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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.
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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.
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on 8 June 2016
Not my favourite Discworld novel, but I cannot complain on how fast this novel arrived (once again, thank you, Prime).
In terms of knowledge for this novel, readers will need to know- Actually, you could figure it out for yourselves, as people with a mad imagination could only read these, including myself, in fact. I suppose it is a bit of a sequel to Equal Rites, what with the seventh son of the seventh son and all.
Still, it is as enjoyable as any Discworld novel.
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on 16 March 2016
I cannot believe I've reached my 40s without ever having read any Terry Pratchet. I always loved Douglas Adams and it in a similar style. I reckon that with around 40 books to go at, there's a couple of years reading material here and I'm loving it.
'Sourcery' was probably my least favourite of the 5 books so far, but its still a great read.
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on 2 September 2001
This book is incredibly hilarious all the way through. It uses both wit and slapstick to conjure up a very addictive read. I would definitely say that this is not one of the greatest novel ever written but is an amusing and entertaining read. Terry Pratchett manages to produce a novel true to fantasy as it hasn't an ounce of the real world in the whole of the book, and many authors manage to forget the idea of fantasy not being real. The story is all about the unwitting, and cowardly hero, Rincewind the failed Wizard who finds himself in an awkward position of having to save the world again. He is joined by several well loved old friends and you also make the acquaintance of many new characters as well. Overall this is an extremely enjoyable book that will raise the spirits of even the most moody people. It is full of laughs all the way through. It is a great book if you are not really looking for a storyline as such but more of an all round fun time.
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VINE VOICEon 23 June 2005
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.
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on 8 September 2016
These books are great. They are laugh out loud funny but at times you have to look for the jokes as they are word play. I do not know half Terry Pratchett holds the disk world in his mind. Cheers to a great author with a great mind
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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.
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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.
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on 17 April 2016
Rincewind and The Luggage are back, baby! Sourcery is an interesting one, because it investigates some similar concepts to Equal Rites. In Equal Rites, Pratchett explained that the eighth son of an eighth son is traditionally a wizard – unfortunately, the eighth son of an eighth son happens to be a daughter.

In Sourcery, we meet the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son – a wizard squared, and a source of magic. This reasonably simple concept allows Pratchett to play with his most powerful wizard yet, and whilst I’m not going to go any further into the story line, suffice to say that a lot of stuff is happening and there’s a lot for you to look forward to.

There’s a certain vibe to some of Pratchett’s earlier work that it’s hard to put your finger on – his writing style evolved over the years, and I think he became a little bit more of a generalist with mainstream appeal towards the end of his life. Here, he feels much more like a fantasy author who happens to be pretty funny, and that’s no bad thing.

I’m not sure whether I’d recommend on starting with Sourcery, but it’s not a bad idea to pick it up relatively early on – if you can read the series in order, then even better. But at the same time, if you spot it in a charity shop, you should pick it up for sure – it’s got a cracking story and lots of laughs, what more do you need?
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