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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
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it was amazing

This was a blast!


Witch supreme (or that's what I'm calling her) - and that only because of her stare, to say nothing of her actual magical talents. And yes, I can totally see Maggie Smith playing her in a movie!

Esk, 8th "son" of an 8th son (on the Discworld, 8 is the most magical number), who inherits the staff of a pretty powerful wizard because - instead of listening to Granny - he is eager to pass on his wizard's staff before he dies and assumes that Esk is going to be a boy.

The Unseen University, wizarding school that is not actually located on the Discworld but has a few access points there, one of which is in Ankh Morpork.

The Librarian

He used to be human, but due to a magical incident during Rincewind's adventure, he was turned into an Orang-Utan and decided to stay an ape because that was easier (and he likes the bananas).

It's the first book about the witch called Granny Weatherwax. She is, amongst other things, a midwife in the Ramptops (the area where she lives) and is therefore present during the birth of Esk when the dying wizard makes his fateful mistake. Since girls can't become wizards any more than boys can become witches, Granny Weatherwax wants to teach Esk witchery. She soon discovers however that it isn't enough - Esk's magic continues to burst forth and since Esk's staff is quite cheeky too, all Granny can do is get Esk to the Unseen University.
There, naturally, there is even more ignorance and prejudice about girls and wizardry so a bit of headology (trickery to get people to do what you want without really using magic) is needed.
At the university, the librarian seems the only one smart enough to see Esk and see her for what she is - and to be kind to her (granted, only after she gave him bananas but still).
And then there is the magical incident, first in the library itself and then ... but you should discover that for yourself, it's quite bad-ass.
I was quite surprised that there was so much world-building and we only got to Ankh Morpork and the UU so late in the book because that didn't leave much room for the final problem to arise and then get sorted out, but it turns out that is was just the right amount of everything, mixed together perfectly for the optimal outcome.

Generally, the book is about gender roles and inequality. What I admire most of all is that Terry Pratchett never lay it on too thick. He was never preaching. On top of that, if we simplify the parties (men vs. women), both sides are almost equally ignorant. Sure, Granny makes allowances for Esk at some point, but she never stops having prejudiced opinions about everything.
There is quite a lot of magic too (I particularly loved (view spoiler)), along with wonderful descriptions of the Discworld, Ankh Morpork, and the Unseen University including the library. Everything is just so quirky *thinks of the ad for the Guild of Thieves* and, as far as I know, unique.

The previous two volumes had been fun but definitely weren't as funny as this one. I sat in the bookstore's café yesterday and burst out laughing on several occasions (like when Esk is REALLY dense about sex) and I also love how Pratchett seemlessly incorporates popculture references such as Steven Spielberg!

The star, to me, was the staff at first. The fact that it can't speak and how Pratchett found a way to still give it so much character (even more than Luggage from the previous two volumes) is simply amazing! It didn't take long though for Granny to steal the spotlight even from the staff. Her dry sense of humour, her sharp observations of the world (despite being quite prejudiced against all manner of things), her goodness concealed by grumpiness make her my new favourite character (she might even surpass Death) - she often didn't even need words, actions or her famous stare were enough! Just look at some of the quotes I liked that showcase her verbal and behavioral badassery. :D
Add to that the fact that the narrator of this audiobook, Celia Imrie, is a genius in giving each character here an individual voice, but being most perfect for Granny herself.
In short, I can't wait to read more books with Granny (read by this narrator).
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Quotes Trish Liked

Terry Pratchett
“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“Granny Weatherwax 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.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“There are things so horrible that even the dark is afraid of them. Most people don't know this and this is just as well because the world could not really operate if everyone stayed in bed with the blankets over their head, which is what would happen if people knew what horrors lay a shadow's width away.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“Terry Pratchett lives in England, an island off the coast of France, where he spends his time writing Discworld novels in accordance with the Very String Anthropic Principle, which holds that the entire Purpose of the Universe is to make possible a being that will live in England, an island off the coast of France, and spend his time writing Discworld novels. Which is exactly what he does. Which proves the whole business true. Any questions?”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“squernt” (“the feeling upon finding that the previous occupant of the privy has used all the paper”)”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“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 gynecological probability, someone very famous was born halfway up a wall.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“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.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“The light was misty and actinic, the sort of light to make Steven Spielberg reach for his copyright lawyer.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“Granny bit her lip. She was never quite certain about children, thinking of them—when she thought about them at all—as coming somewhere between animals and people. She understood babies. You put milk in one end and kept the other end as clean as possible. Adults were even easier, because they did the feeding and cleaning themselves. But in between was a world of experience that she had never really inquired about. As far as she was aware, you just tried to stop them catching anything fatal and hoped that it would all turn out all right.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“a universe where things are less as they are and more like people imagine them to be,”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“But she’s going to have a lot of problems."


