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on 10 December 2005
Maskerade is a take on the Gaston Leroux story ‘Phantom of the Opera’. In the opera house of Ankh-Morpork dastardly deeds are afoot. Christine, the blonde Prima Donna who cannot sing, is being ‘courted’ and taught by the opera ghost. What he doesn’t realise is the real star is really one Agnes Nitt, (also known as Perdita X). She is the voice that Christine mimes to. Agnes's talent includes being able to sing in thirds with herself…she also, unbeknown to herself, has a talent for witchcraft.
Lancres famous witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are on the hunt for a third witch for their coven since Magrat Garlick very inconsiderately left them to marry the King. After all, everyone knows there has to be three witches…two just won’t do. So, Granny and Nanny take a trip to Ankh-Morpork for a night at the opera and to press gang Agnes back to Lancre. In true Terry Pratchett style, mayhem and madness follow. Death makes his appearance as does the Death of Rats, and Greebo, Nanny’s evil but hilarious cat will have you rolling on the floor laughing.
This audio book is an abridged version of Maskerade, but has been so skilfully edited that it seems complete. Having read the book I can say I didn’t notice any obvious omissions. Tony Robinson (best known as Baldrick in Blackadder) was a perfect choice to narrate this book; he injects the right amount of humour and his ‘voices’ for each character are spot on. This is a truly funny tale and well worth every penny.
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HALL OF FAMEon 4 December 2005
Pratchett has an outstanding capacity to research a topic, then present his findings with peerless clarity and wit. This book presents so many aspects of theatre production, operatic lore and, amazingly, book publication they're nearly overwhelming. His prose and humour leave us breathless with mirth and astonishment. Still, one has to wonder what motivated the writing of Maskarade. It's a departure from previous Discworld efforts.
Magrat Garlick's married and out of the coven. This imbalance must be restored. Her potential replacement is a new Pratchett character, Agnes Nitt. Agnes, however, has a different career in mind. She wants to be a diva in the opera troupe in Ankh-Morpork. A lofty ambition, indeed. And a voice lofty enough to project throughout the hall - right up to the loft, in fact.
As always, the opera business is fraught with problems. Underpaid [and underfed] choir girls, prima donnas who consider their voice grander than its quality justifies, eccentric crew, and the ever present issue of money. Oh yes, and there's a ghost - with a reserved box seat.
If the Ankh-Morpork's opera team wasn't having enough to deal with, they are about to be confronted with the remnants of Lancre's witches' coven, Esme Weatherwax and Gytha Ogg. Nanny Ogg's become the Julia Childs of the Ramtops, but with variations on a particular theme. She's published a book about it, but Granny Weatherwax isn't convinced the payment justified. Esme Weatherwax as an author's agent is a formidable figure. As if this transformation wasn't enough, she also becomes a patron of opera.
Pratchett's gone slightly awry from his usual path with this book. He raises a host of pretty serious questions with the characters and the plot. It's still in the best of PTerry's style - his wit through the persona of Granny and Nanny Ogg has, if anything, improved. But there are some issues uncommon in Discworld books, and the reader is left more than just entertained. There's some post-laughter thinking required of the reader. Opera is, after all, serious business. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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Terry Pratchett's satirical eye doesn't spare anybody or anything, and in his nineteenth Discworld book "Maskerade," it's opera's turn to suffer. In his typically barbed prose, he gleefully spoofs the "Phantom of the Opera," lampoons opera in general, and takes the opportunity to take everyone's favorite witches out to Ankh-Morpork.

Magrat Garlick is newly married and crowned. As a result, Granny Weatherwax is moody and bored, while Nanny pens an erotic cookbook -- and when it turns out that she's being cheated of royalties, Granny decides to go to Ankh-Morpork and confront her publisher. Meanwhile, the primary witch-maiden candidate, Agnes Nitt, has also gone to Ankh-Morpork to become an opera singer.

But the opera isn't all it's cracked up to be -- Agnes finds herself providing the voice for pretty, airheaded Christine, and the opera ghost is causing some major disasters. Granny and Nanny immerse themselves in the backstage -- and onstage -- drama of the opera, trying to figure out who the Phantom is... and why he's a friend one minute and a foe the next.

It's obvious that the opera holds no awe for Pratchett. Sure, the novel is a spoof of Gaston Leroux's novel, but Pratchett's real intention here is to constantly make fun of the opera, both as entertainment and art form. The entire climax of the book is devoted to making fun of opera's illogic, lack of acting, and such time-honored traditions as a dying person flawlessly singing for about fifteen minutes before expiring.

