29 January 2016

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

Image from Goodreads
On Discworld, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late. The town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch, thus mending the magical damage of the wizard's mistake. But now the young girl will be forced to penetrate the inner sanctum of the Unseen University--and attempt to save the world with one well-placed kick in some enchanted shins! Reissue.

If you’re working your way through the Discworld this will be the third book you come to. It’s the first book featuring the witches of the Disc and as with many of Terry Pratchett’s books it’s an interesting social commentary. Equal Rites as you may have guessed is about Equal Rights.

It focuses on Esk the eighth son of an eighth son who actually turned out to be a daughter. She inherits a staff, some bad stuff happens and she sets off with Granny Weatherwax for Ankh Morpork. Esk is a determined character and when she arrives at the unseen University and is told that she cannot be a wizard because wizardry is only for men she causes some trouble.

While she does prove that women are as good at wizardry as men, she didn’t feel solid as a character. I think the intention was probably to make her appear headstrong and as though she felt she knew more than she actually did, but in actuality she felt as if she did actually know all of this stuff. As a cub leader I have a lot of experience with eight year olds and I ask you what eight year old actually does know everything, whatever they believe?

I did enjoy meeting Granny Weatherwax. Ostensibly for the first time, although since I’d read the first two Tiffany Aching books as a child this was more like my third encounter with her. In this book she didn’t come across as all-powerful as she had been in the Tiffany Aching stories, but she also didn’t seem as old.  I don’t know if this is my relative age or an intention of the stories.

I would hesitantly say that I enjoyed this book more than either the Colour of Magic or The Light Fantastic, however not as much as the Childrens books Pratchett had written. I’m not sure whether this is down to my introduction to him as a child, his comparative writing style for adults and children, or the fact that this book was written relatively early in his career.

Whichever way you look at it this book is worth picking up for any fantasy fan.

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