Interesting Times (Discworld Series #17)

Interesting Times (Discworld Series #17)

by Terry Pratchett

Hardcover(Large Print)

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The oldest and most inscrutable empire on the Discworld is in turmoil, brought about by the revolutionary treatise WHAT I DID ON MY HOLIDAYS. Workers are uniting, with nothing to lose but their water bufffaloes. War (and Clancy) are spreading throughout the ancienct cities.

And all that stands in the way of terrible doom for everyone is:

Rincewind the Wizard, who can't even spell the word 'wizard'...

Cohen the barbarian hero, five foot tall in his surgical sandals, who has had a lifetime's experience of not dying...

...and a very SPECIAL butterfly.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781856952545
Publisher: ISIS Large Print Books
Publication date: 12/01/1997
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Large Print
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.84(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There is where the gods play games with the lives of men, on a board which is at one and the same time a simple playing area and the whole world.

And Fate always wins.

Fate always wins. Most of the gods throw dice but Fate plays chess, and you don't find out until too late that he's been using two queens all along.

Fate wins. At least, so it is claimed. Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate.*

Gods can take any form, but the one aspect of themselves they cannot change is their eyes, which show their nature. The eyes of Fate are hardly eyes at all — just dark holes into an infinity speckled with what may be stars or, there again, may be other things.

He blinked them, smiled at his fellow players in the smug way winners do just before they become winners, and said:

"I accuse the High Priest of the Green Robe in the library with the double-handed axe."

And he won.

He beamed at them.

"No one likeh a poor winner," grumbled Offler the Crocodile God, through his fangs.

"It seems that I am favoring myself today," said Fate. "Anyone fancy something else?"

The gods shrugged.

"Mad Kings?" said Fate pleasantly. "Star-Crossed Lovers?"

"I think we've lost the rules for that one," said Blind Io, chief of the gods.

"Or Tempest-Wrecked Mariners?"

"You always win," said Io.

"Floods and Droughts?" said Fate. "That's an easy one."

A shadow fell across the gaming table. The gods looked up.

"Ah," said Fate.

"Let a game begin," said the Lady.

There was always an argument about whether the newcomer was agoddess at all. Certainly no one ever got anywhere by worshipping her, and she tended to turn up only where she was least expected, such as now. And people who trusted in her seldom survived. Any temples built to her would surely be struck by lightning. Better to juggle axes on a tightrope than say her name. just call her the waitress in the Last Chance saloon.

She was generally referred to as the Lady, and her eyes were green; not as the eyes of humans are green, but emerald green from edge to edge. It was said to be her favorite color.

"Ah," said Fate again. "And what game will it be?"

She sat down opposite him. The watching gods looked sidelong at one another. This looked interesting. These two were ancient enemies.

"How about..." she paused, "...Mighty Empires?"

"Oh, I hate that one," said Offler, breaking the sudden silence. "Everyone dief at the end."

"Yes," said Fate, "I believe they do." He nodded at the Lady, and in much the same voice as professional gamblers say "Aces high?" said, "The Fall of Great Houses? Destinies of Nations Hanging by a Thread?"

"Certainly," she said.

"Oh, good." Fate waved a hand across the board. The Discworld appeared.

"And where shall we play?" he said.

"The Counterweight Continent," said the Lady. "Where five noble families have fought one another for centuries."

"Really? Which families are these?" said Io. He had little involvement with individual humans. He generally looked after thunder and lightning, so from his point of view the only purpose of humanity was to get wet or, in occasional cases, charred.

The Hongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, the McSweeneys and the Fangs."

"Them? I didn't know they were noble," said lo.

"They're all very rich and have had millions of people butchered or tortured to death merely for reasons of expediency and pride," said the Lady.

The watching gods nodded solemnly. That was certainly noble behavior. That was exactly what they would have done.

"McFweeneyf?" said Offler.

"Very old established family," said Fate.


"And they wrestle one another for the Empire," said Fate. "Very good. Which will you be?"

The Lady looked at the history stretched out in front of them.

"The Hongs are the most powerful. Even as we speak, they have taken yet more cities," she said. "I see they are fated to win"

"So, no doubt, you'll pick a weaker family."

Fate waved his hand again. The playing pieces appeared, and started to move around the board as if they had a fife of their own, which was of course the case.

"But," he said, "we shall play without dice. I don't trust you with dice. You throw them where I can't see them. We will play with steel, and tactics, and politics, and war."

The Lady nodded.

