Book reviews

Sourcery – Terry Pratchett

Release date: 26 May 1988
Rating: ★★★★★ – 5/10
Goodreads link
Book Depository link (link is for clothbound editions; pictures above are the versions I own, the paperbacks which I’m not entirely sure you can buy anymore)

Sourcery (Discworld, #5) blurb:

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

Once again, before we get started, I am reading the ENTIRE Discworld series with Nicole from The Bookwork Drinketh and Kathy from Pages Below the Vaulted Sky. And if you would like to join us (one book per month for about 17 years, give or take), then please feel free to contact either of the above amazing peeps.

Rincewind, my old friend. How do I loathe thee, let me count the ways.

I’ve got to be honest. There’s a reason that I couldn’t remember the plot of this one. It’s probably the most forgettable of the entire series. In fact, it’s quite simply horrible and I have no regrets in giving this book 5 stars. In fact, 5 might be too many. It took me nearly half the book to realise that I had actually read this before. That’s over 100 pages of me going “I’m not sure I’ve read this, no wonder I got the plot of this and Equal Rites confused”, and then a further 100 pages of me going “OMFG, how much longer til this book ends?”, followed by the last 70 pages in which I kind of skim read while bashing my head against the keyboard. I’m probably not going to add this to my book bingo for the month, because if I wasn’t committed to reading the entire series then I likely would have DNF’ed it about 50 pages in.

I’m starting to feel like all Rincewind novels have a potential dystopian, end-of-the-world flavour to them – which is actually disturbing because I genuinely love the series as a whole, despite not being super keen on a lot of dystopian novels. It also makes me very happy that next month’s book (Wyrd Sisters) goes back to the witches (and you FINALLY GET TO MEET NANNY OGG), and that we won’t see Rincewind again until March 2019, and then November 2019 after that (yes, I really did count that out). In fact, we’ll only have to read about him twice next year in total! That’s less than we have this year – in five books we’ve seen him three times. THREE out of FIVE. However, I will stop complaining about Rincewind now. For the most part.

In terms of plot, this book feels like a rehashing of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, but without the world building or plot. In fact, it was also without the awesome that we then came to see in Equal Rites and Mort. In fact, after the last two books, this one didn’t even come across as very funny, despite Pratchett being a master of slapstick. Either that or I just totally wasn’t feeling it this month.

As I mentioned in my review of The Light Fantastic, the Disc’s  magical number is eight. I do like how Pratchett takes the trope of the seventh son of a seventh son, and then adds an additional generation to it (which, I mean, I’m not amazing at maths, but 2 x 2 is 2 squared, so wizard x wizard would mean wizard squared, and to my maths that would be an eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son… so, Coin’s eighth son would be a wizard squared?). Also, would that make all of Coin’s seven brothers normal wizards? I felt like I had more questions than answers about this part of the story.

Also, I’m starting to see more similarities between the wizards and Catholic priests. Before I start to lose you all in this side ranting, which is not really reviewing at all (sorry Nicole and Kathy!), hear me out:

  • wizards are not allowed to marry or have families
  • Ipslore (the eighth son of the eighth son who then went on to have eight sons) was basically kicked out of the University for falling in love because… love is bad…?
  • women are looked down upon as sub-people who simply do the washing and cooking and cleaning and child-birthing (but elsewhere because we couldn’t possibly have any of that nonsense here at the university), and subsequently women could not possibly become wizards
  • the road to being arch-chancellor (Pope equivalent) is fraught with danger, and LOTS of internal politics
  • wizards seem to spout a lot of stories about their amazing history and general worthiness, but the facts don’t really seem to add up under closer scrutiny
  • the librarian is an orangutan (this isn’t really relevant to my argument, but he’s my favourite character in this book)

So, yes, that’s a lot of speculation. However, I’m feeling particularly ranty while writing this. It probably didn’t help that Friday just past was White Ribbon Day (to provide awareness of men’s violence against women) and I’ve been drafting all-staff emails for my workplace that lists a lot of horrible statistics and also talk about how ‘violence’ isn’t always physical (but includes verbal, mental, financial and spiritual abuse as well as intimidation and disrespect), meaning that reading a WIZARD book is likely to make me relatively cranky at this point in time.


OK, sorry. I’ve been ranting for a bit, and writing more about this book isn’t likely to help matters, so it’s probably time to pack up now. My review for Mort is coming this week, and it’s a lot nicer than this one. I promise!

Fun side note: this is my lowest review score this year.

Other delightful book nerds reviewing this month are:

Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

Nicole @ The Bookworm Drinketh

Book Beach Bunny

Nina @ The Cozy Pages

Didi Oviatt

Alex @ Almost Almost

Elnade @ Confessions of a Serial Reader


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