Interesting Times

Terry Pratchett

If 'May you live in interesting times' is an eastern curse then 'May you read Interesting Times' must be the western equivalent. In Interesting Times, Pratchett explores the Counterweight Continent -- the Discworld equivalent of the Far East -- and writes exactly the book you will expect him to write.

Interesting Times begins as you might expect with a long ramble about the Disc, complete with footnotes, for those who haven't read any of the Discworld(tm) books before or for those who like to read the same things again and again; then moves to the Unseen University. The Unseen University is the same as ever: overweight pompous wizards eating, quarrelling and not giving lectures, Ponder being a computer nerd, the Librarian going Oook. The University is charged with sending the 'Great Wizzard' to the Counterweight Continent and, as wizards are not fond of travelling, they jerk Rincewind back from his desert island and send him.

Of course, once there he immediately gets into trouble and runs away a lot while managing to walk right into trouble. On the way he meets the Silver Horde, an ancient and small band of barbarian invaders and falls foul of the Red Army, a rebel group who see The Great Wizzard as the saviour come to lead them out of feudal misery. He tangles with Evil Lords and mad Emperors; runs away some more; talks to peasants and meets Twoflower again; runs away; dresses as a eunuch and plays with some nifty magic boots while trying to run away.

Occasionally, there are sparks of interest: Twoflower's appearance (though expected) was not unpleasant and some of the new characters were quite interesting but what was painfully obvious was that this was old material with a new veneer. Not only did Pratchett use old jokes from previous books in this new one, he also reused jokes throughout the book again and again. This means that Interesting Times is easy to read, quite amusing, but lacking that spark of originality that made the earlier books special at the time. Of course, this is not to say that this is a bad book: it is by no means the worst of the Discworld(tm) books, and the Discworld(tm) series is much better written than its rival 'comic' fantasy series, but I'm afraid that I have long since reached my boredom threshold with this series and Interesting Times did nothing to relight that interest. I am sure fans will love it, but I fear that Prachett has become too complacent and the lure of a steady income has overcome any plans for more novel work.


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