Equal Rites (The Witches of Discworld, #1) (Discworld, #3)

by Terry Pratchett

4.03 of 5 stars 16 ratings • 4 reviews • 23 shelved
Book cover for Equal Rites

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Equal Rites (The Witches of Discworld, #1) (Discworld, #3)

by Terry Pratchett

4.03 of 5 stars 16 ratings • 4 reviews • 23 shelved
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check on the new-born baby's sex...

A third hilarious adventure by the author of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.

  • ISBN10 0575039507
  • ISBN13 9780575039506
  • Publish Date 15 January 1987
  • Publish Status Out of Print
  • Out of Print 10 April 1997
  • Publish Country GB
  • Imprint Gollancz
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 224
  • Language English

Reviews

Avatar for bentbookworm

Full review on The Bent Bookworm!

[b:Equal Rites|34507|Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches #1)|Terry Pratchett|https://d2arxad8u2l0g7.cloudfront.net/books/1407706800s/34507.jpg|583611] is the third Discworld book, but the first Witches sub-series book (the first two books were in the Rincewind sub-series). I was immediately hooked by the mildly hysterical battle of the sexes that takes place within the first few pages – a dying wizard tries to bequeath his powers (and staff!) to the 8th son of an 8th son…who turns out to be a daughter. Said daughter – Esk – absorbs magic in a slightly different but no less powerful way than a son might have done, resulting in a family and community that really has no idea what to do with her. A boy would have been sent off to Unseen University, but a girl…”Girls can’t be wizards,” everyone tells her. Thankfully, she has Granny Weatherwax for a guardian. Despite Granny’s slight misconceptions of children, they soon get along quite well.
Granny, in fact, was at a loss, but she knew she had to do something. “Didda nasty wolfie fwiten us, den?” she hazarded.

For quite the wrong reasons, this seemed to work. From the depths of the ball a muffled voice said: “I am eight you know.”

I’m quite sure only Granny would be capable of dealing with a small child with such interesting abilities and ways of dealing with seven annoying older brothers.
“Turning people into pigs is not allowed,” she hissed. “Even brothers.”

I don’t even have GIFs for this book. Call me a fangirl, but Pratchett’s prose is both so pointed and poignant that it really speaks best just by itself. I love Esk, and I love Granny, and watching them tear through Discworld was just a rollicking, fun ride (complete with flying broomsticks that have to be kickstarted). While Granny at first tries to insist that Esk study the traditional female magic, she soon realizes that Esk’s gifts are quite different and she needs alternate methods of instruction. Esk and Granny share the stage and despite the multi-generation gap between them, make a great team. Of course, like any good guardian, Granny spends a good deal of her time chasing or getting Esk out of trouble, but Esk’s independent little self does fantastic on her own, most of the time. Her sometimes unwitting (maybe?) use of magic creates a variety of reactions from the people she meets, especially as they travel closer to Ankh-Morpork, the large capitol city.
Esk, in fact, moved through the fair more like an arsonist moves through a hay hayfield or a neutron bounces through a reactor, poets notwithstanding.

Needless to say, they create QUITE the stir at Unseen University, break all sorts of rules, cause all sorts of upsets and feelings. But every insular world needs shaken up now and then, and I think Unseen University will definitely be the better for it.

Avatar for murderbydeath

MurderByDeath 3.5 of 5 stars

My second ever Discworld novel, this one started out strongly with a lot great humour and some great one-liners, but it sort of petered out for me about mid-way.

The wizard Drum Billet knows that he will soon die and travels to a place where the eighth son of an eighth son is about to be born, but the newborn child is actually a girl, Esk.  Billet notices his mistake too late, and the staff passes on to her. But a female wizard is something completely unheard of on the Discworld...

It's a good thing Esk is only 9 years old because if she were any older she'd be too stupid to live, but as a 9 year old, she's just precocious.  Granny Weatherwax is... ok, I have to admit I didn't love Granny Weatherwax as much as I expected I would.  I think her disdain for basic literary skills turns me off a little bit; I know that makes me sound like a sourpuss, but there it is.  I loved her gumption and her pragmatism and I admired her refusal to take crap from anyone.  Not to mention her ability to level someone with just her Look.  

As I mentioned, the book lost steam for me mid-way; if it had been shorter by about a third I think I'd have enjoyed it more.  The whole journey to the Unseen University felt endless to me, although things picked up once Granny and Esk arrive.  

Still, Pratchett's weakest book is still a better book than just about most anyone else's best and I'm definitely interested in reading the "better" Discworld books.

Avatar for brokentune

brokentune 4 of 5 stars
"There are storms that are frankly theatrical, all sheet lightning and metallic thunder rolls. There are storms that are tropical and sultry, and incline to hot winds and fireballs. But this was a storm of the Circle Sea plains, and its main ambition was to hit the ground with as much rain as possible. It was the kind of storm that suggests that the whole sky has swallowed a diuretic. The thunder and lightning hung around in the background, supplying a sort of chorus, but the rain was the star of the show. It tap-danced across the land."

