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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