My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love Terry Pratchett and his Discworld novels so much that it pains me to not give one of them five stars, or at least four. However, I thought this one was lacking in some ways. It felt forced.
The premise is about the story of an eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son. And he was a wizard. A wizard squared… a source of magic… a Sourcerer. Coin is the boy’s name and he’s pretty vicious. He’s actually ruled by the staff his wizard father left him — and inhabited somehow, tricking Death in the process. At about age 10, he shows up at Unseen University, home of the wizards, and demands to be named Archchancellor. However, our favorite inept wizard, Rincewind, has taken the Archchancellor’s hat, and no one can be named Archchancellor without it. Coin demolishes virtually everything in existence and builds a new series of towers for wizards to rule in. Meanwhile, Rincewind and Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian, escape to Klatch (I think), which is Discworld’s version of the Middle East. There they encounter a magician who puts the hat on his head and starts battling Coin and the other wizards. And people die. Which disturbed me. See, in the numerous other Discworld novels I’ve read, the wizards have been loveable, incompetent, bumbling fools who hang out together. However, in this book, they’re all enemies of each other, constantly plotting each others’ deaths, and that didn’t mesh with my vision of Discworld. The scenes of the wizards doing battle reminded me more of one of the later Harry Potter books than of Discworld books. Dark. Not funny.
Anyway, along the way, Rincewind and Conina pick up a sultan and Nigel, the barbarian in training. These don’t seem to serve much of a purpose to the plot, other than to provide some easy jokes for Pratchett. Also, we see Twoflower’s Luggage make another appearance, but while it attempts to follow Rincewind around, it never actually does much of anything and seems to be another useless plot device. Additionally, my favorite Discworld character — Death — doesn’t contribute much to the book, appearing in the beginning, and then a couple more times later on. I missed his rye style of speaking.
Of course, Coin is ultimately defeated and then magically turns into a good guy, which I had a hard time buying, but not before he disappears for the entire middle half of the novel. That was strange. It was all Rincewind at that point. Don’t get me wrong — I like Rincewind. It was just a little jarring to see Coin disappear from the narrative like that. I think Pratchett had a good idea in this novel, but just wasn’t able to pull it off as he usually does with his Discworld novels. And even though this was my 11th or 12th Discworld book I’ve read, I know I’m not tiring of the series because I’ve already started another and I’m loving it. So, if you like Discworld, I’d read it, but if you’re unfamiliar with the series, I definitely wouldn’t start off with this one.