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on 7 June 2000
As the Discworld has grown in strength and Pratchett has added ore and more characters to his milieu, it's nice to read a book that harkens back to the series' origins. Rincewind, the inept wizard, is reluctantly dragged out of retirement to journey to the Counterweight Continent who are asking for The Great Wizzard. Once there, he finds himself dragged into a civil war, a revolution and a theft, led by another old familiar, Cohen the Barbarian...and at the back of all this, the once tourist of Discword, Twoflower. Some people say that this book uses stereotypes too much...but Pratchett has always used those stereotypes, not only because it's funny, but because it says something about the people we are. Rincewind is still as he should be (running away) and pulling back familiar characters into a terrific story is a sure-fire winner.
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HALL OF FAMEon 29 October 2005
With some minor magic, seasoned with a touch of quantum physics and a liberal dose of archeaology, Pratchett sends Rincewind the Wizzard across the Discworld. From Ankh Morpork, he arrives at the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent, cushioned by a snowbank. Those studying Auriental history [knowing where the gold is] will recognize the failed wizzard is entering an alien environment. Luckily, familiar faces emerge. The first is the Discworld's most revered barbarian hero, Ghengiz Cohen - who is accompanied by some geriatric colleagues, the Silver Horde.
Rincewind isn't a tourist in the Agatean Empire, as Twoflower was in Ankh Morpork. He's been sent for in the midst of a political crisis. A dying emperor, five families contending for power, a revolutionary cadre and a mythical army must all be brought together to make this story work. Oh, yes, plus the Horde and Rincewind. Who else but Pratchett could seamlessly weave all these elements together? And keep you smiling with the turning of every page?
Yet, as usual, Pratchett does even more. He can maintain a balance between a reflection of ancient and modern China [sorry, Agatean Empire], bring forth a string of fascinating personalities and turn an impossible situation into reality without missing a beat. At the same time we are given a dose of chaos theory, familiar images of today's world politics and some philosophical images of the universality of human nature. For an added touch, something you won't see in any other "fantasy" novel, Pratchett's astute perception allows him to resurrect the 6 000 terra cotta warriors found in a tomb in China and have them march again.
The combination of Pratchett's wide-ranging knowledge, his ability to depict personalities - even though we'd prefer not to know a few of them - and the keen wit that keeps you delighted as you read is nearly overwhelming. He makes the writing look so easy as he leads you along the convoluted logic of Agatean politics, the irreverence and dedication of the Horde - who manage to ignore calendars, logic and the ongoing desperation of Rincewind's life. Pratchett is a practiced craftsman. Whatever your politics, whatever your philosophy, Pratchett is certain to offer new challenges and fresh ideas. Read, delight, and read again. He is always rewarding. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on 17 November 1998
Quite possibly the funniest writer alive, Terry Pratchet stuns us again with this, the sixteenth book in the Discworld trilogy, Interesting Times. His brilliant wit and ability to stretch logic to it's limit and beyond, makes Interesting Times an "interesting" read to say the least.
Once again we find Rincewind battling (or rather trying to avoid and being caught up in) the forces of evil on the disc. We bump into the horde and go into the great city on the Counter Weight continent. We see a great battle and a rather intriguing butterfly.
Tossed and turned on life's great sea of adventure, Rincewind once again tries to live a normal and boring life, but no, he is cursed with that terrible curse that sounds something like... "May you live in interesting times".
A great book and a thoroughly good read. If you're a Pratchet fan you'll love it, if you're new to Pratchet, where've you been?!
Recommended to everyone!
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HALL OF FAMEon 22 October 2005
With some minor magic, seasoned with a touch of quantum physics and a liberal dose of archeaology, Pratchett sends Rincewind the Wizzard across the Discworld. From Ankh Morpork, he arrives at the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent, cushioned by a snowbank. Those studying Auriental history [knowing where the gold is] will recognize the failed wizzard is entering an alien environment. Luckily, familiar faces emerge. The first is the Discworld's most revered barbarian hero, Ghengiz Cohen - who is accompanied by some geriatric colleagues, the Silver Horde.
Rincewind isn't a tourist in the Agatean Empire, as Twoflower was in Ankh Morpork. He's been sent for in the midst of a political crisis. A dying emperor, five families contending for power, a revolutionary cadre and a mythical army must all be brought together to make this story work. Oh, yes, plus the Horde and Rincewind. Who else but Pratchett could seamlessly weave all these elements together? And keep you smiling with the turning of every page?
Yet, as usual, Pratchett does even more. He can maintain a balance between a reflection of ancient and modern China [sorry, Agatean Empire], bring forth a string of fascinating personalities and turn an impossible situation into reality without missing a beat. At the same time we are given a dose of chaos theory, familiar images of today's world politics and some philosophical images of the universality of human nature. For an added touch, something you won't see in any other "fantasy" novel, Pratchett's astute perception allows him to resurrect the 6 000 terra cotta warriors found in a tomb in China and have them march again.
The combination of Pratchett's wide-ranging knowledge, his ability to depict personalities - even though we'd prefer not to know a few of them - and the keen wit that keeps you delighted as you read is nearly overwhelming. He makes the writing look so easy as he leads you along the convoluted logic of Agatean politics, the irreverence and dedication of the Horde - who manage to ignore calendars, logic and the ongoing desperation of Rincewind's life. Pratchett is a practiced craftsman. Whatever your politics, whatever your philosophy, Pratchett is certain to offer new challenges and fresh ideas. Read, delight, and read again. He is always rewarding. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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This is the seventeenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and once again features the delightfully put-upon Rincewind, the “Great Wizzard” (as the Agateans know him). The title refers to the (probably apocryphal) Chinese proverb/curse “May you live in interesting times”. It’s particularly relevant to this story, as Rincewind, ‘rescued’ by the wizards at the Unseen University from a desert island where he was enjoying a particularly restful period of peace and quiet, is sent by teleportation to the Agatean Empire. There he finds himself caught up in a revolution of sorts, as the Emperor is dying, and the Empire is caught up in political turmoil between the Sung, Fang, Hong, Tang and McSweeney clans. Rincewind finds himself caught between a rock and hard place in the capital of the Agatean Empire, Hunghung – is he a peaceful revolutionary, or a revolutionary peacemaker? Life is not made any easier by the arrival of the Silver Horde lead by Cohen the Barbarian; and where has the Luggage gone?

