Cut Out Witch – Carpe Jugulum

carpe-jugulum-2Supposing there was justice for all, after all? For every unheeded beggar, every harsh word, every neglected duty, every slight…every choice…Because that was the point, wasn’t it? You had to choose. You might be right, you might be wrong, but you had to choose, knowing that the rightness or wrongness might never be clear or even that you were deciding between two sorts of wrong, that there was no right anywhere. And always, always, you did it by yourself.

It’s a sad time in the Discworld, because with this book we wave goodbye to the Witches of Lancre. Not forever, with cameos in the forthcoming Tiffany Aching novels to follow, but Carpe Jugulum marks the last time Granny, Nanny and Magrat squabble their way into defeating whatever evil is invading the Discworld.

Maskerade, the last Witches’ novel, was all about hidden selves, that gap between who we are to other people and the person we fear we are underneath. Carpe Jugulum is also about duality so it is somewhat amusing that I am in two minds about this novel. Amusing to me anyway. Continue reading →

The Opera House – Maskerade

maskerade-2‘A catastrophe curve, Mr Bucket, is what opera runs along. Opera happens because of a large number of things amazingly fails to go wrong, Mr Bucket. It works because of hatred and love and nerves. All the time. This isn’t cheese. This is opera. If you wanted a quiet retirement, Mr Bucket, you shouldn’t have bought the Opera House. You should have done something peaceful, like alligator dentistry.’

Something struck me part of the way through Maskerade that perhaps answers the slightly inconsistent nature of the past few Discworld novels. In Maskerade, Granny is bored, agitated and in need of a change. And it hit me that every novel since Lords and Ladies has been similar. Each has featured characters seeking a break from their old routines. Carrot wants to turn the Watch into something worthwhile in Men at Arms. Buddy wishes to save his soul by rock and roll in Soul Music. And Cohen is tired of raping and pillaging and wishes to settle down by running his own empire in Interesting Times. Continue reading →

Royals – Lords and Ladies

lords-and-ladies-2You call yourself some kind of goddess and you know nothing, madam, nothing. What don’t die can’t live. What don’t live can’t change. What don’t change can’t learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you.

This book is excellent. After the wonder and ambition of Small Gods, Lords and Ladies is the conclusion to a Discworld trilogy of witches stories – from Wyrd Sisters’ spin on Macbeth, through the dark fairytale of Witches Abroad to this, a take on A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. It’s immensely satisfying, with a plot that just races and some fantastic character moments. It also bravely brings its climax forward to halfway through the book, ratcheting up the tension of the closing scenes immeasurably. Continue reading →

Holiday Surprise – Witches Abroad

185px-Witches-abroad-cover‘It’s a big responsibility, fairy godmothering. Knowing when to stop, I mean. People whose wishes get granted often don’t turn out to be very nice people. So should you give them what they want – or what they need?’

In Into the Woods, John Yorke’s excellent examination of stories and why we love them, he says at the heart of all great tales is the tension between needs and wants. The protagonist’s reconciling of learning what they need, rather than what they want, or the subversion of it, is what gives great stories their power. It’s a brilliant book. Yorke is a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Being John Malkovich – two ticks in the plus column for me.

Pratchett loves stories. Many of his Discworld books have touched upon their power and the danger within them. Witches Abroad is his deepest exploration of stories to date, a surprisingly dark take on fairy tales. Continue reading →

Weird Era Cont. – Wyrd Sisters

Wyrd SistersThat’s just about land…It’s not the same as a kingdom. A kingdom is made up of all sorts of things. Ideas. Loyalties. Memories. It all sort of exists together. And then all these things create some kind of life. Not a body kind of life, more like a living idea. Made up of everything that’s alive and what they’re thinking.

Oh yes. That’s more like it. After the misstep of Sourcery, where everything good about Discworld was missing amid poor plotting, derivative scenes and (absence of) character, Pratchett hits the equivalent of a 30 yard screamer here.

Many see this as the first ‘proper’ Discworld novel, as Pratchett balances humour, weirdness, social satire and invention with ease. I think that’s unfair on both Mort and Equal Rites – both are flawed but share a lot of the characteristics of what makes his novels uniquely Discworldian. But Wyrd Sisters sings in a way the others to date have not. Continue reading →