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Interesting Times: A Discworld Novel by…

Interesting Times: A Discworld Novel (original 1994; edition 1995)

by Terry Pratchett

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5,98149698 (3.97)128
Title:Interesting Times: A Discworld Novel
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Corgi (1995), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett (1994)

Recently added byLukerik, Jay-Freeman, jwmacdougall, private library



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After the horrors of Lords and Ladies and Soul Music, this is something of a return to form for Pratchett. It's essentially a satire on the Chinese political system, and by extension all failed regimes. He attitude towards the great repressed is humane and one of sadness. Also on display is the cleverness missing from some of his other work of this period. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 24, 2015 |
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. ( )
  mattries37315 | Oct 14, 2015 |
This is on the top level of Pratchett books for me. Rincewind is once again rushing away from trouble and ending up right in the middle of it. This time he is in the Counterweight continent, which feels very much like China to me. :) As usual, I love the sharp insight of the author into culture, traditions and politics, tempered by his wit and tongue in cheek writing. Cohen the Barbarian and his Horde play a large part in this story, and the Luggage, though not very present, makes his presence felt. ( )
  MrsLee | Jun 28, 2015 |
Interesting Times is the seventeenth Discworld novel and the one I was most dreading rereading. I hadn’t picked it up since middle school, but what I remembered suggested that it could be… problematic.

If you’re going to read Discworld, go read Small Gods, Guards! Guards!, The Wee Free Men, Monstrous Regiment, or Going Postal a try. Interesting Times is the book which gives Eric and The Color of Magic a run for the title of “Worst Discworld Novel.”

Interesting Times starts off with Ankh-Morpork receiving a message from from the Agatean Empire demanding that the “Great Wizzard” be sent to them. The Unseen University faculty rustle up Rincewind and teleport him over to the Agatean Empire, where he finds that Twoflower’s essay “What I Did On My Holidays” has started a revolution. The revolutionaries believe that Rincewind is a great wizard who will use his powers to help them overthrow the empire.

There’s just all sorts of problems here. The Agatean Empire is a mash up of a bunch of different East Asian cultures and stereotypes, mainly China and Japan – terracotta warriors and sumo wrestlers for instance. But what’s really cringe worthy and makes this book so unconformable to read is the characterization (or lack of it) of the Agatean characters. It plays heavily into the subservient stereotypes. Then there’s the villain, Lord Hong, who’s obsessed with Ankh-Morepork and trying to imitate it. Honestly, this book just reads as racist.

Oh, it’s worth remembering here that Rincewind and Cohen and his hoard (they show up shortly in) are the major POV characters. And that they’re all white.

I don’t think that was Pratchett’s intention – he was likely attempting to use stereotypes for parody purposes. But really, he just shouldn’t have been writing this sort of thing about another culture. If you take the favorable view and say that Pratchett was trying to satirize the West’s view of Asia… that’s still something better done by an Asian. This just came off really badly.

In terms of actual construction, Interesting Times was probably better crafted than Color of Magic or The Light Fantastic. But it was a hell of a lot more uncomfortable to read. Don’t pick this up unless you’re a completionist or really love Rincewind.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
2 vote pwaites | May 3, 2015 |
In Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a letter from the Agatean Empire demanding that a great wizard be sent to them. He relays this message to the Arch-Chancellor of Unseen University. After conferring with the wizard staff of Unseen University, they come to the conclusion that none of them want to undertake the journey, so they decide that they should send the inept wizard Rincewind. They summon Rincewind through magical means, and then subsequently transport him to the Agatean Empire. Once there, Rincewind finds himself being forced to participate in a revolution quite against his will that it turns out was inadvertently started by an old friend of his. Rincewind wants no part in the revolution and seeks only to escape, but Fate has other plans for him.

This was a really fun and hilarious book. I really love the characters Rincewind and Twoflower, and I was delighted that the Luggage made a reappearance in this book. I highly recommend it to fans of Terry Pratchett and the Discworld series, or anyone that enjoys British humor. While it's probably not necessary to read all of the Discworld books that come before Interesting Times prior to reading it, I would recommend at least reading The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic first, and perhaps Sourcery and Eric as well. ( )
  Kythe42 | Mar 7, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brandhorst, AndreasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calvo Perales, JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindforss, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabanosh, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There is a curse.

They say:
May You Live in Interesting Times
First words
This is where the gods play games with the lives of men, on a board which is at one and the same time a simple playing area and the whole world.
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.
I know about people who talk about suffering for the common good. It's never bloody them! When you hear a man shouting "Forward, brave comrades!" you'll see he's the one behind the bloody big rock and the one wearing the only really arrow-proof helmet!
Fate always wins...
At least, when people stick to the rules.
According to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle, chaos is found in greatest abundance whenever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description

The oldest and most inscrutable empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought on by the revolutionary treatise What I did on My Holidays. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water buffaloes. War (and Clancy) are spreading through the ancient cities.

And all that stands in the way of terrible doom for everyone is:

Rincewind the Wizard, who can't even spell the word 'wizard'...

Cohen the barbarian hero, five feet tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime's experience of not dying...

…and a very special butterfly.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061056901, Mass Market Paperback)

Marvelous Discworld, which revolves on the backs of four great elephants and a big turtle, spins into Interesting Times, the 17th outing in Terry Pratchett's rollicking fantasy series. The gods are playing games again, and this time the mysterious Lady opposes Fate in a match of "Destinies of Nations Hanging by a Thread." --Blaise Selby

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:02 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A fantasy featuring the wizard Rincewind on a mission to an empire undergoing a cultural revolution reminiscent of the one in China. The novel's title is a play on the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." By the author of Men at Arms.

(summary from another edition)

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