But it's not all opera spoofery. Despite some grisly deaths and the psycho Phantom (who sends notes filled with maniacal laughter), getting the witches out of Lancre gives the whole story a light, fun feel. It has some darker scenes, such as Granny playing cards with Death for a baby's life, but most of it is dedicated to the witches doing the sort of weird things they'd never do at home (impersonating duchesses, for one).

Pratchett sprinkles the storyline with hilarious dialogue, wacky situations (Nanny Ogg moonlights as the world's fattest ballerina), and some swashbuckling. And he includes a small message as well, about being the sort of person we actually want to be -- and how "masks" on the outside can change us.

Agnes Nitt has a lot of pagetime, but she seems rather fussy and pallid next to Granny and Nanny -- we get to see just how strong their friendship really is, despite their bickering. Granny shines especially, courtesy of a shopping spree, some coach rides and some dodgy darkish magic. And we have a wide array of timid janitors, annoying managers and airheaded sopranos to round out the cast.

"Maskerade" is a gleeful, glorious spoof of opera in general, and a fun outing for the Lancre witches. Definitely a solid entry for Pratchett.
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on 1 June 2004
This is the first Pratchett book I've read after months of a friend of mine insisting I do so. I resisted valiently, and she promptly solved the problem by sending me a collection of his books. Being a bookworm, I simply couldn't resist. And now I regret not reading his stuff earlier!
This tale of the interfering witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, is a parody of the tale (and musical) 'The Phantom of the Opera', and it is simply hilarious!
You'll find yourself cringing in embaressment for poor Agnes Nitt, who is trying to make a name for herself in the Opera House of Ankh-Morpork in a bid to escape the beady eye of Nanny Ogg, who knows far more about young Agnes than she's letting on. Not to mention how you'll roll on the floor in hysterics when you read of Nanny's interesting 'cooking' book which has some rather sensual effects, and marvel at Granny's surprisingly intimate friendship with the always amusing Death.
Seriously, this is a book not to be missed, and well worth buying, since I'm positive you'll want to reread it again and again.
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VINE VOICEon 20 October 2009
Terry Pratchett's first novel, "The Carpet People", appeared in 1971. "Maskerade" is the eighteenth novel in his hugely popular Discworld series and was first published in 1995. It's also the fifth book to feature Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld's greatest witch.

Granny is a fearsome character, and for quite some time has been the head of Lancre's famous coven - one that had been completed by Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. However, following Magrat's recent marriage to Lancre's King, the coven has lost a member - and it's a gap that Nanny is desperate to fill. Nanny, the raucous head of the Ogg clan based in Lancre town, is pretty much Granny's oldest friend...and has been keeping a very close eye on her since Magrat's departure. Granny is the most powerful witch since Black Aliss - some would say, she's even more powerful. However, Aliss went a little mad - she started turning people into gingerbread and building houses out of frogs. (She was eventually pushed into her own oven by a couple of kids...the resultant mess took about a week to clean up). Nanny's worried that Granny might be heading the same direction through sheer boredom...and realises the best way to save her is to find a new Magrat. However, it can't be just anyone who joins up...

Nanny finally pinpoints Agnes Nitt as the perfect replacement for Magrat. Agnes had previously dabbled a little with witchcraft but - unknown to Nanny - has decided on a career change...she's left Lancre, and has signed up at the Ankh-Morpork Opera House. While Agnes has the makings of a very fine witch, she's absolutely perfect for her new job - not only does she have an amazing voice, she is blessed with the 'traditional' opera singer's build. Unfortunately, opera in Ankh-Morpork is about to change - thanks to Mr Seldom Bucket, the Opera's new owner. Bucket has taken a hefty loan to buy the Opera House and the repayments include making Christine - the lender's daughter - the star of the show. Admittedly, she is stunningly beautiful and she does have a certain star quality...however, she is an appalling singer. Bucket leaves it to Mr Salzella, the Opera's musical director, and Dr Undershaft, the chorus master, to find a way of working around it...and the solution involves Christine and Perdita working very closely together.

Debts and massive repayments aren't Mr. Bucket's only problems though. As it turns out, the theatre is haunted by a character who wears evening dress known only as `The Ghost'. He'd always been a benign figure and apparently watched every performance from Box Eight...however, people are now turning up dead, and the ghost is being blamed. Luckily, Granny and Nanny are on the way - there's been a problem with the royalties for a book that Nanny wrote, and the publishing house is in Ankh-Morpork. Naturally, they'll stop by the Opera House to see how Agnes is getting along...

