Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eric - Terry Pratchett

    1990; 197 pages.  Book #9 in the Discworld series.  Genre : Comedic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 8½*/10.

    Eric is a geeky teenager dabbling in demonology.  He casts a spell aimed at summoning the baddest demon in the Underworld.  What he gets is Rincewind, the worst wizard in Discworld.  Undeterred, he demands Rincewind grant hin three wishes - the be the master of the world, to meet the most beautiful woman that ever lived, and to live forever.

    Rincewind tries to explain that he has absolutely no magical powers.  And that nothing will happen if he snaps his fingers like this and... POOF!

What's To Like...
    Rincewind and The Luggage are major players here, and that's always a plus.   Death and the Librarian make cameo appearances.  And there's a parrot (see cover image) who's a hoot.

    Eric is Terry Pratchett's spoof of Faust, which I haven't read so can't make any comparisons.  The central theme is "be careful what you wish for".  Eric's three wishes may seem like pretty good ones, but the devil's in the details, and as each wish is fulfilled, they are found to come with drawbacks.

    The settings are neat - an Aztec-like kingdom, the Trojan War, Creation itself, and Hell.  Pratchett also takes a small poke at Quantum Mechanics and Multiverses.

Kewlest New Word...
Winge : whining; an irritating complaint.

    Preeminent among Rincewind's talents was his skill in running away, which over the years he had elevated to the status of a genuinely pure science; it didn't matter if you were fleeing from or to, so long as you were fleeing.  It was flight alone that counted.  I run, therefore I am; more correctly, I run, therefore with any luck I'll still be.
    But he was also skilled in languages and practical geography.  He could shout 'help' in fourteen languages and scream for mercy in a further twelve.  (pg. 49; 23% on Kindle)

    "What're quantum mechanics?"
    "I don't know.  People who repair quantums, I suppose."  (pg. 145; 68% on Kindle)

"Up yours, wizard."  (pg. 32; 15% on Kindle)
    Eric was originally a hardcover illustrated novel.  Because of the pictures, Pratchett cut down on the text.  The images were dropped for the mass-market paperback edition, so you end up with a very short book - less than 200 pages.  But the publisher still wants to charge full-price for Eric.  At Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, it'll cost you an outrageous $7.99.

    I circumvented this by "borrowing" the Kindle version of this for free via my local library.  Which is way kewl, and I even figured out how the Kindle handles the always-entertaining Discworld footnotes.

    Other than its brevity, I found Eric to have a well-crafted storyline.  Each wish is addressed, and shown to be not near as desirable as it first seems.  The humor is vintage Pratchett; the similes are scintillating; and the ending, in Hell, is both whimsical and sensible.  8½ Stars, particularly if you manage to avoid the rip-off full-price.

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