Sunday, 14 October 2012
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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