Another very funny book though, while the witches have previously had some fun with Shakespeare, "Maskerade" draws some inspiration from "The Phantom of the Opera". Plenty of laughs and a nice mystery for the witches to solve - absolutely recommended.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 15 April 2013
Fans of the Discworld will love this theatrical based fantasy satire from one of the genre's most popular authors. Maskerade focuses on the witches, led by the indomitable Granny Weatherwax, and introduces another fine Pratchett character, Agnes Nitt. The story lampoons 'Phantom of the Opera', along with all of human nature. This is one of my favourite Discworld stories and I have re-read it many times, mostly because it captures the excitement and real-world 'magic' of the stage. It's also genuinely funny and has a decent who-dunnit element. Those new to Discworld might prefer to start with one of the earlier 'witches' books (Wyrd Sisters or Witches Abroad), but that isn't essential and this is definitely the best of the subset. Knowledge of the story of 'Phantom' and of musicals/opera generally might enhance some of the jokes, but again it's not essential. I would always recommend Pratchett to a wide range of readers, even those who don't usually have much interest in fantasy, because of their satirical nature. It will be enjoyed by teenagers as well as adults, especially if they have an interest in performing. Many young girls will identify with aspects of Agnes' experience, and she is an immediately likable character. But most importantly it's a novel that is great fun to read that I think most people would enjoy.
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on 15 March 2006
This was the first Pratchett book I read, and I was blown away right from the outset. The characters are very well rounded and easy to identify with, meaning you can really get into the book and be interested in what happens to Granny Weatherwax, Gytha Ogg and Perditax. Pratchett has written a very skillful parody of the Phantom of the Opera, and it leaves you giggling the whole way through. The very final scene is both a fitting end and funny with it, something not many authors achieve. Ive remained a massive fan of Pratchett, but this book is my favourite, Ive read it many times, and will do so again in future.
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on 30 November 2004
If you've already read some discworld novels, you've probably got a fair idea of what this is like.
If you haven't however you'll need to know a little bit about the Discworld itself. Once you understand the world, the things that happen on it start to make more sense. The Discworld is just that, a disc. It is carried on the backs of four elephants who in turn stand on the shell of the great star turtle "A'Tuin". The Discworld is a place that seems to hold itself together only by the shear force of the magic that is present there, and witches, wizards, trolls, dwarves, werewolves, zombies and lawyers can all co-exist (even if they don't like one another).
Maskerade is the story of two witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Some might call them interfereing old busy bodies. Maskerade is also the story of Agnes Nitt, also known as Perdita X Dream, as she enters the world of opera. It's a kind of phantom of the opera story (bare in mind that I've never seen Phantom of the Opera). Favourite bits of this book would have to be Nanny Ogg's cooking, Agnes's voice, and Granny Weatherwax (one of my all time favourite discworld characters).
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 March 2015
This is the eighteenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and features the witches - Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. Magrat is off enjoying her new life as a married woman, and Nanny and Granny think that they would be better off with a third in their coven. The best candidate seems to be the young Agnes Nitt from Lancre, but Agnes isn't there any more - she's gone to Ankh Morpork to become an opera star. Goodness knows she can sing beautifully, and with incredible and rare talent - if only Agnes can get people to see past the fact that she has a wonderful personality, and great hair.

This is a wonderfully typical Discworld novel - there is madness and mayhem abounding; the opera is a great setting in which to again visit Ankh Morpork, and the trials and tribulations of poor Mr Bucket as he tries to make a living out of staging opera in a haunted Opera House makes for a great read. Nanny and Granny Weatherwax are in top form as always, and the key role played by Nanny's ghastly cat Greebo in this story make for a good spot of humour. Wonderful stuff.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 11 March 2015
This is the eighteenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and features the witches - Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. Magrat is off enjoying her new life as a married woman, and Nanny and Granny think that they would be better off with a third in their coven. The best candidate seems to be the young Agnes Nitt from Lancre, but Agnes isn't there any more - she's gone to Ankh Morpork to become an opera star. Goodness knows she can sing beautifully, and with incredible and rare talent - if only Agnes can get people to see past the fact that she has a wonderful personality, and great hair.

This is a wonderfully typical Discworld novel - there is madness and mayhem abounding; the opera is a great setting in which to again visit Ankh Morpork, and the trials and tribulations of poor Mr Bucket as he tries to make a living out of staging opera in a haunted Opera House makes for a great read. Nanny and Granny Weatherwax are in top form as always, and the key role played by Nanny's ghastly cat Greebo in this story make for a good spot of humour. Wonderful stuff.
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