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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens would approve!
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...
Published on 26 July 2005 by Stephen A. Haines

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett starts to develop more interesting ideas
The Unseen University, the centre of magical learning on the Discworld, a building whose endless rooftops make Gormenghast look like a toolshed on a railway allotment and whose faculty are the guardians of magic for the whole world. Of course, wizards are renowned for being incredibly intelligent but not very smart, and when Drum Billet realises his time is almost up he...
Published on 15 July 2009 by A. Whitehead


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens would approve!, 26 July 2005
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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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]
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Step up Granny, 28 Aug 2005
The third book in Discworld, right from the outset you sense that Pratchett has stepped up his game, this book exudes more of the style that has made him famous than his first two instalments.
A new lead character also steps up to the mark in Granny Weatherwax, a lady very much at home in the mountains who certainly does not want to get herself into 'Forn Parts' but in this adventure has no choice, and deals with the world of cities and that of Wizards and men admirably, staring them down and shocking them entirely with her womanly strength of mind and will on many an occasion.
This is not the story of Granny Weatherwax though, it is the story of Eskarina Smith, the little girl chosen quite by accident by the Wizard Drum Billet and his cranky yet extremely loyal staff to take over his power when Death comes to take him, perhaps to become an ant as it happens. Destined for wizardry as a result of having the staff of power, yet being a female which is quite obviously not one of the components of being a wizard the story follows her on her journey of discovery through the Discworld, enlightening herself on the way things work and giving us a great insight into a number of new characters - but more importantly their little quirks and especially in this case the failings of wizards in general!
The story gains charm as a result of Eskarina's innocence, not just the childlike kind that endears other characters to her, but the rural kind, the sort that comes from knowing a small part of the world and not being allowed to look outside of this box. That's the wide eyed seek your fortune in the big city kind and Esk uses it well on her adventures to get herself into sticky little situations that Granny or the staff must facilitate her to escape from.
Granny helps her all the way, and I believe she must be the best character to have emerged by this point in the series. Vibrant, exciting with a depth of character that keeps you interested, yet she heralds from a life of virtual solitude where she is quite happy with her lot - so this transformation into a strong worldly wise character who can lend her hand to Eskarina's problems with ease is very interesting to watch!
By far and away the best book to this point in the series, inviting and exciting, a very fast read that you most certainly wont want to put down. An introduction to new characters, new ways and new places and certainly one not to miss!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter Granny Weatherwax., 10 Sep 2004
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
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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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett starts to develop more interesting ideas, 15 July 2009
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The Unseen University, the centre of magical learning on the Discworld, a building whose endless rooftops make Gormenghast look like a toolshed on a railway allotment and whose faculty are the guardians of magic for the whole world. Of course, wizards are renowned for being incredibly intelligent but not very smart, and when Drum Billet realises his time is almost up he decides to pass on his staff to the eighth son of a poor blacksmith, himself an eighth son. Unfortunately, he neglects to check the baby's gender first...

Nine years later, Eskarina is a happy and normal nine-year-old child, happily terrorising her older brothers and learning the ways of the world. Local witch Granny Weatherwax is less happy about the magical staff left to her by the wizard. When Esk's burgeoning magical powers threaten to cause chaos, Granny realises she has to get Esk enrolled at Unseen University, which given that the university specifically prohibits women from joining (on the grounds they'd probably be too good at magic) could be rather problematic.

Equal Rites sees Terry Pratchett setting out his vision of what the Discworld series is going to be. No previous characters from the first two books turn up (with one orange-furred and banana-stained exception), and there isn't even any mention of those events. Instead we have new characters having new adventures. Pratchett also starts to use his creation to address real-world concerns here, in this case feminism. He doesn't go too overboard and the humour remains fairly broad, but you can almost sense the author thinking that maybe the funny planet with the turtle and elephants can be used for something more interesting than just poking fun at Lovecraft and Conan, amusing as that may be. Unfortunately, this idea falters a bit since Esk's story is meant to make Unseen University a co-ed establishment, bringing in female wizards and making it more equal. As later books show, none of this happens, Esk is never mentioned again and UU remains a male-only establishment in the latest novels, twenty-odd years after Esk's time. Given how well Pratchett develops his world, this lack of evolution is disappointing and seems to contradict the book's pro-feminist theme.

It's also the first appearance of Granny Weatherwax, one of his most iconic characters. She's a mere embryonic shadow of her later self here, but already some of the character's more intriguing traits are developing. We also continue to get through the revolving door of Unseen University Archchancellors with Cutangle becoming an interesting character as the story develops. As usual with these earlier books there are some weaknesses, most notably that Pratchett is re-using the idea that the fate of the whole Disc is at stake as creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions attempt to break through the fabric of reality, which he uses rather a lot in these first dozen or so books.

