The Colour of Magic

1983 Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

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The Colour of Magic is a 1983 fantasy comedy novel by Terry Pratchett, and is the first book of the Discworld series.


He'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'...
We've strayed into a zone with a high magical index...
I've seen excitement, and I've seen boredom. And boredom was best.
  • If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting 'All gods are bastards'.
  • What he didn't like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.
  • The Watch were always careful not to intervene too soon in any brawl where the odds were not heavily stacked in their favour. The job carried a pension, and attracted a cautious, thoughtful kind of man.
  • "It could be worse," he said by way of farewell. "It could be me."
  • That's what's so stupid about the whole magic thing, you know. You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you're so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half-blind from reading old grimoires that you can't remember what happens next.
  • At the back of his mind a bad feeling began to grow. He thought about how it might be to be, say, a fox confronted with an angry sheep. A sheep, moreover, that could afford to employ wolves.
  • Picturesque meant - he decided after careful observation of the scenery that inspired Twoflower to use the word - that the landscape was horribly precipitous. Quaint, when used to describe the occasional village through which they passed, meant fever-ridden and tumbledown. Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind had decided, meant 'idiot'.
  • It was all very well going on about pure logic and how the universe was ruled by logic and the harmony of numbers, but the plain fact of the matter was that the Disc was manifestly traversing space on the back of a giant turtle and the gods had a habit of going round to atheists' houses and smashing their windows.
  • 'You know, I never imagined there were he-dryads. Not even in an oak tree.'
One of the giants grinned at him.
Druellae snorted. 'Stupid! Where do you think acorns come from?'
  • What heroes like best is themselves.
  • 'We've strayed into a zone with a high magical index,' he said. 'Don't ask me how. Once upon a time a really powerful magic field must have been generated here, and we're feeling the after-effects.'
'Precisely,' said a passing bush.
  • The only reason for walking into the jaws of Death is so's you can steal his gold teeth.
  • 'It is forbidden to fight on the Killing Ground,' he said, and paused while he considered the sense of this. 'You know what I mean, anyway...'
  • Ripples of paradox spread out across the sea of causality.
  • He wondered what kind of life it would be, having to keep swimming all the time to stay exactly in the same place. Pretty similar to his own, he decided.
  • Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.
  • It was octarine, the colour of magic. It was alive and glowing and vibrant and it was the undisputed pigment of the imagination, because wherever it appeared it was a sign that mere matter was a servant of the powers of the magical mind. It was enchantment itself.
But Rincewind always thought it looked a sort of greenish-purple.
  • I've seen excitement, and I've seen boredom. And boredom was best.
  • 'What's this wine—crushed octopus eyeballs?'
'Sea grape,' said the old man.
'Great,' said Rincewind, and swallowed a glassful. 'Not bad. A bit salty, maybe.'
'Sea grape is a kind of small jellyfish,' explained the stranger. '[...] Why has your friend gone that strange colour?'
'Culture shock, I imagine,' said Twoflower.
  • 'We don't have gods where I come from,' said Twoflower.
'You do, you know,' said the Lady. 'Everyone has gods. You just don't think they're gods.'
  • '[...] on the disc, the Gods are not so much worshipped as blamed.'
  • Don't ask me how I knew—I suppose it was because it was just about the worst possible thing that was likely to happen.
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