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|Publication date||August 1990|
|Main characters||Rincewind, Eric, Death, The Luggage|
|All data relates to the first UK edition.|
Eric is the Discworld's only demonology hacker. Pity he's not very good at it.
All he wants is three wishes granted. Nothing fancy - to be immortal, rule the world, have the most beautiful woman in the world fall madly in love with him, the usual stuff. But instead of a tractable demon, he calls up Rincewind, probably the most incompetent wizard in the universe, and the extremely intractable and hostile form of travel accessory known as the Luggage.
With them on his side, Eric's in for a ride through space and time that is bound to make him wish (quite fervently) again - this time that he'd never been born.
As indicated by the crossed-out portion of the title, a parody of Faust.
His attempted return attracts the attention of Death (who is pretty much used to Rincewind doing unusual things), and the wizards, who ultimately use the Rite of AshkEnte to get Death to tell them what is going on.
Meanwhile, demonologist Eric Thursley attempts to summon a demon, managing to rescue Rincewind in the process (unknown to either, Duke Vassenego arranges this as part of his plot against Astfgl).
Rincewind convinces Eric that he's not a demon, but the sudden appearance of the Luggage (which follows Rincewind everywhere) convinces Eric that he was right in the first place. Eric then makes three wishes:
- mastery of the kingdoms of the world
- meeting the most beautiful woman who has ever lived
- living for ever (the text reads "for ever", which becomes a significant point later; presumably Eric wanted to live "forever", which is a little different)
and a chest of gold "just to be getting on with it".
Meanwhile, Astfgl, the new King of the Demons, is trying to adjust to his new position, annoyed that:
- no one can pronounce his name yet
- the "old guard" almost-but-not-quite disobey him, and are plotting against him
- the Gods ignore him
To demonstrate he has no power, Rincewind snaps his fingers, transporting himself and Eric about a thousand miles above the Disc. A second snap transports them to a Tezuman Empire (ruled by the Great Muzuma). The Tezumen (plural of Tezuman) accept Eric as Ruler of the World, and shower him with tribute and speeches.
The Tezumen, however, have not invented paper (communication between them and Eric/Rincewind is via stone tablet), nor the wheel (they use disks with holes as jewelry, currency, and hats, but not as wheels), and their calendar counts down, giving them a suicidally gloomy and pessimistic outlook on life (well, that, plus the swamps, hummingbird-sized mosquitoes, lack of metal ore, volcanoes, weather, etc).
After Rincewind rescues explorer Ponce da Quirm (who's wasted all his life searching for the Fountain of Youth), he learns (by reading a large collection of stone blocks) that the Tezumen intend to kill (in an exquisitely painful manner) the Ruler of the World (ie, Eric), and Rincewind. Rincewind and da Quirm try to leave quietly, but are captured.
Just as they're about to be killed, the Tezuman god Quezovercoatl appears. Contrary to his appearance in visions and statues, he is only 6 inches high. As he's about to give the Tezumen Astfgl's new directive, he is crushed by the Luggage (requiring him to spend several centuries regenerating in one of the nether hells, since demons apparently can't die), which is racing to re-unite with Rincewind.
The Tezumen release Rincewind, Eric, and da Quirm, and decide to worship the Luggage as a God. Rincewind gives Eric's parrot to da Quirm as a present.
Rincewind snaps his fingers again, landing himself and Eric in the Tsortean Horse, a ruse concocted by Ephebian leader Lavaeolus to conquer the city of Tsort. Lavaeolus correctly assumes that the Tsorteans will think the horse contains an invading force. Instead, while the Tsorteans are waiting for the Ephebians to come out of the horse, the Ephebians "nip round the back" and slip in through Tsort's unguarded back gate, accidentally assisted by Rincewind and Eric, who were trying to leave.
Despite his best efforts, Rincewind is influential in getting Eric to meet the beautiful Elenor.
Rincewind and Eric are sent back in time to when the Creator was making the world. They have a discussion about the Discworld. Later, Rincewind and Eric discuss the meaning of living forever. Rincewind tosses his egg and cress sandwich into the water, starting the formation of life. Eric's wishes are now used up, requiring Rincewind to find a way to save them.
Rincewind and Eric are then sent to Hell, which they basically run through, meeting Ponce da Quirm and Eric's Parrot. Ponce da Quirm explains that he found the Fountain of Youth, but forgot to boil any still water found in the wild, and subsequently died from the bacteria in the water. At the end of the book, Rincewind and Eric escape, and Astfgl is promoted to Lifetime President of Hell, a mainly maintenance job, which he is completely happy with.
- Archchancellor Ezrolith Churn
- Astfgl, King of Hell
- Elenor of Tsort
- The Librarian
- Duke Vassenego
- Quezovercoatl, the Feathered Boa, a parody of Quetzalcoatl
- Ponce da Quirm, parody of Ponce de Leon
- The Creator
- Herrena the Henna-Haired Harridan
- Red Scharron
- Diome, Witch of the Night
- Senior Tutor
- Private Archeios, a private who looks after a child
- Urglefloggah, Spawn of the Pit and Loathly Guardian of the Dread Portal
- Azaremoth, Stench of Dog Breath, a demon who guards a parody of Tityus (whose liver was eaten by two vultures) and/or Prometheus (whose constantly-regenerating liver was eaten by an eagle, albeit not in Hades)
- Lord Vizzimuth, a demon who reads "Unhealthy and Unsafety Regulations Governing the Lifting and Moving of Large Objects" to a parody of Sisyphus
- The Joy of Tantric Sex with Illustrations for the Advanced Student, by A.Lady (parodying books like The Story of O and The Joy of Sex and authors with names like "J" (an alias of Joan Garrity)) and Roundworld books published anonymously, such as Jane Austen's first novel.
- Some Little Known Aspects of Kuian Rain-making Rituals, a seven-volume treatise by Ezrolith Churn
- Names of the Ants, a book by Humptemper
- Ku, continent that sank slowly (over a period of 30 years) into the sea, a parody of Atlantis
- Old Tom, Unseen University's magical clock that tolls out silences every hour
- Riinjswin and Winswin, demons with names similar to Rincewind's
- Mallificarum Sumpta Diabolicite Occularis Singularum, a demon-summoning book whose initials parody MSDOS
- succubus, a type of demon that makes mad passionate wossname
- neuralger, a type of demon that has a headache at you
- Mirror of Souls, demon device that can be used to show events anywhere, any time
- the Fountain of Youth, a rejuvenating fountain with apparently tainted water
- The Tsortean Horse, a parody of the Trojan Horse
- The Tsortean Wars, in which Ephebe attempts to rescue a reluctant Elenor
- Corporal Disuse, a corporal whose squad is consumed by the Luggage
- Mr Beekle, a possibly fictional person referred to by a child on a potty
- King Mausoleum, king of Tsort, who kidnapped and married Elenor
- The Ball of Philodelphus, a song popular with soldiers, parody of The Ball of Kerrymuir.
- Heliodeliphilodelphiboschromenos, an Ephebian city with vestal virgins
- Big Bang Hypothesis, theory of Discworld creation
- Continuous Creation, theory of Discworld creation
- Unhealthy and Unsafety Regulations Governing the Lifting and Moving of Large Objects, a demon book
- Throne of Dread, where the king of Hell sits
Rincewind is present when the Creator reads the Octavo to create the universe. This might explain why one of the Octavo's spells chooses to jump into Rincewind's mind when it sees him: it recognizes him from the time of creation.
- Ninth published Discworld book
- Fourth book in the series of Rincewind-books
- Originally published in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz Ltd. London
Copyright (c) 1990 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett
- Cover by Josh Kirby
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