The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. ★★★
The Color of Magic was the first book published in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, but I do not recommend starting with it. If you’re interested in reading the Discworld books, I would suggest picking up one of the later novels – Guards! Guards!, Going Postal, or maybe Small Gods.
The Color of Magic has always been my least favorite book in the series. It is clearly an early book – Pratchett is just getting his feet as a writer and there are many inconsistencies with later books. There is very little plot or drive, and it consists mainly of the main characters careening from one situation to the next.
The Color of Magic is primarily a parody of other fantasy novels. For instance, there’s an entire section parodying the Pern books. While Pratchett retains an element of parody throughout the series, the latter books add to it with better plot and characters and most of all, an intrinsic sense of meaning.
When rereading The Color of Magic, I don’t see much that makes it stand out from other humorous 1980s fantasy novels. Now that I’ve started playing, it actually reminds me a bit of Dungeons and Dragons. However, it is funny and has some good lines, such as:
“I assure you the thought never even crossed my mind, lord.”
“Indeed? Then if I were you I’d sue my face for slander.”
Besides Rincewind, the protagonist and a failed wizard, and Twoflower, a friendly and idealistic tourist, the other characters come off as forgettable and flat. Even these two don’t have the depth they gain in latter books.
I do wonder how I would judge this book if I hadn’t read the others in the series. Would I like it more, not comparing it to the others? Or would I dislike it more, not knowing that this is the seed a great series grows from? Either way, I would not recommend The Color of Magic to anyone looking to start the series. Fans of the series, however, will find it interesting to see how this parody novel grows into the series we all love.
Lastly, here’s a look at two other covers: