|Publication date||May 1988|
|Main characters||Rincewind, The Luggage, Nijel the Destroyer, Coin, Conina|
|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.
- Abrim, the Grand Vizier of Al Khali
- Creosote, the Seriph of Al Khali
- Ipslore the Red
- Havelock Vetinari
- Virrid Wayzygoose
- Death and the temporarily Horse-less men of the Apocralypse:
- Skarmer Billias
- Gravie Derment, of the Sages of the Unknown Shadow
- Ice Giants
- Larry the Fox or perhaps Fezzy the Stoat
- Ovin Hakardly, a 7th level wizard who can speak punctuation
- Ardrothy Longstaff, seller of pork pies
- Miskin Koble, who runs a jellied starfish and clam stall, and is killed by a wizard he attempts to hit
- Benado Sconner, leader of a group of wizards who burn down the library. The text specifically informs us that his name is "not worth committing [...] to memory"
- Genie of the lamp of Creosote's grandfather, who is somewhat over-committed
- Blind Io
- Maligree, a sourcerer
- Gritoller Mimpsey, vice-president of the Thieves' Guild
- Cohen, Conina's father
- Hashishim, a group of mad killers named after the vast quantities of hashish they consumed
- Thugs, a nastier group of cut-throats
- Ly Tin Wheedle, arguably the Disc's greatest philosopher (at least, he always argued that he was)
- Carrack Mountains, overlooking the Sto Plains
- Cori Celesti, where the gods dwell, at the Hub
- Circle Sea
- Mount Gebra, a mountain where goats graze
- Quirm, which overlooks the Rim Ocean
- Maligree's Wonderful Garden
- Death & the Horsemen of the the Apocralypse
- Horrors from the Dungeon Dimensions
- The Gods
- Ice Giants
- Small Gods' Eve, on which it's considered extremely bad form to kill a brother wizard and Small Gods' Day, the next morning
- Year of the Hyena
- Soul Cake Tuesday (mentioned)
- Anima Unnaturale, a book written by Broomfog that describes many unusual animals
- Fullomyth, a mystical book with a lot of information
- Inne Juste 7 Dayes I wille make you a Barbearian Hero!
- Wellcome to Ankh-Morporke, Citie of One Thousand Surprises, a book published by the Ankh-Morpork Guild of Merchants
- Spells, things and concepts
- Archchancellor's Hat, worn on the head by the head of all wizards
- Apocralypse and Teatime of the Gods
- Ocean Waltzer, a ship that takes Rincewind and Conina to Klatch
- orakh, a powerful alcoholic beverage
- Klatchian Coffee, a powerful "anti-alcoholic" beverage that makes its drinkers knurd
- Triple Orcthrust with Extra Flip, a nifty sword manoeuvre that will impress your enemies right up until it leaves your sword stuck in the ceiling
- geas, an unusual kind of bird (also a kind of quest)
- Mage Wars
- the Lore, which rules all wizards, but not sourcerers
- Significant Quest, a game whose name parodies Trivial Pursuit
- Five Moons of Nasreem, an important mythological concept in Al Khali
- Seventeen Siderites of Sarudin, goddesses(?) by which genies can presumably be commanded
- Two Beards of Imtal, an important mythological concept in Al Khali
- Dungeon Dimensions
- racial memory, the concept that people are born with memories of their ancestors
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.
- 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...
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