Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Memory Lane: "Sourcery" by Terry Pratchett

This has been a very strange year for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten through August of a year only having read about a half-dozen books. Certainly it hasn’t happened in the last 30 years or so. I really can’t say what’s made it that way. I find myself at another one of those strange turns in life, but I’m used to those now, and I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve read outside of a few DNFs.

The general funk around my reading this year, though, made me decide it was time to dive back into my Discworld re-read, and just my luck, I was at the book that started it all, “Sourcery” ($9.99, Harper).

During my college years, I was a regular at several local used book stores. I didn’t have the money for new books, but I could drop a dollar or two on a used one. Most of the stores around here gave you credit for the type of book you traded – fantasy/SF could only be traded for fantasy/SF, for example – but then I found one that traded for anything. I collected boxes of romance novels that my older female relatives had laying around, westerns from a grandfather and anything else that I could find and built a huge pile of credit there.

I would stop every weekend on my way home and pick up at least a book or two. It was one of these stops where I found a slim volume with the interesting title of “Sourcery.” I pulled it out of the shelf to find an even more interesting cover, featuring one very confused looking wizard and an orangutan. I was intrigued, and the book only used a buck of my credit, so I took it home. The rest is history.

“Sourcery” served as my first visit to the Discworld, my first meeting with Rincewind, and probably the first truly laugh-out-loud fantasy that I’d ever read. While my fantasies had scattered humor, most of them took themselves very seriously – perhaps too seriously. In Pratchett, though, I discovered an author with flair, intelligence and the ability to tell a rousing good tale who also realized that life is silly sometimes and embraced that fact. It launched a lifelong love affair with Sir Pterry and sent me searching for all of his books – which weren’t easy finds in the pre-internet days in the rural U.S.

Though I knew all the twists and turns of the book, I enjoyed it this time around just as much as that first one, which was closer to 30 years ago than I’d like to admit. I was still fascinated by the character of Death, still laughed out loud throughout and was still awestruck by the storytelling and wicked humor that Pratchett possessed.

I closed the book both satisfied and a bit saddened knowing that there would never be a new adventure in this world. (Though I have been holding a couple of his short story collections in reserve as the last of his works that I’ve not read.)

Yes, I realize that I haven’t said a whole lot about the book in this “review,” but honestly, as a lifelong fan and admirer, I think the name on the cover says all that needs to be said.


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