Archive for the ‘Eskarina Smith’ Category


[READ: Summer 2021] Wyrd Sisters

This story reintroduces everyone to Granny Weatherwax.  It also introduces two other beloved characters: Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick the other two witches in the region.  It took six books to bring about Nanny Ogg!

This book owes a debt of plot to MacBeth.  It even begins with the familiar opening scene.  Three witches stand around a bubbling cauldron and one asks portentously, “When shall we three meet again.”  And another, after a lengthy pause says.  “I can do next Tuesday.”

The three witches are Granny Weatherwax, the scary, stiff, witch who takes no guff.  There’s Nanny Ogg, the smiling, raunchy, seemingly good natured witch who also takes no guff.  She has a brood of countess children and grandchildren and she loves them all (except the young girls who marry her sons).  She also has the most evil cat in the world (Greebo, whom she thinks is a sweetiepie).   And then comes Magrat Garlick, the youngest witch who is really into occult symbols and books and trinkets.  The other two think this is a load of tosh and know that witch magic is all about headology. (more…)

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[READ: Summer 2021] Equal Rites

Neither of the first two Discworld books were all that familiar to me, so I assumed that Equal Rites would jar my memory.

It introduces Granny Weatherwax and has some of my favorite jokes so far, but again, I didn’t really remember the story all that that well.

This story puts into Lore that the eighth son of a eighth son will be a wizard.  A dying wizard (Drum Billet) seeks out this eighth son of an eighth son and prepares to give the boy his staff, signifying his acceptance into wizardly ways.

It all goes really well until everyone has a chance to reveal that the eighth son is actually a girl–Eskarina Smith.

The Smith family has been on friendly(ish) terms with the local witch Granny Weatherwax for as long as anyone can remember.  And when it’s revealed that Esk has been given the wizard’s staff (which seems to be glaring at everyone), Granny is a bit concerned.

Everyone knows that girls are witches and boys are wizards.  It’s how its always been.  They both use magic, but well, witches used a kind of headology–a more real magic than the fancy faffing about that wizards seemed to do.  And when Granny sees the power that Esk has, she knows that the girl will make a great witch.

Until she realizes that Esk is actually more powerful than Grany realized. And, with that staff, she’s a bit out of Granny’s understanding of things.  Granny decides to take Esk to Unseen University so she can be brought up like a wizard.

As has been made clear, Unseen University is a boys club.  An all boys club–no women will enter except those who will do work around the place,. The wizards themselves have given up any romantic or sexual inclinations (it messes up the magic), so they have learned not to see women at all (pretty much).

The thought of Esk entering the University is laughable. Which has never stopped Granny.

So the set off for “forn parts.”  They travel via many different modes of transport.  Along the way they meet Simon, a promising young wizard from the hinterlands. He is very powerful but has no discipline (or charisma). But he and Esk do get a long for a time.  Simon’s magical ability is to reduce everything in the world to numbers (is this another computer joke)

When Esk arrives at UU, she is basically laughed out of the building.  She had been able to do magic, but when inside the doors, it seemed to vanish from her.  So Granny gets her in as a servant, where she tries to learn things as she goes.  But mostly she learns that wizards are jerks.

The wizards are also totally enamored of Simon and encourage him to do what he does best.  Unfortunately, as we learned in the previous book, the Dungeon Dimensions are waiting to flood into this world, and nothing allows that to happen as much as powerful magic.

Esk’s staff has been a pretty hilarious sidekick throughout the book–especially as an inanimate object.  Its power is immense, and it is loyal to Esk–violently loyal.  When the staff realizes that what Simon is doing will endanger Esk, it attacks him.  But this happens while Simon’s mind is in the Dungeon Dimensions, essentially trapping him there.

But Esk thinks that the staff attacked Simon and, since she knows Simon is a good kid, she throws away the staff and goes to rescue him.

The staff takes off in a big old sulk.  And that is very bad indeed.  Because now both Simon and Esk are trapped in the Dungeon Dimensons with no way to get out.

So there a wonderful road trip between Granny Weatherwax and Archchancellor Cutangle (I love that it reveals that they grew up together).  They travel across the Disc (on a broom among other things) to retrieve the staff.

We also learn an important lesson that the way to defeat the creatures in the Dungeon Dimensions is to have the ability to use magic but to not use it

Granny Weatherwax proves to be a wonderfully enduring character–stubborn and suspicious but wise and with a hidden soft spot.

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