Sunday, 14 October 2012

Review: Maskerade

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maskerade was first published in 1995 as the 18th discworld novel. It is also the fifth story from the Witches series, which means it is based on folklore or another famous story. In fact, we've switched from Shakespeare to Gaston Leroux or the better known Andrew Lloyd Webber with the Phantom of the Opera.

The book starts with Agnes Nitt from Lancre, who calls herself Perdita and has an amazing voice. She also has lots of body, though, which greatly hinders her career as a singer. Still, she can convince the people at Ankh-Morpork's opera house to let her join due to her talent.
Members of the chorus, like Agnes, live on the premises of the opera house, where Agnes meets Christine, a shallow but beautiful young woman with no talent for singing. During their first night, they switch rooms because Christine hears a voice in hers and is scared. Agnes, although more sensible, can also hear the voice, which wants to help Christine to be a better singer. Imitating Christine's voice, Agnes takes the nightly lessons for her.
Next day, the Opera House Ghost, an institution which used to bring luck to the opera house, requests that Christine sing an important part in the show that night. Since the ghost had started killing people, masking the murders as accidents, his request is obeyed. In secret, though, Agnes is asked to sing the part from the background.
Still, more and more people die in strange "accidents", so it's only lucky Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are in town. Nanny Ogg has written a very popular cookbook, but receives no royalties, which Granny intends to change. At the same time, they want to see how Agnes copes in the big city, and maybe take her back with them to complete their coven. Two witches are simply not enough.
Agnes avoids the witches whenever she can, but she can't help getting involved in the ghost hunt, since she is the only sensible person in the opera house.

I won't tell you who turns out to be the ghost in the end. If you know Terry Pratchett, you know you can expect a bit of a surprise and a happy ending.
Maskerade was a very enjoyable novel; partly because I like the witches, and partly because it was difficult to guess who the ghost is.

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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Review: Interesting Times

Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting Times was first published in 1994, is the 17th discworld and fifth Rincewind novel.

A typical sign that the discworld book you are holding in your hands is about Rincewind is when it starts with the gods playing games, and when the Lady is involved.
This time, she sends him to the Counterweight Continent and against the plans of Fate (once again). Together with Twoflower, his daughters, Cohen and other barbarian heroes, he is set against the five noble families fighting for the throne of the dying Emperor. The poor wiz(z)ard! How will he manage to survive between five armies, a cunning Grand Vizier and the expectations of his companions?

I frequently find myself pitying Rincewind. He never asked for the adventures he gets involved in. He certainly doesn't want to meet Death quite so often (although I like seeing him in a discworld novel).
At the end of FaustEric, it wasn't mentioned where he got to, but Interesting Times finds him on his own on a nice, calm island. Sure, he didn't enjoy it all that much, since it didn't have potatoes, but it must have been better than being magicked back to Unseen University and then on to the Counterweight Continent. I wonder what will happen to him on the mysterious continent he ended up on at the end of Interesting Times...

The novel was filled with social criticism even I understood. What's the use of war? Is a revolution for the people really the right thing to do when you don't know what those people want? And is barbarism actually worse than civilization? Terry Pratchett certainly has his very special way of answering these questions and entertain his readers at the same time.
There is only one question I was not able to answer for myself: why is War's daughter called Clancy? Since his sons are Terror and Panic, I didn't quite get that. Does anybody know?

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