Equal Rites: Discworld gets a visit from the Equal Opportunities people

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsEqual Rites by Terry Pratchett Discworld fantasy book reviewsEqual Rites by Terry Pratchett

When a wizard on the Discworld knows he’s about to die, he passes on his staff and magical powers to the eighth son of an eighth son who is being born at that time. So, that’s what the wizard Drum Billet does just before his death — he passes on his powers to the baby who’s just been born to the Smith family. But nobody notices in time that Eskarina Smith is not a boy… Several years later Esk realizes she’s got some uncontrollable powers so she, along with her friend Granny Weatherwax, the local witch, sets out to find her place in a world where women do not have equal rights.

Equal Rites is the third book in Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series and the first in which Rincewind the cowardly wizard is not the protagonist. Though the focus here is on Eskarina, the first female wizard on the Discworld, the real star is Granny Weatherwax, the indomitable witch who features more prominently in the DISCWORLD series. Granny is full of wisdom and teaches Esk that not all power comes from magic. Much of it comes from the way a person looks, what she wears, the things she knows about the world, as well as various “magic” tricks such as placebos and confirmation bias.

Granny’s lessons about power are directly related to the other obvious theme in Equal Rites — gender equality. Terry Pratchett, who’s famous for identifying and making fun of clichés in fantasy literature, said in a 1985 talk published at Ansible that “the fantasy world…. is overdue for a visit from the Equal Opportunities people.” So he set out to show us, in his funny way, that women can do most things that men can do and that choosing not to use a power that you have is a kind of power in itself.

Terry Pratchett does a great job with his female characters and that’s probably the main reason I liked Equal Rites better than the previous DISCWORLD novels — this is a sweet coming of age story which relies more on character development and interactions than parody and comedy. Also, it seems to me that Pratchett’s humor has matured since the beginning of the series (or maybe he’s just getting more comfortable in the Disworld) — the jokes are starting to feel more organic.

I listened to Celia Imrie narrate the audiobook version of Equal Rites. She was wonderful. If you purchase the Kindle version of Equal Rites for $5.69, with the Whispersync deal you can get the audio version for $2.99.

~Kat Hooper


Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett Discworld fantasy book reviewsA dying wizard passes his wizardly powers and magical staff to the newborn 8th son of an 8th son (why not 7th? I guess Discworld just has to be different). He doesn’t realize, however (until after he’s dead), that the 8th son is a girl, and in this world women are never wizards — only witches. However, the wizardly powers will not be denied, and as Eskarina, or Esk, begins to grow up she has to deal with learning to control her powers while also dealing with a wizardly establishment that refuses to recognize or train girl wizards. Luckily Esk has Granny Weatherwax to help her.

[Granny] stood up. “Let’s find this Great Hall, then. No time to waste.”

“Um, women aren’t allowed in,” said Esk.

Granny stopped in the doorway. Her shoulders rose. She turned around slowly.

“What did you say?” she said. “Did these old ears deceive me, and don’t say they did because they didn’t.”

“Sorry,” said Esk. “Force of habit.”

“I can see you’ve been getting some ideas below your station,” said Granny coldly.

This was a fun reading experience, not terribly deep but good for laughs, a lot like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, except in a fantasy setting rather than science fiction. Humorous asides and tongue-in-cheek humor abound.

Bits of gnolls hung from the nearby rocks, giving them a sort of jolly, festive air. Gander wasn’t particularly sorry about that –gnolls liked to capture travelers and practice hospitality of the red-hot-knife-and-bludgeon kind… Still, it was a relief to get away from that macabre sight. Gander considered that gnolls didn’t look any better inside than out. He hated their guts.

I would have liked a little more substance with my humor, but this was rewarding enough that I’ll try dipping my toes into the DISCWORLD series a little further.

~Tadiana Jones

Discworld — (1983-2015) Discworld is a satirical fantasy world created by Terry Pratchett to poke fun at 1980s fantasy novels. Since then, they’ve evolved so that they now make fun of everything. Mr. Pratchett explains Discworld: “The world rides through space on the back of a turtle. This is one of the great ancient world myths, found wherever men and turtles are gathered together; the four elephants were an indo-European sophistication. The idea has been lying in the lumber room of legend for centuries. All I had to do was grab it and run away before the alarms went off… There are no maps. You can’t map a sense of humor. Anyway, what is a fantasy map but a space beyond which There Be Dragons? On the Discworld we know There Be Dragons Everywhere. They might not all have scales and forked tongues, but they Be Here all right, grinning and jostling and trying to sell you souvenirs.” The Discworld novels are presented here in publication order. To read more about the Discworld “arcs” and reading order, see this Wikipedia article.

Terry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. EricTerry Pratchett Discworld: 1. The Color of Magic 2. The Light Fantastic 3. Equal Rites 4. Mort 5. Sourcery 6. Wyrd Sisters 7. Pyramids 8. Guards Guards! 9. Ericbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Moving PicturesReaper Manbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Witches Abroadbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Small Godsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Men at Armsbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Soul Musicfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Maskeradebook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Feet of Claybook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Hog FatherJingobook review Terry Pratchett Discworld The Last Continentbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Carpe Jugulumbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Carpe Jugulum, The Fifth Elephantbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld The Truthbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Thief of Timebook review Terry Pratchett Discworld The Last Herofantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Terry Pratchett Discworld Thud!book review Terry Pratchett Discworld Making MoneyTerry Pratchett Unseen Academicals DiscworldTerry Pratchett Unseen Academicals Discworld, Snufffantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Discworld for Kids:

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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TADIANA JONES, on our staff since July 2015, is an intellectual property lawyer with a BA in English. She inherited her love of classic and hard SF from her father and her love of fantasy and fairy tales from her mother. She lives with her husband and four children in a small town near the mountains in Utah. Tadiana juggles her career, her family, and her love for reading, travel and art, only occasionally dropping balls. She likes complex and layered stories and characters with hidden depths. Favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Robin McKinley, Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia McKillip, Mary Stewart, Ilona Andrews, and Susanna Clarke.

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