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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Discworld Vol 12-14

NOTE: reviews for Volume 10 "Moving Pictures" and Volume 11 "Reaper Man" were written in separate reviews previously.

Discworld Volumes 12-14

by Terry Pratchett

Right, so to anyone still paying attention I'm continuing to plow through the 36-volume Discworld series. I've got 15-ish more left to go! Anyway, here are brief reviews of the last three volumes I finished.

Volume 12: Witches Abroad: Granny Weatherwax and the witches of Lancre are back, and this time hitting the road (or really the sky given they fly on broomsticks) to stop a royal wedding. The princess Ella is about to marry a Duc with clammy skin, weird eyes, and a prediliction towards eating flies unless the witches can get there in time to stop the Happily Ever After. This is the kind of anti-fairy tale fairy tale in the same vein as the "Shrek" movies, though written years earlier. Besides "Cinderella" other fairy tales like "Little Red Riding Hood" are also referenced with hilarious results. The best part is what happens to Nanny Ogg's fiendish cat Greebo; I could imagine my cat would be nearly the same under similar circumstances. A fun romp through classic fairy tales. (4 stars)

Volume 13: Small Gods: This story doesn't involve any of the main characters (except for DEATH, who appears in every book) taking place in the realm of Omnia. The people there worship the Great God Om--usually depicted as a bull--with a fervor enforced by the sadistic Quisition, obviously based on the Spanish Inquisition. There's just one problem: the Great God Om is trapped in the body of a tortoise and finds himself with just one true believer: a small-witted novice monk named Brutha. This book touches on a theme presented earlier in "Pyramids" (and possibly other books) and notably later in "Hogfather" that says gods come and go based on changing beliefs. What Pratchett suggests isn't atheism; it's more like universal apathy saying whatever you choose to believe in is as good as anything. When you think no one can really prove which god(s) is God this makes a lot of sense; after all, who's to say your toaster can't be God if you really, really believe hard enough? I like too the Discworld concept that the afterlife is whatever you believe it will be, something touched on in "Eric" among others. This is a book for the open-minded on the subject, not the true believers. (4 stars)

Volume 14: Lords and Ladies: In my review of volumes 1-6 I posited that "Light Fantastic" was the only direct sequel in the series. This is not the case as "Lords and Ladies" picks up after "Witches Abroad" though really it continues the events of "Wyrd Sisters." Granny Weatherwax and crew have returned home and now it's time for the young witch Magrat to marry the king and become queen of Lancre. As people arrive from all over the Discworld, all heck is about to break loose when elves return to plague the land. These aren't the cute Santa's helpers or even the beautiful, noble creatures from "Lord of the Rings." No, these elves are psychotic, sadistic monsters intent on enslaving humanity. Because of this, the book has a darker tone than others in the series. It draws from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which I've never seen, so like with "Wyrd Sisters" there's probably a few references I didn't catch. I was happy, though, my second-favorite character the Librarian got significant time in this book. As well, this book and "Witches Abroad" helped evolve the witch characters, fleshing out their personalities a bit more. I wasn't sold on Granny and the others in "Equal Rites" and "Wyrd Sisters" but I've started to enjoy them with these two books. (Though other than the four YA novels I'm probably not going to read I think they only feature prominently in one more book--unless Wikipedia is lying.) (4 stars)

Overall these were three good books, well worth reading. And so now I press onward!

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