Lauren 's Reviews > Maskerade

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett
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's review
Dec 09, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: physically-own, discworld, favorite-fantasy

Maskerade, the eighteenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, is a very funny parody of opera, and the Broadway show Phantom of the Opera more specifically. You can certainly tell that Pratchett doesn't like opera, as he skewers it to within an inch of its life. The parody of Phantom is right on as well, as Pratchett takes the story and turns it on its head in a most entertaining manner.

I'm not an opera fan, so I really appreciated how much Maskerade made fun of the whole genre. I laughed out loud when the characters would make comments about how the story doesn't need to make sense as long as it's sung well, and I especially enjoyed how the villain kept "coming back to life" to make another statement after he's been killed, much like how a person who's killed in an opera often has time to sing a death chorus before succumbing.

This book is just hilarious all the way through. I'm really becoming a fan of the Witches with the last two books (Lords & Ladies and this one). Perhaps it's because I enjoy the personality clashes between Granny and Nanny. They are so well written and so three dimensional that it's a joy to read about them. They argue a lot, but there's an underlying affection beneath all of that which makes the arguments superficial. It's Granny who instigates the trip to Ankh-Morpork after realizing what an unscrupulous publisher has done to her friend. She doesn't like to see a friend get cheated. There's also a compassion in both of them that is very touching. It's even more surprising from Granny because she has such a gruff exterior. Both of their interactions with Walter Plinge, the rather slow odd-jobs man who everybody at the Opera House ignores, are just brimming with this compassion. It's not just the compassion, though, that makes them great characters. They are very funny as well. Especially good is the stagecoach ride where, by implied witchery, they end up having the coach to themselves while everybody else sits on top.

The other characters, while not as fully developed, still do their job very well. Most of the opera players fill their assigned roles to a T. There's Christine, who the Ghost takes a liking to. Christine is excessively vain and dumb as a post, but everybody's fallen in love with her. Meanwhile, Agnes is the talented singer, but she's on the large side, and thus can't get anybody to recognize that. She's used to sing Christine's part for her, while Christine just looks good. The new owner of the Opera House wants it to start making money, which can't happen with all of the strangeness going on. There are many others as well. None of them are terribly well-developed, but it's certainly good enough for this book.

I know that this book has received lukewarm reviews, but I found it incredibly funny. The goings-on backstage at the Opera House were great fun, with intrigue and humour being mixed in liberally. The ending of the book is extremely fitting, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. I know I was surprised by it. The rest of the plot is quite smooth, with no glaring plot holes to be found. I have found that the plots in the Witches books are a lot more straightforward then some of Pratchett's other books. There are always weird and zany things going on, but they don't have the outlandish twists that populate some of the other ones.

You will find yourself laughing a lot throughout the book, especially if you are familiar with the genre. If you live and breathe opera and can't stand to see it criticized, you may want to avoid this book. If you have a sense of humour about it, or if you can't stand it, then this is the book for you.

And keep an eye out for the chandelier! (Phantom fans will know what I'm talking about).

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