There are two methods of taking a look at the undeniable fact that I was given The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett one Christmas when I was about 11.
The first: my dad and mom thought that as a result of I was studying quite a bit of fantasy novels, I was going to like this one.
I’d devoured the Lord of the Rings (greater than as soon as), I’d liked Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, I’d munched by way of Redwall by Brian Jacques. I wanted extra and I was sure to like a book whose cowl featured a chest sprouting pink human toes, a wizard and a goblin with an axe.
The second: my dad and mom thought that as a result of I was studying quite a bit of fantasy novels, I wanted an intervention.
My eagerness for tales about swords and magic had lately led me to The Belgariad by David Eddings. These had been the earnest adventures of Garion, Mister Wolf, Durnik, Torak and one other bazillion characters with daft names. They had been books with the potential to corrode my psyche. One passage ended with the assertion “thou artwork actually approaching manhood, younger Garion” and left me decided to keep away from puberty till I was at the least 21 and extra in a position to deal with the attendant embarrassment. It was additionally painfully clear that the majority of the feminine characters in the books appeared to need nothing greater than to be Fifties housewives – solely with out the labour-saving devices. This sort of fantasy was ripe for the type of corrective that Pratchett promised.
Speaking of correctives, I ought to in all probability attend to my very own premise at this level. I can see a 3rd risk right here: I simply got fortunate.
Possibly it’s unsuitable to analyse the provenance of a beloved current. Very often the actual purpose you get a present is “simply because”.
However by no means thoughts that. As a result of it’s additionally enjoyable to overthink why you got one thing – particularly if that one thing has gone on to have a profound affect in your life. Which The Color of Magic has.
I was instantly swept up in the misadventures of Rincewind, the inept wizard careening round the Discworld, a flat planet floating by way of area on the again of 4 elephants, who had been in activate the again of a large turtle referred to as Nice A’Tuin. I liked such absurd stretches of the creativeness. And I liked the jokes. And the jokes about the jokes. And the footnotes hooked up to the jokes, which had been in flip jokes. Pratchett was gleefully, unashamedly and fairly gloriously foolish. However he additionally gave me an entire new method of considering each about fantasy and actuality.
The fact is that neither of the two apparently contradictory concepts I thought of above really mattered when it got here to studying this primary Discworld novel. The magnificence of The Color of Magic is that whereas it reveals and mocks a lot of the absurdities of fantasy, it by no means totally undermines them. Pratchett mentioned he wrote the book in protest towards “too many darkish lords, an excessive amount of lack of thought” – however that he additionally liked the style. He understood the attraction of escaping into unusual new worlds, and he additionally knew that doing so had the potential to inform us one thing new about our personal circumstances and morality. The Color of Magic could not have had the complexity and profundity of his later works, nevertheless it nonetheless had fascinating issues to say about life and loss of life. (To not point out a personality referred to as Loss of life who spoke IN CAPITAL LETTERS and “in tones as deep and heavy as the banging of doorways, far underground”.)
It was great heady stuff and it modified me. Most clearly, I was by no means in a position to take David Eddings totally severely once more. In fact, I nonetheless learn him. I nonetheless loved him, in truth. However I was additionally in a position to chuckle at any time when anybody gave their sword a daft title or broke into fake medieval English.
In the meantime, and conversely, Pratchett additionally helped me to take the style of fantasy extra severely. It made me higher recognize the books that actually labored – and in addition helped me to begin to have an thought about how and why they did succeed. Now that I myself have grow to be a writer of fantasy fiction I wish to hope that Pratchett’s distinctive model of knowledge has guided me in my work. And even when it hasn’t, I nonetheless have a lot to thank him for. As a result of maybe the biggest profit I got from studying The Color of Magic was that it led me on to all the different Terry Pratchett novels and the infinite pleasure and enlightenment they’ve given me over the years.
It was a very good current. I’m grateful.