The Light Fantastic

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The Light Fantastic
Author Terry Pratchett
Language English
Series Discworld
2nd novel – 2nd Rincewind story

Fantasy clichés

Rincewind, Twoflower, The Luggage, Cohen the Barbarian
Ankh-Morpork, Dungeon Dimensions
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Colin Smythe
Publication date
ISBN 0-86140-203-0

The Light Fantastic is a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett, the second of the Discworld series. It was published on June 2, 1986, the first printing being of 1,034 copies. The title is a quote from a poem by John Milton and in the original context[1] referred to dancing lightly with extravagance.

The events of the novel are a direct continuation of those in the preceding book, The Colour of Magic (the only Discworld novel to follow on in this manner).

Plot summary[edit]

After the wizard Rincewind has fallen from the edge of the Discworld, the Octavo magic book saves his life and he lands back on the world. Meanwhile, the wizards of Ankh-Morpork discover from Death via a rite that the Discworld will soon be destroyed by a huge red star unless the eight spells of the Octavo are read: the most powerful spells in existence, one of which hides in Rincewind's head. Consequently, several orders of wizards try to capture Rincewind, led by Trymon, a former classmate of Rincewind's, who wishes to obtain the power of the spells for himself.

After Rincewind, who has met again with Twoflower, escapes them, it becomes apparent that Great A'Tuin, the giant turtle that carries the Discworld, has set a new course that leads it directly into a red star with eight moons. Rincewind and Twoflower are accompanied by Cohen the Barbarian, a toothless, ageing hero, and Bethan, a sacrificial virgin saved by Cohen, with assistance from Rincewind and Twoflower.

Rincewind becomes one of the very few people ever to enter Death's Domain whilst still alive, where he finds Twoflower playing contract bridge with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. He is nearly killed when he meets Death's adopted daughter Ysabell, but is saved by the quick-acting Luggage. The group also encounter people who, anticipating the apocalypse, are heading for the mountains (not for protection, but because they will have a better view). As well as this, they happen upon the kind of shop where strange and sinister goods are on sale and inexplicably vanish the next time a customer tries to find them. The existence of these shops is explained as being a curse by a sorcerer upon the shopkeeper for not having something in stock.

As the star comes nearer and the magic on the Discworld becomes weaker, Trymon tries to put the seven spells still in the Octavo into his mind, in an attempt to save the world and gain ultimate power. However, the spells prove too strong for him and his mind becomes a door into the "Dungeon Dimensions", whence strange, horrible creatures try to escape into reality. The seven leading wizards are meanwhile turned to stone. After winning a fight against them, Rincewind is able to read all eight spells aloud; whereupon the eight moons of the red star crack open and reveal eight tiny world-turtles that follow their parent A'Tuin on a course away from the star. The Octavo then falls and is eaten by Twoflower's Luggage.

The book ends with Twoflower and Rincewind parting company, as Twoflower decides to return home, leaving The Luggage with Rincewind as a parting gift. Rincewind decides to re-enroll in the university, believing that with the spell out of his head, he will be able to learn magic.


The cover of a United States paperback release features a mistake, with Cohen's name stated to be "Conan".[2]


Graphic novel[edit]

A graphic novel adapted by Scott Rockwell and illustrated by Steven Ross and Joe Bennet, was first published as a four-part comic in June, August, December 1992 and February 1993 by the Innovative Corporation of Wheeling WV, before being published as a single volume by Corgi on November 4, 1993. It has been published in hardcover along with the graphic novel of The Colour of Magic, as The Discworld Graphic Novels. (ISBN 978-0-06-168596-5)

TV adaptation[edit]

The Mob Film Company and Sky One produced a miniseries, combining both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, broadcast on Easter Sunday and Monday 2008. Sir David Jason played the part of Rincewind.[3] He was joined by David Bradley as Cohen the Barbarian,[4] Sean Astin as Twoflower,[5] Tim Curry as Trymon,[5] and Christopher Lee taking over the role of Death from Ian Richardson[5] (a role he previously portrayed in the animated series Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters).

The production team wanted to get fans involved in the adaptation so some of the extras used in the adaptation (in mob scenes and the during the fight in the Broken Drum) were Discworld fans who were selected via various website and Newsletters.


  1. ^ "L'Allegro", lines 33–34
  2. ^ Misprinted Cover scan from
  3. ^ "Del's spells as David lands role". The Sun Online. 24 April 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Harry Potter and the magical Midlanders". Sunday Mercury. June 15, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c "Colour of Magic Cast". Paul Kidby official website. July 31, 2007. 

External links[edit]

Reading order guide
Preceded by
The Colour of Magic
2nd Discworld Novel Succeeded by
Equal Rites
Preceded by
The Colour of Magic
2nd Rincewind Story
Published in 1986
Succeeded by