Around the Discworld: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #3)

Discworld

Today is my review for the third book in the Discworld series and the next step on a journey that Louise over at Lou’s Book Stuff and I agreed to undertake together whereby we read the entire Discworld series in order. You can check out Lou’s review here (I will be linking up asap).

EqualritesEqual Rites is book No.3 in the series and was a little bit of a turnaround for me.  I liked the first two books but I wouldn’t say I was bowled over, Equal Rites felt like it had a storyline I could get into a little more and of course Granny Weatherwax plays a role – and she is a character indeed.

My reviews for book 1 and 2 are here and here.

The main gist of the story for equal rites is that witches can’t be wizards.  This is a known fact.  Is isn’t possible.  So, when a dying wizard passes his powers and staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son – imagine the dilemma when the newborn baby turns out to be a girl.  Of course, it’s too late to backtrack, the staff has been passed on and now belongs to Eskarina Smith – more than belongs in fact, the staff has a force of it’s own and it seems to protect its new owner with a passion.

Enter Granny Weatherwax.  She lives on her mountain and prefers goats to people.  She steps in to try and help train Esk in the witch ways, unfortunately Esk has too much untamed magic and finally it seems that the only thing would be to take her to the Unseen University – a very male  establishment where the only way for Esk to enter is to be part of the staff, invisible, in the background, but secretly learning.

As I mentioned already I enjoyed this one more than the first two in series.  In fairness, it’s probably unfair to say I didn’t enjoy them because I did.  They’re entertaining stories with a whacky madcap humour but Equal Rites is the earliest introduction to Granny Weatherwax and already she is a character not to be trifled with.  I’ve previously read the Tiffany Aching series and loved them so rediscovering this earlier version of Granny was delightful. She is such a force of nature. one of those people who is always right, even if she doesn’t have the first notion about what she’s talking she never admits it – hot damn I wish I’d had a little bit of that attitude at certain points in my life.

Esk is definitely an interesting character but Granny can’t help but steal the show.

Other things worth a mention.  A certain similarity to the first two books in the series where a journey of two people is embarked upon. This particular journey could be said to be a ‘finding yourself’ type tale not just for Esk but for Granny.  She has some very firm views herself, in some respects she feels akin to the wizards – which makes the conclusion of this particular story so interesting and actually a little heartwarming.  I think Pratchett has a way of giving unbelievable characteristics to everyday things.  I think he could probably make a chair look disapproving or a stove cook furiously.  Firstly – the luggage from books 1 and 2 which came across as playful at times and like a determined guard dog at others.  Here we have the staff, positively dripping with stubbornness.  I love these little things.

In terms of slight reservations.  Okay, I wouldn’t say that I’m really experiencing any seriously laugh out loud moments at this stage of my journey through the Discworld but I like to think it’s early days and the world and characters are still being established.  I certainly found this story easier to get along with although that could be the  familiarity with a certain character.  I would also say that my experience with Equal Rites was that I enjoyed the first two thirds of the book more than the concluding chapters where things seemed to slow down for me even though, conversely the pace increased.  That being said there were elements that were greatly enjoyable – I’m thinking of the dual between a certain witch and wizard which was very entertaining.

Witches, wizards, magic, tricks, broomstick riding, magic libraries and a determined witch and her protege ringing in the changes.

I always think the first 2 or 3 books in a series are the foundations and so with still (ahem) quite a few more books yet to come I will say I have high hopes.  I feel like I’m starting to find my feet.  Let’s see what No.4 has in store.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

I bought a copy for kindle.

Around the Discworld: The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (Discworld #1)

Discworld

Colour3Today is my review for the first book in the Discworld series and the first step on a journey that Louise over at Lou’s Book Stuff and I agreed to undertake together whereby we read the entire Discworld series in order.

So, The Colour of Magic is our first read and to be honest this is definitely a book where forewarned is forearmed.  As starts to series go this is kind of what I anticipated and a number of people had also mentioned to keep my expectations in check for this one as it isn’t the best that Discworld has to offer.  Like most first books this is a good introduction, it gives you a feel for the world, it introduces a couple of characters that I understand pop up again throughout the series and it demonstrates the madcap, quirky humour so you can get an idea if this will be something for you or not.

I confess that it took me a little while to get into this one, I don’t know why exactly, but I swear that I must have gone back to the beginning at least four times before I finally got on board.  After that little hiccup the rest was a very easy story to get along with although the plot is a little jumpy.  This doesn’t feel so much like a coherent plot as a series of incidents that introduce us to places and characters.

The main characters are Rincewind and Twoflower.  Rincewind is a wizard, although not a very competent one, and Twoflower is a tourist who has a surprising lack of fear for his own personal safety, by which I mean that he’s not so much courageous as simply oblivious to danger of any sort.  I must say that I love that Pratchett starts his introduction to the world with a story that follows a tourist – it’s really just so appropriate because as a new reader of a very well established world I definitely feel like a tourist.  My one wish – how I would love some luggage of the kind that Twoflower owns, luggage that you can’t lose.  These two characters become inextricably linked.  Twoflower hires Rincewind to be his guide to Discworld and whilst Rincewind has notions of double crossing his gullible would-be employer it soon becomes clear that he has instead become responsible for his safety and so the two embark on a series of (mis)adventures that usually involve scrapes with death – and, yes, we are also introduced to Death.

First impressions.  I liked this, I wasn’t totally bowled over but nor was I expecting to be.  I did find myself smiling at quite a lot of the descriptions, characters and humour, I mean, I wasn’t outright belly laughing but I do feel like this is a series that I could see myself really sinking in to.  I have to say that this really put me in mind of Monty Python, just a little bit crazy where it feels like literally anything can, and will, happen.  And, I loved some of the creativity, I mean, there’s a lot of imagination crammed in and little plays on tropes, dragons that only exist if you can imagine them or Gods that can’t be invoked by name.  The other thing that really stood out to me was that, for a book that was written not much shy of 40 years ago, this doesn’t feel like it’s aged badly at all.

Anyway, those are my initial impressions of the first book of the series.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, there doesn’t feel to be a plot that you can really become involved with.  It feels a little flighty and the characters seem to fall into trouble and get out of it with equal alacrity – and yet, although I mention that as a slight issue at the same time it feels fitting in regard to the crazy mixed up nature of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this.  It didn’t totally wow me and at this point I wonder, if I’d picked this up years ago, or if I’d not already read some of the other storylines and loved them, would I carry on after picking this one up?  I’d like to think the answer to that is yes and I do always like to give the first book in a series some leeway so I’m fairly certain that I would.  I look forward to reading and discussing No.2 this month.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars

I bought a copy through Audible and actually really enjoyed the narration.  I have #2 to read on kindle so it will be interesting to compare the two different formats.