Book:The Light Fantastic/Annotations

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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.

  • First mention of animate Gargoyles
  • Rincewind says that talking to trees is mad (a possible reference to King George III), but he spoke extensively with dryads in The Colour of Magic. But then, talking to the spirits that live inside trees and talking to an actual tree itself are two different things. Also, Rincewind wasn't in the most stable state of mind at either point (nothing new there!).
  • "Normally informative demons summoned abruptly from the Dungeon Dimensions" implies demons come from the Dungeon Dimensions, but Eric states that demons and their Hell are quite different from the Dungeon Dimensions. Possibly two different types of demons? Or maybe just the word "demon" being used as a catch-all term to describe extra-dimensional nasties of a magical persuasion.
  • Rincewind seems shocked at the concept of a Tooth Fairy, even though they seem to be well known in Hogfather. However, they're only really believed in by children and persons of a magical nature and, technically, Rincewind could be said to be neither. Perhaps, having grown up parentless, he was never told about them.
  • The description of gnomes and their lives as "nasty, brutish, short" parodies the famous quote from Thomas Hobbes's The Leviathan
  • The bursar in this book "was not a wizard" (somewhat surprisingly?), and is thus not the Bursar
  • Broomsticks have handlebars, a sophistication of design that witches encountered from Equal Rites onwards seem to do perfectly well without. Although Granny Weatherwax would no doubt look upon them as the equivalent of training wheels on a bicycle. Perhaps the owner of the gingerbread house was bad at steering hers in the usual way?
  • The Spells' recollection of how the Universe started is more accurately recounted in Eric
  • Twoflower states the priests "at home" go around with begging bowls and are holy men who dedicate themselves to the study of the nature of God but, in The Colour of Magic, he claims that, where he comes from, there are no Gods. However, the absence of a deity does not necessarily mean there's nobody around who worships a god anyway - some people will believe in anything.
  • "Rincewind remembered that it was said that druids used strange and terrible potions. Of course, it was often said, usually by the same people, ... if the gods had wanted men to fly they'd have given them an airline ticket". An "airline ticket"? On Discworld?
  • The game Twoflower teaches the Four Horsemen is, of course, contract bridge, which is ironically the name of a bridge in Ankh-Morpork
  • The iconograph imp, a creature of Hell, doesn't recognize Death's Domain (perhaps because imps (demons) can't die?) nor the Octavo.
  • The only fact Rincewind knows about trolls (that they turn to stone when exposed to sunlight) is incorrect: we later learn that trolls turn to stone due to heat, not light - which evolves over the series so that they get more and more stupid with heat.
  • "It is possible to stab a troll..." -- Rincewind did exactly this (with a little help from The Lady) in The Colour of Magic
  • When the Spell kills a man (through Rincewind), not even the man's smoking boots are left, violating narrativium (perhaps implying the loss of magic also resulted in a loss of this substance?)
  • Cohen runs from a mob here, but refuses to run from an army of 700,000 men in Interesting Times. Possibly he felt that there was nothing heroic about butchering his way through a load of confused citizens, whereas there's rather a lot that's heroic about standing up to an entire army.

(There are precedents for this behaviour in "straight" fantasy fiction: for instance the hero Elric runs and/or hides from the hordes of beggars who dwell in the forsaken city of Nadsokar - several times. But in forlorn and heroic defence of the hero's city of Tanelorn, he meets the beggar army on the battlefield. Perhaps the latter is more noble... In the former case, Elric was in Nadsokar to steal an item of worth and value from its degenerate King. Definitely nothing noble there - just an enjoyable thieving romp where Elric and Moonglum have to stay one step ahead of the massed beggars. In the second case, the eternal city of Tanelorn the blesséd and peaceful is under attack from a mass of Beggars, spurred on by the Gods of Chaos. Evidently this is a more worthy and noble cause to fight in.)

  • The Luggage's ability to follow Twoflower extends to Death's Domain and the Octavo, but not to wandering shops. This might be because the Octavo and Death's Domain occupy definite and fixed locations in other dimensions, whereas the shop wandered, thus confusing the Luggage. As Cohen says, the Luggage looked "puzzled".
  • "Rincewind knew what orgasms were ... had a few in his time, sometimes even in company". Since wizards are supposed to be celibate, one wonders in what company Rincewind had orgasms. Given his less than exemplary student record (reading from the Octavo for a bet, for instance), and revelations in later books that student wizards would often slip out of the University after hours, courtesy of removable bricks in the walls, possibly these orgasms were the result of a drunken (or paid-for) encounter on one-such night.
  • The Octavo is described as giving off "the light fantastic" (a rather disappointing purple colour), the title of the book. Wouldn't it give off the the colour of magic? Or are these the same thing?
  • Rincewind unlocks the wizards trapped by Trymon, who then see him save the world. However, in Interesting Times, Rincewind tells Mustrum Ridcully that no one from the university had ever seen him save the universe (many of the wizards Rincewind rescues are turned into statues, others die in the war of the Sourcerer, and maybe all of the others are killed before Interesting Times?)
  • The line "nothing [Twoflower] looks at is ever the same again. Including me [Rincewind], I suspect" somewhat foreshadows Interesting Times.
  • Lackjaw, the dwarvish jeweller, says to Cohen about the star people "They're probably going to beat me up a bit. So it goes," a reference to the Tralfamadorians' philosophical attitude to death in Kurt Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse Five'.
  • The description by the wandering shop's shopkeeper of how it came to be magically cursed is a clear parallel of the Monty Python Flying Circus Cheese Shop sketch. 'I told him there was no demand for it!' - 'After making the sucking noise?' - 'Yes. I probably grinned, too.' - 'Oh, dear. You didn't call him squire, did you?' - and the following dire retribution.
  • The introduction of the Tower of Art, the sideways information that the first thing a wizard does when in a position of power is to build a tower and climb to the top of it, and the manner of Ymper Trymon's death, is evocative of the classic rock song by Rainbow, Stargazer (probably available on You-Tube) , in which a wizard forces slaves to build a tower for him, climbs it - and then loses the ability to fly, or forgets the relevant spell while in mid-air... after all, at the beginning of the book, Ymper has no problems flying, or levitating, to the top of the tower. It's the opposite direction that poses a problem...


The Light Fantastic Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File