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Archive for the ‘Witches’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] Carpe Jugulum

It’s so hard to believe that Carpe Jugulum (Discworld book #23 of 41) is the last one to feature the Witches! Especially since it is quite clearly about vampires.  Actually, other books feature Granny Weatherwax (the Tiffany Aching books feature her a lot), but it’s the last one that features the classic trio of witches.

Queen Magrat and King Verence have figured out the whole bedroom thing (Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax weren’t sure they’d every actually figure it out) and are pleased to announce their first child–a girl.

The King has invited everyone to their naming ceremony.  That includes the vampires from Uberwald.

Since the vampires have been invited they are pretty much free to do as they want.  It turns out that they are quite clear about their plans–they are going to move into Lancre Castle and basically turn all of the humans into their cattle (as they have done in Uberwald).  But because of a kind of hypnotism, no one is upset by this–nor do they seem to fully get what the threats represent. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 2022] Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook

I bought this book when it came out because I was working in a book store that sold British imported books.  I knew I’d never find it at the mall, si grabbed it,  And now, twenty-some years later, I’ve finally read it.

I read it a little out of order, but I assumed it would come after Maskerade because in that novel, Nanny Ogg has a book published.  Although, it turns out this is her third book (the other two only came out in Discworld).  This book also references Jingo and Hogfather.

So this is in fact a viable cookbook.  You can cook everything that’s in here (provided you don’t include the arsenic).  But the recipes all have a narrative from Nanny Ogg, so there’s a degree of nudge nudge involved in the whole thing.

In addition to the recipes, there is a section on etiquette, which is more of the sort of naughty fun that Nanny Ogg sprinkles in the books she appears in.

The book opens with notes from the publisher (the one who published The Joy of Snacks), discussing whether or not they can actually publish this book and if any of it should be censored.  They just can’t understand how Nanny can use normal every day words and yet some how make them all sound dirty. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 2022] Maskerade

The Discworld Witches are back for another story.  But things are different, and I didn’t remember this happening at all.  Now that Magrat is firmly established with King Verence, she is no longer witching.

And everyone (even Granny Weatherwax) seems to now that Witches work better in trios than duos (although the duo of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg is pretty formidable).

So who would be best to be their new third?  Why, that nice Agnes (once Perdita) NItt had a lot of promise.

But Agnes has no intention of becoming a witch.  She knows what the life of a Witch is like.  Plus she has a VOICE!  (The description of her voice is wonderful).

Agnes has set out for Ankh-Morpork to be an opera singer.  Agnes is very fat and there’s rather a lot of jokes at her expense, which comes across as pretty mean, Terry.  There’s a very fat man as well (this being the opera and all) and there’s jokes at his expense too.  It’s surprisingly mean spirited.

But aside from that, the story is pretty great.  Terry opens his book with some jokes/comments about how he never expected the opera to be a fruitful subject.  Until he talked to his friend in the opera who said the opera was full of crazy stories and superstitions. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: Fall 2021] Lords and Ladies

The Discworld Witches are back for another story.  (This is the fourth Witches story which puts them on equal footing with Rincewind at this point).

I have been reading all of the Discworld stories in order (obviously?) and I wasn’t looking forward to this one because of the lousy cover.  I mean, look at that.

But this book turns out to be great.  In addition to the enjoyable story, Sir Terry sets the record straight on elves.  They are nasty.  They are wicked.  They are not cute, they are cruel.  And they don’t appear in Discworld because generations ago they were locked out

The only way they can get back in is via the Dancers, a ring of magnetized iron stones.  Or technically they can’t get in there because the iron stones keep the elves away–elves can’t abide iron.  But when the time is right the worlds get close and the elves try to see if they can somehow get someone to magic away the iron.

And it turns out this is a time of convergence.  Crop circles begin appearing around Lancre and that can only mean that the universe of Elves is nearby.

So what is wrong with elves exactly?  They enter the minds of humans using glamour, to try to make them see the world differently.  Yes, Witches enter into human and animal minds, but only temporarily.

Here’s what they say about elves.  And what those words mean.

  • Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
  • Elves are marvelous.  They cause marvels.
  • Elves are fantastic.  They create fantasies.
  • Elves are glamourous.  They project glamour.
  • Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
  • Elves are terrific.  They beget terror
  • No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.

Granny and Nanny can remember the stories about the elves.  But Magrat is too young, to sweet to believe that elves are bad.  She would believe that the elves are magical and fantastic in a good way.  She would not understand why they must be kept out.

And so Granny and Nanny do not tell her.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: October 2021] Witches Abroad

Our trio of Witches is back.  And they’re about to do something they never imagined.  They are going to “forn parts.”

A local older witch (yes, older than Granny and Nanny) Desiderata Hollow dies and she sends Magrat her wand.  Granny and Nanny are more than a little miffed that she gave it to Magrat.  I mean, really.  Not that Granny or Nanny needs a wand or wants a wand or wants anything to do with a wand, or anything.  But still.

Getting the wand means that Magrat is now the Fairy Godmother to a girl named Emberella.  But although she gave the wand, she also gave no instructions whatsoever.  So Magrat really doesn’t know what to do.  The only note that she gave to Magrat included the important information to not let Granny or Nanny get involved.  Which Granny and Nanny take to mean that they should really take over the whole proceedings.

But Magrat is determined to do this right.  She wields that wand with authority and turns anything she waves it at into a pumpkin (she can’t do anything else with it).

As fairy godmother, Magrat’s one duty is to ensure that Emberella does not marry the Duke (who has a seriously questionable past).

Everyone knows that Fairy Godmothers are supposed to get young girls to marry Princes or Dukes.  So they are working against Fairy Tales.

But before they can even deal with Emberella, they need to cross the disc to Genua where Emberella lives.  This leads to a road-movie type story where the three naive travellers go to all manner of new places.

Nanny Ogg, who fancies herself a wise traveller also seems to know a lot of forn languages (or at least she knows a lot of rude words in other languages).  The Witches have some very amusing adventures.  There’s a Running of the Bulls type event which they find themselves right in the middle of, there’s a cave that they escape from in a giant pumpkin (thanks Magrat), and there’s a village where a giant house falls on Nanny Ogg to the delight of the locals.  Nanny is fine because the house fell on her willow-enhanced hat.

It turns out that the Duke is actually a puppet.  And the woman behind the diabolical plan to have Emberella marry the Duke is Lilith Weatherwax–Granny’s sister.  Nanny knows of Lilith because they grew up together, but no one else knew she had a sister.

Lilith has been using the power of mirrors to create more and more magic.  And she is quite powerful. She has been using the power of stories to impact the Witches travels and wants to use the Cinderella story to change the fates of Emberella and by extension, all of Genua.

Granny and Nanny are a little out of their element here (not that they are weak, they are just in an unfamiliar situation) and wind up getting help from a local witch.  Well, she doesn’t call herself a witch, but as the women talk they see that they have a lot in common.  Erzulie Gogol is a voodoo witch who lives in a swamp and has a zombie servant named Baron Saturday.  Pratchett has some good fun with stereotypes of the swamp–especially Granny not understanding alligators and the like.

Granny hypnotizes Magrat into attending the ball as if she were Emberella.  Magrat quite enjoys the experience. As does Greebo who is turned into a human.  Since Greebo is all impulse, he makes for a rakish human (who, unfortunately, doesn’t understand how his hands and arms work).

Another great rakish character introduced here is the dwarf Casanunda: “World’s 2nd Greatest Lover, swordsman, liar, soldier of fortune, stepladder repairer.”  Casanunda wins over women with his remarkably romantic courtship practices.   He is quite taken with Nanny Ogg who wouldn’t know romance if she sat on it.  He is fascinated that nothing he does impacts her an he finds her irresistible.

This book is a lot of fun because Pratchett is out and about, playing with and massaging sterotypes and just generally having a good time all over the Disc. And of course, it’s always fun seeing Granny and Nanny fight with each other even when they agree with each other.

Incidentally, Magrat and Verence were hot and heavy (well, luck warm and mildly chunky) at the end of the previous book, but things seem a little cooled down between them.  Witches aren’t supposed to marry, so who knows what will happen there….

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[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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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[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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