The gods of the Disc have never bothered much about judging the souls of the dead, and so people only go to hell if that’s where they believe, in their deepest heart, that they deserve to go. Which they won’t do if they don’t know about it. This explains why it is so important to shoot missionaries on sight.
Eric (Discworld #9)
Terry Pratchett | 1990 | 217 Pages
A wizard who sucks at being a wizard is summoned by a demonologist who is just as bad at his job. Together (and with the Luggage trotting behind) they traverse time, space, and the underworld in an attempt to get Eric’s wishes granted and make it back home.
Rincewind reappears into the world after the hijinx of Sourcery, bringing with him his world-weariness, snark, and total lack of talent. And also his Luggage. So far I’ve been unable to dislike any book where that pearwood monstrosity shows up.
Their adventure (with the titular Eric) is a brief, but fun, little mashup of history and literature. As with many of the Discworld titles, Eric combines several influences – Faust, The Illiad, Conquistadors – and combines them into a silly story that brims with dry humor and sarcasm.
Like previous titles in the series, I was delighted by all of the references. Something as familiar as the Trojan War gets a strange and unexpected twist to it. The concepts of demons and the underworld get a hilarious new spin (in fact, I think their torture methods might be my favorite thing about the book).
It’s really, really short. Most Discworld adventures hover around 300 pages but this one (depending on your edition) barely made it to 200. The story goes so quickly that you feel like there really should be more- in the course of those few pages the characters literally travel through time, making multiple stops along the way. Spending and tad longer in each locale would’ve helped.
Furthermore, the character of Eric is pretty bland, but that’s a complaint that can be lobbed at several Discworld titles. There are so many characters within the universe, many of whom who you never see again, that getting a well-rounded persona on the page is difficult. Rincewind, the Luggage, and the Librarian fare much better, but I’ve read about them before, so they are more fleshed out. I still have 30-something books to read in this series, so maybe we’ll see more of the boy Demonologist, but if not he’ll just be another passing guest star.
Should You Read This?
Some of the Discworld books can be read without any prior knowledge of the series. I don’t think Eric is one of them. There is so much condensed on those pages that going in blind would be incredibly confusing. So if you’ve read any of the previous books, especially those with Rincewind, I would absolutely recommend this one. If not, read Sourcery at the very least first.