In the icy darkness of space swims the giant space turtle Great A'Tuin. Upon his back (or her back, scholars aren't sure - but there are several interesting theories) sit four immense elephants. And on their broad, comet-scarred shoulders revolves The Discworld. It's a flat, roundish world where magic is real ("That's what's so stupid about the whole magic thing, you know. You spend twenty years learning the spell that makes nude virgins appear in your bedroom, and then you're so poisoned by quicksilver fumes and half-blind from reading old grimoires that you can't remember what happens next.") and heroes exist ("No, what he didn't like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk"). This is the setting for Terry Pratchett's "The Color of Magic," the first book in the famed Discworld series. Rincewind, professional coward and almost-but-not-quite-a-wizard ("Rincewind could scream for mercy in nineteen languages, and just scream in another forty-four."), meets Twoflower, a strange little man who wants to go to places just to look around ("Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. 'Tourist,' Rincewind had decided, meant 'idiot'."). The gods of the Discworld are playing a board game with these two as the main pieces ("The Disc gods themselves, despite the splendor of the world below them, are seldom satisfied. It is embarrassing to know that one is a god of a world that only exists because every improbability curve must have its far end."). It is a game that leads them on an unintentional adventure across the Discworld, the main mode of transport being fleeing from people (and things) that are constantly trying to kill them ("'You don't understand!' screamed the tourist above the terrible noise of the wingbeats. 'All my life I've wanted to see dragons!' 'From the inside?' shouted Rincewind.'"). Thirty-two years ago Terry Pratchett published this, the first volume of the 40 novels (80 million books sold in 37 languages) that make up the Discworld series. Sir Pratchett OBE has created a rich, poignant and painfully funny world full of memorable (and quotable) characters. Think Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but with swords, trolls and wizards. You could start with any of the Discworld novels and you would be fine, but think of this first book as an instruction book for the rest of the series. Once you read "The Color of Magic" you will have a very good idea of how the Discworld and its inhabitants work. One small warning: You may want to pick up the sequel, "The Light Fantastic," at the same time as the two books comprise one storyline. And, trust me, you'll want to start the sequel just as soon as you finish "The Color of Magic."
A slightly disorganized and somewhat naive interplanetary tourist named Twosome joins up with a bumbling wizard and embarks on a chaotic voyage through a world filled with monsters, dragons, heroes, and knaves.