Review: Equal Rites (Discworld Book 3 of 53ish)

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

This book is labeled as the 1st book in the Witches subseries and it did have a slightly different feel from the previous two Discworld books.  There was still a good bit of humor, but it seemed far less ridiculous than in the previous two books.  Either that, or I’m just immune to the ridiculousness of it all now. :)  I thought the humor enhanced the story rather than creating a distraction from the story as in the earlier books.

 

On the other hand, I thought the story was a bit generic.  In the Discworld, men and women each have their own place within the magical world.  Women with magical skills can be witches, but never wizards.  Likewise, men can’t be witches.  They each practice a different type of magic, appropriate to their assumed temperaments.  Witches practice more earthy magic combined with psychology.  Wizards practice a more traditional magic and they consider it to be superior, more powerful, and more intellectual.  You can probably now see the pun implied by the title.  Our story focuses on two characters – an older witch, Granny Weatherwax, and a young girl, Eskarina, who has the stereotypical latent (or sometimes not-so-latent) special powers that make her different.  Granny serves as a slightly reluctant but loyal mentor for Esk and tries to prevent her from getting into too much trouble.

 

I did really like both main characters, especially Granny, but I wasn’t always that invested in their story.  It seemed a little predictable, like something I’d more-or-less read many times before.  Despite that, there were still plenty of unique Discworldic(?) elements to spice things up, and plenty of humor, so I did still enjoy it.  I’m interested in learning more about the witches, so I’m looking forward to the future books in this subseries.  The next Witches book, Wyrd Sisters, is the 6th on my list.

 

I have one comment that I have to put in spoiler tags.  It’s a major spoiler for the first two Discworld books and a minor spoiler for this book. 

The Unseen University in this book seemed almost like an entirely different university from the one we saw in the first two books.  Cutangle, for being such an important person in charge, wasn’t mentioned once in the previous books and, in general, the environment seemed quite a bit less cutthroat than it had in the Rincewind books.  There wasn’t any mention of Rincewind who, last we saw, had pretty much placed himself in charge of getting things set to rights because there was hardly anybody left to do it after the events he’d been involved in.  Most of this could probably be explained away one way or another, but I would have enjoyed seeing some small references to the previous books.

(show spoiler)

 

I think I’m going to go ahead and take a short break now to read Sharp Ends, and then I’ll come back to the fourth book, Mort, which is the first book in the Death subseries.