3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Interesting Times: A Discworld Novel: 17 (Paperback)
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]