Book Review #5: Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

To this day I have never before read a book that is a part of a series close to fifty volumes long, finished it, and thought to myself, wow, this was so incredibly good that I am going to commit to finishing the entirety of this ridiculously long saga. 

The key phrase here was “never before”.

I feel a bit bad by heaping such high praise upon the past five book reviews, but it’s probably because I didn’t choose these books at random. All of these books were recommended to me, with the exception of Armored, by people whose taste I trusted, so it’s not a surprise that I’ve had good luck in finding books that I consider worthwhile.

So, with that out of the way, let me explain to you why this story was so fantastic.

Image result for interesting times by terry pratchett

“Interesting Times” by Terry Pratchett was 368 glorious pages long, and I must say, I think this was one of the most quotable books I have ever read. Sadly this means that this post will probably be hideously long (this will probably have the most quotes to date). I assure you that despite the overload of quotes, they’re all quite entertaining. If you want more hilarious quotes, check out this site here.

Rincewind is our main character, a man with some very bad luck–

“Luck is my middle name,” said Rincewind, indistinctly. “Mind you, my first name is Bad.”

–and although he wears a hat that says “Wizzard” (it’s featured on the book cover above), he’s absolutely rubbish at magic. This is his logic for calling himself a wizard:

He was no good at anything else. Wizardry was the only refuge. Well, actually he was no good at wizardry either, but at least he was definitively no good at it. He’d always felt he had a right to exist as a wizard in the same way that you couldn’t do proper maths without the number 0, which wasn’t a number at all but, if it went away, would leave a lot of larger numbers looking bloody stupid.

And, most importantly, Rincewind is a coward.

The world had too many heroes and didn’t need another one. Whereas the world had only one Rincewind and he owed it to the world to keep this one alive for as long as possible.

I never thought I learn to love a main character who did nothing but run away from every chance at heroism he encountered.

Rincewind looked up and raised his hat.

“I do beg your pardon,” he said, brightly. “Isn’t this room 3B?”

And ran for it.

The floors screamed under him, and behind him someone screamed Rincewind’s nickname, which was: “Don’t let him get away!”

 

But I did.

…in Rincewind’s experience there were few problems that couldn’t be solved with a scream and a good ten yards’ start.

And at least he’s consistent: even when you think that he’s had a change of heart, that he came back for the people who depend on him, you find out that it had all been an accident, a byproduct of his self-preservation. As cold as this sounds, I assure you, it’s quite endearing, and it’s not like he’s an uncaring person. He makes sure to advise them to run away as he rushes past on his own mad sprint for survival. For example:

“But there are causes worth dying for,” said Butterfly.

“No, there aren’t! Because you’ve only got one life but you can pick up another five causes on any street corner!”

“Good grief, how can you live with a philosophy like that?”

Rincewind took a deep breath.

“Continuously!”

Oh, and he’s quite the linguist. Which why he is chosen to be thrown into an unknown continent and into the magical adventure that is this book.

Rincewind could scream for mercy in nineteen languages, and just scream in another forty-four.

Despite all of the ridiculousness, the actual plot of this book is very good. I think this comes together best in the last 80 pages or so, when you realize how brilliantly Pratchett set up the final battle. It would take a while to discuss this, so I’d rather sell the writing itself and simply have you take it on faith that there is indeed a plot, and that the ending is quite satisfying.

One of my favorite parts about this book is that Rincewind hates ending up in “save the universe” situations and no matter what he does, his cowardice somehow turns into luck and is interpreted as heroism. He just wants a nice, quiet, boring life, and yet he’s always thrust into the most interesting of times. His friend Cohen, a barbarian in his nineties who is somehow still a legendary hero, is equally as entertaining, and his own side-plot is quite fun to read.

If you liked any of these quotes, enjoy fantasy stories, ridiculousness (something akin to the writing style of Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), and a cowardly yet endearing main character with an equally interesting supporting cast, you should give this book a shot. Mind you, this is actually #17 in the Discworld series. If it turns out that you’re hooked, you’re going to have almost 50 other volumes to read. So, fair warning.

I’m a bit intimidated by what I’ve gotten myself into, but at the same time, I cannot wait to explore more of Discworld. A million thanks to Sarah for this recommendation!

 

wishing you all the best,

takanoir

 

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