Fate looked across at his opponent.

"And your move?" he said.

She smiled. "I've already made it."

He looked down. "But I don't see your pieces on the board."

"They're not on the board yet," she said.

She opened her hand.

There was something black and yellow on her palm. She blew on it, and it unfolded its wings.

It was a butterfly.

Fate always wins ...

At least, when people stick to the rules.

According to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle, chaos is found in, greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.

This is the butterfly of the storms.

See the wings, slightly more ragged than those of the common fritillary In reality, thanks to the fractal nature of the universe, this means that those ragged edges are infinite — in the same way that the edge of any rugged coastline, when measured to the ultimate microscopic level, is infinitely long — or, if not infinite, then at least so close to it that Infinity can be seen on a clear day.

*People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events — the oil spilled just there, the safety fence broken just there —t hat must also be a miracle. Just because it's not nice doesn't mean it's not miraculous.

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Interesting Times 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
polarbear123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
RIncewind is a great character and clearly inspires Pratchett with some of his superior stories. There are some great little observations here about class and especially the role of the ruling class, but it is always done with a light touch that will have you chuckling away. In fact you are never far from an exciting moment or a laugh in this book. Hope there is more of Rincewind to come!
love2laf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cute little discworld book, with plenty of satire, and the return of Rincewind. It's perfect for a light summer read, and staying amused.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Necessarily Extended Duration To The Red Army! Regrettable Decease Without Undue Suffering To The Forces of Oppression!This book starts with Lord Vetinari not receiving a message, not carried by Albatross, definitely not from the Counterweight Continent, and certainly not asking him to send the "Great Wizzard" there immediately. The faculty of the Unseen University decide that Rincewind is the man for the job, since he is the only one to spell wizard with two Zs, and magically transport him to the heart of the Agatean Empire, where he arrives to find himself in the midst of a crisis. Five noble families and their armies are gathered outside the capital city awaiting the death of the Emperor, while a strangely polite revolution is slowly gathering force, fuelled by Twoflower's descriptions of life in Ankh-Morpork in his booklet entitled "What I Did On My Holidays".Tyranny, stagnation, revolution, rumour and barbarian heroes make for a very good read indeed.
jnicholson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We discover what happened to the tourist Rincewind showed around most of the Disc, what Cohen the Barbarian has been up to lately, and what life is like in the counterweight continent. Fans of Rincewind will be pleased to see him return, and fans of the tourist will be interested to meet his family.
Aldrea_Alien on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heh. Good to see things come full circle for Twoflower after the events of The Colour of Magic. This time, we¿re transported to the Agatean Empire, otherwise known as the Counterweight Continent, where revolution is afoot. Kinda. Sorta. A little bit. If it¿s not too much trouble.This get muddled as Cohen and his Silver Horde are added to the fray. There¿s just something about a ninety-year-old barbarian that is rather amusing. Maybe it¿s because they¿re still being barbarians even now. Or perhaps they remind me of my grandfather a little too much, especially with his views and the way he was right about people and events.There¿s one among their group who¿s trying to civilise them for their current task, which makes for some downright hilarious scenes. All of the scenes in fact. Even the more serious ones weren¿t all that serious. Being set in their ways doesn¿t even explain it. Though fixation comes to mind.And there¿s Rincewind. Poor, poor Rincewind. A natural coward who¿s luckier than most and often forced into situations that risk his head. Even fleeing, he¿s entertaining. Far better than he was in Colour of Magic or Sourcerer and a little reminiscent of him in Eric.
spaciemonkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book. I've read it more than once.
keristars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting Times introduces us to the Agatean Empire where both a revolutionary group and the guy in charge of the empire have made an effort to bring the great Wizzard there - the Reds because they hope he'll bring them to victory and overthrow the ruler, Lord Hong because he knows the Wizzard is incompetent and can't possibly perform the feats of magic that the revolutionaries believe him to be capable of. Meanwhile, Cohen the Barbarian is making his own plans with the Silver Horde to conquer the Agatean Empire, and Rincewind is very unhappy about the fact that the wizards Unseen University have transported him away from his very boring, very predictable, very safe deserted isle (which contained only himself and the Luggage) in response to the request they have received.I enjoyed the first half to two-thirds of the book quite a bit - the Silver Horde (particularly Mr Saveloy, who is attempting to civilize them) and the adventures of the Luggage were my favorite parts (there weren't nearly enough scenes with the Luggage, however). I also especially