“Stories, great flapping ribbons of shaped space-time, have been blowing and uncoiling around the universe since the beginning of time. And they have evolved. The weakest have died and the strongest have survived and they have grown fat on the retelling….stories, twisting and blowing through the darkness.”
“Witches Abroad” by Terry Pratchett
As I said when I finished Eric, there will be many Pratchett books on this 100 Books list; not only do I have many of them, but I love them. And several of them I’ve yet to even read, and Witches Abroad, as well as a great many of the other witch books, is one of them. I read it next by recommendation of BookCellarNH.
Witches Abroad is a story about stories. It’s about the concept that fairy tales are probably best left fairy tales for a reason, and that you can’t force happiness on people; they have to come about it on their own. There’s trouble brewing in the far-off foreign land of Genua and newly anointed godmother Magrat Garlick is off to do her duty and check it out…Of course, she won’t be doing much with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg leading the way to make sure she doesn’t muck it up.
Coming off of Eric, which was a very quick and precise march through time, the beginning of Witches Abroad seemed a little jerky as the witches are traveling and Pratchett moves almost too quickly through their experiences on the way. Sometimes, that’s almost my only real complaint with Pratchett’s writing. He sets up a satirical situation or scene, and you feel like you’ve blown through it before you can really appreciate. I feel sometimes his endings are like that, too. He’s not the type of writer to tell everything; he leaves a lot to the cleverness of the reader, and sometimes I feel I’m not clever enough to really catch everything that’s going on. But he is good and he is brilliant, and mostly it just leaves a lot more to appreciate on a second read when you’re paying a bit more attention to new things you didn’t notice before.
I adored the New Orleans-esque Genua and the very inspired observation of how it must feel for creatures transformed to be things that they weren’t supposed to be. This book also easily heightened my adoration of Nanny Ogg and especially Greebo. I have two cats, and one of them reminds me an awful lot of Greebo, and so I can imagine my Genghis turning into exactly the type of person Greebo did, and that will entertain me for ages. “For wolves and pigs and bears, thinking that they’re human is a tragedy. For a cat, it’s an experience.” So completely true. The twists on conventional fairy tales and stories were clever in the usual excellent Pratchett form, filled with plenty of little nuggets of wisdom as conventional tropes are being turned on their ear.
Also, I will never stop hoping that maybe, just maybe, someone working on the storyline for Disney’s The Princess and the Frog had read Witches Abroad and was inspired by it. Because there’s nothing quite as sunshiney and fulfilling as the possibility that two of your favourite things are influencing each other, even if just a little. It’s unlikely, but it would be awesome if it were true.
There isn’t a whole lot to say. It would be rare for a Pratchett book, especially once he really hit Discworld stride, to be disappointing. I don’t know if Witches Abroad is one to skyrocket to one of my favourites, but it’s a great, enjoyable read and a lot of fun.
Books Read: 15 out of 100.