Tuesday, March 3, 2009

With Darkness as an Ally (Part 5)

The original part five was proving damnably difficult to write (and still remains unfinished) so here is Part 5 v. 2.0.

The antihero of Part 5 v. 2.0 is not dark, brooding, and sinister. He's not even murderous. And the weird thing is that he seems to have this knack for saving the day. After a fashion.

If you embiggen the image, you get a pretty good idea of the nature of this character. It is, of course, none other than Rincewind the Wizard (Wizzard?) of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. I mentioned that Rincewind has a knack for saving the day. But his real talent lies in staying alive and knowing when to run like hell.

I first started reading the Discworld novels in high school, and I even started right at the beginning with The Colour of Magic (which is as near to the beginning as makes no nevermind). It was just some random book that I picked up at the library, unaware that there was a hilarious and wonderful series building up behind it, and I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't really like it the first time through. My forays into the world shaped like a disc were put off until, a few years later, I came across Interesting Times in another library, unaware that it was several books down the line in this same hilarious and wonderful series. And this is when I realized how hilarious and wonderful it all really was.

Limiting the exploration of Rincewind's character to those two books is shameful, but I have to admit that they are the ones I remember the best. And really when it comes right down to it, Rincewind is simply a coward, always more frantically concerned with his own life than anything else. It's much more fun to share a few of my favorite "Rincewind-isms":

Few problems can't be solved with a scream and a good ten yards' start.
The best defense against threatening danger is to be on another continent.
I want my life to be dull and uninteresting. I'm afraid it'll be short.

As protagonists go, it's not very inspiring stuff. It's not very dashing to imagine a bedraggled figure screaming in terror and making a mad dash for freedom, but dashing isn't always what we're in the mood for anyway. And the fact that Rincewind is often paired up with other unusual characters seems to really make the outstanding traits of everyone shine. The way they all play off one another does great credit to Terry Pratchett. But really I think the ultimate answer to why Rincewind is such a phenomenal character is the fact that he's just plain funny. Such an unheroic individual being constantly thrown into wild and outlandish scenarios is extremely entertaining, and so we're there with Rincewind every frantic step of the way.

I should also add I got the above image of Rincewind from the Liverpool Museums webpage.

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