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'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law' There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What 'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law' There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes; warlords are struggling for power - and what the nation wants, to avoid terrible doom for everyone, is a wizard. Rincewind is not the Disc’s premier wizard – in fact, he can’t even spell ‘wizard’ – but no-one specified whether competence was an issue. And they do have a very big stick… Mighty Battles! Revolution! Death! War! (And his sons Terror and Panic and daughter Clancy). Alternate cover edition for ISBN 9781407034966


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'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law' There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What 'A foot on the neck is nine points of the law' There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick. The oldest and most inscrutable (not to mention heavily fortified) empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes; warlords are struggling for power - and what the nation wants, to avoid terrible doom for everyone, is a wizard. Rincewind is not the Disc’s premier wizard – in fact, he can’t even spell ‘wizard’ – but no-one specified whether competence was an issue. And they do have a very big stick… Mighty Battles! Revolution! Death! War! (And his sons Terror and Panic and daughter Clancy). Alternate cover edition for ISBN 9781407034966

30 review for Interesting Times

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Alternative Asian history, Rincewind's average spin doctoring and political strategist skills, teleportation, Cohen the barbarian, again Rincewind as always unwittingly McGuffining around, (view spoiler)[ revolutions eating themselves in the good, oldfashioned style of immediately turning into tyrannies or already planning to do an evil rebranding while revolting (hide spoiler)] , Gods manipulating the fate of humankind, and jokes about stereotypical fighter archetypes make war fun. Uchronia and Alternative Asian history, Rincewind's average spin doctoring and political strategist skills, teleportation, Cohen the barbarian, again Rincewind as always unwittingly McGuffining around, (view spoiler)[ revolutions eating themselves in the good, oldfashioned style of immediately turning into tyrannies or already planning to do an evil rebranding while revolting (hide spoiler)] , Gods manipulating the fate of humankind, and jokes about stereotypical fighter archetypes make war fun. Uchronia and alternative history is big in this too, because China, just as many great empires before, had the chance of ruling the world, but preferred isolation. This can be seen in how respectfully Vetinari deals with the request, but also in real history with the sheer historical numbers of soldiers, military strategy, and technology, especially ships, gunpowder, and sheer quantity. Not to speak of potentially reaching most of the world by land, for instance, at this moment, extremely primitive and thereby vulnerable Europe or colonizing the Americas, but endless intern civil wars are costly. (view spoiler)[Shown by the contrast in the book, 1 million perfectly trained, disciplined Asians soldiers vs a hand full of primitive barbarians (hide spoiler)] Speaking of which, The Silver Horde is dealing with the danger of averaging in the military forces, an often hidden problem that can reduce the stability of well functioning dictatorships. It´s tricky for the poor despots, too many fit, young, but possibly revolting soldiers are as bad as geriatric armies, so it´s possibly the healthy mix to cement your nightmarish autocracy. But at least they haven´t lost their stupid, manly attitudes of fighting, killing, and most importantly, unsubstantiated hubris. Pratchett uses the mixture of megalomania, bad management, the immense deficits of ideologies, faiths, politics, economics, etc. a lot in his whole work by showing how potentially world dominating forces are self sabotaging by losing their connection to reality. Possibly it's an, by evolution, inbuilt seld destruction system to ensure that complex systems such as human societies don´t get too mighty and thereby monocultural, although this could have failed with Mcdonalisation, Disneyfication, general Americanisation, but let´s see what time will bring. I know, this running gag is getting lame, time to say bye bye to it, but I don´t know enough about Genghis Khan, Japanese and Chinese history, communism, if Rincewind has hidden elements of famous historical figures I don´t know, and if I am worthy or capable of adding more sophisticated literary analysis, but at least I can laugh about the bits and pieces I get and especially easier to spot puns and slapstick elements. Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph... This one is added to all Pratchettian reviews: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheibe... The idea of the dissected motifs rocks, highlighting the main real world inspirational elements of fiction and satire is something usually done with so called higher literature, but a much more interesting field in readable literature, as it offers the joy of reading, subtle criticism, and feeling smart all together.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Yun Fat Chow, David Carradine and Michelle Yeoh sit in an Italian pizza place in Queens and discuss Terry Pratchett’s 17th Discworld novel Interesting Times. Bruce Lee: Ok, first of all, David, why are you even here, you’re not Chinese. Carradine: Come on, you all know why, I played Kwai Chang Caine on King Fu in the 70s, don’t act like you don’t … Michelle: Anyhoo - Pratchett, pays homage to Asian culture through his counter continent Roman eclef, The Agatean Empire Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Yun Fat Chow, David Carradine and Michelle Yeoh sit in an Italian pizza place in Queens and discuss Terry Pratchett’s 17th Discworld novel Interesting Times. Bruce Lee: Ok, first of all, David, why are you even here, you’re not Chinese. Carradine: Come on, you all know why, I played Kwai Chang Caine on King Fu in the 70s, don’t act like you don’t … Michelle: Anyhoo - Pratchett, pays homage to Asian culture through his counter continent Roman eclef, The Agatean Empire, which is just China on the Discworld. Jackie: But did he really pay homage and respect? I think he could have been making fun of us. Yun Fat Chow: I thought that too, our great culture is seen as bureaucratic, myopic and superficial. Compared to Anhk – Morpork, which is practical and highly functional. Jet Li: Yes, but this was really a vehicle whereby Rincewind can be seen as a greater hero figure, leading up to The Last Hero a few years later, he and Cohen the Barbarian are the clear protagonists here, and China and the Discworld Agatean Empire are just a literary foil. Michelle: Lord Hong was a very effective antagonist, even if a caricature of Asian imperialism and hauteur. Jet Li: Yes, I did like Pratchett’s description of Hong and I also like that one of the great families was the McSweeneys, that was hilarious. Carradine: See? The McSweeneys was an indirect allusion to my portrayal. Bruce Lee: No. No, it wasn’t, it was just Pratchett being funny. Nothing about you at all. Carradine: You seem very sure, you answered very fast, you sure? Michelle: Stop it, both of you. We also got to visit the wizards and the luggage and Death and this was just more Discworld magic and fun. Pratchett (arriving late): Who wants to blow this pasta stand and go get some tacos?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5), Terry Pratchett Interesting Times is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the seventeenth book in the Discworld series, set in the Aurient (a fictional analogue of the Orient). Two gods, Fate and the Lady, oppose each other in a game over the outcome of the struggle for the throne of the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a demand that the "Great Wizzard" be sent to the distant Agatean Interesting Times (Discworld, #17; Rincewind #5), Terry Pratchett Interesting Times is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the seventeenth book in the Discworld series, set in the Aurient (a fictional analogue of the Orient). Two gods, Fate and the Lady, oppose each other in a game over the outcome of the struggle for the throne of the Agatean Empire on the Counterweight Continent. