I discovered something about myself by reading Pratchett’s Women, which is always a worthwhile thing. What I discovered was that, although I rejoice greatly at the presence of strong female characters in a book, I don’t necessarily notice their absence as much. Now that I’m aware, hopefully that won’t be true so much.
Tansy Rayner Roberts, herself an award-winning fantasy author, analyses most (but not all) of Terry Pratchett‘s books from a feminist perspective, and finds them… mixed. She praises the improvement from the early busty bimbos (who were, at least, people with lines and opinions and wants, if still stereotypes) to the later women like Cheery Littlebottom, Lady Sybil, Susan Death and, of course, the witches, while still criticising a few significant slips even in the later volumes of the series.
A notable omission for me was the Moist von Lipwig books, especially Making Money; I would have liked her perspective on Adorabelle Dearheart, a.k.a. Spike, or the elderly widow of the banking magnate, or the golem Gladys, who is female only because she decides she is. Moist is mentioned, so I know Roberts has read the books, but an analysis of them is missing.
What is here is an interesting perspective, always personal but with a wider resonance, on Pratchett’s treatment of female characters. The text shows strong signs of its blog-series origins, including the need for an editor; words like “to,” “the,” “more” and “is” don’t always make it from the author’s brain to her fingers, and she uses the word “conflagration” when I’m reasonably sure she means “conflation.” Pratchett’s Women is also fairly brief, but none the worse for that (although, as I say, I’d like to see her analysis of the Moist books).
I’d recommend this to anyone who’s interested in non-ranty feminist perspectives and fantasy fiction, and who’s already read the Pratchett books (since there are multiple spoilers).