October 07, 2011

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Ok, this was the first of Pratchett's Discworld series that I actually enjoyed. After reading the first two books which were less than stellar, it was with trepidation that I moved on to Equal Rites. But this one was good, not excellent, but still enjoyable. Although it is part of a series, this book could be read as a standalone, and as such I'm not going to recap the other books except to say that Discworld is in fact a magical world on a disc, held up by four elephants which in turn are held up by a giant turtle. That is all you really need to know.

A wizard knows when death is looming. And because of this they like to pass on their powers, most specifically to the eighth son of an eighth son. And so this is what Drum Billet set out to do. But he made a small mistake, see that eight son was actually a daughter. And everyone knows girls can't be wizards. Or can they? Eskarina is the little girl's name and she grows somewhat normally. That is, until one day she turns her brother into a pig. Seeing as how her magical powers could get out of control, local witch Granny Weatherwax, takes her under her wing and attempts to teach her witchcraft. Eskarina's magic is just too powerful though and Granny resigns herself to the fact that she'll have to escort her to wizard's school at the Unseen University.

Nothing is ever easy though and its quite the eventful journey to get to the entrance. Eskarina disappears at times and makes trouble and mayhem wherever she and her wizard staff goes. And even when she arrives at the Unseen University, who is to say that they'll let her in since she's a girl. She and Granny have to come up with a good plan or she could be forever plagued by troublesome magic.

I have to say I love Granny Weatherwax. She's a good mix of practicalitly and no nonsense and just her expressions are hilarious. In addition to that, she's a witch, and a reputable one at that despite the fact that she can't get a decent wart to grow on her nose. Eskarina was ok. For her being the main character I expected a bit more detail and this book just didn't have it. The rest of the characters played minor roles but were all interesting with unique attributes.

Pratchett aims to be funny when he writes and he does an above average job at it. I tend to read at face value though and largely ignore some of his more subtle jokes in the book. I know they are there, I just don't really care about them. He tends to jump around in ideas as well and this can make for hard reading at times. This was noticeable in the end of the book where he went on a complete leap of storyline from the rest of the book and it didn't seem to fit. I found myself skipping through this section of the book as I didn't find it particularly interesting.

Since I enjoyed this book I'll probably keep reading the series. With each additional book the writing seems to get better and better and the plotline more interesting.

Equal Rites
Copyright 1988
254 pages

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