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a demand that the "Great Wizzard" be sent to the distant Agatean Empire, and he orders Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully of Unseen University to comply. As the spelling, "Wizzard," matches that on Rincewind's hat, the faculty decide to send him. Using the machine Hex, which has seemingly been augmenting its own infrastructure, they teleport him to the University from a desert island where he has been living since the events of Eric. They offer him the right to call himself a Wizard, which he never actually earned, if he will let them send him to Agatea; he agrees. Teleportation requires an exchange of mass, and they end up exchanging him with a very heavy live cannon (which they extinguish upon its arrival); this results in Rincewind arriving in Agatea at a very high speed, but he lands safely in a snowbank. As is typical for Rincewind, his dedicated efforts to run from any kind of danger quickly embroil him in momentous events, and coincidence makes it appear on several occasions that Rincewind is responsible for significant feats of magic. He encounters his friend Cohen the Barbarian, now accompanied by a "Silver Horde" of elderly warriors, who is planning to infiltrate the Empire and live a luxurious retirement by taking over as Emperor. Rincewind eventually learns that the first Agatean Emperor supposedly conquered the land with the assistance of a "Great Wizard" and a "Red Army." Now, a new "Red Army" movement of young people, dedicated mainly to the promulgation of mildly worded slogans, has been inspired by a supposed revolutionary tract, which turns out to be a travelogue of Ankh-Morpork written by Rincewind's erstwhile traveling companion, Twoflower, whom Rincewind ends up freeing from a dungeon and whose two daughters are leaders of the Red Army. It turns out that the villainous Grand Vizier, Lord Hong, has made the harmless Red Army appear to be a threat to the Empire and had Rincewind brought to Agatea so that he could blame the problems on foreigners, then put the "revolution" down violently and turn to the conquest of Ankh-Morpork, whose culture he secretly seeks to emulate. But when Hong murders the Emperor with the intention of framing the Red Army, it inadvertently creates the opportunity needed by the Silver Horde, who have infiltrated the palace. Cohen and Ronald Saveloy, a member of the Horde who is a retired schoolteacher, had hoped to conquer the Empire by simply installing Cohen as Emperor, since almost nobody has ever seen the Emperor's face. But Lord Hong leads four other lords who had been vying against him for the throne to rally their armies against the Horde, to the chagrin of Saveloy who had been trying to civilize the barbarians. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و یکم ماه آوریل 2020میلادی عنوان: دیسک ورلد (جهان صفحه) کتاب هفدهم: اوقات جالب؛ نویسنده تری پرچت؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 21م دیسک ورلد (جهان صفحه)، یک سری از کتابهای فانتزی هستند، که روانشاد «تری پرچت»، نویسنده ی «انگلیسی»، نگاشته ‌اند؛ داستان‌های این سری در جهانی با نام «دیسک‌ ورلد (جهان صفحه)» می‌گذرند؛ که صفحه‌ ای تخت است، و بر شانه‌ های چهار فیل، با هیکلهای بزرگ، قرار دارد؛ این فیل‌ها نیز، به نوبه ی خود، بر روی پشت یک لاک‌پشت غول‌آسا، با نام «آتوئین بزرگ» قرار دارند؛ در این سری از کتابها، بارها از سوژه های کتاب‌های نویسندگانی همچون «جی.آر.آر تالکین»، «رابرت هاوارد»، «اچ پی لاوکرافت» و «ویلیام شکسپیر» به گونه ای خنده دار، استفاده شده ‌است؛ از سری «دیسک ‌ورلد» بیشتر از هشتاد میلیون نسخه، در سی و هفت زبان، به فروش رفته‌ است؛ این سری در برگیرنده ی بیش از چهل رمان (تاکنون چهل و یک رمان)، یازده داستان کوتاه، چهار کتاب علمی، و چندین کتاب مرجع، و مکمل است؛ از این سری، چندین رمان تصویری، بازی کامپیوتری، نمایش تئاتر، سریالهای تلویزیونی اقتباس شده ‌است؛ روزنامه ی «ساندی تایمز» چاپ «انگلستان» از این سری به عنوان یکی از پرفروش‌ترین سری کتاب‌ها نام برده، و «تری پرچت» را، به عنوان پرفروش‌ترین نویسنده ی «انگلستان»، در دهه ی نود میلادی دانسته است؛ رمان‌های «دیسک‌ورلد» جوایز بسیاری از جمله جایزه «پرومتئوس»، و مدال ادبی «کارنگی» را، از آن خود کرده ‌اند؛ در نظرسنجی «بیگ رید»، که «بی‌بی‌سی» در سال 2003میلادی، در «انگلستان» انجام داد، چهار رمان سری «دیسک‌ورلد»؛ در فهرست یکصد کتاب برتر قرار گرفتند؛ همچنین مردمان «انگلیس»، در این نظرسنجی، چهارده رمان «دیسک‌ورلد» را، در شمار دویست کتاب برتر، دانستند؛ تا کنون، از این سری، چهل و یک رمان، به چاپ رسیده است؛ «تری پرچت» که پیش از درگذشتش؛ در ابتدای سال 2015میلادی، از بیماری «آلزایمر» رنج می‌بردند، اعلام کردند که خوشحال می‌شوند که دخترشان، «ریانا پرچت»، به جای ایشان، به ادامه ی این سری بپردازند؛ تا جلد بیست و ششم رمان این سری، رمان «دزد زمان (2001میلادی)» به دست «جاش کربی»، به تصویر کشیده شده ‌اند، اما نسخه ‌های «آمریکایی»، که انتشارات «هارپرکالینز» آن‌ها را، منتشر کرده، دارای تصاویر روی جلد دیگرگونه ای هستند؛ پس از درگذشت «جاش کربی»، در سال 2001میلادی، نقاشی‌های روی جلد کتاب‌های بعدی این سری، بدست «پائول کربی» کشیده‌ شدند کتابهای اول و دوم: «رنگ جادو»؛ کتاب سوم: «زنان جادوگر»؛ کتاب چهارم: «مرگ»؛ کتاب پنجم: «سورسری (برگردان فارسی جادوی مرجع)»؛ کتاب ششم: «خواهران ویرد»؛ کتاب هفتم: «هرم ها»؛ کتاب هشتم: «نگهبانان! نگهبانان»؛ کتاب نهم: «اریک»؛ کتاب دهم: «تصاویر متحرک»؛ کتاب یازدهم: «مرد دروگر»؛ کتاب دوازدهم: «جادوگران خارج»؛ کتاب سیزدهم: «ایزدان خرد (خدایان کوچک)»؛ کتاب چهاردهم: «لردها و بانوان»؛ کتاب پانزدهم: «مردان مسلح»؛ کتاب شانزدهم: «موسیقی روح»؛ کتاب هفدهم: «اوقات جالب»؛ کتاب هجدهم: «ماسکراد»؛ کتاب نوزدهم: «پاهای خشت (فیت آو کلی)»؛ کتاب بیستم: «هاگفادر»؛ کتاب بیست و یکم: «جینگو»؛ کتاب بیست و دوم: «آخرین قاره»؛ کتاب بیست و سوم: «کارپه جوگلوم»؛ کتاب بیست و چهارم: «فیل پنجم»؛ کتاب بیست و پنجم: «حقیقت»؛ کتاب بیست و ششم: «دزد زمان»؛ کتاب بیست و هفتم: «آخرین قهرمان»؛ کتاب بیست و هشتم: «ماوریس شگفت‌انگیز و موش‌های آموزش‌دیده‌اش»؛ کتاب بیست و نهم: «ساعت شب»؛ کتاب سی ام: «مردان آزاد وی»؛ کتاب سی و یکم: «هنگ بزرگ»؛ کتاب سی و دوم: «کلاهی پُر از آسمان»؛ کتاب سی و سوم: «گوینگ پوستال»؛ کتاب سی و چهارم: «تود!»؛ کتاب سی و پنجم: «وینتراسمیت»؛ کتاب سی و ششم: «بدست آوردن پول»؛ کتاب سی و هفتم: «دانشگاهی‌های نادیدنی»؛ کتاب سی و هشتم: «نیمه‌شب بایست بپوشم»؛ کتاب سی و نهم: «اسنوف»؛ کتاب چهلم: «بالا آمدن مه»؛ کتاب چهل و یکم: «تاج چوپان»؛ کتاب هفدهم اوقات جالب: مخالفت دو خدا سرنوشت و بانو، در یک بازی بر سر نتیجه مبارزه برای تاج و تخت امپراتوری «آگاتا»؛ تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 19/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Interesting Times or, When Cohen Established that Dynasty That Time or, Rincewind Gets a New Suit. I really enjoyed this Pratchett, being one of the few people who actually think that Rincewind is a likable anti-hero, or rather, a good runner. But sometimes even good runners get caught in the affairs of Wizzards and revolution. Okay, maybe it's Wizards and if I count him, it's only Wizzard, but you get the idea. :) Welcome to China-ish, buddy! The Emperor would like to meet you. Or chop off your legs Interesting Times or, When Cohen Established that Dynasty That Time or, Rincewind Gets a New Suit. I really enjoyed this Pratchett, being one of the few people who actually think that Rincewind is a likable anti-hero, or rather, a good runner. But sometimes even good runners get caught in the affairs of Wizzards and revolution. Okay, maybe it's Wizards and if I count him, it's only Wizzard, but you get the idea. :) Welcome to China-ish, buddy! The Emperor would like to meet you. Or chop off your legs so you can more easily search for that head that you just lost. Classic Pratchett. And a welcome change from Ankh-Morpork. :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Fab fun, and more tomorrow So for once it really is tomorrow. Where to start with this book, many other people have mentioned it is a parody of China during the days of the warring Empire, blind obedience and huge multi layer civil service running the show. Add into Sir Terry's wonderful parody, a wizard that cannot do any spell and never actually passed any exam at the unseen university in Ankh Morpork, a bunch of geriatric Hero barbarians (accompanied by an ex teacher trying to civilise the bar Fab fun, and more tomorrow So for once it really is tomorrow. Where to start with this book, many other people have mentioned it is a parody of China during the days of the warring Empire, blind obedience and huge multi layer civil service running the show. Add into Sir Terry's wonderful parody, a wizard that cannot do any spell and never actually passed any exam at the unseen university in Ankh Morpork, a bunch of geriatric Hero barbarians (accompanied by an ex teacher trying to civilise the barbarians), the luggage, that has returned home and decides to (view spoiler)[ hunt for a luggage girlfriend (hide spoiler)] , and the welcome return or re-appearance of Two Flower. Add into the mix a brief appearance from the Wizards from UU and Lord Vetinari, DEATH, The Gods, War, Terror, Panic and Clancy 😊 and you have a recipe for an amazing novel, and this is certainly one of those. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions and one evening whilst reading it I had to re-read it to my wife, and I was literally crying with laughter, tears running down my face as I read out half a page of humorous, genius, magic literature. 5 stars without a doubt

