So, remember that cruise I mentioned way, way back? That cruise where I impressively knocked out four of the books on the list? Well, before I got on that boat, I visited an old pal o’ mine who lives in Seattle. This pal has a nasty habit of loaning out good books and forcing his friends to read them so that they, too, can be addicted to the series he likes. He stayed true to form and handed me two books. I informed him that I probably wouldn’t get to them for a long while since I was trying to complete a reading challenge, but the man’s patience is eternal, so he smiled and said, “You’ll read them.” He was right. I finally read them. I covered Jim Butcher’s first Harry Dresden novel, Storm Front, in the last entry, and now we get to the second. It’s time to hop on the Great A’tuin’s back as we journey into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld with Equal Rites.
Eight is a powerful number on Discworld. That’s why the wizard Drum Billet travels to the small village of Bad Ass. An eighth son of an eighth son is about to be born, and he needs to pass on his magic before he dies. The Smith is happy to hear from the mage that his eighth child is destined to be a great and mighty wizard. So, Billet gives up his powers, but there’s a bit of a hitch. Eskarina Smith is not the eighth son of an eighth son. She’s the eighth-born first daughter of an eighth son, and girls can’t be wizards. They just can’t. Thus, it’s up to the local witch Granny Weatherwax to train the girl in the ways of witchery when her magic starts becoming too powerful. When it gets even more powerful than that, well…Discworld may very well just have to deal with the first girl wizard, much to everyone’s dismay.
Terry Pratchett was amazing. This is only the third book of his I’ve read, but I love the man. The Discworld novels obviously poke fun at and hang lampshades on every fantasy trope imaginable, but it’s still a fascinating world to read about. Granted, a lot of that has to do with the absurdity of it all (it’s a disc-shaped world on the backs of four elephants on the back of a giant turtle), but fantasy is…fantastical. Why not run with it? There’s just so much imagination packed into this series. I quite enjoy the darker side of fantasy (I did write a post about the fifth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, after all), but you also need the lighter side of it. And that’s why I’m thankful for Pratchett. The man was comedy gold.
I loved The Color of Magic when I first read it, and Equal Rites is much the same. I don’t think I like this one as much as Rincewind’s first outing, though. Not entirely sure why. I guess I just didn’t click with Granny and Esk and their shenanigans. For a while, at least. The first quarter of the novel took me a while to get through, but after that, I devoured the darn thing. I think that’s after Esk’s first time Borrowing an animal, which forces the two on their journey to the Unseen University. Getting to see old Weatherwax finally wander outside of Bad Ass along with her apprentice was one amusing scene after another. I’m a little sad that Esk is never really a main character again, but I look forward to reading more Granny Weatherwax adventures.
There’s not much to say about the other characters. They all just pretty much exist to make jokes. They’re good jokes, though. I don’t think anyone could read this book and not laugh. Pratchett was a master at taking every imaginable concept in fantasy fiction and making jokes out of them.
I do wish I had more to say about Equal Rites. It’s good, it’s funny, I’d suggest it to almost anyone, but I can’t say I love it as much as I wanted to. Hopefully, the rest of the Witches novels will win me over.
The next entry on the list is a book a friend recommended. I asked around, and I picked one that seemed interesting. What will it be? Stay tuned to find out.