Fantasy Review: ‘The Color of Magic’ by Terry Pratchett

Part 1 of the Complete Discworld Reread

“What is your name?”…
“My name is inconsequential.”
“That’s a pretty name.”
The Color of Magic– Terry Pratchett

Part one of a complete reread of Pratchett’s Discworld series.  As such the style will be a little different from other reviews.  The “review” portion will be shorter.  Following the short review will be my thoughts of the book from a rereading standpoint, on how it holds up to expectations, the evolution of the series, and other musings.

The Color of Magic is the first book of Discworld, a humor/parody series of fantasy books.  This book is set up in four parts, which act almost as four short stories all featuring Rincewind, the worlds most inept wizard.  Each section is a direct parody of specific fantasy tropes; the city of assassins and thieves, the barbarian adventure book, and a direct parody of the Pern series, and gods playing games with mortals.  Rincewind is stuck “protecting” a man named Twoflower (much against his nature, and abilities), the worlds first tourist, who wants to visit all the fantastic places he has heard of in his boring desk job.

Some may hear the book is a parody and cringe, as many works of parody these days take the easy joke and milk it for cash(I am thinking of a whole line of movies here).  If that describes your thoughts, do not worry.  Pratchett shows some skill in making a very interesting story on its own, that happens to gently mock some tropes(not beat you over the head with them, with the exception of some of the Pern references). While fantasy has moved in unique directions, it is interesting how many of the tropes Pratchett is working with are still in play.  Because of this the book has aged well, and the humor holds up.

If you like both fantasy and comedy, The Color of Magic is still a very fun, very short read.  It should be noted that it ends on a cliff hanger(the only book of the series that does), and The Light Fantastic is required if you want to know the end of the story.

3 stars, a good series start, but not a lot of depth.


To start with, I was reading Pratchett before i read fantasy in any volume, so I had no idea how much of this first book was a direct parody.  It almost reads like Rincewind travels through The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.  I see why so many fans tell people not to start with this book if reading the series.  It lacks the things that make Discworld, well, Discworld.  The silly asides are noticeably absent.  The depth of characters is no here yet, almost everyone is a caricature.  It is too short to be any more than a novelty parody, and while some work well, some were to obvious(putting a ! in the middle of a dragon writers name, for instance).

Huge chunks of lore will change from this book going on the series.  Death is almost sadistic, not the business-like entity we grow to love.  Wizardry changes dramatically, in The Color of Magic spells are one time use.  In later books almost any location can show up in another book, the world is tied together pretty tightly.  But almost none of the locations in TCoM are ever seen again.

Pratchett does a great job in later books with his female characters, I would rate Granny among the top characters in fantasy lit.  So it is a bit surprising that here he sticks with stock females from fantasy tropes.  Four females are present.  One is a goddess, two wear very little clothing, and all three mortals are out to do harm to the hero.

This book also starts the tradition of Rincewind being off the world, in another dimension, or just believed dead that continues through all the Rincewind books. 

All said, I still enjoyed this read, but it certainly lacks the strengths of later novels.

Notable Firsts, in no particular order: Rincewind, Twoflower, Luggage, Death,  and possible the Patrician(though it may be a different one.