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    I'm going to just say right off the bat that the Rincewind novels are not my favorite. I realize that it is Discworld blasphemy, but hear me out. Out of the entire Discworld main character cast, Rincewind makes the fewest decisions and has no desires other than to flee from trouble. As sort of a Forrest Gump/Scooby Doo hybrid (Forrest Doo? Scooby Gump?), his misadventures consist of finding himself in trouble, trying to escape, and then lucking out in some grand fashion. While it makes for good I'm going to just say right off the bat that the Rincewind novels are not my favorite. I realize that it is Discworld blasphemy, but hear me out. Out of the entire Discworld main character cast, Rincewind makes the fewest decisions and has no desires other than to flee from trouble. As sort of a Forrest Gump/Scooby Doo hybrid (Forrest Doo? Scooby Gump?), his misadventures consist of finding himself in trouble, trying to escape, and then lucking out in some grand fashion. While it makes for good entertainment, I respond better to characters who actually try to tackle problems, whether it be through scheming (Vetinari), trickery (the witches), or just good old-fashioned detective work (the City Watch). That being said, the highlights: -- The dialogue. Once again, Pratchett employs rapid fire exchanges to great effect, and his characterization is so solid that formally acknowledging who said what is not necessary. You can see this primarily in the dialogue between the Unseen University faculty and also the Silver Horde (Whut?). -- The jokes. As is typical, there is no shortage of puns, jokes, and cultural references here, from the multiple meanings of Auriental words to several different running gags [urinating dog]. -- Ankh Morpork vs. the Agatean Empire. While not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, there are several passages that draw astute comparisons between life in Ankh Morpork and the Empire, ranging from peasant life vs. the ruling elite to the concept of fiat currency. These illustrate that Discworld is more than just trite satire--it provides a commentary on our own history and society. Also of note -- It's very strange that I've read two consecutive books that make a reference to the Naglfar, a boat made from the fingernails and toenails of the dead, from Norse mythology.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    It all starts with the gods playing another game. Because Fate always wins - at least if the other players adhere to the rules. Which his new opponent doesn't. Resulting in a very interesting butterfly effect. ;) In this 17th Discworld novel Rincewind is returned to Unseen University and makes a deal with Ridcully to go to Discworld's oldest Empire to help them with their current revolution in exchange for being allowed to come back for good and being called a wizzard wizard. Due to the fact that It all starts with the gods playing another game. Because Fate always wins - at least if the other players adhere to the rules. Which his new opponent doesn't. Resulting in a very interesting butterfly effect. ;) In this 17th Discworld novel Rincewind is returned to Unseen University and makes a deal with Ridcully to go to Discworld's oldest Empire to help them with their current revolution in exchange for being allowed to come back for good and being called a wizzard wizard. Due to the fact that the old Emperor is about to die, the struggle to determine his successor was about to begin, but there were also workers uniting after reading What I did on My Holidays. This was a marvellous way of coming full circle with the first two ever novels in this series. In fact, it was so nicely done I almost cried. As those following my reviews know, I'm not too big a fan of the wizzard and still think he needs a strong supporting cast in order for books with him to be compelling. Fortunately, he had just that in this novel in form of good old Conan the Barbarian and his barbarian horde. Conan, Teach and the other barbarians were marvellous. From the way the horde was trying to have another gloriously volatile and blood-spattering adventure (almost guaranteed considering that the Empire has ninjas and samurai!) to them wanting to learn to be "civilized" in order to adapt to the "modern times" (which is where Teach came in), not to mention Teach's origin story and why he thought he'd fit in nicely with Conan and his bunch ((view spoiler)[I happen to agree that being a teacher often prepares you for the most gruesome warfare *lol* (hide spoiler)] ) - it was all hilarious and wonderful. Just like all their raunchy jokes. In this volume, therefore, we get an Asian empire (part Chinese, part Japanese, which was quite a surprise since there was a certain way I had always pictured Twoflower - probably because of the movie), themes such as oppression, slavery even, revolutions and sacrifices, diplomacy and "civilized ways". As mentioned in this book's blurb, "There are many who say that the art of diplomacy is an intricate and complex dance. There are others who maintain that it's merely a matter of who carries the biggest stick." Whenever I read a Discworld novel, it is like putting on my favourite piece of clothing. I feel cozy, warm and at home at once no matter where the respective volume takes us (not least also because of Nigel Planer always narrating the stories greatly and him being a constant by now). Pratchett's distinct way of combining dark humour, unique characters, sharp social commentary / criticism with a fast-moving adventurous plot is simply marvellous. So while this will never be one of my favourite volumes, I enjoyed every minute of it. One example: (view spoiler)[The concept of walls and things we accept as given and "normal". To most people, like the barbarians, walls are solid so you have doors to enter and exit rooms. But suddenly they are in a place where the walls are made of paper. At least one of them struggles with the concept of simply walking through walls because "one doesn't do that". (hide spoiler)] Interesting spin on human psychology and thinking outside the box (or, rather, inside it). P.S.: Is it possible that Gaiman took the name of one of the Empire's families for one of his characters in American Gods??? P.P.S.: The funniest expression here: "homeopathic warfare": BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! P.P.P.S.: More Luggage(s)!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stefanie

    The problem with Rincewind books is that I really like Rincewind, and Rincewind books tend to have more problematic elements than the other Discworld books, and also the most recycled. This is the worst culprit of Pratchett's rather casual racism (and also the overuse (see: any use at all) of rape jokes--what was with that?). So I really struggled with whether to give this two or three stars. I felt if I gave it two stars, it would indicate that I didn't like this book at all. Which isn't true! The problem with Rincewind books is that I really like Rincewind, and Rincewind books tend to have more problematic elements than the other Discworld books, and also the most recycled. This is the worst culprit of Pratchett's rather casual racism (and also the overuse (see: any use at all) of rape jokes--what was with that?). So I really struggled with whether to give this two or three stars. I felt if I gave it two stars, it would indicate that I didn't like this book at all. Which isn't true! There were lots of great things about this book, except it was tainted by the pervasive use of Asian stereotyping and the rehashing of the typical Rincewind plot. So I added the extra star because of a return of an old character I really liked, the development of that character, and a few new ones (mainly Pretty Butterfly). So really this is a 2.75 rating (that just feels right, I know I know) rather than a 3. But it is my least favorite of the series so far.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gehayi

