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Returning to their home kingdom of Lancre after various misadventures elsewhere, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are disconcerted to discover a new, younger and more hip coven of young witches has arisen in their absence. Whilst they deal with the situation with their traditional patience and thorough levels of understanding, Magrat finds that arrangements for her marriage to King Verence are steaming ahead and the invitations have been sent out already. One recipient is Mustrum Ridcully, Archchancellor of Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork who decides to attend on a whim (and the prospect of excellent fishing), dragging the terminally confused Bursar, the simian Librarian and the very keen young Ponder Stibbons (whose favourite word is 'quantum') along for the ride.

The wedding suffers a series of complications of the kind that are to be expected and some that are not, most notably a full-scale invasion by beings from another dimension. Naturally it is up to the witches of Lancre (plus an annoyed orang-utan, a legion of ninja morris dancers and a terminally frisky dwarf in a wig) to rise to the occasion...

Lords and Ladies is the fourteenth Discworld novel and the third featuring the Lancre witches' coven (and the fourth to feature Granny Weatherwax). Despite the novel working perfectly well as a stand-alone, Pratchett was sufficiently concerned about the book's continuity ties that he provides a thorough synopsis of Wyrd Sisters and a somewhat briefer one of Witches Abroad before cracking on with the tale, which is a nice touch but unnecessary.

One interesting device Pratchett starts employing in these middle-era Discworld books is taking a concept or idea mentioned very briefly earlier in the series and fleshing it out into a full-sized novel. For example, a running-gag in Reaper Man about a con artist and his trained mice eventually turned into The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents whilst the Hogfather was mentioned a few times before finally getting his own book. Similarly, Lords and Ladies builds on a very brief mention in The Light Fantastic where Twoflower starts dreamily talking about beautiful elves and Rincewind reacts the same way you would to someone saying, "Well, Hitler wasn't a completely bad person..." And of course, fans had been asking for a while where the Disc's elves were, since the dwarfs and trolls had been very much in evidence. With this book Pratchett delivered the answer.

It turns out that the Discworld's elves are a bunch of merciless and easily-amused homicidal maniacs with a perchance for toying with their prey before killing them. This leads to some of Pratchett's most effective horror and tension-filled sequences, not something he is renowned for but given how good he is at them it may be a style of writing he should have tried employing more often. Magrat's running battle with a bunch of elves in Lancre Castle stands out as one of the series' best action sequences, though still laced with some brilliant moments of humour (such as the introduction of the Schroedinger's Greebo paradox).

Granny Weatherwax, one of Pratchett's most complex and interesting characters, gets some very fine character development in this novel as we see some more of her past and also get a glimpse of the other lives she could have lived if things had turned out differently. Ridcully, hitherto one of Pratchett's more straightforward creations, also gets some much-needed depth to his character as well. The Bursar provides some amusing comic relief, but is thankfully not over-used. Some later books, most notably Interesting Times, are actually bogged down by his mindless babbling, but here it is more restrained. The return of Casanunda the permanently horny dwarf is also welcome and gives rise to several sequences which are among the funniest in the whole series (his lowwayman hold-up of Ridcully's coach is a classic scene).

After Small Gods, the best book in the series, Pratchett could have been forgiven for resting on his laurels and maybe bashing out a quickie Rincewind travelogue comedy or something. Instead, he cracked on and produced a book that is a strong candidate for the most relentlessly funny and entertaining book in the series, with a twisted dark side (possibly influenced by his then-recent collaboration with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens) and some great character development thrown in for good measure.
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on 7 February 2002
All the Discworld books are brilliant but this one really does surpass all. This is due to the plot, which really is incredibly well constructed and interesting, and also this really does give a great feeling of the battle of good and evil.
It also contains some fantastic scenes like the one in the elven realm and the search for Magrat in the castle.
If you only read a few Discworld books, read this one as it really will make you gasp, laugh out loud and all the rest. Comic fiction is never better then this.
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This is the fourteenth Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and features the return of the three witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Unusually for the Discworld novels, it is recommended that the reader has previously read the other witch novels, namely Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters and particularly Witches Abroad, for it is from the end of this last novel that the action recommences, as the witches return home, and Magrat turns her thoughts to her marriage to Verence of Lancre.

