Pros: The more that you can grasp Goerthe's Faust, the better.
Cons: I really couldn't get into this one much.
After the recent spate of heavy reading, I needed something lighter to relax with. As usual I turned to the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett. As I am trying to read the series in the order in which they were published and the choice was Eric.
At the end of the novel Sourcery, the most inept wizard on the Discworld sacrificed himself to save everyone else by leaping into a singularity. Now we know just what happened to Rincewind -- and of course, the Luggage. Rincewind, as is usual, wakes up in a place unknown to him, and there's someone who has summoned him, and is demanding three wishes of him.
Seems that someone has this idea that Rincewind is a demon, but as is usual in the Discworld, it isn't quite the same thing. The summoner, who has managed to disguise himself as an elderly man, is named Eric. Rincewind sees right through the disguise, and is more than annoyed that Eric is really a fourteen-year-old spoiled brat. And like most boys his age, Eric wants nothing more than to be wealthier than anyone else, master of the universe, and have a lucious female at his beck and call.
Pretty much the usual thing, really.
Despire all of his inability to be good at magic, there is something that Rincewind is very good at -- namely, surviving. He has certainly mastered the art of running, as far as possible away from trouble. As Eric is about to find out, don't p!ss off a wizard. With a flick of his fingers, the pair with the Luggage, ends up in the jungles where the Tezumen dwell.
The Tezumen worship their gods with plenty of bloody rites, having gotten things mixed up a bit when an otherworldly denizen showed up. On the other hand, very precise instructions were given for what would happen when that god showed back up. Namely, offer lots of wealth and power with the Tezumen as willing slaves. Of course, that isn't quite how it worked out -- the Tezumen are plenty angry at the shoddy deal they got, and when Eric and all show up -- well, they treat them nicely, but there's some anger to be worked out first...
As they say, careful what you wish for. And Eric's wishes keep turning into something else as they progress through time and space. There's a nasty little war that they get mixed up in between the kingdoms of Ephebe and Tsort, and then things get very bad when all Hell shows up.
I had to say that the most interesting part of the book for me were the denizens of Hell, or rather Pandemonium. Pratchett here does well crafting the more obvious aspects of hell, such as fire and torture, but also the more subtle forms of it as well. Such as what if Hell was being run by a bean-counter with a compulsive desire for order and certainly no surprises? A place of heirarchy and order that anyone who has laboured in a bureaucracy knows the horror of.
While there is plenty of satire and cleverness to this one, and the footnotes scattered throughout make the book worth reading, this one didn't quite satisfy me. Perhaps because one of the characters never did change much, and was a brat to boot. Or that one of my favourite places never was really used -- namely Ankh-Morpork. It never did hit the levels of threat or menace that the typical Discworld novel can -- and does -- reach.
Fans should enjoy it, and while it's not a horrible novel, it's not much either. Still, it was good to find out what happened to Rincewind, and while the final sequence is certainly humourous, it's not a good novel. Fortunately, it's not a very long novel, and I was through it very quickly.
Overall, this one eeks out a three star. I'm glad I read it to fill in a blank in the overall story arc, but I regretted the time I had to spend getting there.
Discworld Novels that I have reviewed:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Eric -- you are here
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
1990; HarperCollins Publishers