from Discworld® novels by
Terry Pratchett
concerning Rincewind the ‘Wizzard’

Terry Pratchett

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The Colour of Magic

The Light Fantastic



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The Colour of Magic

Copyright © 1983 by Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic

‘I didn’t steal the horse! I bought it fairly!’

‘But with false coinage. Technical theft, you see.’

‘But those rhinu are solid gold!’

‘Rhinu?’ The Patrician rolled one of them around in his thick fingers. ‘Is that what they are called? How interesting. But, as you point out, they are not very similar to dollars . . .’

‘Well, of course they’re not—’

‘Ah! you admit it, then?’



‘I assure you the thought never even crossed my mind, lord.’

‘Indeed? Then if I were you I’d sue my face for slander.’

No, what he didn’t like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.



The Sending of Eight The disc gods themselves, despite the splendour of the world below them, are seldom satisfied. It is embarrassing to know that one is a god of a world that only exists because every improbability curve must have its far end; especially when one can peer into other dimensions at worlds whose Creators had more mechanical aptitude than imagination. No wonder, then, that the disc gods spend more time in bickering than in omnicognizance.
He tried to explain that magic had indeed once been wild and lawless, but had been tamed back in the mists of time by the Olden Ones, who had bound it to obey among other things the Law of Conservation of Reality; this demanded that the effort needed to achieve a goal should be the same regardless of the means used.
He was not Evil, for even Evil has a certain vitality—Bel-Shamharoth was the flip side of the coin of which Good and Evil are but one side.



The Lure of the Wyrm

The precise origins of the Mage Wars have been lost in the fogs of Time, but disc philosophers agree that the First Men, shortly after their creation, understandably lost their temper. And great and pyrotechnic were the battles that followed—the sun wheeled across the sky, the seas boiled, weird storms ravaged the land, small white pigeons mysteriously appeared in people’s clothing, and the very stability of the disc [...] was threatened.



‘So calculating?’ she rasped. ‘Hrun the Barbarian, who would boldly walk into the jaws of Death Himself?’

Hrun shrugged. ‘Sure,’ he said, ‘the only reason for walking into the jaws of Death is so’s you can steal His gold teeth.’

It is a little known but true fact that a two legged creature can casually beat a four legged creature over a short distance, simply because of the time it takes the quadruped to get its legs sorted out.

Close To The Edge

Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.



In the Gods’ Quarter, in Ankh-Morpork, Fate had a small, heavy, leaden temple, where hollow-eyed and gaunt worshippers met on dark nights for their predestined and fairly pointless rites. There were no temples at all to the Lady, although she was arguably the most powerful goddess in the entire history of Creation. [...] She was the Goddess Who Must Not Be Named; those who sought her never found her, yet she was known to come to the aid of those in greatest need. And then again, sometimes she didn’t. She was like that. She didn’t like the clicking of rosaries, but was attracted to the sound of dice.




text checked (see note) Oct 2005

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The Light Fantastic

Copyright © 1986 by Terry Pratchett

There are of course many famous books of magic. Some may talk of the Necrotelicomnicon, with its pages made of ancient lizard skin; some may point to the Book of Going Forth Around Elevenish, written by a mysterious and rather lazy Llamaic sect; some may recall that the Bumper Fun Grimoire reputedly contains the one original joke left in the universe. But they are all mere pamphlets when compared with the Octavo, which the Creator of the Universe reputedly left behind—with characteristic absent-mindedness—shortly after completing his major work.


Books (particular)

He didn’t smile often enough, and he liked figures and the sort of organisation charts that show lots of squares with arrows pointing to other squares. In short, he was the sort of man who could use the word ‘personnel’ and mean it.

Twoflower was a tourist, the first of the species to evolve on the Disc, and fundamental to his very existence was the rock-hard belief that nothing bad could really happen to him because he was not involved; he also believed that anyone could understand anything he said provided he spoke loudly and slowly, that people were basically trustworthy, and that anything could be sorted out among men of goodwill if they just acted sensibly.

‘Do you think there’s anything to eat in this forest?’

‘Yes,’ said the wizard bitterly, ‘us.’



Nowhere outside a trades union conference fraternal benefit night can so much mutual distrust and suspicion be found as among a gathering of senior enchanters.
Many of the books were magical, and the important thing to remember about grimoires is that they are deadly in the hands of any librarian who cares about order, because he’s bound to stick them all on the same shelf. This is not a good idea with books that tend to leak magic, because more than one or two of them together form a critical Black Mass.

