Eric by Terry Pratchett
Up to this point I’ve always enjoyed Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD books, and Faust Eric was no exception in that regard. It was a fun read. Still, I’m not as big of a fan of the Rincewind books as I am of some of the other DISCWORLD books centered around his other characters. Nothing against the cowardly, inept wizard Rincewind, I mean, Lord knows I’d probably react to the dangers of Discworld the same way he does, which is to turn tail and run whenever possible. However, overall I prefer the Witches books, or the Guards, or the Moist von Lipwig books to most of the Rincewind books.
Eric is a quick, enjoyable read, based on a premise that I absolutely loved, a re-telling of the Faust legend. At the beginning of the novel, Rincewind is summoned by a young teenage boy named Eric (the eponymous title character) who thinks he has summoned a demon and wants three wishes granted. Since Rincewind has been trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions (a Discworld equivalent to Hell), the spell that young Eric uses works on him just as it would a demon.
At first, relieved to be back in the “normal” Discworld, Rincewind discovers to his horror that he actually is bound just as a demon would have been and, furthermore, that he somehow has the power to actually grant Eric’s wishes. Being a teenaged male, Eric’s wishes are just about what one might expect: (1) To Become Ruler of the World, (2) To Meet the Most Beautiful Woman in All of History, and (3) To Live Forever. As is usual in a DISCWORLD novel, things don’t quite work out according to plan.
Eric’s compatriot is a parrot with an attitude and said parrot’s insights are a major part of the book’s fun. As each of Eric’s wishes are granted in turn by Rincewind, more confusion and unseen consequences ensue (as is usual in Discworld, or our own Roundworld much of the time, come to think of it).
Eric is kind of light fare compared to some of Pratchett’s deeper, more realized novels, such as Guards!Guards! or Witches Abroad or Thud!. I wouldn’t recommend Eric to anyone starting the DISCWORLD series, but would suggest it once they’ve read most of the other DISCWORLD novels.
Discworld — (1983-2015) Discworld is a satirical fantasy world created by Terry Pratchett to poke fun at 1980s fantasy novels. Since then, they’ve evolved so that they now make fun of everything. Mr. Pratchett explains Discworld: “The world rides through space on the back of a turtle. This is one of the great ancient world myths, found wherever men and turtles are gathered together; the four elephants were an indo-European sophistication. The idea has been lying in the lumber room of legend for centuries. All I had to do was grab it and run away before the alarms went off… There are no maps. You can’t map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.” The Discworld novels are presented here in publication order. To read more about the Discworld “arcs” and reading order, see this Wikipedia article.
Discworld for Kids:
Nice review. Eric was intended as a showcase for Josh Kirby’s illustrations so the text itself is more simplistic than is usual for Pratchett. Of course, later editions did not always have the illustrations, worsening the book considerably. I’d still consider it one of the funnier books in the series however and a damn sight better than the recent dross.