Discworld, #3: Equal Rites

Equal Rites
Published 1987
228 pages

My Discworld Challenge:

Over the summer, I committed to reading the Discworld series! I’m starting a new Discworld book on the 1st of each month, going in order of publication date.

Synopsis for Equal Rites:

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! 

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

My reaction:

Finally, a Discworld book that I really liked! I’m three books into the series, and I have to say that the first two books were not great. (Then again, my expectations were low, since I’d already been warned about those books).

But here in Equal Rites, the 3rd book in the (vast) series, things pick up! The story is much more focused and has great main characters, so despite some messiness toward the end, it’s a charming read.

In Equal Rites, a dying wizard intends to pass along his powers to a newborn baby… but the expected boy is actually a girl. Unfortunately for the wizard, what’s done is done, and his powers flow into baby Eskarina, known as Esk as she grows up.

It’s unheard of for a female to be a wizard — it’s “against the lore”, as several wizards protest. Girls can only grow up to be witches, whom wizards dismiss as women who fiddle around with plants and herbs, not powerful magical beings like themselves.

Esk and her teacher Granny Weatherwax have other ideas, and after Esk learns all the basics about witchcraft from Granny, they realize that the wizard school Unseen University in the city of Ankh-Morpork is the best and only option for Esk.

The plot meanders a bit once Esk gets to the city, and honestly, the action sequences toward the end are a bit all over the place. But that doesn’t matter so much. As I’m learning, at least half the delight of these books is Terry Pratchett’s awesomely clever writing. The plot is nice to have, the characters are often fabulous, but the writing is what really elevates the entire thing into (pardon my saying so) magic.

Their world, bounded by an encircling ocean that falls forever into space in one long waterfall, is as round and flat as a geological pizza, although without the anchovies.

The midwife’s name was Granny Weatherwax. She was a witch. That was quite acceptable in the Ramtops, and no one had a bad word to say about witches. At least, not if he wanted to wake up in the morning the same shape as he went to bed.

Time passed, which, basically, is its job.

“How did you get here, little girl?” she said, in a voice that suggested gingerbread cottages and the slamming of big stove doors.

“I got lost from Granny.” “And where’s Granny now, dear?” Clang went the oven doors again; it was going to be a tough night for all wanderers in metaphorical forests.

It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done.

She had found them lodgings in The Shades, an ancient part of the city whose inhabitants were largely nocturnal and never inquired about one another’s business because curiosity not only killed the cat but threw it in the river with weights tied to its feet. The lodgings were on the top floor next to the well-guarded premises of a respectable dealer in stolen property because, as Granny had heard, good fences make good neighbors.

There was a feeling that the universe had been turned inside out in all dimensions at once. It was a bloated, swollen sensation. It sounded as though the whole world had said “gloop.”

Reality returned, and tried to pretend that it had never left.

See what I mean? Esk’s adventures with Granny Weatherwax are fun, but even if they weren’t, I’d be too busy laughing and snorting over the wordplay and puns to really mind at all.

I’m absolutely looking forward to…

Up next:

November 2020: Mort

Can’t wait for this one! Everyone seems to love Mort!

Discworld, #2, The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic
Published 1986
293 pages

My Discworld Challenge:

Over the summer, I committed to reading the Discworld series! I’m starting a new Discworld book on the 1st of each month, going in order of publication date.

Synopsis for The Light Fantastic:

In The Light Fantastic only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world…

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

My reaction:

The Light Fantastic proves that you can dislike a book’s plot and still enjoy the writing.

I’m not sure I can even describe what happens in this book. The failed wizard Rincewind has further difficulties because of the powerful spell hidden in his brain, there’s a comet that threatens to collide with Discworld and destroy it, there are helpful trolls, an elderly warrior named Cohen the Barbarian, dastardly conspiracies, and of course, the tourist Twoflowers and his amazing Luggage.

It was all just kind of one random scene after another, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes funny, but none of it felt like a compelling narrative that made any sense at all. My eyes were glazed over for at least half of this book! And it drives me crazy that there are no chapters, just one long story.

At the same time, I do appreciate Terry Pratchett’s cleverness and awesome use of words, so even though this Discworld book’s plot left me unengaged and even bored at times, I loved so many passages. I’ll wrap up by sharing a few random samples:

He felt that the darkness was full of unimaginable horrors—and the trouble with unimaginable horrors was that they were only too easy to imagine . . .

They had dined on horse meat, horse cheese, horse black pudding, horse d’oeuvres and a thin beer that Rincewind didn’t want to speculate about.

Horse d’oevres! I had an uncle who would have loved that joke (and/or said it himself.)

