(WHOOPS) lol I had this written but I didn’t schedule it. So Terry Tuesday went from #5 to #7.
Fuck yes!!! Ok, so when I do my typical Discworld re-reads, this is the place that I start. This is also where I typically recommend people to start with the Witches series despite it being the second book in their subseries. The reason being, Granny starts to come into the character that I love so much, and she also gets her well-needed foil, Nanny. Equal Rites is okay, but Wyrd Sisters is just so much better.
Three witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat are out in the woods at night doing witch-stuff when they find themselves saving an infant prince. His father, King Verence of Lancre, had just been murdered and one of the king’s coachmen took the prince and carried him off trying to find safety. The coachmen was being hounded by assassins when he happened to run into the witches. The coachmen ends up dead, and the witches scare off/kill the attackers and take the child to Magrat’s house to figure out a plan. They know they can’t keep the child so close to Lancre, there will be “serious people” trying to find this lost heir to the throne, so they have to get him far away as possible. Magrat brings up the traveling theater as an option, knowing they often take in outcasts and orphans and are hard to track down. So, the three of them head off to go see to a well-known troupe to see if they’ll take in the child, and they do.
While all of this is going on, the new Duke of Lancre is trying to establish his dominance, he’s trying to tax the witches (hahaha), he’s executing people for saying he assassinated the previous king of Lancre, he’s spreading lies about the witches telling the public that they curse people, turn them into frogs and the like. All in an effort to try and turn the common people against the witches. It’s a tough sell since he’s the one going around and burning down houses with people still inside, but, he does manage to taint people’s feelings against the trio and it turns into a big problem.
On top of that, one night the earth starts to shake, the usurping Duke thinks it’s the witches making trouble – but over in the ramptop mountains, Granny is actually afraid of what it might be. All she knows is that there’s a huge magical presence large enough to shake the earth and clever enough to hide from her probing (she can send out her mind to animals in the forest to get an idea of what’s around her). Together the three witches summon a demon to try and tell them what’s going on, they bully the demon into telling them that the “land has woken up, and wants a king that cares for it”. The way this is explained is that the land is, in fact, alive, albeit a slow minded kind of “alive”. It doesn’t have the morals that apply to people. Much like a dog, it doesn’t care if it’s master is a good person or a bad person, it just cares if the master takes care of the dog. And this king hates his kingdom, and the land knows it.
The witches try and keep out of it all, none of them want to “meddle” with things that aren’t their business, they’ve already saved a baby after all, what more can you ask? They figure that the land will settle down, there have been kings murdered before, being murdered is part of a king’s job description in Granny’s opinion…. but the land is literally revolting. The entire population of woodland creatures in the Ramptops sat outside of Granny’s house glaring at her until she decided to do something about it.
The three witches couldn’t be more different. There’s the force of nature known as Granny, the laid back and hilarious drunk known as Nanny, and the youngest of the trio is a new age hippy witch that enjoys candles, seances, and trinkets. The three of these together make for amazing dialogue throughout the entire book and it’s why this particular subseries works so well for me. By themselves, they are interesting characters but when put together they create magic.
As I said before, Granny really came into her own this book, she’s a character that never backs down and has nerves of steel when it comes to those that threaten her life, or others lives. She’ll put herself in danger to do what’s right just because it’s what needs to be done and someone has to do it. Although she’s grumpy, she’s also admirable and an invaluable asset to the people around her, which becomes more and more evident as the series progresses. She’s also a wonderful mix of wise and ignorant, making for incredibly entertaining scenes when she doesn’t know what something is, like theater (she was convinced she was watching someones murder on stage).
Nanny is the grandmother everyone would want to have. She’s so warm, so funny, and full of sound advice even if it’s a bit raunchy. The shit she says to Granny, and Granny’s reactions to it STILL make me chuckle even though this must be the 20th time I’ve read this book, the cover is about to fall off actually.
Magrat is sweet, but being put between the two powerhouse personalities of Nanny and Granny’s she does sort of drift into the background sometimes. She gets most of her witchery knowledge from books, which Granny hates, she makes her biscuits shaped like bats with crescents for eyes and she loves wands and candles. She also gets into a romance in this one that ends up being important later on in the series. She gets dumped on a lot, and that’s not particularly kind of either Nanny or Granny, they don’t bother to say thank you and use her as a laborer many times. (She’s always the one to fetch things, make the tea, bring the biscuits etc)
The writing in this was fantastic, he had really started to come into his own, the POV changes were smoother, it was more clear when he went switched around omniscient to the third person, and I found this to be the first book so far where I couldn’t decide what my favorite quotes were because there were so many. Pratchett officially hit “super quotable” with this book, I could have listed dozens.
Side note: I love how there’s a little hint at what’s to come, you get these little tidbits only a re-read, but in the first chapter of this book it says, “On nights such as this, witches are abroad. Well, not actually abroad. They don’t like the food and you can’t trust the water…” So, there’s a book later in the witches series called Witches Abroad and they do in fact go to another land and hate on their food, it’s my favorite witches book <3
“Witches are not by nature gregarious, at least with other witches, and they certainly didn’t have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have”
“Does the skin of witches turn aside steel?” he said. “Not that I’m aware,” said Granny, levelly. “You could give it a try.”
“Where’s Nanny?” she said.
“She’s lying out on the lawn,” said Granny “She felt a bit poorly.”
And from outside came the sound of Nanny Ogg being poorly at the top of her voice.
(after the acting troupe agrees to take on the child for free) Granny nodded, and fished in the deepest reccesses of her cloak. At last she produced a small leather bag, which she tipped out onto the table. There was a lot of silver, and even a few tiny gold coins.
“This should take care of nappies and suchlike. Clothes and things. Whatever”
“A hundred times over, I should think” said Vitroller weakly. “Why didn’t you mention this before?”
“If I’d have to buy you, you wouldn’t be worth the price” Granny said.
“Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.”
- older characters
- female characters
- comic fantasy
- old school tropes
- Shakespeare satire
- shorter/quick books
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 13/15
- World Building: 13.5/15
- Writing: 13.5/15
- Pacing: 12.5/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Final Score: 88/100 – 5 stars highly recommended!
Ok I was going to have a break from my rereading of the series, but you have persuaded me – I do love Granny W and her colleagues.