to assume a pleasing shape according to Hamlet but only on Discworld could the devil or any demon assume the shape of Rincewind. But that is exactly what Terry Pratchett calls up in "Eric", Pratchett's Discworld homage to Faust.
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 Physical torture has been replaced by endless viewings of someone else's holiday slides, elevator music, and the recitation of thousands of pages of regulations only a hellish bureaucrat could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.
on 7 October 2006
Eric is a hilarious novel by Terry Pratchett. It begins in Ankh- Morpork, where the University wizards are performing the Rite of AshKente, which summons Death, when they find out that Rincewind, a cowardly wizard ,is stuck in the Dungeon Dimensions, due to the events of Sourcery. As he was there, he was summoned as a demon by Eric, a demonologist, and his parrot, who has a limited vocabulary, so keeps saying " wossname". He must grant Eric 3 wishes. So Eric, parrot and Rincewind (and his Luggage ,a fearsome walking chest, who attacks enemies of its owner), set off on a journey through time which includes such horrors as wheels being used as headgear, cleaners being bribed, and small rat faced men with sandwiches. I loved this book, and you will want to read it again and again.
on 2 April 2001
It has really really shocked me that so many reviewers don't appreciate this book! 'Too short', 'too childish' you say. Sorry!? Maybe the humorous parodying of the Trojan war was lost on you or the parodying of creation, in fact this book is a fine example of brilliant parodying by a very clever author. In my opinion this ranks easily alongside some of Pratchett's best. It's a nice easy to read short story, with the excellent sardonic wit of Rincewind shining through once again. This is a book i will read again and again when I want a good laugh. Keep going Terry......
on 10 June 2005
This is the ninth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld - a flat world, supported on the backs of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle. Anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does.
This book picks up after Sourcery, with poor Rincewind trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. But, when he is inadvertently summoned by a teenage demonologist in training, he finds himself cast in the role of Mephistopheles to Eric's Faust. They make quite a match - Eric is a poor demonologist and Rincewind makes a poor demon. But there is more going on than meets the eye, the new King of the Demons wants to know who this Rincewind is and how he got there, and he's not happy.
This is another great Discworld book, one of my favorites. As always, especially with the early books, Terry Pratchett does an excellent job of spinning a yarn that is a wonderful parody of something (Goethe's Faust in this case) and is also laugh-out-loud funny! This is a great book, one that I highly recommend!
on 24 June 2001
Those who wish to summon a demon are really not successful. At least not in this universe. On the Discworld, those caling demons tend to have a little more luck. Eric, the more-or-less-hero of this tale, manages to summon something of a demon-esque pursuasion. It's just such a shame that he managed to call upon Rincewind.
This particular Ricwind-oriented story is of excellent quality, feels rushed. It is all too easy to finish the book very quickly. Compared to other Pratchett novels, this one feels that it has just begin to hit its stride and then quickly tails to a quick, but impressive finish. That is not to say that it is not a good book, ot that the story is lacking - both are excellent. It's just that this particular novel is a little on the short side. Nevertheless it makes for a good read, and a fine addition to any collection.
"`Multiple exclamation marks,' he went on, shaking his head `are a sure sign of a diseased mind.'"
I LOVE TERRY PRATCHETT/DISCWORLD/RINCEWIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ahem. I aten't crazy.
Like a lot of people I first read Pratchett when I was a teenager and have stuck with him well into adulthood. So, going through a dry spell in reading where everything I picked up seemed to, well, suck, I was immediately drawn to a small paperback that'd fallen off my shelf - "Eric", a book I haven't read since I was 12 (I'm now 28). Coming to a beloved book after 16 years is great as you know you'll like it and you've all but forgotten everything in the story.
Eric is the Disc's first demonologist hacker who summons a demon to grant him three wishes. Except the "demon" is Rincewind, the Disc's most inept wizzard (the second z is intentional as Rincewind can't spell), who happens to have gotten stuck in the Dungeon Dimensions and, by chance, wound up in a teenage boy's bedroom. The three wishes Eric asks for - To be Ruler of the World; To Meet the Most Beautiful Woman in All History; and To Live Forever, should be easy to arrange. I mean, when have wishes ever gone wrong for anybody in a story, especially one with "Faust" crossed out on the cover?
I'm delighted to say that my impressions of the novel haven't changed in 16 years and that I still loved reading this. It's still fresh and funny and fast paced and so damn entertaining. It reminded me exactly why I fell in love with Pratchett's Discworld in the first place and what propelled me through all of his books so quickly.
Here are some quotes from the novel that I adored:
"The gods of the Disc have never bothered much about judging the souls of the dead, and so people only go to hell if that's where they believe, in their deepest heart, that they deserve to go. Which they won't do if they don't know about it. This explains why it is so important to shoot missionaries on sight."
"Rincewind had been told that death was just like going into another room. The difference is, when you shout `Where's my clean socks?', no-one answers."
"No enemies had ever taken Ankh-Morpork. Well technically they had, quite often; they city welcomed free-spending barbarian invaders, but somehow the puzzled raiders found, after a few days, that they didn't own their horses any more, and within a couple of months they were just another minority group with its own graffiti and food shops."
