29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
As a big Rincewind fan, I count Sourcery as one of my favorite Pratchett novels. This fifth novel of Discworld is the first to have a real epic quality to it. Seeing as how the plot is hinged around the "Apocralypse" (even though an inebriated Pestilence, War, and Famine cannot remember the proper term for it), it pretty much has to be an epic. Ipslore was a natural-born wizard, the eight son of an eighth son, who did the unthinkable (not to mention unwizardly) act of marrying and having an eighth son of his own--a sourcerer. By tricking Death, he enters his own wizard staff and later guides the ten-year-old boy Coin in assuming the Archchancellorship of Unseen University and trying to take over the world. A sourcerer has free rein over the use of magic, unlike modern-day wizards who talk about magic but rarely perform it. Sourcerers almost destroyed the Discworld in ancient times in the Mage Wars, and young Coin sets in motion a modern-day Mage War that can only end in disaster. Only one man can stop the sourcerer and save the world--most unfortunately, that one man is the inept wizard Rincewind. His only allies are the wise and good Librarian (who happens to be an orangutan), the beautiful yet deadly thief Conina (daughter of Cohen the Barbarian), and Nigel, the skinniest hero on the Discworld whose only heroic wisdom comes from a ghost-written book by Cohen the aforementioned Barbarian. The Luggage also plays a part, but he/she/it is not there at Rincewind's side.
I love how the character of Rincewind is strengthened and expanded in this novel; he's still the funny little man in a pointy hat that we met in earlier Discworld novels, but instead of running around all over the world trying to avoid dying, Rincewind is transformed in these pages into a hero--not a very good one, of course, but a hero nonetheless. His commitment to wizardry is steadfast and firm, while the vast majority of successful wizards go along with Coin, delight in the new magical powers they gain through sourcery, and eventually wage a magical war among themselves in the pursuit of raw power. Rincewind redeems himself admirably here by actually performing some acts of bravery, risking his life--albeit reluctantly--for the sake of the Discworld.
The book starts out like gangbusters, and although it loses a little steam and wanders a little bit in the later stages, the conclusion brings everything together rather nicely. It does, however, leave a few questions unanswered for the time being. The character of Coin, the ten-year-old sourcerer, could have used more thrashing out, I felt, but Conina and Nigel are very interesting new characters in Pratchett's universe. Sourcery is overflowing with typical Pratchett humor, but it also features an exciting, narrowly-focused storyline that provides a wealth of new information about the wizards of Unseen University, the brave and wise banana-craving Librarian, and the crucial role and importance of magic in the Discworld. Whereas earlier novels sometimes seemed to have stories built around the jokes, this novel is built upon a solid foundation of an epic fantasy plot--the comedy is just icing on the cake. Of the first five Discworld novels, this is by far the most exciting and entertaining.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2004
This is a brilliant book in the best discworld tradition, funny clever and has a host of brilliant characters. It's the funniest discworld book i've read yet. The story is original and some of the ideas in the book are purely genius. The character conina is a great idea just when you thought you knew Cohen the barbarian you get Conina the barbarian hairdresser! The return of Rincewind put the icing on the cake, back and at his most amusing rincewind is a work of genius. This is a must read for all Discworld fans it's brill!!!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2006
A terrible thing has happened. Now it's become clear why wizards should remain celibate. One wilful wizard, Ipslore the Red, in defiance of tradition, marries and has children. Sons in fact. And his eighth son, Coin, is a sourcerer (the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son = a wizard squared = very powerful magic). But surely it's not that bad - it's not the end of the world, is it? Yes, it could be. The shade of Ipslore, through his sourcerer son, instigates wizard war. Hellish, apocalyptic events are set in motion. The four horsemen are abroad. The denizens of the dungeon dimension are struggling to rise. Ice giants are tearing across the plains. The gods are imprisoned. All that stands between the discworld and armageddon, is a spineless wizard, a barbarian (hairdresser wannabe), a grocer (barbarian wannabe) and a librarian ape. It doesn't look good. You shouldn't laugh ... but you will. And guess what. Rincewind, who is very well known for his complete lack of courage and over-developed instinct for self-preservation, does the most suicidally brave thing imaginable in an effort to save his beloved university library and the world.
It's another Pratchett gem. Doctors might consider prescribing these books instead of anti-depressants for some patients. They always work for me.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Having broadened his scope with Granny Weatherwax and Death in the last couple of books, Terry Pratchett returns to original lead character Rincewind for the 5th Discworld novel. Rincewind is even more inept and cowardly than ever before, but is still a hilarious and sympathetic character, and it's nice to see the return of his homicidal sentient luggage.
