I’m not sure what to say here; as someone who’s only read the text-only re-release, I know I’m missing part of the story, e.g., the illustrations. The only first-edition copies on the market tend to sell for $200 and up, which is a bit too pricy for my blood.
Still, while the novel is a bit thin compared to other Discworld titles, it’s still a fun read. Emphasis is definitely on the “fun” here – there’s no doubt from the get-go that this is all just an excuse to send Rincewind (and Eric) acorss time and space and (literally) to Hell, deeper philosophical points and complex character insights be damned. Criticizing Eric for not being deeper is like criticizing A Night at the Opera for not being Citizen Kane; quite simply, you either laugh, or you don’t. I laughed quite a bit, but I admit I’m easily amused, and I also admit there isn’t much of substenance to take away from the novel after I was done laughing.
I also spent some time last week reading Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, so I’ll mercilessly steal from that tome and point out that Eric contains one of Pratchett’s recurring motifs – that of the evil perpetuated by stifling bureaucracies and routine sameness. After all, Rincewind gets roped into the events of Eric as part of a scheme to save Hell from Astfgl’s morale-boosting mission statements, artificial plants, and piped-in Muzak (which is doubly ironic given that Rincewind’s idea of a good time is a boring one).
I don’t get why it isn’t reprinted with illustrations. The Last Hero is, isn’t it?
Apart from that, I can easily see how this could’ve been a great book, instead of just a fun book. There are so many great ideas about it, that are just… kinda … thrown away. Meeting the creator (though there’s is a mention later - Last Continent? - that Rincewind created life with that sandwich), the parody of Aztec, Maya, Inca cultures (Why haven’t Pterry revisited this?), the fun with Homer and classic Greek drama, the description of hell, including the inscriptions on the stairs…
I know a lot of people don’t like Rincewind ( I do), but the settings and ideas are there and could be made into something truly great.
It’s fun though. And the parrot is hilarious. I think Yago was modelled on him.
I vaguely recall something like the original publisher of Eric retained the rights for the illustrations, while Pratchett retains the rights to his words. So while he can reprint the words to his liking, the illustrations are out of his hands.
I have the illustrated version (most of my Discworld’s are first edition paperbacks).
It was clearly written purely to showcase Josh Kirby’s art, giving ample opportunities for suitable illustrative madness, plus it was an excuse for another Rincewind book without having to tax Terry’s intellect too much. c.f. Last Hero.
I have to say, it’s the illustrations that make it worth reading, as they are quite beautiful, and some are hilarious. I especially like how they fill the page to the edges, like a children’s book does - with space left for the text.
I’ll use my 1000th post to say:
My least favourite Discworld book, probably because I am SO not a Kirby fan. There are some good ideas, and some we’ll revisit, but it does read like a step back to LF and CoM, without being quite as funny.
I didn’t know till I read this thread that it was an illustrated book - I wondered why it was so short! I have never seen the illustrated version anywhere - looks like I need to get on eBay.
I’m also not a fan of this work, it seems a bit different from the rest of the series (although if it’s meant to be illustrated, that could be part of it). It reminds me, in fact, of Tom Holt - bureaucratic demons have cropped up in one or two of his novels.
Still, it’s a light read for when you’re not feeling to intelligent :).
There were several good gags. I liked the one where Rincewind and Eric were threatened with being sentenced to the triremes, and when the sergeant thought they were being funny with him, mentioned “Only there’s such things as quinqueremes, you know. You wouldn’t like that at all”. It’s fairly frothy on the whole but it has its moments.
I read this book with the original drawings, they were fab. Someone I was at school with pulled a face and asked me why I’d bothered writing something so stupid in the inside cover, and then realising (too late!) that it was part of the book - wanker. Oh, for those that didn’t see it the book had Eric’s address written inside in case it got lost.
I loved this book so much that it made me try (and fail) to read Faust to connect with the original material. Again I’m pleading childhood here for loving it so much, but it still has a special place in my heart. Oh, it also made me try (and suceed!) to read Dante’s Inferno so it did well there at least. The vision of hell as a place that’s extremely boring is, to me, far more chillling than one where you’re tormented physically! (It probably doesn’t help that I work in a large government bureaucracy.)