Eric – Terry Pratchett (Discworld #9, Rincewind #4)
I re-read this as part of an Ultimate Reading Challenge that I’m taking part in this year. For January, the challenge was “Read an old favourite”. *This review contains spoilers* However, that shouldn’t stop you reading the book. Like all of Pratchett’s work, the joy is not necessarily in the outcome but always in the journey.
“I warn you,” said the voice, which seemed to be coming from a table, “I am protected by many powerful amulets.”
“Jolly good,” said Rincewind. “I wish I was.”
Rincewind, a hopeless wizard with a cynical outlook meets Eric, a teenage demonologist with high hopes and no life experience. It’s a recipe for disaster that leaves Eric’s soul hanging in the balance.
What I love about this book (aside from the insightful humour that is characteristic of Terry Pratchett) is that it explores some well known mythologies in a unique and entertaining way: the fall of Troy; one man’s search for the Fountain of Youth; the creation of the universe; and the inner circles of Hell, with a twist of realism and a side of satire.
“…you know, you can only pine so much, and it must have been a bit chilly up on those towers.”
In the (inaccurate) belief that Rincewind is a demon, Eric wishes to: live eternally; meet the most beautiful woman in history; and be the ultimate ruler of the world. As you can imagine, this does not go as planned.
Ruling the world may grant you respect but it also makes you responsible for the woes of your subjects – woes that may well be described to you with the point of a very sharp, lovingly crafted obsidian wossname (knife).
The most beautiful woman in history is at the centre of a bloody war that’s lasted so long that the bloom is, as they say, off the rose. Not to mention that Rincewind and Eric somehow find themselves inside a rather legendary wooden animal at exactly the wrong time.
Eternal life, in this case, doesn’t mean continued life from the present, it means a trip back to the beginning, an audience with a rather diffident Creator of the Universe, and a mayonnaise-less egg sandwich that may be the source of life as we know it.
Luckily, in Rincewind’s wake can always be found the faithfully furious, magical Luggage – made from wood infused with magical properties and possessing hundreds of legs that just love to impart an enthusiastic kicking on anything or anyone who dares to stand between it and its master – the Luggage is (always) the inadvertent hero of the story.
Possibly this made it angrier, although with the Luggage there wasn’t any reliable way of telling because it spent all its time beyond, in a manner of speaking, the hostility event horizon
There’s something about Rincewind’s life philosophy that really appeals to me. He’s a connoisseur of human behaviour who instantly recognises the best way to manipulate circumstances to his advantage (usually by appealing to the more base instincts of his enemies – envy, jealousy and resentment being just a few). At the same time, he is supremely suspicious of anything good, and permanently prepared to run away at a moment’s notice.
“…come on, let’s run away.”
“Don’t you worry about to,” he said. “In my experience that always takes care of itself. The important word is away.”
If you’ve never read a Pratchett book, or you have limited time for reading, this is a great one to start with. It’s shorter than most but packed full of funny.
Hope you enjoyed my review. Thanks for reading. 😀