Another episode in the comic Discworld saga in which the Unseen University is in turmoil, haunted by an invisible monster. The author has written ten novels, including the Discworld series and "The Carpet People", "Truckers" and "Good Omens".
Eric, the protagonist, is a teenaged `demonologist' from Pseuodopolis. Eric is also a spoiled brat according to Eric's parrot. Eric is first seen trying to summon a demon in order to have the demon grant Eric's wish for power, women, and eternal life. Instead, through a series of Discworldian circumstances Eric calls up Rincewind, last seen locked in the Dungeon Dimensions (Sourcery).
What follows is a Discworld version of a Hope and Crosby Road movie that parallels Faust. Eric and Rincewind travel to the ends of time (actually the beginning of time among other places) and Rincewind faces adversity and the threat of death in his own inimitable fashion (feet don't fail me now).
There are some great set pieces in Eric. DEATH makes two brief, but very funny appearances. First, when the Wizards determine something strange is going on they summon DEATH and demand answer. Of course, they realize quickly that perhaps they should speak to him in the same manner that people in Ankh Morpork speak to the Patrician. Later in the book, DEATH patiently awaits the moment for life to begin is priceless Pratchett fashion. Having the universe start with a paper clip and not a big bang was a very appealing concept.
Similarly hilarious is Rincewind's trip to the new and improved version of hell. Physical torture has been replaced by endless viewings of someone else's holiday slides, elevator music, and the recitation of thousands of pages of regulations only a hellish bureaucrat could construct. Interestingly, Rincewind's conversation with a creator of universes who takes special pride in the creation of trees had a nice resemblance to Slartibartfast from Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who award for creating the jigsaw like coastline of the fjords of Norway.
Despite these typically brilliant bits Eric lacked some of the cohesion found in most of the other Discworld books I have read. Apparently, Eric was originally published as a graphic novel and the illustrations went a long way towards fleshing out the story line. In a sense this version seems to be akin to reading a comic (a very good comic book) without the comic art. There does seem to be something a bit lacking.
However, even if Eric is not Pratchett's finest Discworld book it is still very much worth reading. There is an old cliché that a bad day of fishing is better than the best day of work. In this instance I think it fair to say that a good but the best Discworld book is better than the best that many other authors can put out. I recommend this book to any Discworld fan. I would not recommend this to anyone new to Discworld. Eric works best once one has got to know a bit about Discworld generally and Rincewind specifically.
Eric, despite any flaws, is still very much worth reading.
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