However, as Midsummer Night approaches, it's not only the young mens' fancies that are turning to other thoughts ... something on the other side is approaching, and they do not have benevolent notions. Elves, as you've never seen them before are about to hit Discworld, and what with amorous dwarves, Morris dancers, wizards, and an orang-utan, nothing will probably ever be quite the same again.

This is a really good Discworld novel; I'm not as great a fan of the witches as I am of some of the other Discworld characters, but this really brings the characters of the witches to the fore, and allows them full rein in their own inimitable way. Great stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 25 November 2008
Terry Pratchett's first novel, "The Carpet People", appeared in 1971. "Lords and Ladies" is the fourteenth novel in his hugely popular Discworld series and was first published in 1992. It's also the fourth book (after "Equal Rites", "Wyrd Sisters" and "Witches Abroad") to feature Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld's greatest witch.

Granny Weatherwax is joined by the two other members of her coven - Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick - and begins as the trio return home from a lengthy trip in foreign parts. Nanny Ogg is the raucous head of the Ogg clan based in Lancre town, and is pretty much Granny's oldest friend. Magrat is a much younger witch, and she has a few fanciful ideas about magic that Granny doesn't altogether approve of. Where Granny prefers Headology, Magrat has always been fond of dancing, occult jewellery and runes. However, she's also the closest thing Lancre has to a medical expert. Before the coven's trip abroad, Magrat had been romantically involved with Verence, Lancre's King. She had been a little worried about where she now stood, having been away for so long. However, it comes as something of a shock when she Verence has made all the plans for a Midsummer Day's Wedding...without having ever actually proposed to her.

The trouble, however, isn't caused by either the Royal Wedding : the Elves are trying to break through again. When Granny and Nanny see their first crop circles appearing, they know immediately what the trouble is...but they're initially reluctant to explain it to Magrat. They know that Magrat would see elves as lovely, wise and kind - when, in reality, they're cruel and vain. Eventually, Magrat storms off in her frustration and resigns as a witch to start being a Queen. However, she has a great deal to learn about being a Queen...though it's Queen Ynci and the castle's bees she learns the most from. (Bees are famous for hating chaos...and Lancre's bees are very worried).

For many years, the Elf Queen and her followers have been kept in their own world by the Dancers - eight standing stones, arranged roughly in a circle. However, the circle's power has been getting weakened recently - thanks to a group of young girls, who have been dancing around it - and the Queen will soon be able to return. While it's the two senior witches who lead the fight against the invaders, they do have some help. There is a group of wizards in town for the Royal Wedding - the Archchancellor, the Bursar, the Librarian and Ponder Stibbons - who do what they can, while Lancre's crack squad of Morris Dancers also provide a little help. (They're also working on a play, as part of the wedding-related celebrations - but that, unfortunately, causes more trouble than it's worth). Casanunda also returns, a dwarven count and the Discworld's second greatest lover. Being particularly smitten with Nanny Ogg, he's naturally very keen to help her out...