Equal Rites is not a perfect book. There were some gaps in the narrative of the story of Esk, the first female wizard of Discworld, which made me jump back to previous paragraphs only to find that there really was no explanation.
Equal Rites was also a book of two halves: while the first half was a slow-paced introduction to the village of Bad Ass (yes, I love that name, too) and its inhabitants, the second half was full of racy action and adventure.
However, while the book was not perfect, it had one aspect that made up for any points of criticism I might find: Granny Weatherwax.

‘Nonono, it’s against the lore, you must go away now. Ladies are not allowed in here!’
‘I’m not a lady, I’m a witch,’ said Granny.

Tough as nails...
‘Excuse me, my good woman, but would you be so kind as to move, please?’
Granny stepped aside, affronted by this display of downright politeness and particularly upset at being thought of as anyone’s good woman, and the driver saw Esk.


Confident...
Granny, meanwhile, was two streets away. She was also, by the standards of other people, lost. She would not see it like that. She knew where she was, it was just that everywhere else didn’t.

Adventurous...
‘You don’t know anything about boats!’ Cutangle protested.
‘I shall have to learn quickly, then,’ replied Granny calmly.
‘But I haven’t been in a boat since I was a boy!’
‘I wasn’t actually asking you to come. Does the pointy bit go in front?’
Cutangle moaned.


Granny Weatherwax who has her own sense of style...
Granny wasn’t sure she approved of silk, she’d heard it came out of a caterpillar’s bottom, but black velvet had a powerful attraction.

and class....
Granny had the chance to become one of the very few women to learn what it really is that wizards wear under their robes, but modestly averted her eyes and followed the girl across the flagstones and down a wide flight of steps.

even in the most, erm..., "romantic" of circumstances...
‘Mr Wizard.’
‘Hallo?’
‘When I said hold on—’
‘Yes?’
‘I didn’t mean there.’ There was a pause.
‘Oh. Yes. I see. I’m terribly sorry.’
‘That’s all right.’
‘My memory isn’t what it was . . . I assure you . . . no offence meant.’
‘None taken.’ They flew in silence for a moment. ‘Nevertheless,’ said Granny thoughtfully, ‘I think that, on the whole, I would prefer you to move your hands.’


Granny is brilliant and not to be trifled with, but she has her soft sides, too, which just adds to her brilliance as a character. So, when her ward Esk is rejected by the wizards, she steps up to console her and take on the established guild like only Granny can...

She stood up. ‘Let’s find this Great Hall then. No time to waste.’
‘Um, women aren’t allowed in,’ said Esk.
Granny stopped in the doorway. Her shoulders rose. She turned around very slowly. ‘What did you say?’ she said. ‘Did these old ears deceive me, and don’t say they did because they didn’t.’
‘Sorry,’ said Esk. ‘Force of habit.’
‘I can see you’ve been getting ideas below your station,’ said Granny coldly. ‘Go and find someone to watch over the lad, and let’s see what’s so great about this hall that I mustn’t set foot in it.’


Once Granny got going this was a brilliant read, but as I said, it took a while to get going.

Avatar for layawaydragon

layawaydragon 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. It took a bit to get into but it's completely enjoyable. Very funny and insightful. Even though I've read the Tiffany Aching young adult series before this book, it didn't ruin the enjoyment at all. I wish I could explain this better. Terry Pratchett is one my list of all time favorites and gets recommended to everyone.

I love Granny, but it just goes to show sometimes the biggest challenge for women to overcome and be equal is the Chill Girlz brigade holding women in their place. Granny of course comes around and sees the light so speak and it's really hard to hold Granny's previous acceptance of sexist placement against her. This books really does bring up a lot of feminist issues and handles them so well. Like this magical thought of "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" crap, the going in the back door way as a maid to get into college, the stereotypes, talking over and ignoring women and the assumptions.

All of Terry Pratchett's disc world is funny and insightful. It really makes you think and it makes you enjoy the journey. I love how the world is build and described. I could go on and on raving about it.

Piss poor review but I loved it, it's awesome and everyone should read it for themselves.

Some Quotes:

Granny & Esk exchange (pg. 79)

"Women can't be wizards," said Granny bluntly. "It's against nature. You might as well have a female blacksmith."

"Actually I've watched dad at work and I don't see why-"

"Look," look said Granny hurriedly," you can't have a female wizard any more than you can have a male witch, because-"

"I've heard of male witches," said Esk meekly."


On page four:
"It was, in fact, one of those places that exist merely so that people can have come from them.

The universe is littered with them: hidden villages, windswept little towns under wide skies, isolated cabins on chilly mountains, whose only mark on history is to be the incredibly ordinary place where something extraordinary started to happen. Often there is no more than a little plaque to reveal that, against all ecological probability, someone very famous was born halfway up a wall."



Granny, page 38,

"If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly," said Granny, fleeing into aphorisms, the last refuge of an adult under siege."


Granny & Esk, page 54:
"Exactly correct. That's one form of magic, of course." (Granny)

"What, just knowing things?" (Esk)

"Knowing things that other people don't know,"said Granny."


There are many, many more of course. Lots of funny bits, insights and satirical material to material to make you think.