By: Terry Pratchett
Once upon a time, there was an eighth son of an eighth son who was, of course, a wizard. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, said wizard then had seven sons. Fate being a cruel mistress, his eighth son came into the world a sourcerer (also known as a wizard squared for the mathematically inclined). The first in centuries.
On the Discworld, wizards aren’t allowed to have children for the very fear that one would be a source of magic. A being so powerful that he could rival the gods. And here of course is where our story begins with none other than Rincewind, the Disc’s ineptest wizard, at the heart of a magical war. And trailing behind him, faithful as ever, is his trusty Luggage.
Sourcery is the fifth Discworld novel and the third in the Rincewind chronicles. Anyone who reads this series knows Rincewind as a somewhat annoying and completely spineless protagonist who always gets himself into trouble before ultimately saving the world. Rincewind fully acknowledges that he is always mixed up in dangerous situations and just wants to live the dullest and most uneventful life possible. Life, however, has other plans, and our “hero” needs to save the world from yet another apocalypse.
What I enjoy about Sourcery is that Rincewind finally gets a moment where he can choose whether he wants to save the Disc or not. In other stories, he was flung into the heart of an issue and was essentially forced to help with no considerations for his conscience or his sense of right or wrong. In this story, he actively puts his life on the line even though he doesn’t want to simply because he believes his sacrifice may help in some way. He’s not the hero type, but he cares about wizardry. It’s the only thing he has in his life to cling to, and suddenly Rincewind goes from being a comical and mildly dislikable character to someone the reader can admire. He’s still an idiot, but at least a slightly more likable one.
This is also the first novel where we see Rincewind fall in love. The joke you see in every Discworld book is that wizards can’t have sex because it supposedly weakens their magical abilities. As a result, all wizards are completely celibate. The real reason they can’t have sex is that they could accidentally produce a sourcerer which could spell catastrophe for the world. Pun intended. Overall, Rincewind has been uninterested in women over the course of his adventures until he meets Conina, a barbarian aspiring to be a hairdresser. His innocent and simple feelings towards her seemed to shape his character into something perhaps a little more noble though not by much. He is nothing if not true to himself even after getting spurned in the end, poor guy. Does that count as a spoiler? Oh well, it’s book five. I’m surprised you’re still here.
I did find a logical inconsistency in the story. A small one and given all of Pratchett’s books are logically illogical, it will get a pass for only happening once.
Overall rating: 5