One of the worst curses you can fling at a Discworld character is “May you live in interesting times,” hence the title of the book.
But aside from it’s promising title, the 17th Discworld book was a bit of a letdown after the fitting soulful musings of Soul Music, but it almost made up for it in sheer volume of jokes and witticisms alone. I wanted to quote something practically every other page. The perfect Discworld book is funny, biting, and deep-hitting. This one was mostly just amusing, although it did have some in-world continuity to fall back on that gave it a little extra oomph.
Although it can be read on its own, Interesting Times is a Rincewind book, and in many ways it’s actually a direct sequel to the very first Discworld books, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. We first met Rincewind and the flat disc of a world he lives on (carried around space by four giant elephants perched on the back of an even more giant turtle) when he is shanghaied into playing guide to a hapless tourist named Twoflower from the faraway Counterweight Continent. The two of them have many ridiculous adventures together, which mostly consist of Twoflower being delighted by everything, including and most especially when his life is in danger, and Rincewind being inept and terrified by it all, but somehow stumbling through and saving the day anyway. Interesting Times turns the tables and finds Rincewind an unexpected tourist on the Counterweight Continent, only it seems he’s been called there because Revolution is brewing, and Twoflower’s tales of his adventures in Ankh-Morpork and beyond (which he wrote up and titled “What I Did on My Summer Holidays”) have lent him the moniker The Great Wizard. The people want him to help them overthrow their cruel Empire, a task for which he is monumentally unfit.
There’s also some stuff with The Luggage and a group of old, old men (like, SERIOUSLY old) led by Cohen the Barbarian who are also in the country to do nefarious things to the Empire. The joke with them is mostly that they’re so old you’d think they’d be incompetent but they are still the most deadly people in the room, even the one in the wheel chair, and there’s this whole thing about them trying to learn to be “civilized.” It mostly all works.
The ending felt a little too coincidental for me, and again, it was mostly all surface level humor (although still very funny), so it’s definitely not one of my favorites in this series, but still a good read.
[3.5 stars, rounding up because it made me laugh a lot]