It also makes me sad to see the decline in his writing recently. I got through a third of "Snuff" in about a month and gave up thereafter. I haven't returned to it in nearly a year. Also, those Tiffany Aching books are pretty diabolical - I know they're aimed at "Young Adults" but really, kids can read the "adult" Discworld books. I did, and I turned out fine. Plus the adult humour is really subtle and will go over a kid's head. I didn't pick up on it when I was 12 but at 28? Yeah I noticed it. Pratchett's really clever like that and his books can be read for all ages. Those Aching books are just pandering and condescending. Kids, teenagers, are smarter than that and should just read the regular Discworld stuff rather than go for Discworld Lite. And yes, I realise the decline in writing is linked to his Alzheimer's which I couldn't be more saddened by, but still. Reading this early Discworld book and comparing it to his most recent one is really eye-opening. There aren't any quotes from "Snuff" that I'd type out to read to myself over and over, unlike "Eric".
"Eric" is set after the events of "Sourcery" but before "Interesting Times" - both books I encourage you to seek out if you enjoyed this - but it can be read as standalone book too. It might even be the best introduction to the new reader of Pratchett. Rincewind and the amazing Luggage (a steamer trunk with dozens of tiny legs that's sentient but silent) are the main characters, there are appearances from Death and the Librarian, and you get a tour of the Disc courtesy of the three wishes that takes Rincewind and Eric across time and space. The story is straightforward and you don't need to have read the half dozen or so titles that preceded it - it's a satire on the legendary Faust story. Seriously, you can just jump on board with this book and, if you like Pratchett's style, continue on your way. And due to it's shortness, It's the perfect sampler.
I have to mention the Luggage - I'd forgotten why I was so enchanted with the Rincewind stories and it's partly RIncewind for his cowardly wit, but it's also for the Luggage. They've got this great chemistry like a buddy cop story where one of the cops doesn't speak and might be homicidal. Luggage has some amazing scenes in this as well, particularly his introduction which is so fantastic and funny so I won't spoil it here. And Pratchett's humour has never been more prevalent than in this story. Here are some more quotes I loved:
"There's a door"
"Where does it go?"
"It stays where it is, I think"
"What're quantum mechanics?"
"I don't know. People who repair quantums, I suppose"
And these two gems about war:
"The consensus seemed to be that if really large numbers of men were sent to storm the mountain, then enough might survive the rocks to take the citadel. This is essentially the basis of all military thinking."
"The sergeant put on the poker face which has been handed down from NCO to NCO ever since one protoamphibian told another, lower ranking protoamphibian to muster a squad of newts and Take That Beach."
"Eric" is just a really, really fun read. I loved it, it was just what I needed to remind me why I love reading and that a truly good book trumps nearly everything else in the world.
Never read Pratchett? Check out "Eric". Been a while since you read early Pratchett? Check out "Eric".
on 19 May 2000
When i first got it, i thought "bit small" when i read it i wished it was at least 100 pages longer.... Very funny in places, insights into the meaning of hell, and also the reason why religion isn't all its cracked up to be. My advice is Read it, thats it READ IT NOW..
This is a funny little book - only 155 pages, and it reads a bit like a series of random thoughts about what horrors Rincewind could be subjected to next. It does, very neatly, return Rincewind from the Dungeon Dimensions. Eric, a rather bad "demonology hacker" calls up a demon - but gets Rincewind instead. Together, they (and the luggage, in a very bad mood) cause mayhem and havoc throughout various times and places while the King of the Demons tries to get rid of them - clearly you can't have humans dashing around doing demon's work!
The parodies with the Trojan War, and Ponce da Quirm, are very clever, and bring the novel as a whole up to a level beyond just a neat young person's story - it is, as are so many of Pratchett's novels, able to be read on so many levels that make it perenially clever and you find something new to enjoy every time you read them. I really would have liked to see more use made of the parrot with the limited vocabulary - `wossname' is such a good word to use when you can't think of the right word.
A light, entertaining catchup with Rincewind (who it is always a pleasure to visit with), and a nice addition to the Discworld novels.
on 15 September 2006
There is little in this world as dependable as Pratchett. Though one of his shortest, and with a story line unashamedly borrowed (riped of in technical speak) it's a joy to read from cover to cover. He even manages to squeeze that most popular of Discworld inhabitants in - Read it, though not in public, as people give you funny looks
on 23 June 2011
By far, one of the shortest Pratchett novels, but definitely one of the funniest and brilliant stories I have read. Firstly I think you have to like the Wizard series, as this features Rincewind as the central character. For me, he is superb, and I love everything he says - he such a pessimist, and always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think the plot is simple yet effective, and very funny. I think that what this lacks in description makes up in humour.
I have re-read this several times, and each time it just gets better. I would highly recommend this to any Discworld fan, of any age!
NB - I have also listened the Stephen Briggs audio version, and was in stitches, he is superb at voicing the characters - I would also highly recommend this too!