    SPOILERS BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Okay. I'm going to have to say something controversial here. This book is downright horrible. I realize that's practically blasphemy, since it was written by Terry Pratchett (whose work I generally love). I know that Pratchett was a satirist. I am aware that it was spoofing books like James Clavell's Asian Saga (Shogun, Noble House, King Rat, etc.), in which a white guy handles Asia better than the Asians and ends up in charge. I remember Clavell's books and t SPOILERS BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Okay. I'm going to have to say something controversial here. This book is downright horrible. I realize that's practically blasphemy, since it was written by Terry Pratchett (whose work I generally love). I know that Pratchett was a satirist. I am aware that it was spoofing books like James Clavell's Asian Saga (Shogun, Noble House, King Rat, etc.), in which a white guy handles Asia better than the Asians and ends up in charge. I remember Clavell's books and the miniseries made from them. I realize what Pratchett was going for. But Interesting Times just isn't funny--unless you like jokes about rape; jokes about paralysis and deafness; jokes involving ageism; fat jokes ("ARRGH!" = "your wife is a big hippo"--why not make it "your hat is a big hippo"? It would be even sillier!) China and Japan being smooshed together in a fantasy conglomerate (the cultures aren't the same! Seriously, Pratchett, you couldn't just pick one?); scenes in which the tonal quality of Asian languages is mocked; scenes in which freed Agatean captives call an old white man "Master" (because THAT doesn't have any invidious connotations); young people who want a revolution but who are trying to be polite about it are derided as useless and are shown to be in need of a Mighty Whitey who can teach those Agateans how to rebel; revolutionary slogans are treated as roughly as meaningful as advertising slogans; the very style of writing in Agatea (pictograms) is treated as inefficient and a waste of time (and lets not even get into the running gag of "picture of a dog pissing = exclamation point"); the antagonist has a severe boner for all things Ankh-Morporkian and despises his own people--both of which are treated as correct opinions; the Agateans do not end up ruling themselves--instead (spoilers) an old white barbarian does, and it's implied that this will be much better for Agatea; on and on and on, stereotype after stereotype. Kite fighting, tea ceremonies, the names of Twoflower's daughters (Pretty Butterfly and Lotus Blossom), the homophone "Auriental" (punning on a word that a lot of people of Asian heritage consider offensive)...it never stops. And most of this is not being filtered through characters. The narrative, which is filled with Orientalism, states it as fact. To quote Reappropriate.co: "In Orientalism, Asia is not defined by what Asia is; rather, Asia becomes an “Otherized” fiction of everything the West is not, and one that primarily serves to reinforce the West’s own moral conception of itself...Orientalism purports to be a faithful recreation of Eastern traditions and peoples, but actually draws upon real practices and traditions to create an Eastern construct that is largely exaggeration and myth." And that's pretty much what we've got here. I've read this book in the past and, while it was never one of my favorites--I am not a Rincewind fan--I somehow managed to miss all of the problems. I liked the golem army. I liked Ronald Saveloy getting carried off to Valhalla. But this time? I flinched at every stereotype, every mocking word. I felt ashamed that I was reading the book at all. And this is Pratchett, Pratchett, who gets praised for being so perceptive and for humanizing people. I was appalled. I expected Pratchett to satirize bigotry and ignorance and to show how both can be damaging. Not this. I do believe that Pratchett did better in other books, and that he will be remembered for those works. But this is going to be a blot on his record...a book that scholars will be eager to ignore.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Algernon (Darth Anyan)

