Sourcery is the fifth book in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and Oscar polished it off yesterday afternoon. Sorcery was never one of my favourites, so I am more excited about the fact that his next book is going to be Wyrd Sisters, which is one of my beloved Granny Weatherwax novels, but Oscar really enjoyed Sourcery. He was delighted that this is another of the novels that features Rincewind, the useless wizard of the first two books. Oscar adores Rincewind and finds him utterly hilarious. I remember that when I started reading the Discworld books myself, I also loved him, and would get very sad when there was a novel in the series that he didn’t feature in. As I grew up he was in fewer and fewer of the novels and I learned to live without him. I hope Oscar can.
In this book, a sorcerer stalks the land and it looks like the Disc won’t survive it. Despite the fact that he is only a boy, Coin is the most powerful wizard the Disc has ever known. Much of his power derives from his staff, possessed by his revenge hungry father, determined to put a wizard in charge of the Disc and show everyone that it is never a good idea to mess with magical forces.
Rincewind meanwhile, the least powerful wizard on the Disc, notices that something is wrong, when his mattress scuttles by him through the gates of Unseen University, followed by even the gargoyles from the roof. Unable to warn his fellow wizards of the coming apocalypse, he takes to drinking to forget, only to be taken in hand by a latent barbarian who really wants to be a hair dresser, and being spirited off to the deserts of Klatch in the process.
There are really dark elements in this book, and a few times, when it looked like things were not going to turn out well, Oscar stopped reading and we had to discuss events at length until he was reassured enough to go on. The fact that he cared about the characters, and had figured out what might happen to them was testament to his growing ability and his affection for the stories. As it happens, everything turns out very nicely, and with the promise of more adventures to come for Rincewind.
The darkness is always balanced by funny episodes, some of which Oscar understood and enjoyed, like the episode in which three of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have their horses stolen and rather than walking to the end of the world, decide to stay in the nearest pub and get so drunk they can’t even remember what they came out for. Then there are the episodes with Creosote, ruler of Al Khali and his fatal weakness for poetry and having the ladies of his seraglio read him stories, which I found funny, but Oscar didn’t really get at all. It didn’t spoil the story for him, and it is nice to see him picking up more and more of the jokes as we go through the series.
The last fifty pages of the book are particularly engrossing, and Oscar whizzed through them as the battle for the supremacy of the Disc, and whether it would be destroyed or not, and whether Rincewind would survive or not were played out at dizzying speed. Pratchett uses a lot of jump cut effects, moving from scene to scene, person to person to give a kind of 360 view of what is happening. I wondered whether Oscar would cope with the rather dizzying changes in narrative, but he did well with it, only getting lost a few times, and really enjoyed the effect, and the book overall.
Again, I would recommend this for teen/YA readers. It is complex, dense text and there are elements which are really not suitable for younger readers, mild swearing, plenty of words for brothels, and lots of innuendo. It gives the book a certain spice, but you might want to vet it before offering it to younger readers, no matter how competent.