Another very funny book and - like "Wyrd Sisters" - some of the laughs are inspired by Shakespeare. Pratchett himself acknowledges that this is one of the few Discworld books where the reader would be better off knowing a bit of the back-story. (You could probably skip "Equal Rites", though you'd be better off reading at least "Wyrd Sisters"). While there's never been any mention of a Grandpa Weatherwax - let alone any children or grandchildren - "Lords and Ladies" does throw a little light on one of Granny's early romances...and the love-interest may come as a slight surprise. Totally recommended, this is Pratchett on top form.
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on 6 August 2004
This is the fourteenth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld - a flat world, supported on the backs of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle. Anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does.
With Magrat's marriage to Verence, King of Lancre, coming up, what could possibly go wrong? Actually, a lot! The border between realities is getting thin, and someone is trying to come through - the elves. Everyone remembers elves - beautiful, regal, powerful, etc. - but what they don't remember is that they are also vicious, murderous and completely unscrupulous. But, the witches remember; they remember a time when men went out hunting and never returned, and when babies disappeared from cradles. And now it is up to Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, plus any help that they can recruit to save the (disc)world!
This is another *great* Terry Pratchett book, one of his best! I have been a fan of this author for a long time, and this book does not let you down. As is often the case in Discworld books, a couple of "regulars" put in an appearance (Archchancellor Ridcully, the Librarian, Casanunda the World's Second Greatest Lover, and of course DEATH), but this is definitely a witch book. This is a great story, one that will inexplicably keep you on the edge of your seat and rolling on the floor laughing, both at the same time! This is a great Discworld book, one that I highly recommend.
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VINE VOICEon 11 August 2011
This has to be one of my favourite of the Diskworld series. It's based (quite loosely) on Shakespeare's `A Midsummer Night's Dream' and follows the entanglements of that play's sub-plots whenever Terry feels like it. I can't see a parallel for the Helena/Hermia/Lysander/Demetrius plot, but the `Rude Mechanicals' are there in force, as are the Elves and assorted Royalty and nearly Royalty. The nearly-Queen Magrat's nuptials are disrupted from without as the Elves break through into Lancre and Magrat sets out to save her nearly-husband, her nearly-kingdom and her own life. The Queen of the Elves and the King are estranged and the Elves themselves are not terrific, they're terrifying. Magrat doesn't have to be brave all alone, the other two Lancre Witches, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg are there in abundance and between the three of them, they defeat the Elves in a most cunning and amusing way. This is a very tightly plotted book and every word in it is a joy - I re-read it regularly. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed any of the others and anyone who enjoyed `A Midsummer Night's Dream'. As Terry says on the back of the book, `with a hey nonny nonny and blood all over the place'!
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2011
`Lords & Ladies' continues on from the book `Witches Abroad' with Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat returning from their trip to Genua. While they were gone King Verence has set a date for his and Magrats wedding, a new coven of young witches are active in the area and an outbreak of crop circles foretells of disasters to come.

For some reason `Lords & Ladies' has never been one of my favourite of the Discworld books but I cannot quite put my figure on a reason why. The book is just as funny and well written as all the other Discworld books, has an interesting plot once it gets going and there are some very good scenes towards the end of the book which were very enjoyable. If I had to give a reason why I have given this book four stars rather than five I would probably say that it is because it takes a while to get going and it doesn't become really good until the elves turn up in force in the final third.