    [7/10] "May you live in interesting times!" is a long established curse on the Counterweight Continent of the Discworld. The Agatean Empire is just heading this way as its aging, demented Emperor is about to die and five noble families who have fought one another for centuries: The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys ( very old established family) and the Fangs gather their armies around the capital city of HungHung in preparation of the war of succession. High above them in the clouds [7/10] "May you live in interesting times!" is a long established curse on the Counterweight Continent of the Discworld. The Agatean Empire is just heading this way as its aging, demented Emperor is about to die and five noble families who have fought one another for centuries: The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys ( very old established family) and the Fangs gather their armies around the capital city of HungHung in preparation of the war of succession. High above them in the clouds around Hub, the Gods are having a betting game on the outcome, with Fate and Luck throwing the dices. The outcome may turn on the reluctant actions of a Great Wizard from ancient history, one that is prophesized to return and awaken the Red Army of the first Agatean Emperor. A Great Wizard, or a great 'wizzard' ? Now, who on the Discworld is liable to mispell his job description? Adventure! People talked about the idea as if it was something worthwhile, rather than a mess of bad food, no sleep, and strange people inexplicably trying to stick pointed objects in bits of you. Rincewind would have none of this adventure business, preferring to remain on the isolated, deserted tropical island where he landed at the end of his last adventure ("Eric"). Not even naked Amazons in search of bed mates could tempt him. I wonder what is the connection in Rincewind's mind between hot babes and mashed potatoes? He really craved dullness. He'd really liked his island. He'd enjoyed Coconut Surprise. You cracked it open and, hey, there was coconut inside. That was the kind of surprise he liked. Unfortunatelly for Rincewind, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, and the Arch-Chancellor of the Unseen University, Mustrum Ridcully, decide it is in the interest of international relations to send the great 'wizzard' on a mission to the Agatean Empire. With the help of Hex (Hal's deranged AI cousin built with ants and magick by young wizard Ponder Stibbons) Rincewind is teleported to the other side of the Discworld and right in the middle of 'interesting times'. >><<>><<>><<>><< Rincewind is probably my least favorite lead character in the Discworld universe. He is a bit of a one-trick pony : a coward who in trying to run away from trouble lands in even deeper s__t, yet manages to save the day by pulling the wrong lever or knocking down the evil overlord just as tries to pull the plug on the world. After reading mostly later issues of the series, it was a bit of a shock to go back to the silly jokes, easy puns and pratfalls that marked the early episodes. The line ""Your wife is a big hippo!" is repeated about twenty times in the text. Please don't get me wrong : even on an off day, Pratchett is still one of the funniest men ever to put pen to paper, but I got used to the more subtle and more far reaching satire of his later novels, not to mention the passion over thorny issues and the deep humanism that characterizes the lead characters of these episodes - Sam vimes, Tiffany Aching, Moist von Lipwig. With Rincewind doing what he does best (being a coward and running away from trouble: "Luck is my middle name," said Rincewind, indistinctly. "Mind you, my first name is Bad." ), the novel is saved by another recurrent character, one that makes the times 'interesting' whenever he shows up : This is Ghenghiz Cohen. Doer of mighty deeds. Slayer of dragons. Ravager of cities. He once bought an apple. Cohen the Barbarian is a hilarious parody of every mighty-thewed barbarian that has infested the sword & sorcery genre since Robert E Howard. Cohen has his own plans for retirement from the heroing business and he is keen on a last heist in the Forbidden City of HungHung, residence of the ailing Agatean emperor. To help him overcome the forty thousand strong garrison of the citadel, not to mention the five hundred thousand strong armies of the five lords (The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys and the Fangs ) surrounding the city, Cohen has put together the Silver Horde - Discworld's answer to the Magnificent Seven francise. The silver in the Horde's title comes from the white hairs of its geriatric heroes - Boy Willie, Mad Hamish ( "Whut? Whut? Whutzeesayin'?" being the whole range of his conversational skills), Truckle the Uncivil, Caleb the Ripper, Old Vincent, Teach. The last one being the brains of the outfit, a former teacher named Ronald Saveloy, who is trying to instill in the Horde some rudiments of civilized behaviour, since your regular barbarian needs brawns not brains. Self-doubt was not something regularly entertained within the Cohen cranium. When you're trying to carry a struggling temple maiden and a sack of looted temple goods in one hand and fight off half a dozen angry priests with the other there is there is little time for reflection. Natural selection saw to it that professional heroes who at a crucial moment tended to ask themselves questions like "What is my purpose in life?" very quickly lacked both. The plot is 'interesting' with a lot of plots and twists and surprises, some of them scary, some quite spectacular and funny. The satire part was weaker than usual, with the attempt to use China as a source of inspiration illustrating certain post-colonial insensivities and patronizing atitudes toward the culture - calling its ancient traditions a stale society ready to be plucked by the enterprising adventurer/merchant and launching a lot of barbed arrows at the revolutionary Red Army and its leftist beliefs. The lack of political subtlety is compensated though by the fun of coming across old friends, sometimes in new disguises. 'Disembowel-Meself-Honorably' Dibhala is the Counterweight doppelganger of the infamous Ankh-Morpork street seller 'Cut-Me-Own-Throat' Dibbler. Here are a few cameos from these old friends: It was a beautiful afternoon. Lord Vetinari was sitting in the palace gardens, watching the butterflies with an expression of mild annoyance. He found something very slightly offensive about the way they just fluttered around enjoying themselves in an unprofitable way. - - - - Well, we are wizards. We're supposed to meddle with things we don't understand. If we hung around waitin' till we understood things we'd never get anything done. [Mustrum Ridcully] - - - - Ook! - - - - "How about Organdy Sloggo? Still going strong down in Howondaland, last I heard." "Dead. Metal poisoning." "How?" "Three swords through the stomach." "Slasher Mungo?" "Presumed dead in Skund." "Presumed?" "Well, they only found his head." [Cohen and the Silver Horde discussing old acquaintances in the hero business] I saved a last quote from Ridcully as an example that even the least favorite characters have a chance to shine and to embrace the wider humanist worldview of the author : "Don't go around believing that Great Wizards solve all your problems, because there aren't any and they don't and I should know because I'm not one!" >><<>><<>><<>><< Recommended for fans of the Discworld and series completists.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    The 17th Discworld novel sees incompetent wizard Rincewind (in his fifth outing) is sent to the Agatean Empire, clearly a satire on imperial China. Whilst their he finds himself in various crisis during a political uprising. I do have a fondness for Rincewind as I opted to read in publication order so Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were by first two Discworld stories. With throwbacks to them stories it made me realise how little the wizard has featured since the earlier books. Whilst this i The 17th Discworld novel sees incompetent wizard Rincewind (in his fifth outing) is sent to the Agatean Empire, clearly a satire on imperial China. Whilst their he finds himself in various crisis during a political uprising. I do have a fondness for Rincewind as I opted to read in publication order so Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were by first two Discworld stories. With throwbacks to them stories it made me realise how little the wizard has featured since the earlier books. Whilst this instalment had plenty of humorous moments there's a danger of being offensive towards another culture, unfortunately many of the stereotypes haven't aged well - especially the white saviour trope. Maybe Prachett was going for how China is handled in fantasy or trying to converge the silliness of the earlier books with more pressing topics that had started to feature as the series progressed. One thing thats quite telling is that Rincewind pretty much takes a backseat from this point on. There's still plenty of good moments and any Prachett is still an enjoyable read including the trusty hilarious footnotes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Rincewind in China 22 August 2015 When my friend leant me this book he simply said 'Rincewind' at which I rolled my eyes. I must say that Rincewind is certainly not my favourite Discworld character, even though some of the books in which he has starred have been quite good. However I wasn't really expecting anything all that much to come from this book, even though it is one of the Discworld novels and I am slowly making my way through each of them (and it was also a bit of a time out from some o Rincewind in China 22 August 2015 When my friend leant me this book he simply said 'Rincewind' at which I rolled my eyes. I must say that Rincewind is certainly not my favourite Discworld character, even though some of the books in which he has starred have been quite good. However I wasn't really expecting anything all that much to come from this book, even though it is one of the Discworld novels and I am slowly making my way through each of them (and it was also a bit of a time out from some of the heavier novels that I have read). It turned out that it was a good thing that I didn't expect all that much from this book because if you aren't expecting all that much then it is really easy to exceed those expectations. In fact I really enjoyed this book, and even Rincewind was quite cool, especially when you appreciate the nature of his character (namely that his main rule of survival is to run away as fast as possible, and that a boring life is a good life because a boring life means that your lifespan is inevitably going to be much longer). This time Pratchett takes us to China, or at least Discworld's equivalent of China – the Agatean Empire. This was a little odd because with the first book the suggestion was that the Agatean Empire was in fact Japan (in which Pratchett was poking fun at the stereotypical Japanese Tourist – Twoflower). However, it now turns out that it is China and that people weren't supposed to actually leave the country and visit the world on the other side of the wall. In fact the powers that be discourage that simply by telling everybody that there is nothing behind the wall except demons and ghosts. Thus therein lies the problem. Not only did Twoflower leave but when he returned he wrote a book called 'What I did on my Holidays'. Sure, it sound's like some primary school essay, but I am sure that primary school essays have managed to morph themselves into revolutionary documents. Actually, there have been countless numbers of books that have morphed themselves into revolutionary documents, despite the author having no intention beyond simply writing a fascinating story. The other issue is that the emperor is dying, which means that there is an opening for a new emperor. Sure, the Emperor should have an heir, but that doesn't seem to be the case here, and even if he did having an heir does not necessarily mean that that heir is going to become emperor, namely because there is some other guy who wants that title – Lord Hong. As one can expect from a farcical comedy, nothing seems to go right for poor Hong. Sure, he manages to kill the emperor, but before he can take the title as his own he suddenly discovers that somebody has beaten him to the punch – Cohen the Barbarian, or as we find out – Genghiz Cohen. If there is one thing that I absolutely loved about this book it has to be the Silver Horde (which is a play on the Golden Horde, otherwise known as the Mongals). Here we have a handful of old men, who happen to be barbarians, sneaking into the city to steal the throne of the empire. Sure, most people expect old men to be weak and frail, but that would be a huge mistake when approaching the Silver Horde. In fact at one point the end up beating up a room full of ninja. I also quite liked the idea of the wall. We all think that the Great Wall of China was built to keep the Mongal Hordes out (and good job it did to – NOT), however Pratchett suggests that that is not the case – it is designed to keep the people inside. We can't have plebs leaving the country, learning new ideas, such as rebellion, and then bringing it back and corrupting people – they've already had a problem with one person doing that. Anyway, as Cohen says, how is a wall going to stop a horde of barbarians? They ain't going to get there, see the wall, and decide that it is all too hard and go home again. No, they are going to take wood from all the trees lying around and then build ladders so they can climb over it. This whole thing about keeping the people in made me think about China back when it was written. Back then you hardly had any Chinese travelling abroad – these days you have heaps. I was sort of wandering whether Pratchett was having a dig at some of these closed countries, though prior to the 19th Century China was a pretty closed country and many of the peasants were intentionally kept ignorant so as not to upset the balance (apparently the Chinese Script was invented to make it really hard for the general populace to become literate). Still, I'm not sure if you are meant to think too deeply with a Terry Pratchett book (though then again it is satire, so I am probably wrong), but then again it is something that I do enjoy doing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    One of the worst curses you can fling at a Discworld character is “May you live in interesting times,” hence the title of the book. But aside from it’s promising title, the 17th Discworld book was a bit of a letdown after the fitting soulful musings of Soul Music, but it almost made up for it in sheer volume of jokes and witticisms alone. I wanted to quote something practically every other page. The perfect Discworld book is funny, biting, and deep-hitting. This one was mostly just amusing, altho One of the worst curses you can fling at a Discworld character is “May you live in interesting times,” hence the title of the book. But aside from it’s promising title, the 17th Discworld book was a bit of a letdown after the fitting soulful musings of Soul Music, but it almost made up for it in sheer volume of jokes and witticisms alone. I wanted to quote something practically every other page. The perfect Discworld book is funny, biting, and deep-hitting. This one was mostly just amusing, although it did have some in-world continuity to fall back on that gave it a little extra oomph. Although it can be read on its own, Interesting Times is a Rincewind book, and in many ways it’s actually a direct sequel to the very first Discworld books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. We first met Rincewind and the flat disc of a world he lives on (carried around space by four giant elephants perched on the back of an even more giant turtle) when he is shanghaied into playing guide to a hapless tourist named Twoflower from the faraway Counterweight Continent. The two of them have many ridiculous adventures together, which mostly consist of Twoflower being delighted by everything, including and most especially when his life is in danger, and Rincewind being inept and terrified by it all, but somehow stumbling through and saving the day anyway. Interesting Times turns the tables and finds Rincewind an unexpected tourist on the Counterweight Continent, only it seems he’s been called there because Revolution is brewing, and Twoflower’s tales of his adventures in Ankh-Morpork and beyond (which he wrote up and titled “What I Did on My Summer Holidays”) have lent him the moniker The Great Wizard. The people want him to help them overthrow their cruel Empire, a task for which he is monumentally unfit. There’s also some stuff with The Luggage and a group of old, old men (like, SERIOUSLY old) led by Cohen the Barbarian who are also in the country to do nefarious things to the Empire. The joke with them is mostly that they’re so old you’d think they’d be incompetent but they are still the most deadly people in the room, even the one in the wheel chair, and there’s this whole thing about them trying to learn to be “civilized.” It mostly all works. The ending felt a little too coincidental for me, and again, it was mostly all surface level humor (although still very funny), so it’s definitely not one of my favorites in this series, but still a good read. What this book lacks in plotting and such it makes up for in enthusiasm and jokes about really old mangy men. [3.5 stars]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Part of the Pratchett reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2018. Rincewind gets recruited by Mustrum Ridcully and the faculty of Unseen University to go to the Counterweight Continent and the country of the Agatean Empire, Discworld's version of China (with quite a few Japanese bits). The Agatean Empire is experiencing a period of unrest with the Emperor about to die and the county's warlords gathering to determine who the next Emperor will be. There is, of course, a Grand Vizier called Part of the Pratchett reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2018. Rincewind gets recruited by Mustrum Ridcully and the faculty of Unseen University to go to the Counterweight Continent and the country of the Agatean Empire, Discworld's version of China (with quite a few Japanese bits). The Agatean Empire is experiencing a period of unrest with the Emperor about to die and the county's warlords gathering to determine who the next Emperor will be. There is, of course, a Grand Vizier called Lord Hong, who's up to his neck in plotting. There's also the Red Army, a group of rebels inspired by the book "What I Did On My Holidays" whose unknown author refers to events in far-off Ankh-Morpork and his travels with the Great Wizzard. Oh, and the whole place is about to be invaded by the Silver Horde of barbarians led by Genghis Cohen. There's some important milestones here, particularly with the naming of Hex and its introduction as a sentient magical machine. It's also great to have Rincewind and the events of the very early Discworld novels integrated with the mostly separate Unseen University faculty cast that was established and continued from Reaper Man. But for me the highlight of the book was the Silver Horde and the return of Cohen the Barbarian, complete with his fantastic group of geriatric warriors.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Discworld’s Counterweight Continent is explored for the first time in the series as author Terry Pratchett sends the inept wizard Rincewind to the walled off landmass where he meets up with some old friends in a reunion of the series’ first two books. The Discworld’s version of China & Japan is the Agatean Empire, a mysterious place which only the rest of the Discworld can speculate about, sends a message to Ankh-Morpork for the ‘Great Wizzard’. After several uses of magical quantum mechanics tra Discworld’s Counterweight Continent is explored for the first time in the series as author Terry Pratchett sends the inept wizard Rincewind to the walled off landmass where he meets up with some old friends in a reunion of the series’ first two books. The Discworld’s version of China & Japan is the Agatean Empire, a mysterious place which only the rest of the Discworld can speculate about, sends a message to Ankh-Morpork for the ‘Great Wizzard’. After several uses of magical quantum mechanics transportation and threats Rincewind finds himself in the middle of a battlefield as the five warlord families are preparing for the succession war upon the Emperor’s death. Unfortunately for Rincewind he finds himself the focus of the rebellious Red Army as well as Lord Hong, who is secretly funding the rebels as part of his plan to conquer Ankh-Morpork once he is Emperor. Along with Rincewind return to prominence is Cohen the Barbarian and Twoflower, though the former’s story arc is bigger and best secondary plot of the book while the latter’s two daughters are part of the Red Army’s leadership. And despite his best efforts Rincewind is always in the center of the action as he is unknowingly the favorite ‘pawn’ of The Lady in her game against Fate. The return of Rincewind and Cohen after so long being written about is a welcoming development in ‘Interesting Times’ and Pratchett seems to enjoy allowing his first protagonist to suffer the excitement of grand adventures, especially after seeing where Rincewind finds himself at the end of the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*

