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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Interesting Times

Interesting Times

(Discworld Volume 17)

by Terry Pratchett

(4/5 stars)

I'd been reviewing these in batches, but I might not finish another one for a little bit, so I'm going to do this one separately.

Anyway, the expression "May you live in interesting times" can be either a blessing or a curse. To Rincewind the wizard, it's definitely a curse. There's nothing more Rincewind would like more than to hide out somewhere safe and quiet with a large supply of potatoes. Unfortunately, Rincewind has the same kind of luck as Charlie Brown in kicking the football; whenever he thinks he's going to do it, someone pulls the football away.

This time, Rincewind is called upon by the other wizards at Unseen University to travel to the remote "Counterweight Continent" a region that has little contact with the rest of the Discworld. Now a hungry albatross arrives with a message requesting a "Great Wizard" be sent to the continent ASAP. Since there's no one more expendable for a dangerous mission, Rincewind is chosen to be teleported across thousands of miles, where he meets an old (literally) friend: Cohen the Barbarian. The ancient "hero" and his Silver Horde of six other old geezers are planning to mount a daring mission to steal something precious from the Empire ruling the continent.

Trying to avoid this suicide mission, Rincewind strikes out on his own, but is soon taken captive by the "Red Army", a group of teenagers who are good at plastering slogans on walls and little else. They believe Rincewind is The Great Wizard who will lead them to victory over the repressive empire.

As always happens when Rincewind is involved, his attempts to avoid trouble wind up leading him deeper into trouble and his attempts at being a coward wind up making him a hero. How this plays out was sort of predictable, but I've really come to identify with Rincewind, possessing about the same amount of "luck."

Though this isn't a sequel, there are references to the other Rincewind novels, including the reappearance of Twoflower the tourist, who first set Rincewind on the annoying path to adventure in the first two Discworld books. So there's a feeling like a class reunion in reading this that makes it fun to read. It's always good to reunite with old friends, even if they aren't real.

That is all.

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