The L-Space Web: Books: Synopses

Sourcery


Written by Ed

On a beach near a smoking settlement, the wizard Ipslore the Red looks mournfully out to sea, cradling his baby son.

Death appears and speaks to the wizard; Ipslore believes that he has come to claim his son. Apparently, he and his family have been driven out of their village because Ipslore broke the vital rule of celibacy. He is an eighth son of an eighth son, and so of course wizardry is the only occupation available to such a man. However, by breaking the rule of celibacy he now holds in his hands an eighth son of an eighth son of an eighth son.a sourcerer, a wizard of unlimited power. Death reveals he is here to claim the life of Ipslore, but as lightning spears down and strikes him he leaps into his son's octiron staff. His disembodied consciousness vows revenge on wizardry.

 

Ten years later, Rincewind the failed wizard is relaxing in the grounds of Unseen University, school of wizardry in Ankh-Morpork. As he watches, however, all the miscellaneous vermin suddenly start streaming from the building; a great tide of rats and cockroaches swirling round Rincewind's feet. He collars a passing gargoyle to find out what is happening, but with its mouth fixed open it is only able to give a somewhat cryptic response:

"A Ourcerer is umming!"

Leaning against one of the walls, Rincewind feels that the walls themselves are vibrating. He runs to see Spelter, the bursar, who unsurprisingly finds it hard to believe Rincewind's claim that "the University is sinking". Rincewind gives up and, followed by the Luggage and the Orang-Utan Librarian, goes to the Mended Drum.

While they are there, a mysterious stranger breaks into the University and steals something.

The wizards are in the great hall preparing for the ceremony to induct the new Archchancellor, Virrid Wayzygoose. Suddenly however, the doors to the hall are smashed down and a small boy strides in, claiming to be the only candidate for the new Archchancellorship. This is met with some scepticism until he vaporises a senior wizard and performs an incredibly hard spell that creates a new little world. Faced with little alternative, the wizards prepare to invest the sourcerer boy, Coin, as the new Archchancellor.

Meanwhile, in the Drum, the mysterious stranger arrives and meets Rincewind. It turns out that this person is in fact Conina, the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian and has stolen the Archchancellor's hat, a headpiece made sentient through years of magic.

The hat states that a sourcerer has arrived, and that it must be taken away. Rincewind and Conina go into the shades, where that hat is stolen. It there reveals its awesome power by instantly freezes the thief to death. It bids them take it to the city of Al-Khali, capital of Klatch across the Circle Sea. In the morning, Rincewind and Conina depart on a merchant ship.

 

Meanwhile, Coin has not been idle. The wizards are rather excited; raw magic is sleeting into the world in vast quantities, and the wizards are now proficient in even the most complicated magic. Coin has appointed three "advisors": Marmaric Carding, Spelter the bursar and the Lore master, Hakardly. Carding is almost killed when he touches Coins staff. He is warned that if he should touch it again, he will die. Coin then proceeds to transform the whole of Ankh-Morpork into a gleaming, modern utopia. The wizards take over the city when Coin summons the Patrician, Lord Vetinari, and transforms him into a gecko.

Meanwhile, the voyage to Al-Khali is interrupted when a fleet of pirates attacks the merchant ship. Conina, being her father's daughter, easily fights them off but they manage to steal the Archchancellor's hat.

That night, Carding reveals the new Archchancellor's hat he has made to replace the one that was stolen. Spelter, though, accidentally finds Coin crying in his room, with the staff hovering over him.

 

Rincewind and Conina finally arrive in Al-Khali and observe the Seriph's magnificent palace, the Rhoxie. The Luggage has disappeared. Rincewind and Conina wander around the city for some time before being arrested without warning by the Seriph's guard.

In Ankh-Morpork, Coin builds a new building, the Tower Of Sourcery. It is a gleaming white tower stretching up into the sky, the new home of wizardry. All wizards are to move in.

Rincewind and Conina meet the debauched Seriph, Creosote. They also meet the Grand Vizier, Abrim, who reveals that the pirates who attacked the merchant ship were under his employment. Conina is sent to Creosote's seraglio while Rincewind is thrown into the snake pit.

Coin orders the Library burned, and this inflames Spelter's conscience. He rebels, and goes to warn the Librarian. However, he is caught by Coin's staff, and is violently killed.

In the snake pit Rincewind meets Nijel the Destroyer barbarian-hero-in-training (the snake actually being rather harmless), who asks Rincewind to perform a spell so that they can escape. Rincewind refuses, but finds he can actually perform spells. He blows the wall down and they escape into the city, where they find that the wizards are invading. Another tower has been built in Al-Khali, and wizards are streaming from it. Rincewind tells Nijel about Conina, and he resolves to rescue her. They go back to the Rhoxie.

