Discworld: Eric

Sometimes counted as the ninth Discworld novel, although this is where numbering gets tricky as some prefer to count Faust Eric as a special. It's shorter than most Discworld novels, was published by a different publisher, and was originally intended to be an illustrated work. The title is officially simply Eric, but on most covers it is preceded by the struck-through title Faust, a reference to how the title character is a parody of Doctor Faustus.

Rincewind was trapped in the Dungeon Dimensions at the end of Sourcery, but is now summoned back to the Disc by Eric, a young demonologist who was trying to summon a demon with a similar name. (For much of the book he's convinced Rincewind is a demon.) The story follows the two of them as they inadvertently travel through space and time to grant Eric's Three Wishes.

Meanwhile, the King of Hell, the demon Astfgl, is trying to find them, but is always one step behind. His subordinates are mutinous thanks to his attempts to instil modern business practices in Hell—prior to his rule, the damned souls had worked out that pain was purely subjective and thus all the whippings and flayings were purely for the look of the thing, but Astfgl instituted project planning, health and safety and so on and now Hell torments both the damned and its own demons.

This was the last Discworld novel to feature Rincewind (a character whom Terry Pratchett somewhat dislikes, though the fans like him) until the retrospective Interesting Times. It is also the last to feature the early conception of Unseen University, with the staff changing with each book thanks to the wizards' practice of Klingon Promotion.

Preceded by Guards! Guards!, followed by Moving Pictures. Preceded in the Rincewind series by Sourcery, followed by Interesting Times.

Was adapted by The BBC as a short radio play in 2013.


Eric ontains examples of:

