Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Fantasy Novel For Those Of Us Who Don't Like Fantasy Novels

In my last post, I bashed the fantasy genre. In my humble and narrow-minded opinion, the average fantasy novel has way, way too much talk about made-up scenery, religions, species, cusine, weapons, and body parts. I just don't need to get that far outside my comfort zone.

Having said that, I feel that it is only fair to give some attention to a fantasy novel I did enjoy. I finally broke down and read one of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. I had read Good Omens, which Pratchett co-wrote with Neil Gaiman, and liked it a lot. So when I heard about Discworld, probably through the one of the YA Forums at Readerville, I thought I'd give it a shot.

What held me up was that Pratchett has written a lot of books, and a lot of them are Discworld books. I didn't have a clue where to begin.

However, while I was standing in the sci-fi shelf at the Borders in Burlington, Vermont, I saw a woman fingering a few of the Pratchett titles. Since she was holding quite a stack of books, I took a chance that she'd know whereof she spoke. Sure enough, she was a Discworld fan and told me to start with The Color of Magic.

I have to say, the book had plenty of strange names, strange geographical details, and strange stuff in general. But Pratchett doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. I suspect he knows his stuff fantasywise, but he makes his fantasy wry and twisted, not deadly and heavy with meaning. In fact, I'm not sure The Color of Magic has much in the way of heavy meaning. It's a very enjoyable road story. It reminded me of Douglas Adams' books in that the main characters aren't traditionally heroic, and there's plenty of humorous twists. Personally, though, I liked it better than Adams' books, which are just a little bit too odd-English-humor, if you ask me.

The Color of Magic is entertaining reading for readers who like their entertainment demanding. The writing is complex as is the world portrayed in the book. Pratchet is unbelievably inventive.

Douglas Adams was extremely popular with teen readers a few years back and may still be. I suspect the Discworld books will be enjoyed by the same young'uns. Pratchet also writes books that are geared specifically to YA readers as well as children's books.

I will be going back to Discworld. Though I may have to wait until I can find someone in the sci-fi section of a bookstore who can tell me what to read next.

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