Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Terry Pratchett: Sourcery

Terry Pratchett has done it again with a fantastically hilarious story that includes the impossible to believe Rincewind and my favorite Pratchett character of all…Luggage.

It begins with a man. This man had eight sons, and that is all. His eighth son however also had eight sons. Eight is, of course, the number of magic in Diskworld and so this eighth son became a wizard. Unlike most wizards however he also had sons, eight of them. The eighth son of the eighth son of the eighth son…was a sourcerer. A Source of magic. Unlike wizards who used magic, the sourcerer was a source of magic, and as such was more powerful than any wizard ever born. As you can imagine, this caused problems. Not the least of which was that his wizard father cast his soul into a mystic staff for the infant sourcerer in order to teach (see control) him. This really began to be a problem in the young lad’s pre-teen years when he started to think that he was better than everyone else. Problem was, he really was better than everyone else. Due to his fathers (staff’s) influence he then decided to take over the Unseen University, the premier school of wizardry in Diskworld.

Once again however, no matter how cool the sourcerer is, or how funny the failed wizard Rincewind is, there is no comparison with the greatest character of all, Luggage. In this book the reader has the opportunity to view the truly awesome power that is Luggage. I will highlight a few passages to illustrate.

“The Luggage paddled gently down the stream. The water was making it feel a little better. It spun gently in the weak current, the focus of several mysterious little swirls that sped across the surface of the water. Te ripples converged. The Luggage jerked, its lid flew open, it shot under the surface with a brief despairing creek.” This of course alludes to Luggage getting attacked by alligators, but later…“A basilisk lay panting in the baking shade of a rock, dribbling corrosive yellow slime. For the last five minutes its ears had been detecting the thump of hundreds of little legs, which seemed to indicate that dinner was on its way. The Luggage staggered to a halt and raised its lid threateningly. The basilisk hissed, but a little uncertainly because it had never seen a walking box before and certainly never one with lots of alligator teeth stuck in its lid. There were also scraps of leathery hide adhering to it and it appeared to be glaring. It turned on Luggage with a stare like a diamond drill, a stare that nipped in via the staree’s eyeballs and flayed the bring from the inside, a stare that – The basilisk realized that something was very wrong. The basilisk was feeling a terrible, overpowering and irresistible urge to blink. It did something incredibly unwise, it blinked.” A basilisk of course is a monster that can either stone or kill with it’s stare, a deadly monster indeed, but not as deadly as Luggage seen here…”The Luggage plodded erratically across the burning dunes. There were a few traces of yellow slime rapidly drying on its lid. The lonely little oblong was watched from atop of a stone pinnacle by a chimera. It judged its moment carefully, kicked away and plummeted down towards its victim. The chimera’s technique was to swoop low over the prey, lightly boiling it with its fiery breath and then turn and rend its dinner with its teeth. It managed the fire part but then, at the point where experience told the creature it should be facing a stricken and terrified victim, found itself on the ground in the path of a scorched and furious Luggage. The only think incandescent about the Luggage was its rage. It had spent several hours with a headache, during which it seemed the whole world had tried to attack it. It had had enough. When it had stamped the unfortunate chimera into a greasy puddle on the sand it paused for a moment apparently considering its future.” This is the awesomeness that is the Luggage. Horde of alligators, basilisk, and chimera only serve to make it angry. Unstoppable, unbeatable, and largely homicidal, Luggage is the ultimate adventurers travel accessory.

The other neat thing about this book, is the ending. Not only do the good guys win (a foregone conclusion…kind of) but the sourcerer decides to take the same path as his ancestors. He decides to enter his own world away from Diskworld and all of the troubles that his presence caused. Showing that even a young boy, with nearly absolute power, is not necessarily absolutely corrupted. Thanks to the efforts of the Indomitable Rincewind.

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