Book Review: The Discworld Graphic Novels by Terry Pratchett

Author: Terry Pratchett
Title: The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic & The Light Fantastic
Publication Info: New York : Harper, c2008.
The Colour of Magic

  • Originally published: Innovative, 1991
  • Illustrated by Steven Ross
  • Adapted by Scott Rockwell
  • Lettered by Vickie Williams
  • Edited by David Campiti

The Light Fantastic

  • Originally published: Innovative, 1992
  • Adapted by Scott Rockwell
  • Illustrated by Steven Ross
  • Painted by Mira Fairchild
  • Lettered by Michelle Beck

Other Books Read by the Same Author:


In this graphic novel introduces Terry Pratchett’s Discworld through an adaptation of the first two novels in the series.  The central character is the hapless wizard Rincewind who is charged with being the guide for Twoflower, the first tourist ever on Discworld.  The pair, along with Twoflower’s Luggage (a sentient chest that moves on tiny legs), have a series of adventures that play on the tropes of high fantasy and sword and sorcery stories.  Meanwhile the gods themselves and a powerful book of magic called Octavo have plans for them.

The adventures are ludicrous and fun and wonderfully illustrated. If there’s a flaw is that the story seems to skip around a bit making me wonder how much of the original novel’s story was abridged for space. Nevertheless, it’s serves as a delightful introduction to Discworld.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Title: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date: May 5, 2023
Director: James Gunn
Production Company: Marvel Studios

The Guardians of the Galaxy movies have always stood out from the MCU because they are largely untethered from Earth settings allowing them to full embrace the imaginative and weird.  The third (and final?) entry in the series is no exception.  This movie explores the backstory of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and how he was genetically engineered by the mad scientist the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).  When Rocket is injured his friends can’t heal him because of a kill switch implanted by the High Evolutionary’s corporation Orgocorp.  Rocket’s friends go on a quest to find the code to override the kill switch and in the process uncover the full enormity of the High Evolutionary’s eugenic plots.

The movie does a great job of balancing action/adventure, weird and wild settings (especially Orgocorp’s biological headquarters), and a central message of love and friendship among found family.  All the main characters get some good moments and story arcs while newer characters in the Guardians universe are blended in (I particularly like Cosmo the Spacedog as voiced by Maria Bakalova).  And Drax (Dave Bautista) gets to be a dad again.  Like the other Guardians’ movies, popular music is significant and this movie features a lot of great needle drops expanding the playlist into the 1990s and 2000s.

Rating: ***1/2




Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Title: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Release Date: February 17, 2023
Director: Peyton Reed
Production Company: Marvel Studios

In the third (and final?) Ant-Man movie, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) along with Scott’s teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) and Hope’s parents Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are transported to the Quantum Realm.  They find that the life forms in the Quantum Realm suffer under the tyranny of an exiled variant of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors, playing a character introduced in Loki) and his enforcer M.O.D.O.K. (Corey Stoll). The fivesome find themselves caught between trying to escape and find a way home and aiding a rebellion against Kang and prevent his ability to conquer other universes.

This movie introduces a wonderful visual feast of landscapes and alien characters reminiscent of classic Sci-Fi movies from the 1950s to 1980s.  It moves quickly, has a lot of action, and typical of the Ant-Man series, is also humorous.  The one thing I didn’t like is the storytelling convention of a character refusing to share their knowledge simply for dramatic effect, in this case Janet withholding what she knows from her experience of spending 30 years in the Quantum Realm.  I’m surprised that this movie has been excoriated by critics and fans.  It may not be among the best of the MCU movies, but it is still very entertaining and fun.

Rating: ***1/2





Book Review: Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Author: Kevin Hearne
TitleHeir to the Jedi 
Narrator: Marc Thompson
Publication Info: New York : Random House Audio, 2015.

This Star Wars novel is set in between the original film and The Empire Strikes Back when the Rebel Alliance is looking for a new base of operations.  Luke Skywalker is dealing with the comedown after his initial success of destroying the Death Star and having no one to train him to use the Force.  Luke is assigned a mission to recover the brilliant cryptographer Drusil Bephorin (from a species who talk about math for fun) who is being forced to work for the Empire.  Accompanying him on his journey is the sharpshooter Nakari Kelen, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist who supports the rebel cause.  They fly on her souped-up yacht, the Desert Jewel.

The narrative overall is episodic adventures of Luke, Nakari, and Drusil using their strengths to avoid entanglements with Imperials and bounty hunters.  Uniquely, the story is narrated from the first person point of view of Luke Skywalker, and does a good job of capturing his uncertainty and impulsiveness.  Luke’s relationship with Nakari helps him realize things about himself in his effort to learn more about becoming a Jedi.  They also have an amusing, quippy relationship that leads to romance.  The idea introduced in the prequels that Jedi were like Catholic priests who could have no romantic attachments always bothered me so it’s nice to see it subverted here.

