pratchett or Patrick Stewart (be still my heart) worthy of being knighted?  Have they gone on quests?  Rescued princesses?  Or does that come after the knighting?  I don’t know.

Sir Terry Pratchett wrote some 40 odd books that all take place on the Discworld and I am reading them all in the order in which they were published.  Today I finished number 5, Sourcery.

In book 5 we are reunited with the protagonist of books 1 and 2, a poor excuse for a wizard named Rincewind.  I am very fond of Rincewind. I like that he has no ambition. I like that he wears the celibacy imposed on all wizards like a security blanket.  I like that he is mostly cowardly and selfish but he still manages to be a good friend.  I know it’s contrived and I like it anyway.  Sue me.

The timeline of the Discworld is still a little muddled to me.  In books 1 and 2, I thought of Rincewind as middle-aged, definitely past his prime.  Last time we saw him, he met a “hero” named Cohen the Barbarian.  In this book, he meets Cohen’s daughter.  Her age isn’t stated, but she’s old enough to be kicking butts and taking names on her own, so… 20ish?  So, either Rincewind was much younger than I thought in the earlier books or he is much older than he seems in this book.  It doesn’t matter for this story, but it bugged me a little all the same.  I want the Discworld to be seamless.  This doesn’t mean that I need to be an omniscient observer of the disc, but I want everything to clearly fit together.  So, the timeline matters a bit to me.

Rincewind is in books 1, 2, and 5.  Literally NO time passes between books 1 and 2, but clearly somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 25 years has passed between books 2 and 5.  In books 3 and 4, we were introduced to new characters and new story lines, some of which happened in new parts of the Discworld.  Did those things happen in the elapsed time between books 2 and 5?  Did they happen before book 1? After book 5?  Concurrently with any of them (probably not with book 5, because neither of those books made reference to a vast magical war that nearly destroys all life on the disc)?  Am I trying too hard to make sense of something that was never intended to be sensible?  Maybe.

In this book, we learn why wizards are celibate and why inspiration so rarely strikes.  We see three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse get wasted and we learn what happens when the universe catches on to the fact that it is doing something impossible.  The book is fun but the story doesn’t move as quickly or fluidly as the previous books and it is a little heavy handed with the messaging. There is a bit of moralizing going on here about not letting anyone else tell you who you are and being true to yourself that I wasn’t expecting.  This coupled with the fact that the funnies felt a little more forced makes this a weaker offering than the others so far, but still quite fun.

I don’t think I am spoiling anything by saying that this book appears to be the end of the Rincewind storyline, but even if I didn’t know that there are more Rincewind books, I would suspect it.  The door is left open for him to return and I look forward to when he does.


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