What pure delight! I have finally found a Pratchett novel that I can recommend without reservation. I am grateful that perseverance paid off. Every other novel Ive read by him (with the exception of Maskerade), left me feeling that I was reading an author I should
like. Yet, despite the fact that he displayed all the qualities I typically delight in reading, I hadnt like his books thus far.
Then a friend of mine loaned me Eric
. She did it with the caveat that it wasnt as good as many of his other works, but that I might enjoy it because of our association with Faustus. (We had recently performed in a version of Marlowes Faustus
.) She was right, I did.
is a delightful romp that, unlike many of Pratchetts other novels, actually has a strong plot to act as a backbone to the demonstrations of his acerbic wit and cleverness. Too many others of Pratchetts novels that I read have been more of a humorous essay than a novel. They left me disappointed as they pretended to be something they were not.
Eric, a very young conjuror, summons Rincewind and his baggage from the plane they had been banished to. Eric demandsin language forcibly archaicthat Rincewind make him the ruler of the world, introduce him to the most beautiful woman, make him live forever, and provide him with a chest of gold. Rincewind, our hapless not-a-hero ends up delivering all four, but does so with the twists we expect from any fiendish fulfillment of wishes.
Pratchett throws puns after twisted references after outright jokes. Pratchett introduces us to the Demon King, Astfgl, who would be equally at home in one of Dilberts comic strips. Hes a bureaucrat who torments even his demons with his reorganization of Hell.
Meanwhile, Eric and Rincewind visit a native jungle where they meet da Quirm, who is in search of the fountain of youth. The primitive natives of Tezumen declare Eric the Ruler of the World, and boy, do they want some answers.
The dynamic duo continue their travels in time and space so that Pratchett can co-opt such classics as Ulyssess and the Trojan War (Eric wonders where the topless towers are and how it was that Eleanorread Helenmanaged to launch a thousand ships with her face), Greek and Roman mythology, and Creation itself.
Enjoyment of this novel isnt predicated on the knowledge of Faustus or classical history, but it sure as heck helps. Certainly many of the lines were all the more amusing for just having read them in their originaland more seriouscontext. Eric
was ultimately a satisfying book. Its 178 pages made me laugh, and its story was interesting enough to keep me intrigued about how it would end.