on 8 May 2015
Not my favourite of the series. For some reason, I got the feeling Partchett was struggling to develop new characters after the rich and fully formed ones in his first two discworld books. It's OK, and does carry the story forward, but again, not my favourite.
on 4 February 2014
I have read many Pratchett books, and have enjoyed them all. I am now going back and reading all the ones I have missed. Equal rites is typical Pratchett, witty, humorous and I love the undercurrents of every day life which are so often taken too seriously and how he reminds us to just laugh at it and carry on.
Looking forward to more.
Eskarina Smith is the eighth child of an eighth son. If the child had been a son, it's nearly inevitable that a wizard would have been the result. Nearly everything was prepared. A wizard came to witness the birth. He passed his staff on to the newborn child, immediately taken by DEATH, as is fitting. But, as with everything else on the Discworld, there's a hitch. Eskarina's a girl, and everyone knows, girls can't be wizards. As she grows older, however, certain Powers begin to manifest themselves, leading Eskarina on a wholly unanticipated series of adventures. Like attending the wizards' school, the Unseen University.
This third Discworld novel takes us to the other aspect of that strange place's magic environment, the feminine side. PTerry introduces us to someone who will later loom large in the Discworld pantheon, Esme Weatherwax. Granny Weatherwax is the resident witch of Bad Ass and takes up the task of teaching Eskarina the role of how witching works through the use of headology. Granny's not a charlatan, but she knows the value of belief and spurns the cheap tricksterism so often manifest by the wizards. Eskarina's powers are too apparent for either of them to control effectively and Granny's forced to send Eskarina to the only place where that control can be learned. By various and adventure-filled paths, Eskarina arrives at the University, thrust almost inadvertently into a bizarre new world.
Esk's outspoken claim to "want to be a wizard" brings on the confrontation between tradition and The Century of the Fruitbat. Times certainly are a-changin' but for Esk they only become worse for some time. She's given into the care of the University's housekeeper, Mrs Whitlow, and quickly becomes a figure out of Dickens. Sweeping floors isn't what she had in mind, even if she can direct the broom to do the work while she sits in a corner pondering life's injustices. Yet her powers develop, to the point where she's forced to confront the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, the greatest threat the Discworld faces. It's an even match.
Pratchett's characterizations are always more valuable than any of his story lines, and this early work is no exception. Eskarina's a forceful girl with modern views, even if she's writ a bit young for the role. Although this book ends rather weakly, the story's message is valid and needs expressing. As always, Pratchett attests that the Discworld is a "mirror of worlds", especially ours. Eskarina's plight is too common for PTerry to ignore and he presents it clearly and honestly. That he can add his sparkling wit in conveying his ideas is a added blessing for us. Put this next to Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic with assurance that you will pick it up again. His works never age, but remain a joyful read for years to come. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
on 23 July 2013
Having read all the disc world books once, I 've started again (in order this time). Equal Rites is where we are introduced to the enigmatic witch Granny Weatherwax ( a lady you learn to love, loath and admire in equal measures). This book is spectacularly funny and takes the new disc world visitor on a wild and exciting journey where good always wins and bad people get their just desserts
For the 3rd Discworld novel Terry Pratchett keeps his background setting but dispenses with previous lead Rincewind and introduces witch Granny Weatherwax (with some exceptions most Discworld novels seem to revolve around a lead of either Rincewind, Granny Weatherwax, or Sam Vimes and the City Watch), with her reluctant tutorage of female wizard Esk leading to a journey to the city of Ankh-Morpork and a confrontation with the Lovecraftian 'Things' from the Dungeon Dimensions.
Equal Rites is a noticeable step-up in writing style from Pratchett -this is a proper novel with character development, a beginning, middle and end, rather than the (admittedly hugely enjoyable) string of satirical fantasy incidence that made-up the first two Discworld novels. Make no mistake, this is still a very funny read, but Pratchett now allows enough room to allow the characters to breathe, and even when the jokes are slack there's plenty to admire in Pratchett's use of language ("The storm walked around the hills on legs of lightening, shouting and grumbling" etc). Its not entirely without fault - the real joy of this novel is watching Esk grow in her abilities (including some memorable 'borrowings' of other animals bodies) and Granny's dilemma over which magical path to send her down - the later adventure story hook of over ambitious trainee wizard Simon and his inadvertent summoning of the Things From the Dungeon Dimensions is rather slight, and the way every situation is overcome by Esk's inherited magical staff rather than Esk herself is a little too convenient.
Still, a good solid first outing for Granny Weatherwax, and a highly enjoyable romp in it's own right. Recommended.