Rincewind the wizard, BMgc (UU) [failed]
AKA Rincewind the wizzard, Rincewind of Ankh, Dr. Rjinswan, Bad Luck Rincewind, Rinso, Kangaroo Bloke, Winswan, The Great Wiz(z)ard, "Don't Let Him Get Away"
When the red star lights the sky Rincewind the wizard will come looking for onions. Do not bite him. It is very important that you help him stay alive.
~ Ancient trollish prophecy, The Light Fantastic
Rincewind the "wizard" is a character in Terry Pratchett's insanely successful Discworld series of novels. To date he has appeared in seven of the twenty-six Discworld novels, being The Colour Of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Mort, Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent, as well as side-story The Science of Discworld, illustrated fable The Last Hero, and possibly Science of Discworld II, which I haven't read yet. He is a major character in all of these except Mort.
Rincewind's first appearance in The Colour Of Magic also happened to be the first Discworld novel, making him one of the most long-running and oft-appearing characters. He is also, perhaps justifiably, the Discworld's most popular character. "If I heeded all the advice I've had over the years, I've have written 18 books about Rincewind," said Terry once.
Rincewind is tall, skinny and has a thin, white beard. He wears an old, threadbare, hooded red wizard's robe and usually also a floppy-brimmed pointy wizard's hat of some description. By the time of Sourcery, Rincewind also has the word "Wizzard" written in sequins on his hat. Underneath these he wears britches, and a pair of sandals which, while in XXXX, he learned to make himself. He does not own a magic staff, nor does he smoke. These are both very unusual in a wizard. Interpretations of Rincewind's likeness can be seen in the Josh Kirby illustrations found on the covers of all of the above-listed novels except, again, Mort, as well as in The Pratchett Portfolio and The Last Hero, here drawn by Paul Kidby. He can also be found animated in 2D as the star/player character of the first two Discworld PC games, in both of which he was voiced by Eric Idle.
Rincewind was born in UC1932* under the astrological sign of the Small Boring Group of Faint Stars, in Ankh-Morpork. He never knew his father or mother, and grew up in Morpork. There is a large gap in his past between here and the time he was admitted to Unseen University at the age of 24 as an undergraduate student in wizardry. There are only two ways to
get into be admitted to study at Unseen University - one is to perform a great service of benefit to magic, and the other to be sponsored by a senior wizard. The former is very rare nowadays, so unless Rincewind's admission was all some terrible, ghastly mistake by his sponsor, it is just about possible that at this one point in his past, Rincewind did indeed have some magical ability, or at least potential. His room number was 7a.
On a bet while at UU, Rincewind entered the sealed room in the UU library containing the Octavo, the University's most valuable magical book. On opening the book, one of the Great Spells contained therein leapt instantly into Rincewind's head and refused to be coaxed out. From this moment on, any and all magical ability that Rincewind may have had disappeared. Though he had already picked up small pieces of information about magical theory while in UU - he knows, for example, about hydrophobes, magic circles and Bel-Shamharoth - Rincewind was henceforth the most singularly useless wizard ever to grace the Disc. Other spells were too scared share his head. The effect would be permanent - Rincewind would not perform magic of his own for the rest of his life.
By the time we catch up with him, Rincewind's ineptitude has begun to assert itself. Having achieved some disastrous examination results, and lacking any place of use at UU, Rincewind took a job as assistant librarian in the University Library. At this time the Librarian was fully human (experienced readers of the Discworld novels will know that he has been an orang-utan since a magical explosion at the start of The Light Fantastic). Rincewind is therefore probably the only person on the Disc who knows the Librarian's true identity. Here he developed one of his genuine talents, a gift for languages. By the start of The Colour Of Magic he has learned Chimeran, High Borogravian, Vanglemesht, Sumtri, heathen Trob and Black Oroogu, gnome language, Cupumuguk snow runes, and possibly many others. Despite this he was eventually expelled from Unseen University.
It was while Rincewind was enjoying a quiet beer in the Broken Drum - about 30 pages into The Colour Of Magic - that he met Twoflower, a tourist from the Agatean Empire, and his adventures began.
At the end of The Light Fantastic, Rincewind was given the Luggage by Twoflower as a parting gift. The Luggage has since followed Rincewind on pretty much all his adventures, bringing along its unique brand of dogged faithfulness and homicidal rage.
Rincewind's achievements include
- Visiting almost every country on the Disc, including:
as well as Hell, Death's domain, the Dungeon Dimensions and the Discworld's moon
- Witnessing the Creation of the Disc
- Inadvertently sparking off the evolution of life on the Disc with an egg sandwich
- Saving the Discworld from complete destruction on two occasions:
- Owning a medallion identifying himself as an alumnus of Unseen University despite his never obtaining higher than 2% in any examination
- Spending time inside the Luggage (without dying, it should be noted - just being eaten by the Luggage is a relatively simple matter)
- Having Lavaeolus ("Rinser of winds"), leader of the Ephebian army during the Tsortean Wars, as one of his ancestors, possibly
- Falling over the Rimfall twice and surviving both times.
Aside from his gift for languages, Rincewind's other major skill is an extremely good turn of speed. He is exceedingly good at running, although it may well be that he is only good at running away... a situation requiring him to run for any other reason never having arisen. He knows not to look back while running away because of wind drag and stones underfoot, he knows that over a short distance a man can outrun a horse, and he is also very efficient at elbowing his way through crowds at high speed, hiding, dodging and otherwise evading pursuit. If Rincewind himself is to be believed, his sprinting ability has enabled him to outrun pursuing enemies on over one hundred and thirty different occasions. This may be exaggeration, but at least a dozen such occasions have been recorded in the Discworld novels and Rincewind is, indeed, still alive. Only one person has ever managed to catch up with him on foot - Butterfly, in Interesting Times.
Rincewind's survival instinct and good rate of acceleration alone cannot really be held to explain his successful survival of so many periods of horror and unpleasantness with all his major limbs and internal organs intact (though he is covered with scars - mainly on his back). It is often held that the gods play games with the fates of men - on the Discworld, this is literally true, and in fact Rincewind's survival is down to the fact that he is one of the Lady's pieces. He has proved extremely useful to her in the two games that are detailed in The Colour Of Magic and Interesting Times, and she is a very good player in her own right. Therefore it is unlikely that she would let such a worthwhile ally die. Rincewind has not yet realised this, which is lucky for him, because as soon as he begins to rely on his own invulnerability, he probably will die.
It is conjectured by Rincewind that somewhere in the world there exists someone who is his exact opposite - who has experienced nothing but an endless progression of happy events for all his life. Rincewind hopes to meet this man one day. Preferably while holding some sort of weapon.
*University Calendar. Counts from the year that Unseen University was founded by Alberto Malich. According to this calendar and to the Discworld Timeline, The Colour Of Magic and The Light Fantastic take place in 1964, Sourcery in 1973, Eric (mostly) in 1979, Interesting Times in summer of 1986 and The Last Continent in 1988. Rincewind is currently fifty-six.