When the first explorers from the warm lands around the Circle Sea travelled into the chilly hinterland they filled in the blank spaces on their maps by grabbing the nearest native, pointing at some distant landmark, speaking very clearly in a loud voice, and writing down whatever the bemused man told them. Thus were immortalised in generations of atlases such geographical oddities as Just A Mountain, I Don’t Know, What? and, of course, Your Finger You Fool.

Rainclouds clustered around the bald heights of Mt. Oolskunrahod (‘Who is this Fool who does Not Know what a Mountain Is’) [...]



The barbarian chieftain said: ‘What then are the greatest things that a man may find in life?’ This is the sort of thing you’re supposed to say to maintain steppecred in barbarian circles.

The man on his right thoughtfully drank his cocktail of mare’s milk and snowcat blood, and spoke thus: ‘The crisp horizon of the steppe, the wind in your hair, a fresh horse under you.’

The man on his left said: ‘The cry of the white eagle in the heights, the fall of snow in the forest, a true arrow in your bow.’

The chieftain nodded, and said: ‘Surely it is the sight of your enemy slain, the humiliation of his tribe and the lamentation of his women.’

There was a general murmur of whiskery approval at this outrageous display.

Then the chieftain turned respectfully to his guest, a small figure carefully warming his chilblains by the fire, and said: ‘But our guest, whose name is legend, must tell us truly: what is it that a man may call the greatest things in life?’


The guest thought long and hard and then said, with deliberation: ‘Hot water, good dentishtry and shoft lavatory paper.’



‘They say this is a magic wood, it’s full of goblins and wolves and—’

‘Trees,’ said a voice out of the darkness, high above. It possessed what can only be described as timbre.



He always held that panic was the best means of survival; back in the olden days, his theory went, people faced with hungry sabre-toothed tigers could be divided very simply into those who panicked and those who stood there saying ‘What a magnificent brute!’ and ‘Here, pussy.’


Two kinds

He moved in a way that suggested he was attempting the world speed record for the nonchalant walk.

The universe, they said, depended for its operation on the balance of four forces which they identified as charm, persuasion, uncertainty and bloody-mindedness.

Thus it was that the sun and moon orbited the disc because they were persuaded not to fall down, but didn’t actually fly away because of uncertainty. Charm allowed trees to grow and bloody-mindedness kept them up, and so on.

‘Where I come from priests are holy men who have dedicated themselves to lives of poverty, good works and the study of the nature of God.’

Rincewind considered this novel proposition.

‘No sacrifices?’ he said.

‘Absolutely not.’

Rincewind gave up. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘they don’t sound very holy to me.’



It was at that moment that the moon, in due obedience to the laws of persuasion, rose, although in deference to the laws of computing it wasn’t anywhere near where the stones said it should be.

They had dined on horse meat, horse cheese, horse black pudding, horse d’oeuvres and a thin beer that Rincewind didn’t want to speculate about.



Now, there is a tendency at a point like this to look over one’s shoulder at the cover artist and start going on at length about leather, thighboots and naked blades.

Words like ‘full’, ‘round’ and even ‘pert’ creep into the narrative, until the writer has to go and have a cold shower and a lie down.

Which is all rather silly, because any woman setting out to make a living by the sword isn’t about to go around looking like something off the cover of the more advanced kind of lingerie catalogue for the specialised buyer.



Cohen had heard of fighting fair, and had long ago decided he wanted no part of it.


Pearl of cities!

This is not a completely accurate description, of course—it was not round and shiny—but even its worst enemies would agree that if you had to liken Ankh-Morpork to anything, then it might as well be a piece of rubbish covered with the diseased secretions of a dying mollusc.

‘Inside every sane person there’s a madman struggling to get out,’ said the shopkeeper. ‘That’s what I’ve always thought. No one goes mad quicker than a really sane person.’

‘Rincewind, all the shops have been smashed open, there was a whole bunch of people across the street helping themselves to musical instruments, can you believe that?’

‘Yeah,’ said Rincewind [...] ‘Luters, I expect.’



Rincewind stared, and knew that there were far worse things than Evil. All the demons in Hell would torture your very soul, but that was precisely because they valued souls very highly; evil would always try to steal the universe, but at least it considered the universe worth stealing.

‘I’ve been around a long time, I’ve seen the whole magical thing, and I can tell you that if you go around with your jaw dropping all the time people hit it.’
‘The important thing about having lots of things to remember is that you’ve got to go somewhere afterwards where you can remember them, you see? You’ve got to stop. You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home.’

text checked (see note) Oct 2005

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