“There would be a price. And Granny knew enough about wizardry to be certain that it would be a high one. But if you were worried about the price, then why were you in the shop?“
“Equal Rites” by Terry Pratchett
Anyone who follows this blog or my 100 Books project will know that I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and I’m currently into devouring as many of his books as I can this year. This means going back and reading some of the first few books that I’ve never read before, which includes Equal Rites, our first introduction to the infamous Granny Weatherwax. And the experience is certainly an…interesting one.
Equal Rites is the third Discworld book and, while there are still some undeniable familiar traits about it, it still feels that Pratchett hasn’t quite fully developed the Disc and is still working his way through it. It’s not bad, by any means; I can’t imagine Pratchett writing poorly. But it is as though the Esme Weatherwax in Equal Rites is just a slip of a woman who Esme Weatherwax will become. Ahnk-Morpork is a mere suggestion of what it really is in later books. It’s a subtle introduction, a glimpse of more to come, for when these characters are so developed and particular that there’s no denying that they’re practically real.
Outside of the almost quaintness of these first glimpses of these well-known features, Equal Rites is a great book about not only magic, but the fundamental difference (dare we say it?) between men and women and the way they go about things…and whether or not that makes a lick of difference in the long wrong. The story centers around young Eskarina Smith, who, by error, was chosen to be a wizard, because no one bothered to tell the dying wizard who passed along his powers that this eight son of an eight son was actually a daughter. Everyone knows, though, that a girl can’t be a wizard. Granny Weatherwax makes the attempt to get Esk to glean onto being a witch, and does a fair good job, but the fact of the matter is that she’s got the powers of a wizard, too, and so it’s off to the Unseen University to try to convince them to let her learn how to harvest her powers, because if she doesn’t….the magic may be more powerful than anyone can know what to do with.
There is, of course, the typical Pratchett build-up into something dramatic and abstract that leads into a Very Important Lesson, this time about managgement of power and magic. It’s a good book, though not as good as some others in the series, and a very quick read, and, as a Pratchett book, it naturally comes highly recommended from me. On the whole, though, if you want a Discworld about magic, I’d go with Witches Abroad so far. Equal Rites had a distinct lack of Nanny Ogg and that, my friends, is a travesty.
Books read: 40 our of 100.
And thanks to Anya Kelleye for the subscription! I look forward to seeing some of her lovely ebook coves, so I hope she looks forward to reading my babblings here.