To preface this post: Terry Pratchett has become my all time favorite author. He could write a dictionary and I would read it cover to cover.
Now, granted, his plots are fascinating. In all the books I’ve read so far, the main character has been a kind of unlikely or accidental hero, being a fairly average person who picks and chooses where their* morals lie, tending to lie in the gray area. In The Light Fantastic, that character is a wizard (wizards being morally gray by definition) who was kicked out of wizard university due to reading the spell book equivalent of the bible and having a mysterious, potentially dangerous and very powerful slightly sentient spell jump out and nestle in his head. Somehow, he finds himself working as a tour guide to a rich but dangerously trusting man and nearly misses death time and time again.
As interesting as this plot may be, the true reason I love Pratchett is his remarkable mastery of language. Before reading his writing, I never imagined someone could craft such witty and funny, yet unexpected commentary without feeling forced or random. Likewise, his metaphors and similes have an almost musical quality to them, coming to life on the page, hopping into your head to not just painting a picture, but carving a sculpture. For example, he described a passing spell passing through someone “as light as a thought” and mentioned once a quiet sound, “like a mouse’s heart breaking.”
Like I said, if Pratchett wrote a dictionary, I would pour over every syllable.
The Light Fantastic is interesting and funny, but it isn’t really a story, more of an experience. The main characters are protected from danger by plot, and I would never imagine anything south of melancholy appearing on the page. Likewise, the only messages I’ve gotten from the books so far are to be open to new experiences and enjoy adventures such as the one the books take you on. Again and again, they explore the world Terry Pratchett creates, with the perfect mix of new and familiar encounters. Finally, the lack of chapters means that the story never stops, just like in real life.