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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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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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on 8 July 2016
Some books you read once and never bother with them magazine. This like most of Pratchett's work can be read magazine and every time you find something new. It is silly fantasy but it holds so much truth.
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on 15 July 2014
Everyone knows that elves are lovely, glamorous. Aren't they? The 'wet hen', Magrat Garlick and Nanny Ogg's cat, Greebo try to stem the invasion of the Queen Of The Elves on midsummer night. Not so much a dream as a nightmare.
Nanny has a dalliance with a dwarf, meets the Long Man. There is a crowbar involved.
Find out why the Morris dancers don't do the Stick and Bucket dance any more.
Read how Granny Weatherwax tames the unicorn, then tell me Terry Pratchett can't tell a fairy story!
More puns than a basket of strawberries.
Do not read this one to your children, until you've realised they're smarter than you.
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on 17 July 2015
All three Lancre Witches prove their mettle in this
Third of the trilogy. Not many Of Terry's Discworld books need to be read in chronological order but this is one of them. Read Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad first. Thanks Terry, 40 books to last a lifetime.
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on 5 May 2015
I'm a Pratchett nut - I don't think that I've read a book of his that I would happily give 5 stars to.... I've read all of them at least twice.... This latest re dressing of the early part of the collection is great for newcomers - or the complete fruitcake like me.
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on 17 May 2015
Not my favourite, but the first hints of the darker side of Pratchetts books. Not all fluffy cat and wizrds. My problem is the subject is very contrived. While the plot romps along happily, I wlways wondered "Why Lords and Ladies?".
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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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on 22 July 2013
bought this and lots of other pratchett books when got my first kindle so could read as liked. All the older books haven't read for a while and can not afford the prices for the hard backs (from middle to latest have a hardback collection). Took great pleasure in re-reading this again. The magic is still there and he's still the only author that keeps me glued to page chuckling away. If you haven't read a Pratchett novel before then buy one quick and be prepared for whole other world of entertainment.

You're never gonna feel the same about fairies ever again!
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