9th novel – 4th Rincewind story
|Subject||Faust, Dante's Inferno, Homer's Iliad, Trojan War|
|Publisher||Victor Gollancz / Corgi|
Eric, stylized as
Faust Eric, is the ninth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. It was originally published in 1990 as a "Discworld story", in a larger format than the other novels and illustrated by Josh Kirby. It was later reissued as a normal paperback without any illustrations, and in some cases, with the title given on the cover and title pages simply as Eric. (The page headers, however, continued to alternate between Faust and Eric.)
The story is a parody of the tale of Faust, and follows the events of Sourcery in which the Wizard Rincewind was trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions. The Discworld version of Hell or Pandemonium exists simply because some people believe that it exists for them. In other Discworld stories, such as Small Gods, the afterlife is different or non-existent, according to the various beliefs.
Rincewind wakes in a strange place, having been summoned by the 13-year-old demonologist, Eric Thursley, who wants the mastery of all kingdoms, to meet the most beautiful woman who ever existed, and to live forever. He is disappointed when Rincewind tells him he is unable to deliver any of these things, and embarrassed when Rincewind sees through his disguise. Rincewind is disheartened to learn that the spells to confine the demon summoned are working on him; Eric's parrot tells him that because he was summoned as a demon, he is subject to the same terms.
The arrival of Rincewind's Luggage causes Eric to suspect deceit on Rincewind's part. Eric's demands are renewed; he makes three wishes of Rincewind. Rincewind insists he cannot grant wishes with the snap of a finger, and discovers to his horror that snapping his fingers really does work.
They discover hell steeped in bureaucracy, the Demon King Astfgl having decided that boredom might be the ultimate form of torture. Rincewind uses his university experience to confuse the demons, so he and Eric can try to escape. While crossing through the recently reformed levels of hell (satirical forms of Dante's Inferno) they encounter da Quirm and the parrot, as well as Lavaeolus, who tells them where the exit is.
The source of Rincewind's demonic powers is revealed to be Lord Vassenego, a Demon Lord leading a secret revolt against Astfgl. Using Rincewind to keep Astfgl occupied while gathering support amongst the demons, Vassenego confronts his king just as Astfgl finally catches up to Rincewind and Eric. Vassenego announces the council of demons has made Astfgl "Supreme Life President of Hell", and that he is to plan out the course of action for demons. With Astfgl lost in the bureaucratic prison of his own making, Vassenego takes over as king and lets Rincewind and Eric escape, so that stories about hell can be told.
Starburst has called it "a series of hilarious pokes at the cliché that is hell". Gardner Dozois, conversely, considered it "downright bad, the only Discworld book [he] actively disliked and found a chore to read". In 2011 The novel was included in the "Gollancz 50" series. The series marked the publisher's 50th anniversary by re-issuing seminal works of science fiction.
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