A bit of triva for you. About eight times out of ten, when someone stumbles upon a book review or some note I wrote about books and posted here to this site, it is because they are searching for free (as in five finger discount) ebooks. Being a guy who regularly talks about ebooks in a positive light, and regularly reads ebook editions of books, I apparently sow disappoint by casual mentions. I just thought that was a fun fact. That, and it increases the likelihood that someone will one day type "terry (or tery) pratchett discworld (disk world?) equal rites (rights) ebook warez" and find this page. And will curse my name.
By the way, for those curious, here are two leads. First off, the version I read was the official eReader.com version. If, however, you just really want a copy of your own that doesn't cost anything, go to The Pirate Bay and type in "Discword Terry Pratchett" and specify the category "other", you should find something of interest.
Anyhow, on to the book itself. Reading, recently, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic I was struck by several things, but primarily that Rincewind is one of the greatest fictional wizards of all time and that Discworld is a great series of books and that, finally, the first two novels are a little too unrestrained from their own good. In some places, they descend into something of a Wonderful Wizard of Oz quality. Scene after wondrous scene can make a fantastic novel, but not necessarily a good one. While Pratchett tightened the reins in the second novel, it still felt partially like a listing of diverse and amazing things.
Equal Rites enters into this fertile soil and helps Discworld along not by adding so much to the mythology as by making it more human. Esk and Simon and Granny Weatherwax and Cutangle are of the same basic make as the characters in the early novels, but we finally get a glimpse of wizards not so constantly concerned with backstabbing and a glimpse of how people of the not-so-epic cloth function. And the plot, which is earth shattering for the characters but finally does not involve the whole of the Disk, is able to grow as the characters need. Of the first three novels in the series, this one is the strongest in characters and the least epic. Both of which aspects show up some in later novels and seem to have made Discworld a little bit stronger of a series.
The plot rotates around two basic threads. The first is of Esk, a young, cute witch-wizard who is strong minded. The eigth child of an eigth son (expected to be an eight son but whoopsies were made), she has the wizarding powers of a dying wizard passed into her at birth. She is joined by Granny Weatherwax, an old, iron-willed, and prudish witch from the Ramstop mountains who thinks Esk's wizardly tendencies are foolish and unladylike. The main flow of this first thread is whether a female wizard can be accepted, especially one who is only eight years old (note the age, which is important to the Discworld mythos).
The second thread arguably addresses some questions posed early on in the Discworld series. Rincewind explains, in The Colour of Magic, how magic does not so much bend the laws of physics as transfers them. The paraphrase would be something like to cast a spell that lifts a bucket of water you would have to spend about as much energy as lifting a bucket of water. But if magic is so rampant in the Discworld, and if Wizards are to do anything at all, how can this be given that idea? Sure, Rincewind is a bad wizard, and so may just have the theory wrong, but this novel hints at a few other explanations of magic, though it will be up to later books to fill in the gaps..
The two threads weave together using Esk's simple, earnest and honest eyes to translate them.
I really did enjoy the things said and the additions to the Discworld presented. Alas, most of the characters (especially Esk and Simon) have seemingly disappeared from the canon. Granny Weatherwax ends up in a couple of later books but the young female wizard has yet to return. Maybe she stopped being cute, later on. I have no idea.
This particular books is rated Great as are pretty much all of the Discworld novels. I say read them in order, up to this one, because that seemed to work out really well.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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