enjoyed the opening scenes at Unseen University, when they receive the message from the Agatean Empire and the things they do in order to fulfill the request.However, the last sixty or seventy pages simply didn't live up to the title. It is here that the war takes place and the Silver Horde attempts to take over the Forbidden City, but it couldn't keep my interest. I skimmed most of the pages, impatient for the resolution. Really, I would have been happy if most of the ending were summed up in a couple paragraphs, or even left off altogether.Another thing about the book that I didn't care for is the subject of the humor. There are actually a lot of targets, but a big one is East Asian culture - mostly Chinese, but some Japanese thrown in. I felt pretty uncomfortable with many of the jokes, because it reminded me very strongly of the depictions of Asian people/culture from the first part of the 20th century. Most of those depictions were rooted in racism and a belief that Asian people/cultures were less human or less civilized than Western people/cultures, and Pratchett doesn't seem to hold that view or promote it, but I nonetheless found that Interesting Times mimicked it too well, and was almost indistinguishable. On the other hand, the characters in the book are in no way presented as less than human - the Agatean characters receive the same treatment as all the others in Discworld, who are all pretty equally ripe for jokes of one kind of another. The Agatean characters provide opportunities for humor because they're characters, not because they're Agatean. I suppose the same could be said about the Agatean culture jokes, that the same thing happens with Ankh-Morpork or Lancre or Music or Opera or whatever theme a particular Discworld book has, but as I said, the similarity with the completely earnest racist crap from the early 20th century makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable with it.All that said, Interesting Times was at least entertaining (until the last part) and I did enjoy it more than several other Discworld books. But it's not one I'll read again, I don't think.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Poor Rincewind - he just can't catch a break. In Interesting Times, he's flung across the world to help fulfill an ancient prophecy. And there really couldn't be a worse man for the job.
ironicqueery on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable book in the Discworld series that follows another adventure of Rincewind, the Wizzard. Cohen and the Barbarians are also major characters in this book. Both combine for an interesting story set in Discworld's equivalent of our China. Pratchett comments, in his usual satiric/parody style, on war, legends, and the butterfly effect. While all Pratchett books are great, this ranks in the top 25 percentile.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I lost the plot of this one somewhat. The early stages were good - particularly the way in which Rincewind is whisked back to the University - top class! Once the storyline hits the Discworld equivalent of the Far East, however, it all gets a bit too complicated for me! Liked the Eastern take on C.M.O.T. Dibbler, though.
gercmbyrne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett is a god who walks among men. The entire Discworld series is a joy and only a strange mad creature cursed by gods and man would refuse to read and love these books!Rincewind is barely surprised to learn that his old pal Twoflower has inadvertently managed to cause a revolution at home...
Greatrakes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a Discworld book featuring Rincewind the 'Wizzard' who finds himself rescued from a desert island and instantly dispatched to the Agatean Empire at the behest of a scheming Grand Vizier. The Agatean empire is a mixture of feudal Japan and Imperial China with a bit of the Arabian Nights thrown in. Twoflower, from the very first book, is leading a very polite revolution, (the manifesto of the revolution is his book What I did on My Holidays) his hapless followers spend most of their time pasting up formal and neat revolutionary posters "Extended Duration And Happiness To The Endeavor" and "Advance Judiciously". Cohen the Barbarian is leading a bunch of ancient and decrepit heroes, the 'Silver Horde', who try to take over the empire just by turning up and sitting on the throne.All good fun - plenty of historical cliches to parody mixed in with a spot of chaos theory and a stab at linguistics - he gives the Agateans a tonal language in which many phrases, meaning very different things, are identical and must be understood by the tone in which they are spoken - this gives him a number of running jokes for example the same words, with differing intonation, mean :'Arrrgh!..... 'Highly enjoyable'.... or 'Your wife is a big hippo'
CeeRose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Rincewind book, which means it's not one of my favourites."Rincewind could scream for mercy in nineteen languages, and just scream in another forty-four."
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Badapple More than 1 year ago
When I have consumed an overly large amount of non-fiction or historical fiction, I inevitably turn to another Pratchett volume. I intersperse these to allow me to savor a series that I know will eventually end, and my world will be less because of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read when I go to bed and I have to keep an extra pillow to muflle my laughter so I don't wake my husband every time I read a Pratchett.
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I love Rincewind! He's one of my favorite characters on the disk! I love to read about all of his adventures, and the evil on millions of tiny feet that follow him wherever he goes.