Review: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

‘Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.’

Welcome back to the Discworld Project! Today we are back with my favourite coven! The Lancre Coven! But what if I told you the coven were not longer in Lancre? What if I told you the witches were going…abroad?!

It seemed an easy job . . . After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn’t marry a prince?

But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, travelling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple . . .

Servant girls have to marry the prince. That’s what life is all about. You can’t fight a Happy Ending. At least – up until now.

I think it’s safe to say that the Witches are starting to rival the Death books for me. There’s nothing quite as joyous as spending time with 3 women who can’t agree on anything and generally don’t want to spend time together but the Disc kind of needs them to and now we get to watch them go on holiday together. But with a magic wand and a lot of pumpkins.

One thing we have learned along the way with me reviewing these books is that there is always something Pratchett is trying to dissect, parody and draw very real discussions about. Today we are tackling fairytales and story. There is also an albeit extremely small and subtle (if a bit outdated) message of the damage caused by trying to control nature, race and cultural erasure.

The world building is honestly the best I’ve read from Pratchett so far. The whole story is one big journey as the witches travel from Lancre to Genua across the Disc to stop a happily ever after. I honestly loved everything about this. I’m usually very picky about “journey” books in fantasy. Outside of the big ones, I tend to avoid them since they draw me straight back to studying Joseph Campbell for my thesis. So some of the best moments are narrated by Nanny Ogg as she sends postcards back to her Jason and honestly, I wish I had an entire book from her point of view. Genua does confuse me a little in what it is supposed to be, considering it has definite overtones of New Orleans meets Far, Far Away.

You would think the way this book follows Magrat that this book would focus on her development since she is chosen in the first place to be a fairy godmother and even though we do see her grow a lot, this book is dedicated to the matriarch herself, Esme Weatherwax. Despite Magrat’s doubts about Granny’s abilities as a witch, this boos proves if anything how powerful she truly is. We see her using powers she hasn’t used since ‘Equal Rites’, including “borrowing” and hypnotism. Outside of all that, we see her fearing someone enough that she is hiding from them. I won’t reveal too much else since it is explained later in the book but it really gave such weight to her as a character by adding a layer of vulnerability to her that only Pratchett could layer in a story that openly mocks fairytales like this. I also will try and practice saying ‘Blessings upon this house’ to get people to respect me going forward.

Something that I have realised as I read more of the books, I can see how Pratchett reminds us that inside these humourous moments, there is a real darkness at route as well. In one scene Granny and Nanny are trying to prevent the outcome of the Red Riding Hood story. When the witches meet the wolf and Granny looks into the mind of this magically altered person, he asks her to let him die. It is such a turn for the story and there is some genuine ethical questions there about altering a person against their will and an almost criticism of eugenics I thought. This one moment was enough to have me stop reading to think for a bit.

What else can I say? This is a story of embracing different cultures, coming to terms with duty and expectations and proof that you’re probably better off not knowing what was in that drink. This was a well overdue addition to the project and next up is Small Gods. Thanks for checking in everyone! Happy reading!

★★★★★/5

Review: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

‘We weren’t invited. People don’t have to invite witches, they just know we’ll turn up if we want to.’

Good evening fellow readers and welcome back to the Disc! Today in the Discworld Project we will have witches, a murder most foul (that didn’t happen) and the return of my favourite Discworld matriarch, Granny Weatherwax.

All in one night in the kingdom of Lancre high in the Ramtops, three witches gather on the moors (quite to the confusion of one Esme Weatherwax), a king is brutally killed and a child is stolen away to return when the time is right. When the witches are drawn into this brutally ambitious plot and forced to meddle, which is not a witches business, it is down to Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Margarat Garlick and a ghost or two to save the Kingdom.

I think it’s clear to everyone now that I love the Discworld and most of all I love the witches. This book pulled in many elements of Macbeth, Hamlet and most of all Pratchett’s wonderful storytelling. I thought I would enjoy this one the most so far out of all the books but this one fell a little flatter than usual for me. I did however still have a great time reading it.

