Continuing my occasional series where I work my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, one book at a time.
Up next, the ninth book Eric.
First appearances: The Discworld version of Hell
Introduced to Discworld: The Faust legend, corporate culture
The plot: 13 year old would-be demonologist Eric was looking to call up a succubus and have three wishes granted: mastery of the world, to meet the most beautiful woman in the world, and immortality. Instead, by a million-to-one shot, he pulls in Rincewind from the Dungeon Dimensions. Oh, and the Luggage.
Refusing to believe Rincewind is, in fact, not some sort of demon, Eric demands his wishes and acts in a rather pushy manner. What follows is an adventure through time and space where the hapless pair (along with the Luggage and for part of the trip a parrot with a limited vocabulary) visit a primitive society, get entangled in the Discworld version of the Trojan War, see the creation of the universe, and end up in Hell, currently being run as a very dry corporation by the current king of the plane who has a different idea of torture than any demon has ever had before.
Commentary: After going through some rather fun books that worked well, this book was something of a step back. I get the impression Pratchett just dashed it off. It’s short at just under 200 pages in my print edition, and the print seemed a bit on the large side. And despite having his name in the title, the further the book went, the less Eric had to do.
That actually suited me fine. Eric was a fairly obnoxious kid, probably on purpose. For all I know, Pratchett himself didn’t like the boy and slowly ceded the narrative back to Rincewind and the Luggage.
Equally obnoxious for me was the nameless parrot, which shouted the sorta word “wossname!” a bit too frequently. The parrot is pretty much written out of the book (aside from a cameo at the end) around the halfway point.
The book was clearly going for a mockery of the Faust story. The header of each page reads, “
Faust Eric,” with the “Eric” looking more handwritten. But then Pratchett decided to mock Aztec culture, the Trojan War (with a bit of a callback to the history written in Pyramids), and then after a sidestep to see the Big Bang, it’s off to Hell. The best humor of the book probably comes there, as Eric has finally gotten hip to Rincewind’s “run away whenever possible” rule for survival, and the current ruler of the place has replaced physical torture (which doesn’t really hurt the souls involved and the demons enjoyed) with memos, vacation photos, and the like, or as it comes out…extreme boredom which nobody likes, including the demons.
But really, this book was overall weak. Rincewind got out of the Dungeon Dimensions, so his next two adventures in exploration will have to be better. This book really was more of a step back to the days of The Color of Magic.
Next book: The movies come to Discworld, and the strange magic involved with them. Come back for Moving Pictures at some point in the future.