Book:The Colour of Magic/Annotations

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The Colour of Magic Annotations

Prefatory Note:- It should be remarked here that since publication of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, both books have been conflated into a TV movie which is reviewed and commented on elsewhere in this Wiki. The TV adaptation introduces new characters and details which were not part of the original book: for instance, those heads of the Eight Orders of Wizardry who are not mentioned in the books are given names. As a general principle, if you have an annotation to quote which is based on the TV version and not on the book, do feel free to summarise it here, but do be sure to reference it as part of the TV adaptation and not the book. Thank you.

  • A general thought on Rincewind: sci-fi authors Margaret Hickman and Tracey Weiss, in their Darksword trilogy, came up with the idea of a parallel Earth which is governed by magic, where technology is either basic or non-existent. Everyone on this planet has some sort of innate magical ability, apart from a few unfortunate mutants who are regarded as "Dead" because they can use no magic at all and have no magical sensibility. The Dead are normally killed at birth as a kindness to them, and to prevent their passing their taint on to children. But every so often, one slips through the net and has to live a life of subterfuge and concealment in order to fit in. They are naturally drawn to science and technology as if to compensate for their lack of magic. One such, Jorum, becomes first the possible destruction of his world - he slips through the dimensions to our planet Earth and allows Earth to invade the magical world. Then Jorum becomes its salvation. While Rincewind has no conscious desire to destroy the Discworld, the rest of the description, as well as the setting, is oddly telling...
  • "Death himself turns up to claim him (instead of delegating the task to a subordinate, such as Disease or Famine, as is usually the case)." - this is the only Discworld book to suggest that Famine is subordinate to Death. The non-Discworld Good Omens also suggests this. Disease may be another name for Pestilence, or perhaps a subordinate for Pestilence?
  • "the combined talents of the Faculty of Medicine had been unable to coax it." - indicates that Unseen University has a medical department, which seems unusual, since Pyramids tells us that "medicine was a new art on the Disc". Of course, given the time mangling in Thief of Time, maybe Pyramids comes before The Colour of Magic? Or perhaps the Faculty of Medicine specialize in curing magical diseases, such as Planets.
  • "I WAS EXPECTING TO MEET THEE IN PSEUDOPOLIS [...] I COULD LEND YOU A VERY FAST HORSE." - a reference to the short story Appointment in Samarra, which is itself a retelling of an ancient Jewish tale from the Talmud.
  • People walk through Death in this book; in Mort, they walk around him.
  • "dispatched to the islands by the Minor Religions faculty of Unseen University" - an indication that the university dabbles in religious study at this point. I wonder how the priests feel about that?
  • "stable magic aura of at least [...] several milliPrime" - here, magical aura (not an amount of magic) is measured in prime, indicating that prime is a unit of field strength, not a unit of magic.
  • "His sister had told him they didn't really exist" - this is the only time we hear about Twoflower's sister. She's not even mentioned in Interesting Times.
  • The Brown Islands are mentioned in this book as well as others, The joke here I think is Brown eye is slang for the "Anus", the exit hole so the brown islands become the 'Brown eye lands' Not a place to go shoeless.
  • "Dr Rjinswand, 33, a bachelor" - one of the few indications that Rincewind is fairly young, despite Josh Kirby's tendency to draw him as ancient (assuming Rjinswand is a fairly close parallel to Rincewind). Although people forget that in the book the author describes a 'years' length. Which is twice what our year is, ours being 365 days and a Discworld being 800. However, it is stated that most people use the agricultural year for age purposes.
  • "Vul nut wine was reputed to give certain drinkers an insight into the future which was, from the nut's point of view, the past. Strange but true.". Interestingly, Twoflower doesn't seem to be able to see into the future after drinking this wine (perhaps because he lives entirely within his own head?) Or perhaps "certain" drinkers doesn't happen to include Twoflower, who's far from psychically-inclined.
  • "'You know that I never even made it to Neophyte,' said Rincewind". Apparently, "neophyte" is another name of "level 1 wizard"? (Explanatory: the revived systems of occult magick and wizardry that appeared in the later 19th Century created a rigid formal hierarchy among the new Wizards. In the Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. systems, the lowest, least and most despised rank was indeed the neophyte. Slightly higher up the chain were zelators. Lovers of conspiracy theory should go and discover the sign to be exchanged by which one Zelator should recognise another....)
  • The Octavo is kept in a room of absolute silence that no can withstand for more than four minutes thirty two seconds. So 4'33" of complete silence will kill you ... c.f. John Cage, 4'33"
  • Rincewind talks about a spell making beautiful virgins appear in your room, and also takes many pictures of the Seamstresses, contradicting later comments about wizards and sex. But then, Rincewind isn't much of a wizard and given that the first time we meet him he's sitting in the most disreputable pub in Ankh-Morpork, it's probably safe to assume he treats the whole wizardly aversion to sex (or, at least, the pursuit of it) with a pinch of salt.
  • In "The Colour Of Magic", Death or a subordinate evidently do have to make a personal appearance at a death, as he sends Scrofula to kill Rincewind. But then this could just be because Rincewind is, sort-of-kind-of-technically-more-or-less a wiz(z)ard. A similar scene occurs in the BBC Radio comedy The Burkiss Way.
  • Although in Guards! Guards! Carrot's sword is remarkable because it is one of the only known non-magic swords on the Disc, Rincewind comments that magic swords are expensive in The Colour of Magic. Possibly all swords are expensive.
  • The Great Nef Desert (mentioned) with its negative humidity and its Dehydrated Ocean, plus the strange ships that sail on it. This has got to be a parody of the deserts of Dune. All it needs now are sandworms. Or dehydrated water worms. It is also notable that "nef" spelt backwards is "fen", which is used to denote a land area whose characteristics are significantly opposite to those of a desert.
  • We have a continuity problem, I fear. The article on reannual plants says:-

"the Rehigreed Province in the Agatean Empire is another. The reannual Vul Nuts are mentioned in The Colour of Magic as being grown in the latter place, and when harvested they make a drink called Ghlen Livid....."

Ref. The Colour of Magic, Corgi PB, p189. Twoflower is sampling the hospitality on offer in Krull to those who are about to be sacrificed.

"Ghlen Livid" he said. "The fermented vul-nut drink they freeze-distil in my home country.... "from the western plantations in, ah, Rehigreed Province, yes?"

The clear implication from Twoflower's words are that Rehigreed Province is a part of "my home country", ie the Agatean Empire. Otherwise, he might have said it was imported?

The problem is, The Discworld Mapp places the Rehigreed Province in the opposite corner of the Discworld from Agatea - the two could not be further apart if you tried. Either the Rehigreed is a "lost colony" on the Central Continent originally settled by Agateans, or else in between The Colour of Magic and The Discworld Mapp this fine detail was lost. --AgProv 20:37, 14 November 2010 (CET)

Or it could be that, (My personal theory), that Agatea sources the nuts from Rehigreed, but does not own it. Twoflower only said they ferment and distill it in Agatea, and the fact that Rehigreed is sending the nuts all away around the world mirrors Roundworld China's fame of importing and exporting. Also, he drinks the wine in Krull, which has little affiliation with Agatea, and probably got the nuts from Rehigreed directly (By run ashore vessel)--User:TNTiger 10:48, 8 October 2017 (GMT)

The Colour of Magic Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File