We get to head back to the Ramtops, last seen in ‘Equal Rites’ in the village of Bad Ass. We also finally get tot meet more of the neigmatic witches of the Disc. Adding to the cast is Nanny Ogg, the opposite of Granny with her many partners, children and grandchildren who loves a drink. We also meet Margrat Garlick for the first time, the youngest of the witches with her own ideas of covens and wearing occult jewellery.

Seeing the witches together on the page was honestly the best part of this book for me. The sheer contrast of Granny and Nanny makes you even wonder how they are friends in the first place. Granny is very clearly in charge of the situation however, Nanny being more of a family orientated witch. There is even a distinct comment about Granny’s leadership within all the witches’ circles;

Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have.

I was delighted to have finally come across Nanny Ogg and Magrat. There was also the cameos of other Discworld’s greatest, Death and the Librarian included. Pratchett’s characters will always have very important places in my hearts and as usual, the humor and banter between them all had me overjoyed at every stage of the book.

The plot this time for me felt a little bit weaker than usual, especially for a story about the witches. The pacing seems to be the issue more than the actual plot itself. Like i said earlier there is a strong satire of plays like Macbeth and Hamlet. This is actually half the fun of the plot, especially when a drama group arrives towards the end of the book, but there is a stage the book got to at about half way into the book and it felt like this was the climax. It threw me off slightly and kind of messed with he pacing overall.

This being said you can still see the growth of the Discworld as well as Pratchett’s writing. The plot as always is tidied up and brought together very well at the end of the book. I was very happy seeing Granny again in particular and look forward to my next outing on the Disc.

Have you read this book? I am now 7 books in to the Discworld series and I’m still really enjoying myself. I recently watched the Back in Black documentary again and was left an emotional wreck. I also got an exciting email this week about my DVD of ‘Troll Bridge’ that I backed in August. Up next, ‘Pyramids’!

★★★.75/5 (Constantly struggling with 4 or 3 for this one!)

Sourcery- Terry Pratchett Review

‘ Rincewind rather enjoyed times like this. They convinced him that he wasn’t mad because, if he was mad, that left no word at all to describe some of the people he met.’

Welcome back to my holiday on The Disc! I am very sorry for the lack of updates to the Discworld Project. It has been busy down here on the Hub and boy is it good to be back at the Unseen University with the smell of the Ankh. Oh wait, is that smell you?

This is the fifth book in the publication order of the Discworld novels. This is the third novel following the failed wizard, Rincewind and the happenings at the Unseen University. The unthinkable has happened. A wizard, an eighth son of an eighth son, has had another son. His eighth son. He cannot be a wizard. He is a Sourcerer. And he is coming to the university. Do I want to be left alone? Yes. Do I want a sentient trunk that follows me on many legs and eats crisps?Definitely.

The wit as always within Pratchett’s writing is consistently satirical without being pompous. As often quoted by Neil Gaiman when asked about Pratchett, the opposite of funny isn’t serious. It’s just something not being funny. While Discworld relies heavily on humor for its tone and consistence it never fails to be intimate and heartwarming. I honestly needed to read this book at this very moment in time to help make my current situation more bearable.

I listened to this on audio and it was narrated than none other than Baldrick himself, Tony Robinson of Time Team and Blackadder fame. I have often said that the only voice I hear for Rincewind is that of Eric Idle but now it will always be Robinson. Not only does he voice Rincewind to perfection he manages the cast of characters with a fantastic flourish and each is distinct from the other.

In this adventure we meet our recurring and welcome characters such as Death, Luggage and the Librarian. We also get to meet some even more memorable characters such as Conina the Hairdresser, daughter of the famous Cohen, Nijel the eventual barbarian and so much more. I loved listening to each voice they were given by Robinson. Each characters was literally in my head, walking around and trying to drag me on their adventure.

I only have one small critique in with this particular story. The pot jumped from one particular point I was highly enjoying to the climactic drama very quickly. I do feel that is going to be a feature of all the Rincewind books but this one it didn’t work as well as it did in say, ‘The Light Fantastic’, which never stopped once to breathe because something was happening and we had to go there. I feel because this one starts in a more mundane situation that the jump takes a way a small bit from Pratchett’s usually decent pacing.