This is another great Discworld novel; I always enjoy the stories with Rincewind; he’s so hapless and so resigned to be a pawn of fate that his continued survival seems to surprise him even more every time it happens. The Patrician makes a brief appearance in the book, and the wizards of the Unseen University are up to their usual standard of ineptitude. Twoflower makes a welcome return, and the involvement of Cohen and his barbarian horde in the Agatean Empire make for ‘interesting’ reading. Great stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 8 October 2005
This 17th Discworld novel is a rather nostalgic addition to the range that will perhaps best be enjoyed by fans of the earliest two novels, as not only does Interesting Times feature the return of Rincewind but also Twoflower and Cohen the Barbarian. The novel is most obviously a reversal of initial Discworld book The Colour Of Magic, as where once Rincewind guided tourist Twoflower into various misadventures in his homeland, now Rincewind finds himself in Twoflowers realm of the Counterweight Continent, caught up in a civil war instigated by Twoflowers accounts of their adventures together. As is typical of the later novels in the series, the Discworld is used more to satirize the real world than the fantasy genre itself, so the Counterweight Continent becomes a rather blantant oriental pastiche. Filled with good jokes, strong characters, and plenty of great action set-pieces, (and it's nice to see the Luggage get a little 'action' of a different kind!) the only slight downside to the novel is that the midsection becomes rather over-reliant on endless capture-escape-capture-escape routines, though having said that Rincewind's defining characteristic is his readiness to run away from anything at the drop of a hat, so fair enough.
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on 2 May 1999
I am not at all surprised that every review on this page gives Interesting Times a maximum score. Many of the elements in this book have been seen in Pratchett before - as well as reprising several characters including Cohen the barbarian, he has another strange land and evil "power behind the throne" villain - but he really pulled out all the stops for this one. A horde of (really) ancient heroes, Twoflower the world's most dangerous tourist, and all manner of cameo appearances and special effects, all combine near-perfectly. The jokes and plot have been worked in especially well with the concepts he's exploring through the story (the butterflies, revolution, terracotta armies) and it just hits the spot. Possibly the best Rincewind story, and that's saying something. When you're waiting for the latest Pratchett to come out this should be on your shortlist of oldies to re-read.
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on 8 December 2004
I first read this wonderful book whilst on my year out in China, as I was studying a degree in Chinese. And god, it was an awful year. Until I read this. Linguistic situations that most people would merely chuckle over had me howling and bent double with laughter, as I was experiencing Rincewind's hell on a daily basis. Similarly with the cultural situations. As sharply written and observed as ever and recommended for all those gadding about the far east... :)
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on 27 December 2000
This is easily the funniest Pratchett book ever-I annoyed my entire family by reading bits out, or taking laughing fits at the many hilarious parts of the book. If you gave this 1 star you either need your head examined or need to read this again (as I know I will)
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on 16 April 2016
Interesting Times is one of my early favourites, from when I first got into the Discworld series – it was also the first time that I discovered Rincewind, the Disc’s most inept wizard. In this story, he’s on the counterweight continent, where revolution is afoot – during his travels, he’s joined by a whole host of cool characters, including the Luggage, Death and Cohen the Barbarian, who appears to be impossible to kill.

The title of the book comes from a curse which gets leveled at Rincewind – may you live in interesting times. In the counterweight continent, interesting things don’t happen – at least, not usually. It’s a very ordered, structured society, reminiscent of ancient China, and so when something interesting happens, it’s very much out of the ordinary.

The revolution in this book is caused, in part, by the controversial treatise, ‘What I did on My Holidays‘ [SIC]. The book was written by a resident of the Agatean Empire during his travels to Ankh-Morpork, the Disc’s most famous city and the home of much of Pratchett’s work. Of course, you can find anything in Ankh-Morpork, and the very idea of it doesn’t find much favour with the Agatean leader – in fact, the empire is surrounded by a great wall, which is designed to keep people in as opposed to keeping people out. The Agatean leadership is not a fan of independence and free will.

In some of Pratchett’s books, he’s trying to communicate an essential truth about society – here, though, he’s just after a bit of fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, whilst Rincewind isn’t necessarily my favourite character, I do think that he’s the most inherently funny one, and that character with this subject matter makes for a match made in heaven.

This might have been the first Discworld book that I read, I can’t remember – it was one of the first, though, and if you’re new or relatively new to the series then you can’t do much better than this.
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