I’ve resolved to read all of the Discworld books, one a month, from the beginning, and I started with The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett’s first foray into the magical world borne on the shoulders of four elephants that ride around the universe on the back of a planet-size turtle.
I first became aware of the Discworld series in the early 1990s and began with Witches Abroad, the 12th novel in the series. By that time, Pratchett was in full flow and that book remains one of my favourites. I think it’s fair to say that, had The Colour of Magic been my first experience of Discworld, I might have felt a little less compelled to continue. It’s not that TCOM is bad compared with other imaginative fiction, it’s just that so many of the other books in the series were works of utter genius.
In The Colour of Magic, Pratchett gives his imagination free reign – it’s as if the Discworld is being created in his mind as he writes (perhaps it was), but this gives it the feeling of being a grand tour rather than the sort of tightly plotted story that became his trademark a few books in.
There are laughs to be had and Rincewind makes for an entertaining protagonist but I was struck most by how many characters and places are introduced, never to be heard of again in either this book or, as far as I remember, any other.
Overall, a bit of a trial run that set the foundation for much greater things to come.