However in saying all that I deeply enjoyed this book. I have been putting off coming back to the Disc for too long, this was a necessary change and I chose the audio because I was so busy which worked out even better since the audio for this particular story is totally flawless.

Thank you as always for reading, do tell me if you have read this book in the series and what flavour crisps you think the Luggage would prefer.

★★★★.5/5

Troll Bridge (2019)- Experiencing Discworld at World Con

‘HIT ME YOU BASTARD!’

Welcome back to the Disc! This is my first time discussing a movie on my blog and it seems fitting for me to literally bring you to the actual Discworld.

As many of you may know, I attended Worldcon in Dublin this year, had the best time and honestly I’ve been waiting to finally write this post. One of my main highlights of the entire week was the premiere of ‘Troll Bridge’, a film directed by Daniel Knight and Snowgum films that adapts the Discworld short story of the same name into a short film. I’m sorry what? How did I not know about this already? I fucking ran to the screening. I swear.

‘Troll Bridge'(based on the short story of the same name) follows Discworld hero, Cohen the Barbarian. He is now 87 and he is angry. Angry he hasn’t died in battle yet. Angry that he can’t pee like he used to. Angry that his horse can talk. Now as a final act of bravery as his father advised him when he was young, he’s heading to a bridge and he’s gonna kill it’s Troll.

Honestly, I was on the edge of crying watching this. Everything about this is wonderful and crafted so perfectly. The make up, the acting, the special effects. The trolls, oh my god the trolls! It’s honestly a flawless adaptation. The casting of Don Bridges as Cohen is wonderful, I never could put a voice to Cohen while reading ‘The Light Fantastic’ but now I can hear Bridges’ voice screaming in my head ‘HIT ME YOU BASTARD!’

‘Troll Bridge’ is an example of why book adaptations of beloved series need to be placed in the right hands. It not only comes down to production and acting but the rewriting of the story and putting it to a visual medium can’t be done right unless those making it give an honest shit about the material. Daniel Knight cares about this story very deeply. It’s very easy to see that this entire work is one big passion project. Snowgum films have spent over 9 years trying to make this the most ambitious short film ever made and they have indeed succeeded.

The film is currently travelling a festival circuit, screenings and any other information can be found here, including info about the delicious pre order (I may have pledged) for the Blu Ray. Please check them out, also please read Discworld books so more of these lovely films can be made. Terry Pratchett would be proud.

Mort- Terry Pratchett Review

“If there’s one thing that really annoys a god, it’s not knowing something.”

Welcome back to my holiday on the Disc! This is my latest post in my Discworld Project. If you aren’t aware of this project you can click here . I recently got back on track with the publication continuity of the series and Mort is my most recent read. Now, its my favourite.

In this book we meet Mort (short for Mortimer), a young, awkward lad from the Ramtops. Mort is looking for work and when his father gains him an apprenticeship he is finally employed. Does it matter that his employer is Death himself? The actual Grim Reaper? Not at all, its quite a noble position. Prospects, uniform and a company horse. Soon enough Mort discovers there is more to Death than life, where to keep a Scythe when indoors and why working for Death can affect his love life.

I was really looking forward to reading this and I was not disappointed. This is the shining star of the Discworld series so far and I enjoyed it even more than the last one I read. This is the beginning of the Death novels, a character we have already been introduced to in the previous books but we do get his perspective in this.

This is obviously set on the Disc and we do see previous locations such as Ankh Morpork and the Unseen University but a good chunk of the novel takes place within Deaths Domain. We get to see the realm through the eye of Mort, a human like (the majority at least) of us readers who is understandably scared yet fascinated. The descriptions of the rooms, particularly Death’s study, is wonderfully gothic and has traits one would assume from Death (skull and crossed scythe motifs along with black grass included). It also thrills me that Death puts his scythe in an umbrella stand when not in use.

