Sunday, 12 February 2012

Review: Equal Rites

Equal Rites
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite this wonderful picture, I decided to read through the whole discworld series in publishing order. This means that today my third review for the British Books Challenge 2012 is about Equal Rites, first published in 1987. Please be aware that this review contains spoilers.

The first two novels introduced and followed the wizard Rincewind, while this third book turns towards the witches of the discworld, who practice magic on a very different level. In Equal Rites, by the mistake of an old wizard in a hurry, a new born girl inherits the magical staff of said wizard. The baby was thought to be the eighth son of an eighth son, destined to become a wizard, and the old wizard in question wanted to give his staff to the boy before his own death. As is so often the case with men – and especially with wizards – he didn't pay any attention to the witch – Granny Weatherwax – who had helped during the birth of the child. She tries to tell him that it's a girl, but neither he nor the baby's father listen until it's too late. The father, who is the local blacksmith, tries to destroy the staff afterwards, but is unable to do so. He hides it instead and hopes that his daughter will grow up normal. Which of course she doesn't.
Around the age of eight, she is lost in the woods at night, in winter. When wolves threaten to harm her, the staff comes to her rescue, killing the wolves. After this incident, Granny Weatherwax tries – in vain – to destroy the staff. She also takes on the girl, whose name is Esk, as apprentice to become a witch. She tries to train her, but it become apparent that Esk cannot control her wizard powers when she turns one of her brothers into a pig. Granny Weatherwax then takes Esk to Unseen University for training, but women are not meant to be wizards... That she helps save the world does give her a certain advantage, though.

I know Granny Weatherwax from the much younger series around Tiffany Aching. She's called Mistress Weatherwax there and – somehow – totally different from the witch in this book! Not in all aspects, mind you, but still very different. This is the main reason why I didn't like Equal Rites as much as I could have. It was so confusing to read! Still, there was fun and adventure, as you would expect from Terry Pratchett, so it's still worth recommending.

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