The second Discworld novel, from 1986. A direct sequel to The Colour of Magic, it opens with the Octavo changing the whole world to save Rincewind and Twoflower from falling off the Disc at the end of that book. From then on, they struggle to get back to Ankh-Morpork as there are power struggles in Unseen University and the world turtle heads inexorably towards a great red star that threatens to strip away the Discworld's magical field.Already The Light Fantastic shows itself to be a much more developed version of the Disc than its predecessor: the novel abandons the largely unrelated vignettes of the first novel in favour of a single plot.The book is notable for introducing many characters and concepts that would later become pillars of the Discworld series, including Unseen University (mentioned in passing in The Colour of Magic, but first visited here), magic as physics, the Weatherwax family (Galder Weatherwax, believed to be a cousin of the more commonly known witch Granny Weatherwax), witches (indirectly), pixies, trolls as something other than non-speaking monsters, dwarfs, Death's home and family, Cohen the Barbarian and the Librarian.Followed by Equal Rites. After a brief cameo role in Mort, Rincewind next went on to star in Sourcery.
All Trolls Are Different: The first Discworld book to introduce the idea of trolls being silicon-based life forms made of stone that simply stop being able to function in the heat of day.
The Anticipator: Galder manages this by being Crazy-Prepared: "A floorboard creaked. Galder had spent many hours tuning them, always a wise precaution with an ambitious assistant who walked like a cat. D-flat." That meant he was just to the right of the door. However, his Anticipator status kicks in when he automatically recognizes who it is. "'Ah, Trymon,' he said, without turning, and noted with some satisfaction the faint in drawing of breath behind him. 'Good of you to come. Shut the door, will you?'"
Like all wizards' workshops, the place looked as though a taxidermist had dropped his stock in a foundry and then had a fight with a maddened glassblower, braining a passing crocodile in the process (it hung from the rafters and smelt strongly of camphor).
Cave Mouth: Twoflower's kidnappers inadvertantly settle in the mouth of an enormous troll, mistaking it for a cave. They probably would have been fine if they hadn't lit a fire inside it, ironically to ward off trolls.
Chainmail Bikini and Breast Plate: Averted and parodied, Herrena the barbarian heroine is introduced with a long aside mentioning how the cover artist is expected to start slavering over black leather and whips and chains and thighboots, before noting how impractical such things are and that she's in fact dressed quite sensibly. "All right - maybe the boots are leather. But not black!"
Death is transitional here. Rincewind's still scared of him, but he's much closer to the character we all know and love than the psychotic version from The Colour of Magic. Strangely enough, it's his daughter Ysabell who comes across as creepy and crazy this time, and her characterisation again changes when she next appears in Mort.
Cosmic Egg: One of the many origins of the Discworld universe given by the Great Spells
Cult: The Star People, who also engage in book-burning sessions - as the books in question include Tomes of Eltrich Lore like the Necrotelicomnicon, this would be rather dangerous if the star wasn't reducing the strength of magic on the Disc.
Everythings Better With Primates: This is the book where the Librarian of Unseen University is turned into an orangutan. Oddly - to those who have read the later books first - he's very upset at no longer being human.
Can be justified in that, having just been changed, he hadn't yet stumbled on all the perks this form afforded him.
Fantastic Measurement System: This is the first book where thaums are mentioned (Rincewind talking about the gingerbread cottage) as a unit of magic, rather than Primes as in the previous book. This would be explained by the Discworld Companion as being two competing units of measurement, like Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Genre SavvyNarrator: The narrator starts to describe the mooks following the female warrior Herrena, and goes ahead Breaking the Fourth Wall by saying there's no point describing them in a story like this in which they're all going to get killed anyway.
Heroes Want Redheads: Then they prefer brunettes, then blondes, then what they look for in a woman is... patience.
Mad Mathematician: Ymper Trymon believes language should be replaced with an easily understood numerical system.
The Magic Goes Away: Starts to happen as the Star's solar wind begins to strip the Discworld's magical field away.
Monster Shaped Mountain: Some mountains in Discworld are revealed to be very old trolls who simply sat down to think and never got up again. Old Grandpa is one such troll, and Herrena's band make the mistake of setting up camp inside his Cave Mouth.
One-Winged Angel: An Eldritch Abomination - possessed Trymon near the end. Subverted in that he's still a pretty frail and a lousy fighter even after transforming, given that Rincewind is able to punch him out anyways. Not quite a Clipped Wing Angel though, since the sprouting claws and tentacles do give him a boost (he was very much a Squishy Wizard before transformation).
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The first appearance of Discworld dwarfs; industrious and quiet, but very handy with an axe if you cross them.
Herrena doesn't die, she's later mentioned in passing as being in Ankh-Morpork in Eric.
Society On Edge Episode: A large part of the plot is caused by a very bright, malevolently red star appearing in the sky, and this drives the inhabitants of the Disc to start doomsday cults (Death himself finds them creepy).
Squishy Wizard: Pretty much how Rincewind is able to beat the Eldritch Abomination: It's possessed a wizard, and Rincewind, while a wizard at heart, is more physically fit than the average wizard (and a dirty fighter).
The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: A shop the group stumbles into while on the run from some cultists. It turns out the owner pissed off a sorcerer who cursed his shop to wander around and in and out of existence, never able to stay in the same place for long. It becomes a very convenient way for the group to get back to Ankh-Morpork in a hurry, as the shop is able to just materialize on an empty wall there.
Turned to Stone: What happens to the heads of the eight orders of wizardry after they go to 'congratulate' Trymon on making contact with the Dungeon Dimensions.
And, in the movie adaptation alone, this is also what happens to Trymon by... himself.
Who Will Bell the Cat?: when one member of the Star People cult tries to intimidate Cohen by saying that that if he is killed, more will take his place. Cohen replies that it doesn't matter since he will be dead anyways. The cultist wisely backs off.
Western Zodiac: The Discworld version of astrology is mentioned. It's much harder than on our world, because the constellations keep changing as Great A'tuin swims along. The wizards try to locate Rincewind by working out his exact horoscope; Rincewind's birth sign is "The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars", which later features in The Last Continent, set thousands of years in the past, as a much larger nebula in the sky.