    This book (Corgi paperback edition, 1995) contains one of my favorite front-of-book review blurbs ever: 'A complete amateur . . . doesn't even write in chapters . . . hasn't a clue.' -Tom Paulin, on BBC 2's Late ReviewI love the subversiveness of this inclusion now as much as over two decades ago when I first saw it. Rincewind is few people's favorite Discworld character but I enjoy him a lot on my current series re-read. His intelligent approach to cowardice is always welcome. He makes a great an This book (Corgi paperback edition, 1995) contains one of my favorite front-of-book review blurbs ever: 'A complete amateur . . . doesn't even write in chapters . . . hasn't a clue.' -Tom Paulin, on BBC 2's Late ReviewI love the subversiveness of this inclusion now as much as over two decades ago when I first saw it. Rincewind is few people's favorite Discworld character but I enjoy him a lot on my current series re-read. His intelligent approach to cowardice is always welcome. He makes a great anti-hero and foil for fantasy and adventure tropes. The Luggage makes only a minor appearance here, while Cohen the barbarian, also part of Rincewind's frequent entourage, is a significant part of this adventure. No longer merely a mis-naming of Conan, he is now also a mis-naming of Khan. The story is largely a direct sequel to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, with the caveat that Rincewind's starting position varies wildly with each adventure and the faculty of Unseen University has solidified and matured since our favorite "wizzard"'s last appearance. Events conspire to land Rincewind on the counterweight continent, in the Agatean empire (as an alternative to Jade, much more colourful), where the Disc's first tourist, Twoflower, originated. Rincewind and others find themselves embroiled in the social upheaval brought about by the revolutionary essay, "What I did on my vacation." The plotting was particularly strong for a Discworld novel, which can meander even at their best. I think it was the singular most cohesive story yet in the series. The biggest drags on the book are the frequent appeals to Western stereotypes of China, and the extremely cringey light rape-based humor. These don't stand well AT ALL and they shouldn't have in 1995 either. The recurring premise is, isn't it hilarious that he's too old to get it up so he can't rape with his pillaging any more? Pratchett is incredibly thoughtful about many matters, but not so much here.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juho Pohjalainen