Mort is a very entertaining character to read. Although his is young he very much knows his own mind and isn’t afraid to speak up, correcting people who call him ‘boy’ instead of using his name for example. Death is as intimidating to Mort as he is as a figure to us and most of the questions anyone would living would ask Death do get brought up by Mort frequently. Mort isn’t afraid to challenge Death and Death begins to allow himself to learn more about humanity. Their dynamic is one that is rewarding while also being entertaining. The humor is a strong motif as ever especially between characters but this one is definitely more emotional than previous books. I definitely had feels while reading this but then again, I am emotional with many books. Also big plus that Death loves cats.

The story flows so well, switching mostly between Mort and Death’s perspectives as they both travel around the Disc and learn more about life. Mort mostly about taking it away and Death just basically having some to himself. The climax of the narrative is very satisfying while also doing a brilliant job of pulling all the different smaller strands of plot together. This is where I really love Pratchett outside of characters and dialogue. There is never any room to be bored and every single novel wraps up really well without all having similar plot beats to the last book in the series.

This is another ideal starting point for those who want to start their own journey to the Disc. Death is my new favourite character. He loves cats, trying different drinks and loves a good curry. His library is filled with stories that write themselves and if its one trope I never get tired of is the Death learns to be human trope. Please try this if you have never read Terry Pratchett, you won’t be disappointed.

★★★★★/5 

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents- Terry Pratchett

“To be a leader you have to learn to shout! But after you’ve learned to shout, you have to learn not to!”

Welcome back to the Disc! My apologies for the lack of posts. I had World Con last week, went back to work and now I’m out sick for five days with no voice. This is my next book in the Discworld Project. I am still intending to read the series in publication order but this one was a bit too special to delay and is one of the few YA novels within the world .

Here we meet the Amazing Maurice. Maurice is a cat who has gained sentience and employs a group of fellow sentient rats. Along with the cat and the rats we have Keith, an orphan who plays the flute. Maurice, the rats and Keith go from town to town running the same scheme: rats arrive, boy plays flute, boy and cat chase away rats, boy collects money from grateful villagers. Then comes their arrival in the village of Bad Blintz. Something is wrong, and now Maurice’s scheme needs to become a plan. A plan for survival.

This was a joy to read and a nice change to the Discworld continuity that I am currently following. This was the first of the Discworld books to be written for younger readers and I was concerned that it may water down the usual strength of the other books but thankfully I was proven wrong. This is a remarkable story and is just as enjoyable being read by an adult. (Yes. Sadly I count as an adult)

The world building isn’t something that we need to discuss but as always, it’s nice to see another new part of the Disc. Bad Blintz reads like an old English village that has yet to discover the world outside it’s confines. Although it is a very typical fantasy trope/location, Pratchett still makes it work as a point of satire.

The characters are the true standout of this book. Maurice, a ginger street cat, is our main POV but we do move between Keith, some of the rats and an unnamed narrator we come to discover later on. Maurice is definitely my favourite, filled with all the sassiness of any cat but despite his crookster persona he has genuine moments of caring and nature throughout the story. One of my favourite aspects of the rats is how they have named themselves (Dangerous Beans, Nourishing and Sardines to name a few) and how they are adjusting to their new found conciousness. It makes for some brilliant dialogue, which is one of Pratchett’s true talents. We also meet the village girl of Malicia. Malicia loves fairy tales, wears black and never shuts up. I think I may have been Malicia at a younger age.

The plot flows very freely aswell, making for a quick and fluid story. At the stage of this novel being published there were 27 in the Discworld so I feel that compared to some of the other ones I have read so far that you can see how Pratchett has developed. Not only Pratchett but the whole of the Discworld series at this point of publication, had developed to a fantasy favourite with a dedicated fanbase.

This is a good fun read that is easy to get through and is a perfect stepping stone (as a lot of the novels are) on to the Discworld but even if you just want to read this as a standalone work you can. However, I have a new found phobia over this book, and a comment from Pratchett in the acknowledgements. That’s all I can say.

★★★★/5

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

‘ ‘And they do say the p-pen is mightier than the sss-
‘-sword,’ said Esk ‘All right, but which would you rather be hit with?’ ‘

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.

★★★★/5