The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Discworld novels are all set on the same imaginary world. The Great Atuin, the world-carrying turtle, has four giant elephants standing on his back, and the elephants hold up the Disc. The Disc is inhabited by a strange variety of people and creatures. Although many of the books can stand by themselves, several follow the adventures of the same characters.

The Colour of Magic introduces the Discworld as well as Rincewind, the failed Wizard. Rincewind knows only one spell, and it is so devastating that certain people are ready to kill him to keep him from speaking it. In the first novel, he befriends Two-Flower, the Discworld’s first tourist to the city Ankh-Morpork. Two-Flower possesses animate and hostile Luggage made from sapient pearwood. These two have various adventures that take them across the Disc. In their adventures, they meet dryads, druids, and a variety of other characters. The novel ends with a literal cliff-hanger.

Their adventures continue in The Light Fantastic. The two once more go through a series of adventures before returning to Unseen University, the Disc’s seat of higher education in the magical arts. There, Rincewind, with the aid of Two-Flower and the geriatric hero, Cohen the Barbarian, saves the Discworld by intoning his spell. Rincewind makes his next significant appearance in Sourcery, where he once again saves the Discworld, this time from a young “sourcerer.” Rincewind is banished to the Dungeon Dimensions at the end of that novel, along with the Luggage. He resurfaces in Eric, when he is summoned accidentally, instead of a demon. In a variation of the three wishes plot, Rincewind and Eric travel through time and Hell before they find a possible way home. Rincewind also appears in Interesting Times. In this novel, he is part of a culture clash between the “civilized” West and the “barbaric” East.

The second major figure featured in Discworld is Granny Weatherwax, the best witch on the Discworld. She is introduced in Equal Rights as she undergoes a personal crusade to get a young girl with magical abilities enrolled into the all-male Unseen University. She is aided by a wizard’s staff and finally succeeds. She next appears in Wyrd Sisters, with two other witches, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. In a plot that borrows heavily from Macbeth, Hamlet, and several fairy tales, the three witches restore a young man to the throne of Lancre.

The witches next appear in Witches Abroad. They head to the city of Genua to stop an evil fairy godmother from forcing a terrible marriage on the young Emberella. They encounter many strange people along the way, including dwarves,...

(The entire section is 1123 words.)