Meanwhile, a party of wizards have gone to burn the Library. They are extremely nervous about it, a feeling only inflamed when the Librarian attacks them. In the end, however, it only makes them more determined.

Rincewind and Nijel return to the palace, where they enter the seraglio and are attacked by the guards. They are themselves attacked by Conina. They all leave, including the Seriph Creosote. However, they are found by Abrim, who is wearing the Archchancellor's hat. He is now the embodiment of wizardry. He goes to the tower of Al-Khali, kills the wizard on guard, and takes over the tower. He then starts a battle between Klatch and Ankh-Morpork. This reminds Rincewind of the Mage wars, a time in the Discworld's history when magic was rife, and there were vicious battles in which whole areas of the Disc were rendered uninhabitable. Rincewind senses that history is repeating itself, but this time the world is too worn out to take the magic. Apparently, the Apocralypse is at hand.

Creosote tells them that he has a magic carpet in the treasury, and the party goes to fetch it and escape. The booby traps in the treasury are rather inept (although there is an ingenious twist at the end) and they soon find the carpet. They all fly away on it and land on a deserted beach, where they spend the night watching the pyrotechnical battle between Ankh-Morpork and Al-Khali. Rincewind sleepwalks, instinctively building a little tower out of rocks. Nijel, Conina and Creosote go to sleep themselves, but when they wake up they find that Rincewind and the carpet have gone. Nijel contacts a genie from a lamp he stole from the treasury, and gets him to take them back to Ankh-Morpork.

 

Rincewind lands in Ankh-Morpork, where he has flown impulsively in order to fight the sourcerer. However, when he arrives he finds that the Library has been burned down.but there is movement in the Tower of Art.

Nijel, Conina and Creosote are travelling in the genie's lamp, which is in fact being held by Nijel. The genie tries to stop them from thinking about this, but as Nijel persists in remarking on the dimensional abnormality that reality is compelled to return to normal, marooning the three in the Sto Plains.

Rincewind finds that the Librarian has moved all the books into the Tower of Art, along with the Patrician who is currently residing in a jar. Rincewind has since calmed down and now refuses to fight, but by threatening to destroy his hat the Librarian convinces him that there are some things worth fighting for.

Meanwhile, Nijel, Conina and Creosote have come across a tavern outside which four magnificent horses are tethered. What they don't know, however, is that the horses belong to Death, War, Famine and Pestilence.and are rather surprised to find that the horses can fly.

In the Tower of Sourcery, Carding is engaged in a battle of wills with Abrim, who is still in Klatch. They are both balancing huge forces, and both are watching out for a lapse in concentration. Suddenly the Luggage, which has been spending the past few days getting drunk and wandering the Klatchian desert, enters the tower in Al-Khali and distracts Abrim. Carding strikes, imploding the Vizier. The resulting feedback destroys the Klatchian tower and flings Carding across the room. This brings him back to reality, and he realises that the Things from the dreaded Dungeon Dimensions are soon to attack, breaking through to the Disc on account of the vast quantities of magic being expended. Carding panics, and grabs the staff. The earlier promise is fulfilled, and he is killed. Coin is not frightened of the Dungeon Dimensions, and instead consolidates his power by imprisoning the gods of the Discworld. This results in the release of the Ice Giants, mythical beings who are said to ride at the end of the world.

Rincewind goes to the tower, armed with only a sock with a half brick inside it. This intrigues Coin. His father's influence, inside the staff, orders him to attack. Coin refuses at the last second. The staff incapacitates him and attacks itself, lunging at Rincewind. Coin, realising his father's evil, grabs the staff and begins a magical battle with it. All the wizards recognise this as the final blow that will release the Things. They all evacuate the Tower of Sourcery, except for Rincewind, who lunges at the staff. They vanish, with Death claiming Ipslore the Red at the last second. The tower vanishes.

The Ice Giants are advancing, freezing the land as they go. Nijel's pleas fall on deaf ears.

Rincewind and Coin are trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. There is a gateway back to the Discworld, rapidly shrinking. Knowing that Coin is the only one who can repair the damage that he has done, Rincewind helps Coin escape. However, the gateway closes before he can escape himself.

Coin frees the gods, who banish the Ice Giants. Coin rebuilds Ankh-Morpork, as it was before he arrived. Nijel and Conina arrive asking for Rincewind. Coin causes them to forget, and sends them away. He then performs his last spell; he creates the little universe he did before, and vanishes inside it so as not to cause any more damage. The Librarian takes Rincewind's battered hat, the only thing to avoid being sucked into the Dungeon Dimensions, and puts it on a shelf in the Library. As the city gradually returns to normal, it appears that the Librarian is the only one left to remember the failed wizard.


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