Study Guide

The Color of Magic Genre

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Fantasy; Satire; Adventure

We wracked our brains for hours trying to come up with a more original genre to label The Color of Magic with, but sometimes it's best to just go with the classics. Is there any better genre label than fantasy to use when considering a novel that contains magic, demons, dragons, barbarians, and a giant cosmic turtle upon which the world rests? Yeah, we didn't think so either.

But Pratchett's novel isn't just fantasy vanilla. It's a rich satire, too. Despite being set in a fantasy world, the characters populating the novel are very much like the people populating our own world. Comical and exaggerated versions, mind you, but the same people.

Consider the book's treatment of economics: Gold is exceptionally valuable in Ankh-Morpork, and the lengths people are willing to go to acquire even a tiny bit are quite bizarre. Rincewind equates this to a type of "magical field" (1.27.9), suggesting that gold has the ability to change the world and people around it without going through all the tedium and due-process of natural laws. In making this connection, The Color of Magic holds up an aspect of our world—economics—and says, "Pretty stupid, right?"

Finally, we have the adventure genre. We follow Rincewind and Twoflower through one exciting scenario after another. They escape from the Temple of Bel-Shamharoth, escape the dragon lair of Mount Wyrmberg, and escape becoming sacrifices on the rim-bound nation of Krull. Huh. There's a lot of escaping going on in this novel, isn't there? Oh well, since it's exciting escaping, we're going to go ahead and call this one: Adventure it is.

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