While this novel is ultimately a light and frivolous thing, I did enjoy it.

Rating: ***

Book Review: Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection by Terry Pratchett

Author: Terry Pratchett
Title: Terry Pratchett: The BBC Radio Drama Collection 
Narrator: Full cast performances (see links from descriptions of each radio drama for the names of cast & crew)
Other Books Read by the Same Author:

Publication Info:  BBC Books (2019)

I’ve been meaning to read more Terry Pratchett, so what better way to start than with seven of his novels dramatized by actors at the BBC.  Most of these novels are set in Pratchett’s Discworld, a flat planet on the back of four elephants on the back of a giant turtle.  The setting is similar to the medieval fantasy and fairy tale stories with comedic and satirical factors.

Mort (****)

Death, a recurring character in the Discworld stories, decides to take on the teenage Mort as an apprentice.  But when Mort prevents the assassination of Princess Keli he creates an alternate universe that threatens reality.  This is a really funny and clever novel.

Wyrd Sisters (**1/2)

One of the issues I had with these radio dramas is that the audio quality wasn’t always good and it was particularly hard to understand the Shakespearean stage whispers in this production.  That may have marred my enjoyment of this story about three witches and an acting troupe.  The play within a play  parodies elements of Macbeth, Hamlet, and other works of Shakespeare.

Guards! Guards! (***1/2)

This book introduces the City Watch, generally considered incompetent, but put to the test when a group of miscreants summon a dragon as part of a plot to put a new king on the throne.  Lead by Samuel Vines, and inspired by earnest newcomer Carrot, the  Watch rises to the occasion.

Eric (***)

A parody of Faust, thirteen-year-old demonologist, Eric Thursley accidentally rescues the wizard Rincewind from Dungeon Dimensions (a Discworld version of hell).  Eric is granted three wishes but they are fulfilled with “monkey’s paw” style consequences.

Small Gods (****)

The Great God Om manifests himself in the form of a tortoise to a simple religious novitiate named Brutha, who turns out to be the only human who truly believes in Om.  This book somehow works both as a skewering of religion but also shows the positive side of religious practice.

Night Watch (****)

Commander of the City Watch Samuel Vines is pursuing a dangerous criminal, Carcer, when they are both transported back in time.  Vimes must take on the identity of John Keel and mentor his younger self through the conflict that ensues.

Only You Can Save Mankind (**1/2)

The only story not set in Discworld, but instead in England during the time of the Gulf War in 1991.  12-year-old Johnny Maxwell is playing a video game about an alien attack, when the alien ScreeWee surrender to him.  In a reality-bending adventure Johnny is responsible for helping seemingly real-life aliens get back home.  This story seems to anticipate massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

Rating: ***1/2

90 Movies in 90 Days: Boy and the World (2013)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, most of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Boy and the World
Release Date: September 20, 2013
Director: Alê Abreu
Production Company: Filme de Papel

In this vividly-animated film from Brazil that sometimes resembles the artwork of Eric Carle, a small boy named Cuca discovers the harsh realities of the world. Life is idyllic for Cuca in his rural home until his father has to leave home to work in the city.  Cuca decides to look for his father and ends up on an adventure that takes him from farms to futuristic cities to industrial hellscapes.  The movie carries a strong message about the exploitation of labor, repressive government, and environmental degradation wrapped in visually-stunning animation. It wows you with awe and it makes you cry.

Rating: ****1/2

90 Movies in 90 Days: Son of the White Mare (1981)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Son of the White Mare
Release Date: 22 October 1981
Director: Marcell Jankovics
Production Company: PannóniaFilm

Son of the White Mare is a visually-stunning animated adaptation of ancient Hungarian folklore.  The White Mare actually has three sons, all humanoid with super powers.  The youngest and strongest is Treeshaker who teams up with his brothers Stonecrumbler and Irontemperer to find the entrance to the Underworld where three princesses have been kidnapped by three dragons.  The film is episodic, typically with the older brothers failing a quest, and then Treeshaker succeeding, and battles against new and bigger villains that anticipates video game structure.

What sets this movie apart is the bold colors and symmetrical design of the animation that feels like Mary Blair and Lisa Frank went to an acid test.  For viewers interested in literary symbolism, Treeshaker and his brothers represent masculine archetypes in a world that seems to be filled with representations of women’s genitatlia. This feels like the type of movie that was screened at midnight movies for generations of college students on hallucinogens, along with Fantastic Planet and Heavy Metal.  Turns out that it was only released in the US in 2020.  Even at 86 minutes, it feels like it goes on too long, but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Rating: ***1/2

50 Years, 50 Movies (1994): The Secret of Roan Inish

I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to watch and review one movie from each year of my life.  The only qualification is that it has to be a movie I’ve not reviewed previously.



