This is also one of my favorites in all of Discworld, I think Nanny and Granny are at their height in this book as far as their back-and-forth dialogue. The two play so well off of each other in this one it still tickled me even though this must be my 20th re-read of this particular novel.
This book opens with the death of Desiderata Hollow, an older witch who like most witches, had predicted her own demise and knew exactly when she was going to die. This is handy most especially in her case because it allowed her to set in motion plans that would continue post-mortem. She made certain, using headology, that Esme, Nanny, and Magrat would make their way to Genua. Esmerelda’s sister, Lilith, has gone mad with power, and Desiderata was no match for her in the end. She’s running the entire city and forcing them into stories of her own wishing, whether or not they wanted to be a part of the story. She’s currently manipulating a young girl into marrying a frog prince, except she’s disguised him to look like a regular prince. The disguise isn’t perfect however, and the young bride to be, Emberella, wants nothing to do with him – she thinks he’s slimy and is concerned by the whispers of the townsfolk about his eyes.
Desiderata hooks the three Lancre witches into this by sending Magrat the fairy godmother wand, along with a letter stating that she’s now the second Fairy Godmother to Emberella and that she’s to go to Genua to stop the wedding. (There are always two fairy godmothers, the good one and the bad one of course) So, off go Granny, Nanny and Magrat several thousand miles across the Discworld to Genua, a completely foreign land.
On their way to Genua they encounter some dwarves who’ve been trapped in a cave in, Nanny has a house dropped on her, and find a half human half wolf creature that’s in absolute misery and a victim of Lilith’s meddling. Throughout this journey Magrat tries her best to help with her magic wand, but all she can manage to do is turn things into pumpkins. The three witches ate more pumpkin than they ever wanted to on this journey to foreign parts. The letters home that Nanny sends are some of the best parts of this book, the three witches are amazed at things like garlic, and food that hasn’t been boiled.
We had some stuff it was chewy you’ll never guess it was snails, and not bad and Esme had three helpins before she found out and then had a Row with the cook and Magrat was sick all night just at the thought of it and had the dire rear. Thinking of you your loving MUM. PS the privies here are DESGUSTING, they have them INDORES, so much for HIGEINE.
Once they get to Genua they encounter Mrs. Gogol – a voodoo witch. She’s also displeased with what’s going on in Genua as well, and her magic isn’t to be trifled with. At some point her and Granny both want to “take care of Lilith”, Esme insists it’s a family matter which pushes Mrs. Gogol’s buttons enough for her to perform voodoo on Esme. Oh, and Greebo makes his first appearance as a human. So there’s that 😀
“What was supposed to be so special about a full moon? It was only a big circle of light. And the dark of the moon was only darkness. But halfway between the two, when the moon was between the worlds of light and dark, when even the moon lived on the edge…maybe then a witch could believe in the moon.”
“Granny disapproved of magic for domestic purposes, but she was annoyed. She also wanted her tea. She threw a couple of logs into the fireplace and glared at them until they burst into flame out of sheer embarrassment.”
“Most people, on waking up, accelerate through a quick panicky pre-consciousness check-up: who am I, where am I, who is he/she, good god, why am I cuddling a policeman’s helmet, what happened last night?
And this is because people are riddled by Doubt. It is the engine that drives them through their lives. It is the elastic band in the little model aeroplane of their soul, and they spend their time winding it up until it knots. Early morning is the worst time -there’s that little moment of panic in case you have drifted away in the night and something else has moved in. This never happened to Granny Weatherwax. She went straight from asleep to instant operation on all six cylinders. She never needed to find herself because she always knew who was doing the looking.”
“You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage. Besides you don’t build a better world by choppin’ heads off and giving decent girls away to frogs.”
Dedicated to all those people – and why not? – who, after the publication of Wyrd Sister, deluged the author with their version of the words of “The Hedgehog Song”. Deary deary me…
- comic fantasy
- fairy tales/stories
- fairy god mothers
- short light reads
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 15/15
- World Building: 13.5/15
- Writing: 15/15
- Pacing: 14/15
- Originality: 13.5/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 10/10