Looking back at the entire series of Discworld novels before embarking on a re-reading, Sourcery was the novel I remembered least about. It turns out to be for a good reason - this book has a very simple storyline: a sourcerer tries to take over the world, Rincewind has to stop him, the end. It's not a bad book, and there's plenty of great humour, but don't expect any intricate plotting with this instalment. Re-reading the series in order it becomes clear that this novel is an expansion of some of the ideas previously used in Equal Rites - in both stories the main plot focuses on a young powerful wizard arriving at the Unseen University and putting the world at danger by their meddling with powerful magic (though this was only briefly touched on in Equal Rites due to the novel concentrating on Esk's apprenticeship), and both novels feature inherited magical staffs that watch over their young owners and drive the plot.
Sourcery is a good novel for fans of the Librarian, as he gets a substantial role for the first time, while Lord Vetenari makes his first (named) appearance. The novel breaks out of the standard Ankh-Morpork setting for a mid-book excursion to Klatch, and the introduction of Cohen's daughter Conina and inept wannabe-barbarian Nijel. It's a reasonably amusing diversion as Pratchett gets the opportunity to satirise Arabian Nights-style stories with flying carpets and genies, but ultimately the story of Nijel and Conina doesn't really have any impact on the outcome of the story. There's some good build up as we learn why the wizards laze around in the University instead of ruling the world, and some fantastic imagery as Coin transforms the University into a tower to challenge the gods, but ultimately the climax is a bit of a letdown.
With it's epic scope involving the fate of the entire Discworld and the release of the apocalyptic (or at least apocralyptic) Ice Giants, Sourcery should have more impact than it does. A light, readable, amusing book - but just a bit too basic a romp to really rank among Pratchett's finest.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
There was an eighth son of an eighth son who was, naturally, a wizard. But, for reasons too complicated to get into now, he also had seven sons. And then another one: a source of magic, a sourcerer. The Discworld hasn't seen a sourcerer for thousands of years, since the Mage Wars almost destroyed the world and caused an awful racket which annoyed the gods. Soon enough the re-energised wizards of the Disc are engaged in all-out warfare and the Apocralypse draws nigh (provided the Four Horsemen can get out of the pub in time). It falls to a wizard who doesn't know any spells, a box with lots of little legs, a mighty barbarian warrior of three days' experience, a timeshare genie and a homicidal hairdresser to save the day.
Sourcery sees the return of Rincewind and the Luggage as the Disc faces its greatest threat so far. Whilst previous books seemed to have end-of-the-world plots tacked on, this one embraces the concept to the fullest and is probably as 'epic' as the series ever gets. Fortunately, Pratchett seemed to get the end-of-the-world-is-nigh story out of his system with this book and whilst dire consequences would still abound in later books, things would never quite get as huge as this again.
Still, Pratchett has fun with the concept. Deep in the heart of every fantasy author is the burning desire to unleash a story with magical duels, vast magical towers exploding, evil grand viziers twirling their moustaches and unreconstructed, mighty-thewed barbarian warriors smiting legions of disposable extras with a broadsword so huge that it had to be forged from a gantry. There's some nice typically Pratchett twists on the concept though, and the humour is well-constructed throughout, particularly involving the Librarian who gets one of his biggest starring roles in the series. However, there are only a few new introductions to the Discworld mythos here, most notably Wuffles (an elderly dog).
As entertaining as it is, Sourcery is also a little bit obvious as a story, and as with Equal Rites it does feel that this story should have had much more long-lasting ramifications for the history of the Disc, even moreso given the epic scale of the novel. These problems can be borne for the strong characters, entertaining humour and the unexpectedly sad ending (which remains effective even when you know what happens in later books, particularly Eric).
Sourcery (***½) is a strong comic novel which showcases Pratchett's growing confidence and ability. It is available in the UK and USA right now.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Terry Pratchett has become one of the most popular authors alive today and his popularity is richly deserved. But not even with his fertile mind could he ever have envisaged the heights to which his Discworld series would rise. This book first published in 1988 is the fifth of the Discworld novels and to a degree it is amazing that these books have achieved such popularity.
You would think that a fantasy world full of trolls, zombies, witches, vampires would be an alien concept to most readers. Werewolves and dwarves in the Ank Morpork city watch. Wizards running a university. All this and much more to come in future episodes. Surely this style of writing would have a limited readership? but no the books are loved by anybody and everybody and are read by people who would not normally allow fantasy fiction anywhere near their book shelves. This is the Discworld of Terry Pratchett.
Pratchett's wit and imagination are second to none. Who else would have or could have thought of the Discworld, a world of mystery and magic sitting on the back of four elephants, who in turn are standing on the back of the great turtle A'tuin the whole lot journeying through an eternal void. Are you with the plot so far?
In this audio version of story the use Tony Robinson as the narrator is inspirational. The Discworld has been brought to the edge of disaster. The birth of a sourcerer has created magic so powerful that the Discworld is teetering on the edge of a cataclysmic war. All that stands in the way is our old friend Rincewind, who would dearly love to save the world, or at the very least the part of it that he is currently residing in at any particular moment, if you see what I mean . . .
Pratchett's books are pure escapism and a laugh a minute guaranteed.
