Welcome back to the Discworld! This is part of my return to the Disc to finally finish the series so I am very excited to review this to begin the entire journey here on the blog.
The eighth son of an eighth son is a powerful thing living on the Disc. The eight son of an eighth son is destined to be a wizard, but what if that eighth son is not a son? Meet Eskarina Smith! She is going to be the first lady Wizard, but women can’t be wizards can they?
This book got off to a slower start than the previous two books in the series but has quickly become my favourite. In terms of worldbuilding, the groundwork has already been laid in the previous novels, namely A’tuin and the Disc but Esk’s (Eskarina) home is in a new part we have yet to see. Esk lives in the town of Badass (haw) in the Ramtops. The Ramtops are the mountains, 500 miles Hubwards of the city of Ankh-Morpork which is the main setting for many of the Discworld novels. It was very entertaining to see that small village mentality in action and under the hand of Pratchett.
The plot itself is pretty well contained and follows the journey of Esk and Granny Weatherwax as they make their way to Unseen University so Esk can be trained as a wizard. It does have a slower build up to the climax and it speeds up very suddenly when it does arrive. This didn’t really impact my enjoyment much but it did make it seem a bit like it was slogging in places but it still works perfectly for a Discworld novel.
At last, the characters are WONDERFUL. We meet our first witch on the Disc, Granny Weatherwax. Granny is honestly my favourite character in the story, I love Esk too but I really loved the way Granny was written. She is the resident witch of Bad Ass and when she takes Esk in she struggles with how to navigate dealing with someone Esk’s age (she is nine years old). Esk is the kind of little girl we all wished we could be, taken in by a witch with a big set of powers passed on to her and a bigger undertaking for being the first girl to enter the Unseen University. Granny and Esk develop a close bond as the novel progresses and its honestly heartwarming. We do meet other characters at the University but since this is a story focusing on feminism and women most of all I feel that Granny and Esk stand out in a way they are supposed to.
This is not a perfect book by any means but it still has all the elements of Discworld that I fell in love with in the first place and it further expands the world for us. The wit is razor sharp, the characters fall out of the book and on to your desk while you’re eating your lunch and we continue to learn more of the ways of this world. This was only the third book in the series aswell so I think it’s only fair to give Pratchett the benefit of the doubt on this one.