The Colour of Magic

By Sir Terry Pratchett
Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld.  Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant “idiot.”

Readers of the world, let’s make a pact.  Let’s stop over-hyping good books and ruining them for other readers.  If you LOVED a book, just tell people you really liked it and would definitely recommend it.  If you thought a book was MIND-BLOWING, just say it had great plot twists.  It’s not my fault that when I just wanted to know what The Colour of Magic was about, I was told that it was going to be “legendary,” “profound,” and on the same level as Douglas Adams. Now, that is some pretty high flattery to live up to, and quite frankly, it just didn’t.

The Colour of Magic, a farcical treatment of the classic fantasy genre, is the first in Terry Pratchett’s expansive and still growing 45-book Discworld series.  It follows the not-technically-wizard Rincewind and his naive, gullible companion, Twoflower the tourist, on their adventures across Discworld as they simply try not to die. Along the way they encounter new worlds, disgruntled gods, ancient magic, heroes, some man-eating luggage, and death himself.  Pratchett sure does manage to cram a lot of events into this book’s 200 pages, and if you don’t take your time reading it, you might end up with whiplash.

It’s unfortunate that the book’s fast-paced story felt like it had too much chaos and not enough actual plot, because I think otherwise I really would have liked it.  The characters are entertaining, and Pratchett writes some genuinely funny scenarios and recurring jokes.  But the overall feeling you have after reading The Colour of Magic is that it simply lacked substance.  I had high expectations going into this book, because it had so many things going for it: fantasy, farce, parody, a British author, and raving reviews!  But in the end, I found it altogether underwhelming.  However, this was Pratchett’s first book in the series written over 30 years ago, and clearly the Discworld books have something going for them.  I’m still willing to give the rest of the series a shot.  I just may need to expect something a little less than brilliance.


8 thoughts on “The Colour of Magic

  1. I think the problem with the Colour of Magic is the fact that is has to do so much world-building as well as introducing characters. It is definitely not the strongest piece in the series, but in order to understand the rest, you still have to read it. I hope that you decide to continue, because the books do get better.

  2. I know, the over-hyping can ruin a perfectly good book. And I too can vouch for the fact that Terry Pratchett does get better – especially the witch books in my humble opinion. -Tania

  3. I got lost reading that book as well. I feel like is made for especially young – and slow readers. If you go at the speed of light everything just mashes together.

  4. I finished reading The Colour of Magic about 5 days ago. it has taken about 15 years of various recommendations from friends & family and people reading out snippets that have made me cry laughing to actually get around to starting on the Discworld Series. I agree that it is quite a confusing book & definitely not a ringing endorsement for the series as a whole, but do not be put off, I know that they definitely get ALOT better and I’ve already started on The Light Fantastic.

    • I did think the book was funny! The problem is, I read it so fast that I forgot what I thought was funny . . . . so maybe I just need to slow down a bit when reading the next one. : )

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