The L-Space Web: Books: Synopses

The Light Fantastic

Written by Ed

Rincewind the wizard is falling over the edge of the Discworld. So is his tourist friend Twoflower, but he has protection: he is in a primitive space vessel built on the island of Krull.

Inside Rincewind's head is a spell, one of the eight great spells of the Octavo, the most powerful grimoire on the Disc. As a bet many years ago he had sneaked a look at the book while still in Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork. One of the spells had jumped into his mind-and now it won't let him die.

In Unseen University, the Octavo is suddenly active-it thrashes about and pulses with light in its protected room, and then suddenly a huge ball of magic is fired up through the roofs to the outside world. It has many strange effects on the way, such as turning a shelf of books into a small group of newts, but its most startling effect is to turn the head librarian into an orang-utan. After a moment its main properties are seen: it is a change spell, the size of the whole world. Once it has finished its work, however, the startled wizards are rather mystified to find that apparently nothing has changed.

Something, however, has changed. Rincewind, who was falling off the edge of the world, is now stuck in a tree in the Forest of Skund, near Lancre. Twoflower and his ship the Potent Voyager materialise in a lake nearby. The tourist sets off to find Rincewind.

Meanwhile, the wizards at UU perform the Rite of AshkEnte to summon Death, to ask him what happened. He tells them that the eight spells of the Octavo must be said next Hogswatch night-two months time-or the Disc will be destroyed. However, one of the spells is in Rincewind's head, and so the eight orders of wizardry send off wizards to get him-with the exception of the Archchancellor, Galder Weatherwax. His subordinate, Ymper Trymon, has seen a prophecy stating that he who brings together all the spells in the Octavo at the correct time will have all he desires.


Twoflower has found Rincewind and together they have found a small gnome, named Swires, in the enchanted forest. Swires lead them to a magical gingerbread cottage, where they intend to spend the night. However, the wizards are converging on them.

In UU, Galder has a plan. He is looking at Rincewind in a magical mirror, and fires a magically charged arrow towards him. He believes that once the arrow hits Rincewind the spell will follow the ionised trail back to him. Trymon has other plans.

That night the wizards find the cottage and attack. However, the different orders are fighting against each other, and the subsequent battle is violent and pyrotechnic. Rincewind and Twoflower escape on a broomstick; the cottage previously having been occupied by a witch. The Luggage, Twoflower's magical wooden trunk with hundreds of legs and a homicidal attitude, is hit by Galder's arrow and is instantly transported to Ankh-Morpork. Galder is expecting Rincewind, and is killed by the Luggage, which then sets off to find its master.

Rincewind and Twoflower fly through the clouds on the broomstick and see in the sky, in the direction of Great A'Tuin the world turtle's flight, a strange red star bigger than all the others. At the moment, however, they have more things to worry about. Suddenly, as they fly back down, everything goes black.

Rincewind wakes up on a stone slab in the middle of some mist. After some confusion he finds out that he is sitting on a rock flying in the clouds, which is being magically piloted by a druid named Belafon. Apparently, when Rincewind and Twoflower flew back through the clouds they hit it, and Rincewind spent the rest of the night unconscious.

The star has been noticed in UU. The astrologers reveal the A'Tuin is scheduled to collide with it on Hogswatch night, hence the need for the spells. Trymon reveals he has sent a group of mercenaries to find Rincewind, led by a swordswoman named Herenna.

Belafon lands the rock in a stone circle in the Vortex plains. Rincewind is suddenly contacted by the spell, and told to keep himself safe. Rincewind begins to feel intensely homesick, and determines to go home. He suddenly meets Cohen the Barbarian, who was the world's greatest hero but is now eighty-seven years old. As they watch in horror, Twoflower tries to rescue a girl called Bethan. The druids attack, and although Cohen fights them off Twoflower is hit by a poisoned blade and his soul is sent to Death's domain. Cohen, Rincewind and Bethan go off to a nearby settlement where Cohen knows a necromancer, who can get Twoflower's soul back.

Meanwhile, the Luggage mysteriously vanishes.

Rincewind is given a potion by the necromancer, and his soul also leaves for Death's domain. He finds that Twoflower has been teaching the four horsemen of the apocalypse to play bridge, and it has not gone down terribly well:


'Yes, some of them become very good at it. I'm only an amateur.'


The Luggage arrives, and Rincewind rescues Twoflower. Rincewind is again called by the spell, who tells him that it arranged for it to be put in his head to keep itself safe. Their souls go back to their bodies, and they awake. Rincewind, Twoflower, Cohen and Bethan set off for Ankh-Morpork. The star is now visible in daylight.

They stop for food, and Rincewind heads off to find some onions. However, while he is away, Herenna's mercenaries ambush the group.

As night falls, Rincewind is shocked to find himself in troll country. The trolls tell him of Old Granddad, a huge prehistoric troll who has since become one with the world. However, when Herenna decides to use his huge mouth as a cave and lights a fire on his tongue, he begins to awake. The mercenaries scatter. Twoflower, Cohen and Bethan are about to be eaten when the sun rises and turns Old Granddad to stone.

Rincewind meets Twoflower and they both set off for Ankh-Morpork, but are again ambushed by Herenna's mercenaries. They are taken to the river Smarl, but find that Cohen has got there first. There is a battle in which the mercenaries are decimated, and the company keeps going. They arrive at a village that is all but deserted; the star is now more powerful than the Disc's own sun, and its effects are being seen. The villagers believe that by ridding the world of magic they can save themselves, and they intend to kill Rincewind.

Cohen has gone to a jeweller, where he has a set of dentures made from the shards of Old Granddad's diamond teeth. When the villagers attack, he teams up with the dwarf jeweller, Lackjaw, to escape.

Rincewind, Twoflower and Bethan are cornered until a wandering shop, a magical shop that can teleport through space, arrives. They convince the shopkeeper to take them to Ankh-Morpork.

Cohen finds the Luggage, separated from them when Herenna attacked for the second time, and it takes him and Lackjaw to Ankh-Morpork.


The star is very close now. It is sweltering hot, the nights are brightly lit, and there are eight huge moons in the sky.

Trymon, however, has stolen the Octavo, believing it to be time to save the world and gain the power, the glory, etc. He has locked the other wizards in the Octavo's room and taken the book. Rincewind lets them out and they follow Trymon to the Tower of Art. Trymon has tried to contain all seven spells in his head at once, and his mind has collapsed, leaving a doorway to the Dungeon Dimensions. The wizards are turned to stone. The Dungeon Dimensions are populated by unimaginable horrors constantly seeking a way into the world. Trymon is consumed by the magic and is turned into a Thing, and Rincewind is taken to the Dimensions to fight. However, the Things are physically weak and Rincewind wins the battle. They are taken back to the Discworld where the Trymon-Thing falls from the Tower; the spells are released and return to the Octavo. After expelling the eighth spell from his head, Rincewind then takes the book and begins to read.

The spells arc away in bands of colour. Suddenly, the moons around the star split open, revealing eight new tiny world turtles, each with a volcanic Discworld on their backs. A'Tuin changes course, and the new Discs follow their parent.

The danger over, Cohen and Bethan leave to get married and Twoflower returns to his homeland, giving Rincewind the Luggage as a present.

This section is no longer actively being maintained. It is only kept online for historical purposes.

The L-Space Web is a creation of The L-Space Librarians
This mirror site is maintained by Colm Buckley