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‘Funny, delightfully inventive, and refuses to lie down in its genre’ Observer
The Discworld is very much like our own – if our own were to consist of a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle, that is . . .
There is a curse. They say: may you live in interesting times.
’May you live in interesting times’ is the worst thing one can wish on a citizen of Discworld, especially on the distinctly unmagical Rincewind, who has had far too much perilous excitement in his life and can’t even spell wizard.
So when a request for a ;Great Wizzard; arrives in Ankh-Morpork via carrier albatross from the faraway Counterweight Continent, it's the endlessly unlucky Rincewind who's sent as emissary. The oldest (and most heavily fortified) empire on the Disc is in turmoil, and Chaos is building. And, for some incomprehensible reason, someone believes Rincewind will have a mythic role in the ensuing war and wholesale bloodletting.
There are too many heroes already in the world, but there is only one Rincewind. And he owes it to the world to keep that one alive for as long as possible.
The Discworld novels can be read in any order but Interesting Times is the fifth book in the Wizards series.
Discworld continues to spin merrily along in this new addition to Pratchett's successful series (begun with The Colour of Magic, 1983) about a magical world carried through space on the back of a giant turtle. Here, Rincewind the wizard is drafted to visit the Agatean Empire, which in Pratchett's hands is either a satire of Imperial China or a satire on how that China is handled by other fantasy writers, or possibly both (in Discworld there are few certainties). Arriving complete with the Luggage, Rincewind is dropped into the middle of a succession crisis that's complicated by the presence of Cohen the Barbarian, with his Silver Horde of superannuated barbarians, and a band of youthful revolutionaries, the Red Army. The plot that slowly emerges sees Cohen become Emperor and will hold Discworld fans' attention despite some of the satirical effects arising from a working knowledge of British popular culture. Pratchett is an acquired taste, but the acquisition seems easy, judging from the robust popularity of Discworld. Certainly there is more verbal elegance in this novel than in most humorous fantasy. Pratchett does try to satirize so many subjects at once here that he resembles the man who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions, and so the book benefits from being read in small, bracing doses.