9th novel – 4th Rincewind story
|Subject||Faust, Dante's Inferno, Homer's Iliad, Trojan War|
|Publisher||Victor Gollancz / Corgi|
Eric, stylized as
Faust Eric, is the ninth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. It was originally published in 1990 as a "Discworld story", in a larger format than the other novels and illustrated by Josh Kirby. It was later reissued as a normal paperback without any illustrations, and in some cases, with the title given on the cover and title pages simply as Eric. (The page headers, however, continued to alternate between Faust and Eric.)
The story is a parody of the tale of Faust, and follows the events of Sourcery in which the Wizard Rincewind was trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. The Discworld version of Hell or Pandemonium exists simply because some people believe that it exists for them. In other Discworld stories, such as Small Gods, the afterlife is different or non-existent, according to the various beliefs.
Rincewind wakes in a strange place, having been summoned by the 13-year-old demonologist, Eric Thursley, who wants the mastery of all kingdoms, to meet the most beautiful woman who ever existed, and to live forever. He is disappointed when Rincewind tells him he is unable to deliver any of these things, and embarrassed when Rincewind sees through his disguise. Rincewind is disheartened to learn that the spells to confine the demon summoned are working on him; Eric's parrot tells him that because he was summoned as a demon, he is subject to the same terms.
The arrival of Rincewind's Luggage causes Eric to suspect deceit on Rincewind's part. Eric's demands are renewed; he makes three wishes of Rincewind. Rincewind insists he cannot grant wishes with the snap of a finger, and discovers to his horror that snapping his fingers really does work.
- To be Ruler of the World. Eric and Rincewind find themselves in the rain forests of Klatch, in the Tezumen empire, a parody of the Aztec Empire. The local people come forward to pay tribute to Eric and declare him Ruler of the World. During this tribute, Rincewind and the parrot explore the temple of Quezovercoatl (a parody of Quetzalcoatl), where they find a prisoner, Ponce da Quirm (a parody of Juan Ponce de León), who is to be sacrificed. Da Quirm tells Rincewind about the terrible fate the Tezumen have planned for the Ruler of the World, on whom they blame all life's misfortunes. Shortly, Rincewind, Eric and da Quirm find themselves tied up at the top of a pyramid, waiting to be sacrificed, when Quezovercoatl makes his appearance. (A junior demon, Quezovercoatl had supplanted the previous Tezumen deity, a stick.) Unfortunately for him, the Luggage also makes an appearance, trampling the six-inch-tall Quezovercoatl in the process. The Tezumen are pleased to see Quezovercoatl destroyed, release the prisoners, and enshrine the luggage in the place of their god. At the end of the book, the Tezumen are revealed to have abandoned worshipping the Luggage as well (since it never returned) and turned atheist, "which still allowed them to kill anyone they wanted, but they didn't have to get up so early to do it".
- To Meet the Most Beautiful Woman in All History. Rincewind snaps his fingers again, and they find themselves in a large wooden horse (a parody of the Trojan Horse). Exiting, they are surrounded by Tsortean soldiers, who take them for an Ephebian invasion force. Rincewind manages to talk their way out from the guards and out of the city, only to fall into the hands of the invading army. Rincewind and Eric are taken to Lavaeolus, the man who built the horse—having sent the horse in as a decoy so that he and his men could sneak in around the back while their enemies waited around the horse for them to come out—who tells them off in ironic fashion, for 'spoiling the war'. They reenter Tsort through a secret passage, and find Elenor (a parody of Helen of Troy). Both Eric and Lavaeolus are disappointed to find that it has been a long siege, and Elenor is now a plump mother of several children, with the beginnings of a moustache, and that serious artistic licence had been taken in her description. The Ephebians escape the city while Tsort burns, and Lavaeolus and his army set out for home, with Lavaeolus complaining about voyages by sea (further reference to the Iliad and subsequent Odyssey ). Eric notes that "Lavaeolus" in Ephebian translates to "Rinser of Winds", hinting that perhaps Lavaeolus is an ancestor of Rincewind.
- To Live Forever. Rincewind snaps his fingers, bringing Eric and him outside time, just before the beginning of existence. Rincewind meets the Creator, who is just forming the Discworld and is having trouble finishing some of the animals. Rincewind and Eric are left on the newly formed world, with the realization that "to live forever" means to live for all time, from start to finish. To escape, Rincewind has Eric reverse his summoning, taking them both to hell. At the end of the book, the Creator was said to have developed a seven-pointed snowflake.
They discover hell steeped in bureaucracy, the Demon King Astfgl having decided that boredom might be the ultimate form of torture. Rincewind uses his university experience to confuse the demons, so he and Eric can try to escape. While crossing through the recently reformed levels of hell (satirical forms of Dante's Inferno) they encounter da Quirm and the parrot, as well as Lavaeolus, who tells them where the exit is.
The source of Rincewind's demonic powers is revealed to be Lord Vassenego, a Demon Lord leading a secret revolt against Astfgl. Using Rincewind to keep Astfgl occupied while gathering support amongst the demons, Vassenego confronts his king just as Astfgl finally catches up to Rincewind and Eric. Vassenego announces the council of demons has made Astfgl "Supreme Life President of Hell", and that he is to plan out the course of action for demons. With Astfgl lost in the bureaucratic prison of his own making, Vassenego takes over as king and lets Rincewind and Eric escape, so that stories about hell can be told.
- The Luggage
Starburst has called it "a series of hilarious pokes at the cliché that is hell". Gardner Dozois, conversely, considered it "downright bad, the only Discworld book [he] actively disliked and found a chore to read". In 2011 The novel was included in the "Gollancz 50" series. The series marked the publisher's 50th anniversary by re-issuing seminal works of science fiction.
In other media
- An audio serialization of the novel, in four episodes of about fifteen minutes each, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2013.
- BookLore Review - Eric by Terry Pratchett Retrieved 2009-06-9
- Amazon.co.uk Eric (Discworld): Terry Pratchett, Josh Kirby Retrieved 2009-05-9
- Amazon.com Eric: Terry Pratchett: Books Retrieved 2009-05-9
- Pratchett Play in Edinburgh Fringe Bid, by Ed Fortune, in Starburst; published April 9, 2015; retrieved August 14, 2017
- [http://www.tor.com/2013/04/27/terry-pratchetts-discworld-might-be-the-highest-form-of-literature-on-the-planet/comment-page-1/#comment-345378 Comment #50 on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Might Be The Highest Form of Literature on the Planet (original article by Brandon Sanderson), posted May 2, 2013; retrieved August 4, 2017
- "Eric". BBC Radio 4 Extra. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
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