This is more of a novella than a full fledged discworld novel, coming in at only a hundred and fifty pages. This is actually a pretty good thing as the previous two novels in the series has suffered somewhat from being a little over long. Eric on the other hand doesn’t have time to drag on and the book is far punchier than the previous instalments.
That is not to say it’s perfect however, while I laughed a lot at the book, something still felt missing.
It is another novel to feature hapless wizard Rincewind as te main protagonist and this may be part of the problem. Rincewind is my favourite Discworld character but I agree with Pratchett when he says that the main point of the character is “to meet characters more interesting than himself”.
Sadly, that doesn’t happen here, Eric himself is an ok character but really nothing special and the other characters they meet on their adventures together don’t get enough time to become fully fleshed out characters. Rincewind depends heavily on meeting characters that don’t simply share his wish to run away from danger and sadly that’s pretty much exactly what the other characters want to do here.
It’s still a hilarious book and as ever, the jokes have a very high hit rate but it’s really the story that lets it down. I can’t comment on the comparisons to Faust as I have only a basic knowledge of the source material.
Likewise I can’t comment on Josh Kirby’s illustrations that were intended to accompany the novel as I got the mass market paperback that unfortunately omits them.
This book is a little harder to find than the other books in the series, being released by another publishing house, and of course, hardcore Discworld fans will want to hunt it out, but for casual fans, as much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think it’s worth the effort.