David Sarkies's Reviews > Equal Rites

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
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really liked it
bookshelves: comedy
Recommended to David by: Stewart
Recommended for: Anybody who likes a good laugh
Read 2 times. Last read August 1, 2012 to August 4, 2012.

Granny takes on the old boys club
4 August 2012

There are a few things that I have to say before commenting on this book as such. Firstly this is the second time that I read it, but I have listed it as a read book because when I read it the first time the friend who had lent it to me then proceeded to tell me all of the jokes. In fact, every Discworld novel that he ended up encouraging me to read generally came with a running commentary, and as such I ended up getting put off of them quite quickly. As it turned out, the funniest Discworld novel that I read was Guards Guards because that was the one novel that I read before he could spoil it for me. Secondly, I must say that I prefer the covers drawn by Paul Kirby as opposed to the other covers that I have looked at on the Goodreads site because his art seems to capture the essence of Discworld.

I decided that instead of writing commentaries on the Discworld books that I read a while back that I would actually give Pratchett a chance by re-reading them and I must say that I am really glad that I did. His use of the English language is little short of masterful, which is not surprising since prior to becoming a full time author he was a journalist. While anybody who knows how to construct a proper sentence can write a story, it takes a lot of skill to write a story the way Pratchett does. Not only does he use puns in a way that actually make them funny (with the title being an example) but he is also able to use modern pop-culture to describe aspects of the Discworld in a way that actually does not make me cringe. While I do not believe that he is mixing metaphors, it is not exactly something that I have seem any fantasy writers really do. However not only does Pratchett do it and do it well, he also gets away with it.

Now, this book is about how a young girl inherits, quite by accident, a wizard's staff, and in inheriting the staff she also inherits the wizard's magical ability. The catch is that on Discworld women are not supposed to be wizards. It is not that they can't be wizards, it is just that they are not supposed to be wizards (it is sort of like an old boy's club). It harkens back to the early twentieth century when women were not supposed to do a lot of things, not that they couldn't, but because the male dominated society said that they were not allowed. Obviously things had changed a lot by the time that Pratchett wrote this book, but in a way he showing us how the idea that women should not do a man's job is nothing short of absurd. However, I do suggest that things have gone a bit too much in the opposite direction, namely because some women are being allowed to work in areas simply because they are women, not because they are actually good at I. Please don't get me wrong, I am all in favour is gender equality and smashing open the old boys networks, it is just that I prefer appointments based on merit as opposed to gender. It is like the days when a noble would command an army, not because the noble could actually command an army (and in many cases they couldn't) but because they were a noble. The whole idea to me is absurd. I guess that is why Pratchett wrote this book.

I have suggested that this was probably Pratchett's make or break book, namely because he had already completed the two part Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic, and here he appears to have pretty much dropped the original characters and started afresh with new characters: Granny Weatherwax and Esk (though Esk hasn't appeared any of the books since – or at least the ones that I have read). Granny will appear in other books down the track, but she in introduced here, with her powerful stare and her headology (the art of making people think something when it really is not the case). However it has been suggested to me that this story was not well received. Personally I cannot say but since he has written 32 novels, I guess this book did make him, though I also suspect that by the time we reach book 20 we find that only die hard Pratchett fans are buying his books (in the same way that die hard King fans buy Stephen King books). I still note that the odd Pratchett book or five seem to be commonplace on many a bookshelf.

Finally I would suggest that Pratchett is not necessarily doing anything new, but rather taking an old style and putting it into a fantasy novel. His clever use of metaphors remind me of Douglas Adams (the Vogon Constructor fleet hung in the sky the way bricks don't) however from what I remember of Douglas Adams, his Hitch-hikers series seems to hit a brick wall at Life the Universe and Everything. Secondly, the story reminded me of the Asterix books, though instead of creating a comic he writes a story. However the way he writes the story, particularly when Esk meets the wolves in the forest, puts pictures of Asterix comics in my head.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 1, 2012 – Started Reading
August 1, 2012 – Shelved
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: comedy
August 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Asterix? It's a long time since I've read those or Pratchett, but I see what you mean. Great link.

David Sarkies I'd just finished a couple of Asterisk books when I read this one so it was fresh in my mind.

Rage it's so funny to me that you say Pratchett is "showing us how the idea that women should not do a man's job is nothing short of absurd" ... because the idea that anything is "a man's job" is kind of what is absurd.

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