Equal Rites (***) is another funny and fast-paced read, but you can start to see Pratchett developing some more sophisticated ideas of what he can use the Discworld series for. The book suffers from being somewhat slight and insignificant (aside from Granny Weatherwax's first appearance, the events of the book have next to no impact on the wider world and series) but is still moderately entertaining. However, from the next book Pratchett is starting to roll out much bigger and more intriguing guns.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Equal parts story and jokes., 31 Oct 2002
By 
M. S. Richards "twitchwilliams" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I think this just might be the most atmospheric of all the Discworld books. The description of rural life in the town of Bad Ass really evokes the sounds, smells and tastes of the forest. And the allegorical narrative - for Unseen University read Oxford & Cambridge in the first half of the 19th century - handles the whole issue of sexism rather well. Esk is a wonderful character that Pratchett has yet to repeat, at least on Discworld, a child with the wit and naked intelligence to cut right through the hypocrisy and nonsense of the adult world. A wonderful book that is the very definition of Intelligent Fantasy.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good rite, 28 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This is quite a good book, although it is by no means one of Pratchett's best books! The book is not the funniest, but it has an interesting plot with a good set of characters.
The plot begins with the Wizard Drum Billet passing down his staff to Eskarina, a baby girl, who later shows signs of Wizard magic. Along with Granny Weatherwax, who had a big character change after this book, Eskarina travels to the Unseen University...
The book has some funny moments, although many people who have read Pratchett's later books will likely be disappointed. Unlike 'The Colour of Magic' and 'The Light Fantastic' Pratchett seems to have concentrated on the plot development rather than humour.
Also, this book introduces the reader to the concept of headology and Granny's broomstick. It is an introduction to Granny Weatherwax, and leads the way to other great books in the future such as 'Wyrd Sisters' and 'Witches Abroad'.
If you are a fan of Granny Weatherwax do not miss this book, if not, it is still a good read. I do not recommend this book as an introduction to the Discworld. 'Mort' and 'Guards! Guards!' are good introductory books.
This book is not as bad as many people say, it is just bad compared to the rest of the series, and that is not an insult!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 19 Mar 2009
By 
marky77 (England) - See all my reviews
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On the reccommendation of a friend I started reading the Discworld series. I thought that although the first two books in the series - The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic - had moments of brilliance, they also had parts to them which I found quite boring, leaving me slightly dissappointed. However, I thought that Equal Rites was AMAZING! it has all the brilliance from the first two books without any of the boring bits! I genuinly loved it and am now proud to say that I am a discworld fan. I liked this so much that I immediatly ordered the fourth book upon finishing it.

A wizard dies at the start of the novel and intends to leave his magic to the eighth son of an eigth son. However Death arrived to take him and so he passes on his powers before the midwife - Granny Weatherwax, a brilliant charcater who we are first introduced to in the book - has time to explain that the baby if in fact a girl. Therefore creating Esk, the discworlds first female wizard.

When Esk is 8 years old she starts becoming magical, and so Granny takes her under her wing (figurativly speaking) and teaches her the ways of witchcraft and eventually agrees to take her to the Unseen University so that she can become a wizard.

Hillarious and brillant, I would deffinatly reccommend this book to discworld fans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first discwolrd i read all the way..loved it, 28 July 2007
By 
Mrs. D. E. Barwis (UK) - See all my reviews
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Well many many moons ago i tried to read a discWorld novel but couldnt get into it..it was the 80s and i was a young mum..now ive finally got time to read the trilogy i bought myself for christmas and this is the first book in it..
I am hooked..totally enchanted and found the humour delighful. i was one of many who thought id have to read the series from book number one,i am happy to report it isnt so!
granny weatherwax is someone id love to have look out for me..i was mesmerised. I found myself laughing out loud which wasnt easy following a nasty tooth extraction..hence me reading instead of going online etc.I had become a non ficton only reader since the eighties..but this book has reawakened the reader in me and filled my niche of humour and fantasy.
I whole heartedly recommend this book.i hated falling asleep or doing anything where i couldnt read further!
A fantastic way to start. death and the witches are my favourite characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous Poke At Sexual Politics, Academia And Wizardry, 12 Jun 2000
By A Customer
As its title implies, Pratchett takes a good humored and often critical look at sexual politics in his third Discworld novel, while at the same time wryly turning his pen to probe the often static and tradition-bound world of academics through a parody of wizardry and sorcerous notions in general. While not as tightly plotted as many of his later works, this is a far more satisfying and humorous work than some of his more recent novels, such as "Jingo" or "Hogfather." Full of one liners and skewed and often insightful views of fantasy as well as, by reflection, contemporary social institutions, this is a delightful read that should leave you laughing for more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abridged Too Far...., 17 Dec 2013
By 
Glenn Cook (South Cave, near Hull UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Note THIS IS A REVIEW of the AUDIO version Read by Tony Robinson.

Tony Robinson is brilliant.
For me he is the voice of all the abridged versions of Terry Prachett's books.

The simple reason is that he conveys the character and situations so well.
When you listen to Tony as Granny Weatherwax it is the voice of Granny we hear and so on.

Tony has of course been blessed with the wonderful task of reading the brilliant Prachett Disc World Books.

Now I read and listened to this book years ago and as a treat listened to it again.

Time of course does funny things but although I know the book is abridged it seemed to miss out huge chunks of the novel.
Whereas in some books this is fine because there is a lot of waffle with Pratchett's books this is not the case.
Every page has equal merit to borrow part of the book's title.

Equal rights really is a good book.
The story evolves around Granny Weatherwax a witch.
Witches in the Disc World have the secondary task of being midwifes.
(or midwives?)
The local blacksmith is the eighth son and his wife is expecting their eighth child.
8 is the magical number in this world and a wizzard is led by his staff to the birth so he can A. Die and B. Pass on his staff of magic to this 8th son.

BUT that is the trouble for the child is a girl.
And Wizzards cannot be girls or can they?

I think that although the book is excellent and Robinson's reading is brilliant the book has been abridged too much and too much good stuff has been left out.
At just 3 discs long this is far too short. I recall that Going Postal had the luxuary of 5?

Now before 100s of Terry fans give me a neg for daring to give only 4 stars.
Just think.
What I am in essence saying is that too much of the genius writing of Terry Prachett has been left out of this book and I think we all would agreethat including more of Practchett's wonderful book in the telling would be better?

This is a case of abridged too Far to borrow a quote.

Maybe I should reread the book?
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Equal Rites: (Discworld Novel 3) (Discworld Novels)
Equal Rites: (Discworld Novel 3) (Discworld Novels) by Terry Pratchett (Paperback - 21 Jun 2012)
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