Book:The Colour of Magic

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The Colour Of Magic
Cover art by Josh Kirby
Illustrator(s) Josh Kirby
Publisher Colin Smythe
Publication date November 1983
ISBN 086140324X
Pages 206
Main characters Rincewind, Twoflower, the Luggage
Series Rincewind Series
Annotations View
Notes The first Discworld novel
All data relates to the first UK edition.


On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet ...


The story starts with the telling of the manner of the Discworld. The world itself is a flat disc that rests on the back of four giant elephants named Berilia, Tubul, Great T'Phon and Jerakeen, who (in turn) rest on the large shell of a giant World Turtle called Great A'Tuin who swims through space. On the Disc it is further known that the small kingdom of Krull has been sending teams of men over the Edge to look at the Turtle and the four Elephants and proved that they are real, but they do not know the sex of Great A'Tuin.

Far away in the hubwards direction Ankh-Morpork, the most famous and oldest city on the Disc, is burning. This burning is being watched by two of the local heroes, Bravd the Hublander and his partner Weasel. They are joined shortly after by Rincewind (a failed wizard who had looked at the great spell book the Octavo and then flunked out of the Unseen University) and the Disc's first tourist Twoflower (who has passed out after falling off his horse which he failed to ride) and after them comes the Luggage (a walking suitcase that has half a mind of its own and has a homicidal attitude to anything threatening).

Rincewind then explains to the two local heroes his story about how he had met Twoflower. Several days ago Twoflower had arrived from the Agatean Empire that is on the infamous Counterweight Continent. He has a large amount of gold (which makes various men try and rob him) that he thinks is not a lot of money. He attracts the attention of Blind Hugh who sends Cripple Wa to tell the two greatest thieves in Ankh-Morpork, Ymor and Stren Withel, and Hugh himself leads Twoflower to the Broken Drum, a local inn owned by Broadman.

Twoflower pays for his room (using more money than the inn and staff are worth) and is followed in by the Luggage which gets Rincewind's attention because it is made of sapient pearwood. Speaking in Trob, Rincewind and Twoflower talk to each other while Broadman runs to an Alchemist to check the gold coins that Twoflower had given him. The Alchemist says that it is 'technically false coinage' (local coins contain less gold then seawater). Word soon spreads that a large amount of gold has entered Ankh-Morpork and various thieves start to come together.

Back at the Broken Drum, Rincewind has been hired to be a guide to Twoflower but after receiving pay he runs off. Buying a horse, Rincewind tries to leave the city but his horse is shot by the guards. The Patrician tells Rincewind that he will spare his life if Rincewind will keep guiding Twoflower and keep him from getting in trouble or killed. Going back, Rincewind rescues Twoflower from a tavern fight and they head out to 'look' at the city, taking pictures with the Iconograph. Soon the two find themselves separated and Rincewind is almost killed by Withel but he escapes.

The Patrician receives a request from the Grand Vizier of the Agatean Empire to make sure Twoflower does not return so he sends the master of the Assassins' Guild (Zlorf Flannelfoot) to kill Twoflower. Rincewind backtracks to the Broken Drum to find that the Thieves, Assassins, and the newly created Guild of Merchants all want Twoflower, who is currently selling Broadman In-sewer-ants (Insurance). The three groups start to fight with each other. The gutter wizard Rincewind meanwhile has an unexpected meeting with Death who offers him a horse.

Refusing, Rincewind rescues Twoflower from the fight while Broadman sets fire to the inn to get the money from the In-sewer-ants and is offered a match by a hollow voiced stranger (Death, and you know what happens next). Of course the fire becomes a large fire ball that sets fire to those parts of Ankh-Morpork which are flammable (most of them) hence finishing the backstory.

We now learn that the events taking place are controlled in a board game played by the gods and Rincewind and Twoflower are controlled by The Lady and Fate is trying to be kill them. He brings forth the most impossible piece: the Sender of Eight, Bel-Shamharoth. Rincewind ends up hanging from a branch (with a snake wrapped on it and under a wasp nest) and is hanging above a pack of wolves. Death again tries to claim him but Rincewind knocks the wasp nest down by accident causing the wolves to flee. Safe, Rincewind is taken prisoner by the dryad Druellae for breaking a branch, he of course has a lucky break and is able to instantly get to Twoflower.

