Interesting Times (Discworld Series #17)

Interesting Times (Discworld Series #17)

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by Terry Pratchett, Nigel Planer
     
 

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MIGHTY BATTLES! REVOLUTION! DEATH! WAR! (AND HIS SONS TERROR AND PANIC, AND DAUGHTER CLANCY)

The oldest and most inscrutable 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 bufffaloes. War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the

Overview

MIGHTY BATTLES! REVOLUTION! DEATH! WAR! (AND HIS SONS TERROR AND PANIC, AND DAUGHTER CLANCY)

The oldest and most inscrutable 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 bufffaloes. War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the ancienct 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 foot tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime's experience of not dying...

...and a very SPECIAL butterfly.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
More comic fantasy from Pratchett's Discworld (Men at Arms, 1996, etc.) featuring another aspect of the unending strife between humans, fates, and the god that "generally looked after thunder and lightning, so from his point of view the only purpose of humanity was to get wet or, in occasional cases, charred." This time, the incompetent "wizard" Rincewind, hero of several of the earliest Discworld wingdings, makes a reappearance, along with other favorite characters such as the demented tourist, Twoflower, the unpredictable, multilegged Luggage—apparently it's found a mate—and Cohen the Barbarian.

Fun, especially for those susceptible to Pratchett-inspired nostalgia.

From the Publisher
 • "This spinner of crazy science-fiction tales is a very sophisticated jester." --The Times

 • "Cracking dialogue, compelling illogic and unchained whimsy... Pratchett has a subject and a style that is very much his own." --The Sunday Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780753107386
Publisher:
ISIS Large Print Books
Publication date:
01/28/2002
Series:
Discworld Series, #17
Edition description:
Unabridged, 9 CDs, 10 hrs. 16 mins.
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There 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.

And Fate always wins.

Fate always wins. Most of the gods throw dice but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been using two queens all along.

Fate wins. At least, so it is claimed. Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate.*

Gods can take any form, but the one aspect of themselves they cannot change is their eyes, which show their nature. The eyes of Fate are hardly eyes at all — just dark holes into an infinity speckled with what may be stars or, there again, may be other things.

He blinked them, smiled at his fellow players in the smug way winners do just before they become winners, and said:

"I accuse the High Priest of the Green Robe in the library with the double-handed axe."

And he won.

He beamed at them.

"No one likeh a poor winner," grumbled Offler the Crocodile God, through his fangs.

"It seems that I am favoring myself today," said Fate. "Anyone fancy something else?"

The gods shrugged.

"Mad Kings?" said Fate pleasantly. "Star-Crossed Lovers?"

"I think we've lost the rules for that one," said Blind Io, chief of the gods.

"Or Tempest-Wrecked Mariners?"

"You always win," said Io.

"Floods and Droughts?" said Fate. "That's an easy one."

A shadow fell across the gaming table. The gods looked up.

"Ah," said Fate.

"Let a game begin," said the Lady.

There was always an argument about whether the newcomer was agoddess at all. Certainly no one ever got anywhere by worshipping her, and she tended to turn up only where she was least expected, such as now. And people who trusted in her seldom survived. Any temples built to her would surely be struck by lightning. Better to juggle axes on a tightrope than say her name. just call her the waitress in the Last Chance saloon.

She was generally referred to as the Lady, and her eyes were green; not as the eyes of humans are green, but emerald green from edge to edge. It was said to be her favorite color.

"Ah," said Fate again. "And what game will it be?"

She sat down opposite him. The watching gods looked sidelong at one another. This looked interesting. These two were ancient enemies.

"How about..." she paused, "...Mighty Empires?"

"Oh, I hate that one," said Offler, breaking the sudden silence. "Everyone dief at the end."

"Yes," said Fate, "I believe they do." He nodded at the Lady, and in much the same voice as professional gamblers say "Aces high?" said, "The Fall of Great Houses? Destinies of Nations Hanging by a Thread?"

"Certainly," she said.

"Oh, good." Fate waved a hand across the board. The Discworld appeared.

"And where shall we play?" he said.

"The Counterweight Continent," said the Lady. "Where five noble families have fought one another for centuries."

"Really? Which families are these?" said Io. He had little involvement with individual humans. He generally looked after thunder and lightning, so from his point of view the only purpose of humanity was to get wet or, in occasional cases, charred.

The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys and the Fangs."

"Them? I didn't know they were noble," said lo.

"They're all very rich and have had millions of people butchered or tortured to death merely for reasons of expediency and pride," said the Lady.

The watching gods nodded solemnly. That was certainly noble behavior. That was exactly what they would have done.

"McFweeneyf?" said Offler.

"Very old established family," said Fate.

"Oh."

"And they wrestle one another for the Empire," said Fate. "Very good. Which will you be?"

The Lady looked at the history stretched out in front of them.

"The Hongs are the most powerful. Even as we speak, they have taken yet more cities," she said. "I see they are fated to win"

"So, no doubt, you'll pick a weaker family."

Fate waved his hand again. The playing pieces appeared, and started to move around the board as if they had a fife of their own, which was of course the case.

"But," he said, "we shall play without dice. I don't trust you with dice. You throw them where I can't see them. We will play with steel, and tactics, and politics, and war."

The Lady nodded.

Fate looked across at his opponent.

"And your move?" he said.

She smiled. "I've already made it."

He looked down. "But I don't see your pieces on the board."

"They're not on the board yet," she said.

She opened her hand.

There was something black and yellow on her palm. She blew on it, and it unfolded its wings.

It was a butterfly.

Fate always wins ...

At least, when people stick to the rules.

According to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle, chaos is found in, greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.

This is the butterfly of the storms.

See the wings, slightly more ragged than those of the common fritillary In reality, thanks to the fractal nature of the universe, this means that those ragged edges are infinite — in the same way that the edge of any rugged coastline, when measured to the ultimate microscopic level, is infinitely long — or, if not infinite, then at least so close to it that Infinity can be seen on a clear day.

*People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events — the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there —t hat must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous.

Meet the Author

SIR TERRY PRATCHETT is one of the most popular authors writing today. He lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire and says he 'doesn't want to get a life, because it feels as though he's trying to lead three already'. He was appointed OBE in 1998. His first Discworld novel for children, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, was awarded the 2001 Carnegie Medal.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1948
Place of Birth:
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Education:
Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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Interesting Times 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
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Badapple More than 1 year ago
When I have consumed an overly large amount of non-fiction or historical fiction, I inevitably turn to another Pratchett volume. I intersperse these to allow me to savor a series that I know will eventually end, and my world will be less because of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read when I go to bed and I have to keep an extra pillow to muflle my laughter so I don't wake my husband every time I read a Pratchett.
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I love Rincewind! He's one of my favorite characters on the disk! I love to read about all of his adventures, and the evil on millions of tiny feet that follow him wherever he goes.
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