"Sourcery" is the fifth novel in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series, was first published in 1988 and is the third to give a starring role to Rincewind, the cowardly one-spell wizard.
Wizardry is widely seen as the most appropriate profession for the eighth son of an eighth son - however, given that it's also a celibate profession, is isn't a job that is intended to run in the family. Unfortunately, accidents do occasionally happen and the eighth son of a wizard is known as a Soucerer - a wizard who is also a source of magic. They are hugely dangerous, and will increase the background levels of magic to such a degree that other wizards may just start building towers and launch another round of the Mage Wars...
Ipslore the Red is one of the exceptions : he fled the halls of the Unseen University, married and had a family. The inevitable eighth son, Coin, is only a baby when Death arrives for Ipslore and the ex-wizard decides to choose his son's destiny. The future he picks for Coin includes wearing the Archchancellor's Hat of the Unseen University and, in an attempt to cheat Death, Ipslore enters his staff when he leaves his body. His intention is to guide Coin to his destiny....
Coin is roughly ten years old when he makes it to the University, and isn't long in taking over. When he deals with two of the Wizards - including the incoming Archchancellor - in a swift and very final manner, the remaining members of staff are understandably reluctant to stand against him. However, two of the survivors - a rather devious pair called Spelter and Carding - smell an opportunity. In seeing themselves as Coin's most senior and trusted advisors, they don't realise that Ipslore already has that role to himself.
Coin's arrival isn't universally welcomed - the rats and the gargoyles are amongst the first to flee, while the books in the University's library are distinctly unsettled. Rincewind, now acting as the University's honourary assistant librarian, is the first member of staff to realise there's something strange happening and nips off to the pub in a panic with the Librarian (an orang-utan), and his Luggage. (Luggage is a large brass-bound box, made from sapient pearwood - the same material wizard's staff is traditionally made from. It can move around by itself, has rather a vicious temper and - like Dr Who's Tardis - appears to be much bigger on the inside than on the outside). While Rincewind has been lucky enough to avoid Coin at the University, he's unfortunate enough to be apprehended by Conina at the Mended Drum. Conina, a very successful thief, is the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian and has pilfered the Archchancellor's Hat from the University. In this case, however, she stole the hat at its own request. (It is a magic hat after all...and it has realised that Coin's arrival will signal the Apocralypse). Under the Hat's instructions, Rincewind and Conina travel to Klatch, where the Hat believes there is a mind devious enough to wear it...and stand against the Sourcerer.
As usual from Pratchett, this is an easily read, rather silly and very enjoyable book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2011
Pleased with book, although postal services, did delay this book especially as it was for Christmas, but it did come in time, I knew that Amazon had despatched it.
Terry continues to produce all aspects that you expect
on 1 August 2011
This is the 5th book in the critically acclaimed DiscWorld series and they appear to go from strength to strength. I thoroughy enjoyed books 1-4 which I read prior to this one, and now this one, Sourcery, is my new favourite (I seem to say that about all of them as I read them :-p)
DiscWorld has always had wizards from the lowest student to the 8th (highest) level, and usually they led quiet unassuming lives, avoiding contact with most of the citizens of DiscWorld. Generally speaking there is a rule that states that wizards should not have children, but one of them ignored this. He was the eighth son of an eighth son and so, naturally, was born a wizard. However, this wizard went on to have 8 children of his own, the eighth being a boy; the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son. His son, however, was not born a wizard, he was born a Sourcerer. They have not been seen since the beginning of magical time on Discworld, which was a good thing, as they were extremely powerful beings, making an eighth level wizard, including the most powerful of them, the Archancellor, nothing but a baby in comparison. The Sourceror is so powerful that he threatens the existence of DiscWorld itself - and he's only 10-years-old!! Can our inept, not even level 1 wizard, Rincewind stop him?
A vary excellent installment to the DiscWorld series.
A note on the Kindle version: Flawless! Not one typo, misprint or mis-represented letter. Neat formatting too.
The eighth son of an eighth son is a wizard but the eighth son of a wizard is a wizard squared a source of power, a Sourcerer. When a young Sourcerer turns up at the Unseen University it falls to Rincewind, the Discs worst wizard, to save the world along with the Luggage and the daughter of the Discs greatest hero.
While I do think it is worth a low four out of five, `Sourcery' has never been one of my favourite Discworld books and it is probably one of the weakest of the Wizards series. I don't know what it is I dislike about the book as the characters are interesting and while the plot is a little light it is nonetheless as funny as any of the early Discworld books. As well as this the final confrontation with the Sourcerer is also very good.
One of the things I dislike about the book is that the Luggage, while still having some great scenes, does seem to be underused as if Terry couldn't think of what to do with it in some places. Other than this and the usual slight difference in style of the early books to the superior books later in the series, I cannot quite put my figure on why I dislike the book.
Despite my dislike of `Sourcery' I would still give it four stars as it is nonetheless entertaining and worth reading by any Discworld fan.