"What about reincarnation?"

Death hesitated.


"I’ve heard that some people do it all the time."


"It’s bad?"

Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“I'm not a lady, I'm a witch.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“Granny Weatherwax was in trouble.

First of all, she decided, she should never have allowed Hilta to talk her into borrowing her broomstick. It was elderly, erratic, would fly only at night and even then couldn't manage a speed much above a trot.

Its lifting spells had worn so thin that it wouldn't even begin to operate until it was already moving at a fair lick. It was, in fact, the only broomstick ever to need bump-starting.

And it was while Granny Weatherwax, sweating and cursing, was running along a forest path holding the damn thing at shoulder height for the tenth time that she had found the bear trap.

The second problem was that a bear had found it first. In fact this hadn’t been too much of a problem because Granny, already in a bad temper, hit it right between the eyes with the broomstick and it was now sitting as far away from her as it was possible to get in a pit, and trying to think happy thoughts.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“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.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“Million-to-one chances...crop up nine times out of ten.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Terry Pratchett
“The tone of voice cut through him like a diamond saw. He could dimly remember being scolded by his mother when he was small; well, this was that voice, only refined and concentrated and edged with little bits of carborundum, a tone of command that would have a corpse standing to attention and could probably have marched it halfway across its cemetery before it remembered it was dead.”
Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Reading Progress

July 16, 2017 – Started Reading
July 16, 2017 – Shelved
July 17, 2017 –
10.0% "The narrator of my audiobook version is FANTASTIC! She really brings out the humour of Terry Pratchett and is the perfect voice for the witches!

The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to (a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks."
July 19, 2017 –
20.0% "Much like in the first two Discworld books, not a person but an object is the star here as well. In this case, it's the wizard's staff.

No idea (yet) why Kidby drew Esk with a broom and not with the staff."
July 19, 2017 –
30.0% "Wonderful description of how it is to be in an animal's (in this case an eagle's) body. *swoons*

However, I'm not only laughing heartily (thanks to the staff) but am also surprised that Granny doesn't hold with travelling by broomstick in this one."
July 20, 2017 –
40.0% "I'm surprised that Granny Weatherwax is as narrow-minded about gender roles as the wizards themselves (but at least she's open enough to move in the right direction). Not to mention that she knows fairly little about the Discworld because she doesn't like to travel. A bit unexpected but very quirky and funny.
Also, we had our first meeting with another witch, Hilta Goatfinder."
July 21, 2017 –
50.0% "Esk is having an adventure without Granny - with Amschat B'hal Zoon, someone coming from a people that cannot lie (except for their "Tribal Liar").
I pity anyone who isn't helpful to Granny in finding Esk, and soon. Bwahahahahaha. Amazing what that witch can do just by staring at people and things. :D
But the staff is still the best - I wonder how soon there will be trouble."
July 21, 2017 –
75.0% "I'm surprised that we're arriving so late in the novel, but here we are: Ankh Morpork and the Unseen University.

We've met a number of characters, including a shy boy/wizard's apprentice named Simon and the Vice Chancellor of UU.
Now we also know how the staff ended up posing as a broomstick."
July 22, 2017 –
85.0% "Weeks spent at the Unseen University, trying to learn without being taught, seeing things others don't seem to be able to.
Another author who mentions the smell of cabbage - the British seem to be obsessed with it (or traumatized by the smell from their respective school days *lol*).
Funny observations by Granny about city people and cleaning plans for the library. :D"
July 22, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Veronique I'm behind but yet I will read it! Promise. Especially after that review

Trish Veronique wrote: "I'm behind but yet I will read it! Promise. Especially after that review"

Aw, thanks! You know, I just had half a heart attack - as messed up as GR is at the moment, all the "likes" on all the reviews are gone and I can't see any of the previous comments under some of them either. *gulps*
Can't wait for your review on this.

Veronique You're going to have to wait a while. I have over 20 books planned for August (originally planned + catch up) and on top of that there are a couple 'new' ones I'd like to get to as well. I'd give up sleeping but I get really grumpy/depressed if I don't sleep, so not a feasible plan...

Trish Oh myyy ... good luck then!

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