    With the first couple Discworld books, Pratchett was still looking for his own place in the world and trying to figure out what kind of stories he wanted to write about at all. They ended up rather different, far less honed, less cohesive, and plain weirder than the later books - but they still had their own special charm in them, something to like about them. Interesting Times is the best of both worlds: it's a throwback to those first two books, while at the same time fitting the more refined a With the first couple Discworld books, Pratchett was still looking for his own place in the world and trying to figure out what kind of stories he wanted to write about at all. They ended up rather different, far less honed, less cohesive, and plain weirder than the later books - but they still had their own special charm in them, something to like about them. Interesting Times is the best of both worlds: it's a throwback to those first two books, while at the same time fitting the more refined and developed structure of the later books. It finds just the right tone between hilarious and dramatic, hitting both without either of them getting in each other's way. And Cohen and Twoflower were both some of my favourite characters in the books. It's not the absolute best in my books, Discworld-wise, but it ranks pretty high up there.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    Essentially this is silly, racist and obvious, a typical Rincewind book really. But to counter that you have a lot of fun with Cohen the Barbarian and to counter that you have and old man in a wheelchair whose sole purpose for being in the novel is to shout "What?!" to everything. Because he's deaf you see. Yeah it's that kind of Discworld book. Essentially this is silly, racist and obvious, a typical Rincewind book really. But to counter that you have a lot of fun with Cohen the Barbarian and to counter that you have and old man in a wheelchair whose sole purpose for being in the novel is to shout "What?!" to everything. Because he's deaf you see. Yeah it's that kind of Discworld book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I have a really hard time reviewing Discworld books, so this will be short. Once I'm through reading them chronologically, I think I'll start over and go by sub-series, because I'm clearly having trouble remembering characters from one sub-series-book to the next (I spent a good chunk of the book thinking "who the fuck is Twoflower?"). The Rincewind novels are without a doubt my least favorite—he's just not an engaging protagonist. Everything that happens to him, happens passively and as an accid I have a really hard time reviewing Discworld books, so this will be short. Once I'm through reading them chronologically, I think I'll start over and go by sub-series, because I'm clearly having trouble remembering characters from one sub-series-book to the next (I spent a good chunk of the book thinking "who the fuck is Twoflower?"). The Rincewind novels are without a doubt my least favorite—he's just not an engaging protagonist. Everything that happens to him, happens passively and as an accident / result of his bad luck; he spends every single book trying to get away from the action. Which would be entertaining if he were a secondary character, but is mostly kinda infuriating because he isn't. His books are also the ones where the shitty Pratchett jokes usually come forth (i.e. the mildly racist/sexist and rapey ones). There was one in particular in this one that really made me cringe. Why, Terry? With that said, this was overall one of the more enjoyable Rincewind novels, where I actually didn't mind his aversion to adventure at all—mainly because it was juxtaposed to Cohen and his elderly Barbarian Horde. I really enjoyed the socio-political aspects of this one as well, but found it a bit disjointed. The Luggage, for instance: it was clear that he didn't have a place for it in the main narrative, but couldn't just leave it out, so came up with a tiny, silly sub-plot. Then again, there were some jokes that made me laugh out loud to the point that I had to put the book down (the pig Latin spell and the bit about oral sex come to mind). ————— My other reviews for the Rincewind / Unseen University Wizards sub-series: 1: The Colour of Magic · ★★ 2: The Light Fantastic · ★★★ 3: Sourcery · ★★★★ 4: Eric · ★★★ 5: Interesting Times · ★★★ 6: The Last Continent · ★★★ 7: The Last Hero 8: Unseen Academicals All my reviews for the Discworld series in publication order (work in progress): (view spoiler)[ Novels 01: The Colour of Magic · ★★ 02: The Light Fantastic · ★★★ 03: Equal Rites · ★★★★★ 04: Mort · ★★★★½ 05: Sourcery · ★★★★ 06: Wyrd Sisters · ★★★ 07: Pyramids · ★★★★ 08: Guards! Guards! · ★★★★ 09: Eric · ★★★ 10: Moving Pictures · ★★★ 11: Reaper Man · ★★★★ 12: Witches Abroad · ★★★ 13: Small Gods · ★★★★★ 14: Lords and Ladies · ★★★★★ 15: Men At Arms · ★★★★★ 16: Soul Music · ★★★ 17: Interesting Times · ★★★ 18: Maskerade · ★★★ 19: Feet of Clay · ★★★★★ 20: Hogfather · ★★★★★ 21: Jingo · ★★★ 22: The Last Continent · ★★★ 23: Carpe Jugulum · ★★★★ 24: The Fifth Elephant · ★★★★ 25: The Truth · ★★★★★ 26: Thief of Time · ★★★★ 27: The Last Hero 28: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents 29: Night Watch 30: The Wee Free Men 31: Monstrous Regiment 32: A Hat Full of Sky 33: Going Postal 34: Thud! 35: Wintersmith 36: Making Money 37: Unseen Academicals 38: I Shall Wear Midnight 39: Snuff 40: Raising Steam 41: The Sheperd's Crown Short Stories 10.5: Death and What Comes Next · ★★★★★ 14.5: Theatre of Cruelty · ★★ 16.5: Troll Bridge · ★★★★ 22.5: The Sea and Little Fishes · ★★★★ 34.5: Where's My Cow? 37.5: A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices 39.5: The World of Poo (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    There is a saying, often attributed to the Chinese - "May you live in interesting times." Usually when this is invoked, it's done so as a curse, the idea being that interesting times are more likely to cause you trouble than nice boring times, and perhaps that's true. The folks in Baghdad, for example, are certainly living in interesting times right now. The trouble is that not everybody is able to stay alive to enjoy them. That's one of the problems with life as we know it - we long for things t There is a saying, often attributed to the Chinese - "May you live in interesting times." Usually when this is invoked, it's done so as a curse, the idea being that interesting times are more likely to cause you trouble than nice boring times, and perhaps that's true. The folks in Baghdad, for example, are certainly living in interesting times right now. The trouble is that not everybody is able to stay alive to enjoy them. That's one of the problems with life as we know it - we long for things to be interesting, exciting and thrilling, like what happens to Bruce Willis every time he's on the screen. When those times come, however, we realize that it's the boring, predictable times we really want. In other words, we want whatever we don't have at the moment, which just goes to prove that we, as a species, are messed up in the head. If we had been assembled by any rational Supreme Being, it would have made us a little more accepting of the lives we lead. This mind-set may not lead us to the advanced society we have now, but it certainly would lead us to something approaching world peace. This book is about wanting what you don't have, and what happens when you get it. The central character is the wizard - or Wizzard - Rincewind, one of the oldest of the Discworld characters. He's been with the series since the first book, The Colour of Magic, and he's grown to be a favorite for many readers. What Rincewind wants, really wants, is to be left alone. No quests, no challenges, no one trying to kill him or otherwise ruin his day. If the world forgot that Rincewind existed, he'd be the happiest man alive. Unfortunately for Rincewind, the world hasn't forgotten him. He has to be sent to the far-off Agatean Empire, a place so remote that few, if any, people know anything about it. A message came, asking for the Great Wizzard, and Rincewind is the only one who fits the bill. The fact that he can't do magic is not important, really. When he gets there, he meets Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde - seven incredibly old barbarian heroes. Seven men who don't know the meaning of the word "defeat," though you'd probably have to repeat it very loudly before they heard what you'd said. Together, the Horde are headed to the capital city of the Empire, looking to make the biggest heist in their long, long, long barbarian careers. Together, Rincewind, Cohen and the Horde find the Empire in the throes of a people's revolution, borne of righteous peasant rage and the skillful manipulations of the Grand Vizier, Lord Hong. Like so many Discworld books, this is a lot of fun to read. The Agatean Empire is a blend of ancient China and Japan, giving us ninja and samurai alongside blue and white Ming ceramics and an exam-based bureaucracy. And like most of the other Discworld books, this one gives you something to think about - what do you want to be? Rincewind wants to be left alone, because he thinks he'll be safer that way. Cohen wants to settle down, because he worries that his life as a barbarian hero might be catching up to him. Lord Hong wants to be a gentleman of Ankh-Morpork, or at least the ruler of such men. And the people of the Empire, who call themselves the Red Army, want to be free, even though they have no idea what being free means. The only character who seems to change his life for the better is Mister Saveloy, the youngest member of the Silver Horde and the one they call "Teach." He realized that what he thought he wanted - a life of educating young people - wasn't what he really wanted after all. What he wanted was the certainty and simplicity of Cohen's barbarian lifestyle, and found it rather agreed with him. So what's the lesson here? Perhaps this: Be happy with what you have, but don't be afraid to change. Just remember that not all change is for the better.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K.

    3.5 stars. On the whole, the Rincewind books are probably my least favourite subset of the Discworld series (with the exception of The Lost Continent, obviously). And it's been years since I'd read this one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Rincewind still annoys me as a character and there were some "uhhh, that's a tiny bit racist" moments in it because it's now 20-odd years old, on the whole this one was fairly enjoyable. It features Rincewind going to the Counterweight Contine 3.5 stars. On the whole, the Rincewind books are probably my least favourite subset of the Discworld series (with the exception of The Lost Continent, obviously). And it's been years since I'd read this one. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Rincewind still annoys me as a character and there were some "uhhh, that's a tiny bit racist" moments in it because it's now 20-odd years old, on the whole this one was fairly enjoyable. It features Rincewind going to the Counterweight Continent, where Twoflower has been thrown in jail for distributing copies of his book about what he saw in Ankh-Morpork, which allowed the population to see how oppressed they've been blah blah blah. Overall, it was fairly enjoyable and I'm glad I finally reread it. But I can probably go another five years or so before I reread this one, I suspect.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wastrel

    Short version? Pratchett tries to return to his earlier style with the lessons he's learnt along the way. This starts out promisingly. Unfortunately then he tries to combine that earlier, sillier style with multiple serious political discussions and several unrelated books, all in a setting that is, to put it mildly, culturally insensitive. It doesn't work. There are some great lines, but by and large it's just too dull and despite its good qualities it outstays its welcome (50 pages of long, dra Short version? Pratchett tries to return to his earlier style with the lessons he's learnt along the way. This starts out promisingly. Unfortunately then he tries to combine that earlier, sillier style with multiple serious political discussions and several unrelated books, all in a setting that is, to put it mildly, culturally insensitive. It doesn't work. There are some great lines, but by and large it's just too dull and despite its good qualities it outstays its welcome (50 pages of long, drawn-out ending doesn't help either). In my opinion the first real misfire of the series (distinct from the flaws of the crawling-on-baby-legs early books) Probably one for completists. That said, I can see what he's trying to do. And let's be honest, a bad Pratchett novel is still an OK book that would make entertaining enough light reading. It's not a bad book. It's just not up to the standards of the series. My full (and much, much more substantial) review is on my blog over here.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    Rincewind and Cohen The Barbarian with his geriatric barbarian Horde bring some interesting times to China, eh, sorry, the Counterweight Continent. We got a Red Army consisting of children, later of terracotta, eunuchs, the collision of barbarianism and civilization (civilization does not fare well in the comparison), and a deep criticism of regimes that so successfully oppress that they do not even need whips any more. I am not a big fan of Rincewind, but after a few reads and re-reads he has g Rincewind and Cohen The Barbarian with his geriatric barbarian Horde bring some interesting times to China, eh, sorry, the Counterweight Continent. We got a Red Army consisting of children, later of terracotta, eunuchs, the collision of barbarianism and civilization (civilization does not fare well in the comparison), and a deep criticism of regimes that so successfully oppress that they do not even need whips any more. I am not a big fan of Rincewind, but after a few reads and re-reads he has grown on me. There is something heroic in the rare acts of bravery in the sea of infinite cowerdice. And clearly, luck is on his side so much as this inept wizzard might just be a great sourcerer, after all. The Luggage makes an unexpected turn as a family... man? furniture? ... and so does Twoflower. The barbarian Horde of creaky old men is a hoot... and Lord Hong is one of the vilest psychopathic villains of Discworld. It is a fun romp as always, although I would not list it among the best of Discworld.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nigel

