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.
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]
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.
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.
on 11 October 2015
Pratchett's "golden rollercoaster ride" spanned volumes 6 to 16, and this one (18) is showing clear signs of the fatigue that becomes ever more obvious across the next 10 or so releases. The first half is up to scratch, then it begins to dwindle, leaving the final hundred or so pages to read like a speed-written first-draft, where characters say, "Shut up!" a lot and cardboard hammers become common metaphors. Still a good read, but not up to the heights he achieved previously. Huge and lengthy procrastinations over micro-subplots. The Witches' usually smart-alec dialogue begins to sound like a needle in a groove a needle in a groove.
on 27 July 2015
My favourite Discworld novel - certainly one of the funniest & with a real page turning plot. The highlight must be Nanny Ogg's 'cookbook' 'The Joy of Snacks' which, given the illustrations, is a best seller. Wicked humour throughout. The plot is an excellent mystery whodunnit. Maskerade is Terry Pratchett's at his very best - wonderful humour combined with a really good read. If you are new to the Discworld novels it is better to read them in order so read the others first!
on 6 January 2001
Some readers of Maskerade would say that the storyline is un-original, that it's been done before; but its never been done quite like Terry Prachett does it. True the story is like Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the opera but then it is a sort of spoof of the original story. Take a look at Prachetts other novels, some of them revolve around an idea that's been done or heard of before. For instance Soul Music is loosely connected to the introduction of rock and roll onto Discworld right down to Buddy of the Holley and Witches abroad casts a new light on fairy tales. So why not the story of an opera ghost? Pratchett injects humour into a story that keeps you laughing all through the read and the twists and turns in the plot keep you glued to every page. Maskerade isn't solely about an opera ghost but about how ordinary people wear masks and put on false appearances. What you see isn't always what you get. The roly-poly Agnes Nitt, also known as Perdita (the thin woman inside trying to get out) with her splendid personality and great hair ventures into Ankh-Morpork in search of fame and fortune at the Opera house where there is said to be a ghost who watches over the opera. Murder and mayhem at the opera but who is the ghost? Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg take a trip to the big city in search of Agnes and on the side visit the publishing house where Nanny has recently submitted a book of recipies with little added surprises. Together with Greebo they visit the opera in hope to persuade Agnes to become the third witch in their coven. Between them they seek out and unmask the mysterious ghost with all the humour and plot twist that are classic Prachett. This novel is an enjoyable read and a delight for true Prachett fans.
on 30 April 2016
The phantom of the opera is one of my all time favourite musicals and Terry really shows its dues in this novel. A great range of characters, even if he did constantly refer to 2 of the females as fat and stupid (not my cup of tea) but enjoyable nonetheless. I would definitely recommend this as one of Terry 's top novels
on 28 January 2014
I certainly loved it in paperback but I bought this version for my elderly mother. I first introduced mum to Terry Pratchett's Discworld series with Mort - she loved it and now has all of them in paperback.
But, as she is ill and has trouble reading, I'm re-purchasing her the series in Kindle format for her tablet (clear, bright screen - much larger font - better than an e-reader because you can get much more of the sense of the page on the bigger screen). She is now happily re-discovering Granny Weatherwax and all her favourite characters with just a swipe of the screen.
on 31 October 2014
This isn't may favourite Discworld novel, or even my favourite Witches novel from the series, but it's a Discworld novel and that alone is enough to make me recommend it to people. Terry Pratchett has a way of twisting culture into his novels, particularly I find with the Witches ones. This novel continues the trend started in Wyrd sisters, and does so with the wit and humour expected of the author. Definitely worth a read.