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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Discworld: Volumes 7, 9

I'm continuing my march through the entire Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I opened my box of Discworld books on XMas Day and began with "Pyramids", volume 7 in the series.

Pyramids involves a kingdom loosely based on ancient Egypt, complete with pharaohs, mummies, and of course pyramids. The pharaoh's son Pteppic is sent to the city of Ankh-Morpork, where he becomes an assassin. But on the day he graduates, his father dies and he's brought home to take over as the god-king. The new pharaoh soon finds that all the real power in the kingdom rests with the high priest, who is so old and so much a fixture that no one can remember not having him around--there's a reason for this that's probably quantum. In one case, the high priest sentences a handmaiden to death in the name of the pharaoh, who then uses his assassin skills to rescue her, thus making him an enemy of the state--himself.

Meanwhile, construction begins on a pyramid for the previous pharaoh, one larger and grander than ever. But not only is the cost for this monstrosity devastating to the kingdom, the temporal energy it gives off threatens to destroy the entire kingdom.

I can't say I enjoyed this one a whole lot. Maybe I'm not into Egyptians and temporal mechanics enough. Or maybe because I was anxious to get at "Fall of Hyperion" that I bought myself after XMas. Or maybe like "Equal Rites" there wasn't enough of the main Discworld elements in this one to really pull me in. Or maybe I just like making stupid postulations. (3 stars)

(For Volume 8, See my review of Guards! Guards!)

Eric - This is the ninth Discworld book that comes in at a brief 197 pages if you don't get the original illustrated edition--which I didn't. In this one Rincewind returns from exile in the Dungeon Dimensions at the end of "Sourcery." A 13-year-old demonologist named Eric has brought Rincewind back, thinking he's summoning a demon who can give him control of the universe, the most beautiful woman in the world, and eternal life. To Rincewind's surprise, he actually does this--after a fashion, but as the say: be careful what you wish for.

I read this book in about two hours this afternoon, so it's a real light read. The way Pratchett melds ancient Greek and South American history to Discworld history is interesting, and his concept of Hell is funny for anyone who works in a cubicle. His Creator of the universe, though, seems borrowed in part from another Brit: Douglas Adams in the original "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

Anyway, probably because this was supposed to be a picture book there's not a lot of depth to it. It'll amuse you for a couple hours though. (3 stars)

I'll continue to add more reviews when and if I feel like it.

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