It wasn’t that he was particularly wise. Every wizard considered himself a fairly hot property, wisewise; it went with the job.

Another voice, dry as tinder, hissed, “You would do well to remember where you are.” It should be impossible to hiss a sentence with no sibilants in it, but the voice made a very good attempt.

It was not a grin to inspire confidence. More horrible grins had probably been seen, but only on the sort of grinner that is orange with black stripes, has a long tail and hangs around in jungles looking for victims to grin at.

“… Rincewind, all the shops have been smashed open, there was a whole bunch of people across the street helping themselves to musical instruments, can you believe that?”

“Yeah,” said Rincewind, picking up a knife and testing its blade thoughtfully. “Luters, I expect.” 

I’m not giving up on Discworld! I’d heard from the start that the first few books aren’t great, so I’m hanging in there. Next month’s book looks good, and I’m dying (ha! see what I did there?) to get to #4, Mort.

Up next:

October 2020: Equal Rites

My Discworld reading adventure: Book #1, The Color of Magic

The Color of Magic
Published 1983
294 pages

My Discworld Challenge:

As I mentioned last month, I made the big decision to finally start reading the Discworld series! Beginning August 2020, I’ll be starting a new Discworld book on the 1st of each month, going in order of publication date.

And ta-da! I’m underway!

Synopsis:

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My reaction:

This was… cute? Fortunately, enough people have mentioned that the first Discworld book isn’t among the best, so I wasn’t too disappointed by the experience.

The Color of Magic introduces the world of Discworld — a flat disc of a planet that’s carried through space on the shoulders of four elephants standing on the back of a huge turtle. As a concept, it’s pretty cool. The first book introduces the basics of the planet and its residents, as well as its gods and magical systems. It’s pretty intricate and also nonsensical, so I can’t swear that I managed to follow it all.

As for the plot of The Color of Magic, it’s light and silly, focusing on the failed wizard Rincewind and the tourist Twoflowers (and Twoflower’s walking Luggage, which has a tendency to devour anyone who tries to attack Twoflowers). They encounter trolls and dragons and barbarians, and find themselves literally at the end of the world, and it’s all quite fun.

This book didn’t blow me away, but I was prepared for that, so I don’t feel let down or dissuaded from continuing onward. I’ve yet to encounter a Discworld fan who says the Rincewind books are their favorite!

One book down! And plenty more to go…

Up next:

September 2020: The Light Fantastic

My Discworld Reading Challenge

I’ve been talking about reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books for years now, and I think it’s about time to finally dig in and do it!

There are 41 books in the Discworld series, and apparently, so many different ways to read them!

I’ve checked fan sites and wikis, as well as book bloggers who’ve written about Discworld, and have seen so many recommendations about which sets of novels to read together, and where a good starting place might be.

But after giving it some thought, I think I’m just going to start with the very first book in the series, The Colour of Magic (published 1983), and then go in chronological order.

So, here’s the plan:

Starting August 1st, I plan to read one Discworld book per month, going in publication order. I’ll be taking it nice and easy, starting a new book on the 1st of each month. Let’s see how far I can go!

For reference, here’s the reading list:

1. The Colour of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort
5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards! Guards!
9. Faust Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
29. Night Watch
30. The Wee Free Men
31. Monstrous Regiment
32. A Hat Full of Sky
33. Going Postal
34. Thud!
35. Wintersmith
36. Making Money
37. Unseen Academicals
38. I Shall Wear Midnight
39. Snuff
40. Raising Steam
41. The Shepherd’s Crown

Wish me luck!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Series That I Want to Start

Once again, I’m joining in with the Top 5 Tuesday meme this week! Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Bionic Bookworm, who posts the month’s topics at the start of each month. Today’s topic is Top 5 Series I Want To Start. I love reading series, except I get super frustrated when I get involved and then have to wait a year or more for the next installment. Here are five series that I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. Wish me luck!

1) Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I’m convinced that I’ll love it! But it’s so overwhelming… There are so many books, and so many different recommendations on where to start. What’s a Discworld newbie to do?

See what I mean? You need a diagram to read this series!

2) The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal: I’ve been talk about reading this series a lot this year — it’s one of my 2020 reading goals. I know I love the author, and I really like the sound of it (and the pretty covers).

 

3) Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny: I own the first book, and have friends who are wild about this series. I really need to get started, even though tackling a series with 16 books seems like a ginormous undertaking.

 

4) Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn: I swore I wouldn’t start any more urban fantasy series… but I loved Bannerless and a few other books by this author, so why fight it?

5) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch: Another series that I’ve heard is great, and I just need to commit to starting!

Have you read any of these? Let me know if you think I should READ or SKIP them!

And please share your Top 5 links too!