Book Review: Equal Rites by Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted June 29, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Equal Rites by Sir Terry Pratchett

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Series: ,
Published by HarperTorch on February 2, 2000
Pages: 213
Format: Paperback
Source: the library

Narrator: Discworld #3, Witches Trilogy #1
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A wizard predicts his own death and readies himself for the traditional transfer of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. The snag is that the eighth son is a daughter and women can't be wizards.

Also by this author: Wyrd Sisters, Pyramids

Third in the overall Discworld series and the first in the Witches Trilogy within Discworld. This story introduces Granny Weatherwax. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Discworld books on my website.

My Take

Oh, lordy. If you’re a feminist or believe in equal rites, er, I mean, rights, for women, you have GOT TO read Equal Rites. Yes, MUST. Although, Pratchett did have me up in arms over Granny Weatherwax’s attitude. What is going on there??? It doesn’t last of course. Granny is a hardheaded woman with a pragmatic approach whose actions will crack you up — and impress the unimpressable.

And you’ll be laughing every step of the way as Pratchett satirizes everything from equality to the weather (“it was experienced mist and had got curling down to a fine art”) to annoyed trees to a person’s fear of forn parts to the truth of diplomacy to our modern forms of banditry…*lol*. Then there’s that there Extra Muriel studying.

“A world like that, which exists only because the gods enjoy a joke, must be a place where magic can survive. And sex too, of course.”

Ooh, I like this one: “…if you ignore the rules, people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don’t apply to you.”

Oh, well then, women are too excitable, eh… Magic requires clarity of thought, ehhh…

It amazes me how thorough and prolific Pratchett is in finding so much to satirize about the world. Even more amazing is how well he works it into the story! It does make me wonder what he would have been like to live with. It could go either way.

As for his characters… I do find that I prefer the ones in this beginning to the Witches Trilogy as well as the Tiffany Aching stories. While the Rincewind stories are a great introduction to wizards, the Discworld, and Unseen U, they were trickier to read, if only because the stories were more convoluted and involved too much of Discworld. I do, however, recommend reading it. If only for Luggage, LOL. I do dream about having my own “luggage”.

Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that one *eye roll*. Not reading books. They were written by dead people after all. Pratchett continues to go on about books when he describes those wild books in the library. As funny as it sounds, I’m glad my own library doesn’t go into such gyrations!

I mention the librarian’s practicality later on, and the difference between him and the rest of the wizards is emphasized after Simon’s lecture on what magic truly is. Lol, it’s too much like so many blowhards in the world *more laughter*.

I am looking forward to reading Wyrd Sisters, if only to learn what Granny, Esk, and Simon get up to. On their own…together…I’m easy. I do know I’ll be laughing my head off.

The Story

It was most unexpected, that eighth son of the smith. A girl! Worse, as the years go by, her magic starts to stick out, and she’ll need to learn control. It’s Granny who’ll have to take on the task of getting Esk safely to Unseen University. It’ll be a perilous journey through earthquakes, wars, plagues, massacres… Well, that’s what Granny’s heard. Don’t blame me for it.

The Characters

Eskarina “Esk” Smith is the eighth son child of the blacksmith. A girl. A GIRL. And she’s inherited magic. Esmeralda “Esme”, “Granny”, Weatherwax is Bad Ass’ midwife and a witch who can borrow the eyes of any animal. Gammer Tumult has been Granny’s mentor.

On their journey, they have adventures and meet…
Hilta Goatfounder in Ohulan, a market town, and Mr. and Mrs. Skiller are greedy innkeepers. The Zoons are like gypsies but travel the waterways trading, and they are very reliable. Amschat B’hal Zoon is a Liar and has three wives and three children. (Zoons are extremely truthful and finding one who can lie is a great triumph. Liars are highly respected in Zoon culture.) In Zemphis, the caravan trail boss is Adab Gander. Master Treatle is a wizard expected to be useful in defense (he’s also the Vice-Chancellor of Unseen U), and S-s-imon is his brainy assistant.

Ankh-Morpork is…

…the major city on Discworld. At least in their part of it. The Guild of Thieves, Cutpurses, Housebreakers, and Allied Trades is a very respectable body and is the major law enforcement agency in Ankh-Morpork. The Shades is a vile neighborhood of thieves, whores, and who knows what else. Mrs. Herapath is the glassblower’s wife.

Unseen University is…
…in Ankh-Morpork and is where wizards go to learn how to control their magic. Archchancellor Cutangle is the Archmage of the Wizards of the Silver Star (Granny knew his father, Arktur Cutangle). Jeophal the Spry teaches Beginners’ Dematerialization. An orangutang (a wizard who got caught up in a spell) is the Head Librarian and probably the most intelligent and practical wizard at the school. Ksandra is a maid in the laundry. Mrs. Whitlow is the pretentious housekeeper.

Bad Ass is…
…a village so tiny that it “barely showed up on a map of the village”. Gordo Smith is a blacksmith who is an eighth son with seven sons of his own and another on the way. Jaims is the oldest son, and Cern and Gulta are more of Esk’s brothers.

The Dungeon Dimensions are…
…in another reality and home to beastly Things that keep trying to get into our reality. Its inhabitants include Bel-Shamharoth, C’hulagen, and the Insider among others.

Drum Billet is a wizard who is going to die in six minutes. Well, it is a useful thing to know, as a wizard can pass on his wizardness.

Gnolls are a type of stone goblin. High magic is what wizards do and can put shape on thoughts. Witches can only work with what actually exists. “Magicians are magical technologists with defiant beards and leather patches who gather in small jealous groups at parties.” Thaumaturgists never got any schooling. Hedge wizards practice a specialized type of magic interested in gardening and listening.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a bright blue banded by a thin border of black on the left side with bouncing gender symbols in pastel colors. The author’s name and title are in a bright yellow with a sharp black shadow along the edges of the letters and are located at the top and bottom, respectively. In between is the essential wizard’s hat — one simply cannot be a wizard with the hat! This one is a deep purple blue with symbols and squiggles over over the crown and the upturned brim that’s trimmed in a purple violet and topped off with a multicolored breeze-tossed tassel. The hat itself rests on a glow of yellow light while around the top of the crown a Milky Way of yellow haze, yellow stars, and a yellow symbol for, appropriately, the female, swirls in excitement.

The title is what it’s all about for a wizard who happens to be, shockingly, a woman: Equal Rites.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Equal Rites by Sir Terry Pratchett

  1. I should try a Terry Pratchett book. I never understood how or why, but I was receiving TP ARC’s by mail, although I have never read one, requested one… I would have loved to have tried one, but all of the books that I received were later series, so I didn’t bother. This one sounds good. I like it when series cross over.

  2. This could be a good one to start with as it is the first in a subseries. Than again, it is only third in in the overall series. I do think they’re well worth reading, if only to appreciate the satire, lol. Subconsciously, I suspect you’ll be impressed with how well Pratchett put it together.

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