They meet Hrun the Barbarian and banish the Sender of Eight, causing Fate to lose the game, and the three of them go to the Wyrmberg, an upsidedown mountain filled with dragons. Twoflower thinks of a dragon and one pops up in front of him while Hrun is offered to become a King by Liessa the princess. Leaving Hrun behind. Rincewind and Twoflower use Twoflower's dragon to escape but flying too far away from the Wyrmberg the dragon fades and they drop out of the air.

For a moment or two they are transported to Roundworld until the Luggage leaps in and they fall into the Discworld sea near the Edge. They are rescued by the Circumfence (a fence that wraps around the Edge) and meet a water troll from another world and then are transported to Krull to be sacrificed to the god Fate while Fate himself confirms the up-coming deaths of Rincewind and Twoflower. They escape their jail with help from the Lady and get into two space suits meant for the passengers of the Potent Voyager, a ship that is about to be sent over the Edge. At that moment the Luggage comes in (wrapped in seaweed) which gets the attention of everyone who figured out that Rincewind and Twoflower are imposters. Twoflower starts to climb in the Potent Voyager and Rincewind starts to climb in after him but then the Voyager starts to slide down.

Desperately a group of men come up and try and stop the Voyager but that only makes Twoflower fall into the cabin below and the latch locks behind him leaving Rincewind outside. Then '...sparkling like a salmon, [the Voyager] dropped into the sky and over the Edge. A few seconds later there came a thunder of little feet and the Luggage cleared the rim of the world, legs still pumping determinedly, and plunged down into the universe.'

Rincewind safely lands on a tree on the very Edge and is confronted by Death again, but Rincewind points out that he hasn't broken anything and is still alive. Death turns out to be a small demon Scrofula and Rincewind argues with him and, just as the demon is about to kill him, the tree gives way. Rincewind starts to fall off the Disc and then clearing the planet he falls, and falls, and falls....


The cover illustration was drawn by Josh Kirby. Like most of his pictures the illustration is very busy and filled with a great number of details. It presumably shows a scene inside the tavern The Broken Drum. In the foreground of the picture the Luggage can be seen running away on several small feet. Notably, is the drawing of Twoflower running down the stairs. It can be seen that the artist decided to take a passage on page 16 literally where it says "(...) Blind Hugh began, and found himself looking up into a face with four eyes in it." However, Terry Pratchett only wanted to state that Twoflower was wearing glasses.


Main characters

Minor characters



Sentient Species

Supernatural Entities


Things and concepts mentioned:


Roundworld References

  • Magnox, a type of nuclear reactor
  • TWA, an airline


Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic
IMDB 1079959
First Broadcast 23-24 March 2008
Broadcast Channel Sky One
Director(s) Vadim Jean
Producer(s) Rod Brown & Ian Sharples
Writer(s) {{{writer}}}
Starring David Jason, Sean Astin, Tim Curry, Christopher Lee (voice)
Duration 184 minutes
Episodes 2
Series Rincewind Series
Annotations Annotations for Book:The Colour of Magic
Preceded by Terry Pratchett's Hogfather
Followed by Terry Pratchett's Going Postal
All data relates to the UK home release.



The TV adaptation also adds characters unreferenced in the original book like Hector Tugelbend and Ransak Boggett, who are essentially "placeholder" characters added for completion who are referenced only once, with minimal information, and then dissappear again.


The novel was serialised and broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 show 'Women's Hour' the same year as its release, 1983. Abridged in ten parts by Pat McLoughlin and read by Nigel Hawthorne.

Video Game

The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were adapted into a text adventure video game The Colour of Magic in 1986.

It was adapted into a second video game for mobile phones, Discworld: The Colour of Magic in 2006.

Graphic Novel

The novel was adapted into a series of four comics illustrated by Steven Ross. These were then collected into a single edition in 1992 and then later in 2008 combined with the other collected edition based on The Light Fantastic into the omnibus The Discworld Graphic Novels The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.

In 2008 The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic were reprinted together in a 25th anniversary edition with illustrations by Stephen Player.


Elements of the book were used in the playtext The Rince Cycle by Stephen Briggs in 2015.


First Edition Cover
Cover by Josh Kirby
Compact Edition 1995
Cover by Stephen Player
21st Anniversary Collectors Slipcase
21st Anniversary Hardback 2004
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
US Cover Signet Publishing
US Cover 2005
US Cover 2013
Unseen Library Edition
Illustrated Edition by Stephen Player
Omnibus with TV Cover
Paperback 2012
Spineless Classics Edition
Collectors Library Edition
Paperback 2022

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