    I hate writing this about a Terry Pratchett book but frankly this is really not one of his best. It almost became a "dnf" though the end was quite entertaining. Having devoured the series from one it started and waited for each year's book I sort of drifted off probably a book or two before this one. Reading this suggests I was right! What is remarkable is just how good his writing became again later on. The Tiffany Aching books are among the best he wrote (IMHO). This one doesn't really bear com I hate writing this about a Terry Pratchett book but frankly this is really not one of his best. It almost became a "dnf" though the end was quite entertaining. Having devoured the series from one it started and waited for each year's book I sort of drifted off probably a book or two before this one. Reading this suggests I was right! What is remarkable is just how good his writing became again later on. The Tiffany Aching books are among the best he wrote (IMHO). This one doesn't really bear comparison. That said I'll probably read the other ones I've missed as time goes by.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    There is a curse. They say: May You Live in Interesting Times. First half was 2*, second half was 4.5-5* so I’m splitting the difference and giving it a 3* rating. Like several other Discworld books (e.g. Moving Pictures and Soul Music) I did not enjoy the first half of the book but once everything comes together in the second half it works really well. I found the last 15-20% of this one particularly enjoyable. Plus I have a real soft spot for Rincewind and it was nice to see more of Twoflower There is a curse. They say: May You Live in Interesting Times. First half was 2*, second half was 4.5-5* so I’m splitting the difference and giving it a 3* rating. Like several other Discworld books (e.g. Moving Pictures and Soul Music) I did not enjoy the first half of the book but once everything comes together in the second half it works really well. I found the last 15-20% of this one particularly enjoyable. Plus I have a real soft spot for Rincewind and it was nice to see more of Twoflower and Cohen in this outing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke (1book1review)

    This was such a great trip, hanging out with Rincewind and Twoflower again, seeing Cohen take over an empire and thinking about revolutions.

  27. 5 out of 5

    YouKneeK

    Interesting Times is from the Rincewind subseries of Discworld. It’s been quite a few books since I’ve seen Rincewind, so it was fun to see him again. He always makes me laugh. If you’ve read the earlier books, you may remember that Rincewind once had some adventures with Twoflower, a visitor from the Counterweight continent. In this book Rincewind finds himself, quite against his will of course, dropping in on the Counterweight continent and getting caught up in a revolution. It was a lot of fu Interesting Times is from the Rincewind subseries of Discworld. It’s been quite a few books since I’ve seen Rincewind, so it was fun to see him again. He always makes me laugh. If you’ve read the earlier books, you may remember that Rincewind once had some adventures with Twoflower, a visitor from the Counterweight continent. In this book Rincewind finds himself, quite against his will of course, dropping in on the Counterweight continent and getting caught up in a revolution. It was a lot of fun seeing Twoflower again, although we didn’t see as much of him as I would have liked. Cohen the Barbarian, an elderly hero, also shows up in this book along with his “horde” which consists of a bunch of other elderly barbarian heroes plus a former school teacher. I thought the horde was really funny. The book alternates, for the most part, between the stuff happening with Rincewind and the stuff happening with the horde. There were some really funny parts in this book. October is full of business travel for me, and I was sitting in a hotel room trying very hard to stifle my laughter while reading the section where Rincewind tries to read a story written with pictograms [urinating dog, urinating dog]. It just got funnier the longer it went on. The story itself was ok. I didn’t think it wasn’t anything special, but the humor made up for it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lorelei

    I rarely think of rereading this particular discworld book - not for any reason I can guess. My kids started reading this one aloud and sucked me right into it, and I am very glad. It is a truely delightful book, although we all tend to moan a bit about the awful things that Terry Pratchett came up with to keep doing to Rincewind.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alfred Haplo

    Interesting Times is my best Rincewind book to-date *, which is bizarre to contemplate. In recalling my past impressions of Rincewind’s character, something struck me at once. I no longer feel irked but indifferent by DiscWorld’s resident irritant and craven wizard, now relegated to necessary evil status. His is a character so entrenched with fans that changing anything about his personality might result in revolt. Instead, his surroundings are changed around him, with best wishes to everyone el Interesting Times is my best Rincewind book to-date *, which is bizarre to contemplate. In recalling my past impressions of Rincewind’s character, something struck me at once. I no longer feel irked but indifferent by DiscWorld’s resident irritant and craven wizard, now relegated to necessary evil status. His is a character so entrenched with fans that changing anything about his personality might result in revolt. Instead, his surroundings are changed around him, with best wishes to everyone else. If I can accept the character, I can rationalize my feelings about the story. Fortunately, accidental hero is a mantle Rincewind wears well, particularly if the alternative is either bad or worse. Besides, every other main character is far better developed but those would have to be killed, or maimed, or made to suffer, or at the very least, philosophized, and must therefore not be wasted in Interesting Times. So, Rincewind it is, and Rincewind is teleported as sacrificial emissary to the cultural and economic backwater on the far side of the Disc, the Counterweight Continent. Welcome to China? Where else would exist a Great Wall, Forbidden City, The Art of War, Sum Dim (the purpose of this reversal escapes me), summer palace, women with small feet, and a red clay army? Not to be confused with the other country of the ninjas, kimonos and sumo wrestlers variety, which is also lumped into the dynastic Agatean Empire. To be fair, other countries assert their positions here for joke material as well, but none bears the brunt as much as the Chinese. When distinct Asian cultures are melded into a generic “Aurientals”, and comedy is made at their expense without reciprocity, I feel indignant on their behalf but indulged in silly laughing anyway. A readymade template of stereotypes plugged in with Rincewind is designed to be lighthearted, so why fight it. Even if that bit of sensitivity can be overcome, there is the Silver Horde. Cohen and his ancient bro-barbarians are here to pillage the Agatean Empire. When a group of white, albeit comical, foreigners invade an Asian-like continent, with talks of rape and rapine, and all the while the local citizenry is portrayed as ignoramus and simpletons, and are immediately subservient to ruling change, it sits rather uncomfortably. There is a distinct social hierarchy within the Agatean people - the peasants, the rebels, the learned, the rulers - but here, they are presented as a monolith. The whole of Agatean is just A Caricature, the “other” people. The people who speak funny, are named funny, work funny, obey funny, rule funny because they are not like “us". Which is oddly going against the grain, coming from Pratchett, this heavy-handed humor. I feel sorry for the missed opportunities. The Agateans are viewed from a skewed outsider perspective but more interesting would be from within their own in the manner of the excellent Pyramids. Two new refreshing characters, Mr Saveloy, teacher turned barbarian-diplomat, and Pretty Butterfly, skeptical young rebel, looked promising for bridging the cultural divide but both are under-utilized. Introspection is ironically focused on the foreign invaders and not the invaded, in how they deal with aging, mortality, and following one’s true calling. It is easy to be drawn into the emotional aspects of that, until you realized that the Silver Horde is just a bunch of killers who never grew up. Interesting Times is a peculiar sort of novel that is neither here nor there, where everyone and everything is sort of out of place. Except Rincewind, of course, who is exactly where he should be down under... Down under what? Down under my stack of DiscWorld books, 17 and counting. [* Rincewind sub-series: The Color or Magic Discworld #1, Rincewind #1, Light Fantastic DW #2, RW #2, Sourcery DW #5, RW #3, Eric Faust DW #9, RW #4]

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve Garriott

    I'm torn when it comes to Rincewind. His introduction in the first two Discworld novels were not my favorites... but... there is always such a wealth of characters swirling around in a Discworld novel that you're never bored. The Horde, the geriatric barbarians lead by Cohen the Barbarian, are a kick. Several old friends show up as well. However, the more I think about the wizzard, I wonder if my problem with Rincewind has more to do with the fact that I see myself in him? I'm pretty sure I'd be I'm torn when it comes to Rincewind. His introduction in the first two Discworld novels were not my favorites... but... there is always such a wealth of characters swirling around in a Discworld novel that you're never bored. The Horde, the geriatric barbarians lead by Cohen the Barbarian, are a kick. Several old friends show up as well. However, the more I think about the wizzard, I wonder if my problem with Rincewind has more to do with the fact that I see myself in him? I'm pretty sure I'd be just as resolved to the hopelessness of the situation (I have been known to panic as my first response to a crisis; ask my wife!). Maybe I'm irritated because I see myself in him. Thanks, Sir Terry. I get it.

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