(See the main Pratchett index here.)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The continuing adventure of Rincewind, Twoflower and The Luggage as they make their way back to Ankh-Morpork.
PROS: More funny and interesting characters, full of Pratchett’s signature witty and humorous writing.
CONS: A bit ambiguous at the climax, otherwise, not much.
BOTTOM LINE: A very strong Discworld novel.
The Light Fantastic takes place directly after The Color Of Magic. It’s a continuation of the story-line from the first novel, but this time, Rincewind and Twoflower make their way back to Ankh-Morpork to try and stop the Discworld from plunging into a red giant star. Oh, and the eighth spell of the Octavo gets some page time as well. Along the way, our heroes meet up with various interesting people, including Cohen, the geriatric barbarian hero, who will get his own book later. The Light Fantastic also benefits from being more cohesive than the first book. Instead of stringin together three or so short stories, Pratchett has the overriding threat of the red giant to bind everything together and drive the story. Sure, you get interesting settings and characters, but they don’t have the odd jumps in the story that plagued the first book.
The Light Fantastic is the second novel written about the Discworld, and it’s here that Practhett hits on all cylinders writing style-wise. This book is full of Pratchett’s humorous puns and wordplay, and he has a knack for describing things in an unusual, funny, but apt manner. Pratchett also fully uses the footnote technique for explaining tangentially related items of interest, also in a funny way. In fact, the whole book is just plain funny, with several laugh out loud moments. I think if hater John had started here, he wouldn’t be such a hater.
That’s not to say The Light Fantastic doesn’t have a problem or two. The one thing that bugged me was the conclusion of the encounter between Rincewind and the power-mad Chancellor of the Unseen University, Trymon. I wasn’t exactly sure what Trymon wanted with the eighth spell, aside from more power. And it also wasn’t clear if the spell actually did anything to alleviate the situation, or if Great A’Tuin was operating on its own. Still, not enough to knock this book down very far.
All in all, The Light Fantastic is one of the best Discworld novels. While you might miss some of the backstory, you could pick this book up and read with no problems, then go back to The Color Of Magic to see what you missed.