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#GNU Terry Pratchett

The Luggage

This Who's Who was originally featured in Issue 26 - June 1999

It's impossible to read the Colour of Magic and the Light Fantastic and not be impressed by the Luggage. You immediately notice it, bang in the foreground on the cover of The Colour of Magic (the UK edition, at least) and it has a similar impact at the beginning of the story. The combination of the image it conjours up and its arcane origins are typical of the early Discworld books. It's also one of the few features of the series that Josh Kirby has got exactly right (with no disrespect intended to JK), although, perhaps, it is bound to be. A wooden chest on hundreds of little legs - it's immediately clear in one's mind, whereas things like Twoflower's 'four eyes' or trolls the size of mountains require a much greater effort of the imagination.

The fantastic wealth the Luggage contains is matched only by its air of sinister malice

The Luggage is probably the most extraordinary thing about Twoflower's entrance to Ankh-Morpork. Rincewind immediately recognises the stupendous magical rarity of the Luggage: it is made from sapient pearwood, a fiercely sought-after substance that is only found on the sites of the ancient magical battles. The high magical residue imbues sapient pearwood with its ambulatory abilities (read: legs) and, uh, sapience. While great wizards might work for years to earn a staff made of sapient pearwood, Twoflower has a whole chest made of the stuff. Which he keeps his underwear in.

Everyone who encounters the tourist is alternately incredulous and overcome with avarice when they see it. To date the Luggage has been reported to contain alternately: sacks of gold, pressed laundry and rows of gleaming white wooden teeth. The fantastic wealth the Luggage contains is matched by its air of sinister malice: what a fate, to be caught in enormous, white, wooden teeth and disappear to... where? I'm surprised that nothing else has been written about what could be in a chest made up of the most magical stuff on the Discworld, next to Octiron.

Rincewind was and is singularly terrified of the Luggage, and I rather think that the Luggage hates Rincewind. Which makes it all the more amusing that Twoflower thought it the ideal parting gift. Receiving a fully grown rottweiler - with attitude - as a present is surely the closest analogy.

I don't think PTerry ever recaptured, the impact of the Luggage in the first two novels. The lowest point may be the time when the Luggage found a partner and had offspring (I.T.). This seems to me a pointless inclusion, only there as a cheap gag and far too reminiscent of the Skutter offspring bit in Red Dwarf (Dimension Jump) - which wasn't funny either. That said, Rincewind's reaction to the Luggage's new nickname, 'Trunky', in The Last Continent is thoroughly true to character and very funny.

Favourite quote: 'Shlup,' said Rincewind. He felt Weem jerk upright in the saddle. 'Eh?' 'Just clearing my throat.' said Rincewind, and grinned.