  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: Human example: the Tezumen can make wheels, they just never figured out how to use them. People wear them as hats, and complain that they don't roll when you lay them flat and give them a push.
  • Badass Fingersnap: How Rincewind appears to grant wishes, to his own immense astonishment. It's just Vassanego using his demon powers in synch with Rincewind's finger-snapping.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: When an attempt to travel to Ankh-Morpork by magic lands Rincewind and Eric at the gates of Hell, Rincewind notes that he can tell this isn't Ankh-Morpork by such subtle clues as the distant screaming — in Ankh-Morpork the screaming is usually much closer.
  • Batman Gambit: Vassenego's plan against Astfgl.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Eric's wishes are (1) to rule all the kingdoms of the world, (2) to meet the most beautiful woman ever, and (3) to live forever. He and Rincewind first visit the Tezumen Empire who try to sacrifice him out of revenge for their absolutely abysmal living conditions, then meet Eleanor of Tsort about 20 years past her prime, and finally get to live forever starting from the Creation of the Discworld, meaning it will be quite a few millenia before any people show up.
  • Big Little God: Quetzovercoatl has only appeared to the Tezumen priests in dreams, based on which they'd carved a giant statue of their demonic patron. When he actually has to manifest, it turns out he's six inches tall.
  • Brick Joke: Rincewind still can't remember how to pronounce 'eon'.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Near the beginning of the book, it's mentioned that a demon named Vassenego was standing by to be summoned by Eric, but happened to be distracted at the crucial moment, so the summoning somehow latched on to Rincewind instead. Vassenego turns up again near the end, and it's revealed that in fact he went to considerable deliberate effort to divert the summoning to Rincewind, and has been masterminding the whole thing to distract Astfgl while he arranges a coup.
  • The Chessmaster: Vassenego. Which is appropriate, as he's a parody of Vassago, generally considered the wisest demon in Hell.
  • Continuity Nod: The Creator briefly worries that he's forgotten something immediately after creating the Discworld. As revealed in The Colour of Magic, he's left the Octavo behind in "a characteristic bout of absent-mindedness".
    • Rincewind and Eric find themselves in the middle of the Tsortean (= Trojan) War, which the Ephebians and Tsorteans in Pyramids are still rather sore about ... even though neither side seems to remember which side did what, anymore.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Astfgl's use of boredom as torture.
  • Cool Tank: Not spelled out, but at the end, Lavaeolus' soul in Hell has the idea for using one of the conveyor belt treadmills as the basis for a new war machine.
  • Cosmic Egg: It turns out that bacterial life on the Disc was given a kick-start by Rincewind (who had gone back in time) tossing away the Egg-and-Cress sandwich given to him by The Creator.
  • Dead All Along: Baffled by his apparent new-found demon powers, Rincewind speculates that he might have died in the Dungeon Dimensions and been sent to Hell as one. Considering how terrified, and how busy running, he'd been during his sojourn among the Dungeon Things, he supposes he might not have noticed the difference. He's wrong, his "magic" finger-snaps are Vassenego's doing.
  • Deal with the Devil: Eric was shooting for one of these, but accidentally summoned Rincewind instead of the demon who was going to make a deal with him.
  • Delegation Relay: Happens to a chain of soldiers trying to find someone to look after a lost child during the Tsortean War.
  • Door of Doom: Hell has an impressive one, except the new regime adds a badly-installed doorbell and a jaunty sign.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Old Tom, Unseen University's bell, is stated to be made of bronze, and used to be normal until its clapper fell out, causing it to toll silences instead. Later books retcon it so that the quirk is a result of being made of the magical metal octiron.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Most of the demons are unhappy because Astfgl found the ultimate torture weapon: boredom. (This could just be because it affected them as well.)
    • This has hints of a Mythology Gag, considering it echoes Crowley's own attitude to being a demon. Good Omens and Eric were published in the same year, which suggests that they were written at roughly the same time.
  • False Reassurance: Lavaeolus, an Odysseus parody, asks Rincewind if he'll get home all right. Rincewind figures that You Can't Fight Fate and tells him yes, and they'll write stories about him getting home.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Inverted by Astfgl, who dresses in royal diabolic regalia of his own design ... which is, basically, a kid's cheap Halloween devil-costume, complete with silly hood-mounted hornlets and a trident that keeps falling apart.
  • Fountain of Youth: What Ponce da Quirm is searching for. In a typically Pratchett subversion, he actually finds it - but his soul in Hell muses that someone should've told him 'boil the water first'.
  • Good Old Ways
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Astfgl recommends learning from humans in order to inflict really horrible torment.
  • Identical Grandson: In an extreme example, Rincewind's distant ancestor Lavaeolus bears a passing resemblance. He also shares Rincewind's keen survival instinct as well as, judging by his ten-year journey home, Rincewind's bad luck. Not to mention his name, if you speak Latin... Er, Latatian.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Astfgl's final fate. Subverted in that he's quite happy there.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: Played With with Eric himself, whose attempt to summon a fearsome demon that will grant him his every desire lands him with the ineffectual and very human Rincewind instead.
  • Mayincatec: The Tezumen.
  • Mind Rape: The sheer unmitigated boredom of Hell under Astfgl's administration is so very abusive to the psyche that even Rincewind, who normally craves being bored as an alternative to his usual terrifying ordeals, is repelled by the place.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Astfgl is just the first one.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: and King of Hell.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: Justified due to "sheer idiot terror" with the jaguar that gets eaten by the Luggage.
  • Parody: As well as the titular parody of Faust, the sequence in Tsort mercilessly sends up The Trojan War.
  • Punny Name: Quetzovercoatl, a pun on the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl and 'overcoat'.
  • Real Dreams Are Weirder: Discussed in the narration when describing the demon guarding the gates of hell.
    It would be a lazy use of language to say that the thing that answered the door was a nightmare. Nightmares are usually rather daft things and it's very hard to explain to a listener what was so dreadful about your socks coming alive or giant carrots jumping out of hedgerows. This thing was the kind of terrifying thing that could only be created by someone sitting down and thinking horrible thoughts very clearly.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell
  • Shout-Out: Astfgl's summary of Tezumen history paraphrases Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
  • The Starscream: Vassenego.
  • The Strategist: Lavaeolus, who uses his cowardice to help him develop plans with a low chance of getting him (or anyone else) killed.
  • Threat Backfire: Breaking into the Tsortean citadel via a secret passageway, Laveolus at once recites a prepared speech demanding the enemy's unconditional surrender. As the only person in the room is a small child on a potty, his well-rehearsed demand rather falls flat.
  • Too Many Halves: Quezovercoatl is described as "half-man, half-chicken, half-jaguar, half-serpent, half-scorpion and half-mad", making him three homicidal maniacs.
  • Too Many Mouths: Urglefloggah, although where they are isn't specified.
  • Tranquil Fury: Astfgl provides a page quote.
  • Tsortean Horse: Doubly Subverted. The Ephebians build a wooden horse and leave it outside the Tsortean city gates. The Tsorteans bring the horse inside their walls... Except they saw right through the ruse, and when night falls, they're wide awake and waiting outside the horse to ambush whoever comes out... Except the horse was only a distraction so that the Ephebians could sneak in a different way.
  • Under New Management: Hell has recently come under new management, so the traditional punishments get scrapped in favor of mind-numbing eternal boredom.
  • The Unpronounceable: Most demonic names are this. When Astfgl tries to look up Rincewind's name in the registry of demons, he notes that "Rincewind" has far more than the usual number of vowels in it.
  • Verbal Tic: Eric's parrot, who constantly substitutes the catchall metasyntactic variable "wossname" for random words, along with, to a lesser extent, "Polly want a biscuit," described in the narration as being in the same tone that a human would say "Err..."
  • We Have Reserves: The usual attitude of the Ephebian and Tsortean generals—Lavaeolus is considered a bit of a cheater because he actually tries to win battles without huge casualties.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't see the pair actually emerge again on the Discworld after their foray into Hell, and only Rincewind appears in later books, so it's left unstated what became of Eric.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Elenor of Tsort. Eric wishes to meet her, and he does, but she's well past her prime, married, and the mother of several small children.
  • Zerg Rush: "The consensus seemed to be that if really large numbers of men were sent to storm the mountain, then enough might survive the rocks to take the citadel. This is essentially the basis of all military thinking."