Top Grossing Movies of 1994:

  1. The Lion King
  2. Forrest Gump
  3. True Lies
  4. The Mask
  5. Speed

Best Picture Oscar Nominees and Winners of 1994:

Other Movies I’ve Reviewed from 1994:

Title: The Secret of Roan Inish
Release Date: September 12, 1994
Director: John Sayles
Production Company:  Jones Entertainment Group | Skerry Productions

In the late 1940s, 10-year-old Fiona (Jeni Courtney) is sent from the city where her father and brother work in factories, to live with her grandparents (Eileen Colgan and Mick Lally) and cousin Eamon (Richard Sheridan) in a village on the coast of Donegal.  When Fiona was younger her whole family lived on the offshore island of Roan Inish until they were forced to leave during World War II.  During the evacuation, Fiona’s infant brother Jamie was lost, floating to see in a boat-shaped cradle, a family heirloom.  Fiona hears stories of her family including the legend that an ancestor married a selkie, a magical being that can transform from seal to human.  She begins to believe that Jamie is still alive and cared for by the seals around Roan Inish.

This gentle coming-of-age family film is a beautiful story of storytelling and how stories hold us together.  It’s also beautifully filmed, capturing the natural beauty of Ireland.  Courtney is solid as the curious and confident Fiona, although she only has a couple of other acting credits.  I also feel like John Sayles should get discussed more among the directors who came of age in the 80s and 90s, because he’s made some excellent films.  I feel bad for sleeping on this movie for almost 30 years, but now I can say it’s among my all-time favorites. This movie would pair well with another one of my favorites, Song of the Sea.

Rating: ****1/2

Book Review: Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star by Claudia Gray

Author: Claudia Gray
Title: Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star
Narrator: Marc Thompson
Publication Info:  Random House Audio (2022)

The third novel in The High Republic series sees the Nihil, a band of pirates lead by the opportunistic Marchion Ro, carry out their boldest attack yet to destabilize the Republic and injure the Jedi Order.  Starlight Beacon, a space station built in the galaxy’s Outer Rim as a symbol the Republic’s culture and unity, is bombed by saboteurs who leave few options for escape and rescue.  The station splits in half, and the better part of the novel involves the actions of the Jedi and others aboard the lower half (including the saboteurs and Nihil prisoners who were on board) to save themselves and others before it crashes on the planet below.  To make matters worse, Ro has placed creatures known as the Nameless aboard the space station who have the power to dampen the connections the Jedi have with the force, effectively making them fight blind.

The novel reads like a disaster movie, like The Poseidon Adventure or maybe even Apollo 13, as the protagonists work to find solutions to cascading failures. I feel like I’m getting a better sense of the main characters than I have before, although there are several new characters introduced who make the proceedings confusing.  Claudia Gray has the advantage of having the backstory established for her, but I also feel she’s the most engaging writer among the three books.  My two favorite characters, Jedi padawans Bell Zettifar and Burryaga Agaburry, get to team up in this book, and assuming the unclear fate of one of these characters is cleared up, I hope they get to be partners again in future novels.

This novel ends the trilogy on kind of a down note, with the biggest victory being that the people of the Republic come together to aid in the rescue and are unified by the disaster.  But it’s still a major defeat for the Republic and the Jedi.  I haven’t been able to figure out if the story is supposed to continue or how it fits in The High Republic extended universe which includes middle grade and early reader novels as well as comics (including one that has the story of what happens on the upper half of Starlight Beacon).  Not sure I have the time or interest in reading them all to see if I’m missing any of the story but I will look for additional novels in the adult line if and when they’re published.

Rating: ***1/2

90 Movies in 90 Days: Shrek 2 (2004)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Shrek 2
Release Date: May 19, 2004
Director:Andrew Adamson | Kelly Asbury | Conrad Vernon
Production Company: DreamWorks Animation | PDI/DreamWorks

Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have their marital bliss interrupted by a call to visit Fiona’s parents King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews!) in the kingdom of Far Far Away.  It’s basically “Meet the Parents” Shrek-style with the central premise of Shrek wondering if on ogre is good enough for a princess. They are joined on the journey by Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and meet a new ally along the way in the form of the hilarious Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas).  Meanwhile, Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) tries to sabotage Shrek and Fiona’s marriage on behalf of her son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett).

The movie is full of references to famous film moments, parodies of fairy tale conventions, and needle drops that somehow almost always work. I kind of feel like the movie rehashes a lot of the ground covered in the original, but it doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

Rating: ***1/2

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