Book:Sourcery: Difference between revisions

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| valign="top" | [[File:S Unseen.jpg|thumb|110px|Unseen Library Edition]]
| valign="top" | [[File:S Unseen.jpg|thumb|110px|Unseen Library Edition]]
| valign="top" | [[File:S CL.jpg|thumb|110px|Collectors Library Edition]]
| valign="top" | [[File:S CL.jpg|thumb|110px|Collectors Library Edition]]
| valign="top" | [[File:S 2022.jpg|thumb|110px|Paperback 2022]]

Latest revision as of 04:42, 28 September 2022

Cover art by Josh Kirby
Illustrator(s) Josh Kirby
Publisher Victor Gollancz
Publication date May 1988
ISBN 0552131075
Pages 269
Main characters Rincewind, The Luggage, Nijel the Destroyer, Coin, Conina
Series Rincewind Series
Annotations View
Notes Book #05
All data relates to the first UK edition.


There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son... a wizard squared... a source of magic... a Sourcerer.


The wizard Ipslore the Red was banished from the Unseen University for disobeying the Lore of Magic by falling in love and having children. This is forbidden because the eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son is a sourcerer: an exceptionally powerful wizard who is a "source of magic", and who caused great damage to the Disc in the Mage Wars of the past. Ipslore, blaming the death of his wife in childbirth on the University, plans to hand over his unusual octiron wizard's staff to his infant eighth son, whom he names Coin. When Death comes to collect Ipslore's soul, he escapes by placing his spirit into his staff as he hands it over. This allows him to evade passing, steer his son into doing his bidding and plot revenge against the University. But Death makes him place a loophole in his son's destiny to appease the laws of fate: there will be a chance to defeat Coin if he throws away his staff, a very unlikely course for a wizard.

Eight years later, Coin strides into the University and kills the new Archchancellor, Virrid Wayzygoose. When the wizards see Coin's power, they welcome him and accept him as their new archchancellor. Meanwhile, Rincewind, The Luggage and the Librarian flee the university. At the Mended Drum, they meet Conina, the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian who works as a thief. She has stolen the Archchancellor's Hat at its own request: it has become sentient after being worn by hundreds of the Disc's most powerful wizards. The hat warns them of the danger that Coin poses to the Disc, and instructs them to take to it Al Khali in Klatch, where there is someone worthy of wearing it.

Under Coin's leadership, the wizards take over Ankh-Morpork and begin planning to take over the Disc. Coin abolishes the rules, orders the library to be destroyed and sends them to attack other countries. Wars break out between wizards across the Disc. Rincewind, Conina and travel to Al Khali, which is ruled by Creosote, the current Seriph, and his treacherous vizier Abrim. Rincewind is thrown into a snake pit where he meets the barbarian wannabe hero Nijel the Destroyer, Conina is taken to Creosote's harem and the Luggage, spurned by Conina, goes rampaging in the desert after getting drunk.

A group of Ankh Morpork wizards arrive and attack Al Khali. The heavy presence of magic causes Rincewind to gain abilities of his own and he uses them to rescue himself and Nijel from the snake pit. They meet with Conina (who falls in love with Nijel) and Creosote. Abrim tries on the Archchancellor's Hat, hoping to gain improved abilities. Instead, the Hat possesses him. He is directed to enlist other wizards to fight the invaders and demolish the palace to build a wizard's tower. Rincewind, Conina, Nijel and Creosote escape on a magic carpet. After hearing Creosote complain about wizards, Rincewind angrily leaves, flying back to Ankh-Morpork on a magic carpet. Abrim is killed by the invading wizards after being distracted by the Luggage, and the Hat and tower are destroyed. Coin becomes powerful enough to challenge the Gods, trapping them in an alternative reality. This frees the Ice Giants, allowing them to invade the Disc and fulfil the prophecy of the Apocralypse.

Back at the University, Rincewind discovers the Librarian has hidden the Library books in the Tower of Art. The Librarian convinces him to confront the Sourcerer. Armed with only a half-brick in a sock, Rincewind confronts Coin. He is too powerless to fight, but he causes Coin to doubt his father's will. Coin tries to throw away his staff, causing a fight between the two in which they draw on all the magic they have brought into the world. Rincewind aids Coin, and the sourcerer succeeds, allowing Death to take Ipslore's soul from the staff.

The resulting magical explosion throws Rincewind and Coin into the Dungeon Dimensions and leaves a portal open to the Discworld, around which are clustered the monstrous "Things" who will soon be able to invade and consume the world. Rincewind distracts the Things so Coin can escape and restore the gods, to prevent the Apocralypse. The plan works, and Coin undoes all the damage he has done, but Rincewind is trapped as the portal closes, with the Luggage catching up just in time to leap through and follow its master. When Conina and Nijel arrive looking for Rincewind, Coin makes them forget about him so that they can live in peace. Realising he is too powerful for the Disc, he then steps into a dimension of his own creation.


Main Characters

Minor Characters




Sentient Species

Supernatural Entities


Things Mentioned


Terry Pratchett has stated that Sourcery will be the fifth Discworld novel to be adapted for Sky One, although he initially wanted to adapt Making Money. However, he thinks it may work better as a film and he can have fun with characters like Nijel the Destroyer. In the end Sky One did not adapt this.

Portions of the plot of Sourcery were used in the stage adaptation The Rince Cycle.


  • Did Spelter and Carding violate the Small Gods' Eve truce by attacking each other with Megrim's Accelerator and Brother Hushmaster's Potent Asp-Spray? Or did they carefully wait until after midnight before doing so?
  • Notice that near the end of the book, the daughter of the Mended Drum's owner tells Creosote the very story of Sourcery itself, a recursive reference. If, as some suspect, the History Monks were active in restoring things after the Sourcerer very nearly wrecked the fabric of Discworld space-time (a case may be made from cryptic references in later books) then it is fitting the only survival of the Sourcerer, in folk-memory, should be a fairy-tale. After all, people thought the story of the "Glass Clock of Bad Schuschein" was only a fairy tale – fitting, as the History Monks laboured long and hard that this should be so... we are told that most people, after the Sourcerer had passed, were left with faded, hazy, confused, dream-like memories of what might have happened. This is where fairy-tales begin...


First Edition Cover by Josh Kirby
Promotional Box
Book Proof
'Letterbox' Hardback
New American Library 1990, Cover by Thomas Kidd
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
Paperback ROC Publishing
US Cover 2000, 2013
Paperback 2012
Unseen Library Edition
Collectors Library Edition
Paperback 2022

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