Overall while this isn't one of my favourite books from the series, it is still a solid read and still probably well worth a good four stars.
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on 22 February 1999
Lords and Ladies is the 14th Discworld novel and my favourite.Loosely based on 'A Midsummer Nights Dream' it brings back the Witches, along with the Faculty of the Unseen University and reveals Granny Weatherwax to be a woman with a past. Granny, the most revered leader that the witches don't have, is having difficulties with a a group of girls who are tired of Grannys 'headology' (the Discworld equivalent of psychology/psychotherapy) and who want to practice real magic, usually involving black lace gloves, lots of white makeup and black nail varnish. They open up a path for the Elves to return to Lancre. Contrary to all other Fantasy writers, TPs elves are evil, manipulative, and cruel, and have been aching to get back to the 'real world' where they can hunt (the prey being human at times), torture and rule. The Elven queen decides to take a Consort to consolidate her claim to the Kingdom, and kidnaps King Verence, Magrats intended. This all takes place on Midsummer night, Magrats wedding day. Nanny Ogg, the geriatric sex siren, and Granny have to protect the younger 'witches', rally the troups (Shaun Ogg, the countrys standing army-except when he's lying down), defeat the Queen and restore the protective influence of the Stone Circles. Easy, really. This is a magical book. The story is powerful, and as well told as we've all come to expect from TP. The usual Pratchett humour is there,but there's something else. There is a philosophical and moral aspect to this book, and it interweaves elements of Paganism, spirituality and belief in a similar way to 'Small Gods'. Its quite moving in parts, and exceptionally well written. I know that Granny Weatherwax is not everybodys favourite character, but this story shows her in a much more sympathetic light, and you begin to realise just why she is as she is. Magrats character develops substantially, revealing her to be a lot more than just the covens tea-maker. And Nanny Ogg? Even she has unexpected talents, despite indulging her hormones with a dalliance with Count Casanunda, the dwarf (and the worlds second greatest lover). A great book, and his best.
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on 2 June 2009
Terry Pratchett does it again.
I read 'Witches Abroad' and afterwards managed to get hold of a copy of 'Lords and Ladies.' Although most of the Discworld series are said to be stand-alone books, Lords and Ladies requires background reading of the three witches (Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat) who appear in this book. Terry Pratchett does explain the background at the beginning though, which was helpful.
I found this book enthralling from the beginning. Terry Pratchett's twists and turns make me intrigued to find out what really is going on, and when you think you have it solved, something else happens. The jokes were hilarious and I find myself having the overwhelming urge to answer questions in a bossy, know-it-all manner or to simply reply, "Ook?"
A must-read for adults of all ages! (But beware of the elves)
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on 20 October 2005
Lords & Ladies, the 14th novel in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, is a wonderful return to Pratchett form for me. It is laugh-out-loud funny and a wonderful parody of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. The Shakespeare allusions aren't quite as bewildering as they were in Wyrd Sisters either, which makes it a bit more accessible for the non-Shakespeare fan.
This book was fantastic. It was a very interesting blend of comedy and grimness. In fact, it was probably the most mainstream plot that I've seen Pratchett produce. The conflict between the Elves and Magrat (and the Elf Queen and Granny) is very straightforward and almost chilling. The Elves are relentless in their pursuit of their victims. Magrat has to do some very harsh things to save herself from them. The Elves are almost unstoppable. Then, there is the Granny's confrontation with the Queen, which is very much like other confrontations between heroes and villains. Granny is captured and the Queen is just playing with her. They discuss what's going to happen to Lancre when the Elves take over. The Queen threatens her life. That sort of thing. These scenes are almost terrifying, and that's the first time I can ever say that Pratchett has done that to me.
However, that doesn't take away from the comedy. There are some truly funny scenes in this book that will make you laugh hard. The Archchancellor of the the Unseen University of wizards decides that he should come to the wedding along with a few colleagues (including the Librarian, an orangutan that used to be human before a magical accident). The scenes with the wizards, as usual, are just hilarious. This includes everything from attempting to hire transport (they don't have enough money, so they have to say that the Librarian is a pet) to the Archchancellor's attempts to woo Granny. As they say, hilarity ensues.
The characters are simply wonderful. It is such a difference between this book and Equal Rites. Not only are they very funny, but you start to care for them as well. Great strides are made in character development. Magrat finally learns what she can do when she's pushed, when she stands up to the Elves. Granny learns to respect Magrat just a little bit. Nanny learns about Casanunda, the world's second greatest lover ("I try harder"). All of the witches seem a bit less testy, but still well within the character established for them in earlier books. Even the wizards get some development, which doesn't happen very often. You learn a bit about the Archchancellor in this one as well. Usually, the wizards are just around for comedy relief.
Probably the best character, though, is Simon. He's one of Nanny Ogg's sons, and he's basically everything at the castle. He's the army, he's the servant, he's the herald, etc. His attempts to get his mother and the other witches to follow royal protocol (like letting him announce their presence to the King) are very funny. Even he gets some development, though, as he learns what it is to be a leader when he has to lead a rag-tag band against the Elves.
There is only one thing wrong with this book. The ending, again, is a bit lack-luster. This time, it's also a bit anti-climactic. It doesn't exactly come out of nowhere, as there is a bit of a set-up. However, I think it still needed a bit more. I applaud Pratchett for trying to turn the clichéd ending to something like this on its head, but I think it needed a little more support.
As far as the characters and the plot go, though, this was a classic book. Not quite as good as Reaper Man (I don't know if he'll ever be able to top that), but still very high up on the list. And ignore what Pratchett says at the beginning of the book. While it does continue straight on from the previous book (which I haven't read), it is still very understandable without that. In his little blurb at the beginning, Pratchett gives you all of the information you will need to understand this one.
If you can't find Reaper Man, this one also makes an excellent entry into the Discworld universe.
David Roy
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