The Discworld Reviews: Sourcery


Title: Sourcery

Place in series: # 5 in The Discworld Series, # 3 in The Rincewind Collection

Author: Terry Pratchett

Published: 1988

Concerning spoilers: The Discworld series is made-up of forty-one books that together form a universe but can be read as standalone novels. I’m reading them in the order they were published. There will be no spoilers for this particular book. However, minor spoilers for previous novels in the series can occur.

For more information about The Discworld Series, audiobook narrators, editions, reading order, and previous reviews. You can find my introductory post to The Discworld Series HERE.


There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we’d better not go into), he had seven sons. And then he had an eighth son … a wizard squared … a source of magic … a Sourcerer. Sourcery sees the return of Rincewind and the Luggage as the Discworld faces its greatest – and funniest – challenge yet.


I have a confession to make, Rincewind the Wizard is not my favorite Discworld character, he’s not even in my top five. I know he’s one of Terry Pratchett’s most beloved characters, and he is very endearing. With his inadequacies as a wizard and inability to stay out of trouble, he’s a very effective character to use in stories with punch-line and slapstick humor.

But, in my opinion, the Discworld is inhabited by many far better and more interesting characters than Rincewind.

Thankfully, in Sourcery, the fifth Discworld novel and the third novel featuring Rincewind, we’ve previously met him in The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic, he’s joined by a large cast of characters that help to make the story something more than just physical humor.

Discworld, The Librarian, Terry Pratchett, Sourcery, Rincewind, The Luggage
“Some people think this is paranoia, but it isn’t. Paranoids only think everyone is out to get them. Wizards know it.” ― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

In previous Discworld installments, we’ve been made to understand that wizards, in general, are inept when it comes to women. In Sourcery, we finally get an explanation why; it’s simply a very bad idea for wizards to make little baby wizards.

Unfortunately, when we enter the story, Ipslore the Red, a wizard banish from the Unseen University for marrying and having children is now a proud father of Coin, a Sourcerer with unmatched magical abilities.

He’s also about to die, a prospect he’s not at all pleased with. When DEATH comes to collect him, Ipslore tricks him by transferring his soul into Coins wizards staff.

Young Coin eventually makes his way to the Unseen University where his arrival sets off a chain of events that could only be described as, Wizards Gone Wild.

It’s up to, Rincewind, The Luggage, Corina the (Barbarian) Hairdresser, Nijel the Destroyer, and a sentient Archchancellors hat, to try and stop them.

Sourcery, Discworld, Terry Pratchett, The Librarian, Rincewind, The Luggage
“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.” ― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

Sourcery is not among my favorite Discworld books. Not because it’s bad, not at all. The writing is better than it’s been so far in the series, the plot well-developed and there are some amusing moments.

But, for me, it’s not very memorable. If you’ve been following me, you know I’m a lot further into the series than my reviews are, and looking back, Sourcery is not one of the books that stand out.

What becomes evident with this novel is that Terry Pratchett is very good at developing funny and exciting plots and environments to place his characters in, but, with a few exceptions, there’s not a lot of character development happening; Rincewind is Rincewind.

I don’t really view it as a problem, but it’s another incentive to read the books in their chronological order. I think if you tried to read all the Rincewind books (or the other sub-collections) one after another, you’d become bored with the lack of character development. Spacing them out as intended you’re instead happy to see them again, and you don’t really mind that they’re the same person they were last time you met.

Sourcery, Discworld, The Librarian, The Luggage, Rincewind, Terry Pratchett
“Not much call for a barbarian hairdresser, I expect,’ said Rincewind. ‘I mean, no-one wants a shampoo-and-beheading.” ― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery

For me, what really made this book was the outrageous antics of the wizards and the side-characters. DEATH, as always, is lovely, The Librarian’s struggle to save his books is endearing and, The Luggage on a drunken killing spree is hilarious.

It’s also fun to see the Discworld expanding, we get to travel to The Seriphate of Klatch, a country inspired by Arabic culture were the favorite mode of transportation is flying carpets.

With so much of the book set in Klatch, I want to touch on the subject of how the Discworld novels use clichés and caricatures. As I’ve said before, hidden behind the ridiculous humor, there is depth.

Pratchett discusses, criticizes and highlights the often absurd ways of us humans, highlighting social inequalities, racism, prejudice, the madness of war, religious fanaticism, and many other social problems.

He often does this by using irony and parody to exaggerate caricatures based on common prejudice. It’s important to understand that no culture, ethnicity, religion, body shape, gender, etc. are spared from being made fun of.

In the Discworld, everyone is fair game; white, brown, thin, fat, man, woman, socialist, capitalist, fascists, urbanite or country folk, catholic, muslim or atheist. No one is singled out, no one is given a pass.

Pratchett doesn’t make fun of people, he makes fun of prejudice.

The Discworld, The Librarian, Sourcery, Terry Pratchett, The Luggage, DEATH, Rincewind
“And what would humans be without love?” RARE, said Death.”


Despite this not being a favorite Discworld novel of mine I definitely think it’s worth reading; just because it’s not a favorite, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It’s a well-written book that helps to expand the Discworld. It also sets the scene for characters and plots that will make an appearance later in the series.

Obviously, in a series of over forty books, some will be more memorable than others. In the case of Sorcery, I think it comes down to taste and what type of humor you favor; personally, I’m more Monty Python than Jim Carrey.

Rincewind is a lovable character, but stories centered around him focus more on physical and slapstick humor. If that is your preference, you’ll probably find this book more memorable than I did.

My Rating: 6/10

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