Title: Equal Rites (Discworld 3; Witches 1)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Corgi (newer edition)
Release Date: January 15, 1987
Genre(s): Fantasy, Humour
Subjects & Themes: Magic, Gender Roles
Page Count: 282 (paperback)
They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.
There are some situations where the correct response is to display the sort of ignorance which happily and wilfully flies in the face of the facts. In this case, the birth of a baby girl, born a wizard — by mistake. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin.
Okay, so Equal Rites wasn’t quite the battle of the sexes (at least, not until the end), but I did enjoy it far, far more than I did The Colour of Magic. Part of that has to do with the setting which is a lot more contained this time around, so the readers aren’t bombarded with worldbuilding info from the get-go. Instead we start off with a small village called “Bad Ass” and a wizard who accidentally passes his staff to a newborn girl instead of, well, a boy. Because girls can be witches and boys can be wizards, but under absolutely no condition can the two ever mix.
Pratchett delves into the arbitrary gender roles that society assigns us from birth. It’s a familiar topic and one that I can always get behind, so I found myself a lot more invested in the main characters’ plights this time around. Eskarina (our accidental wizard girl), though young and naïve, is determined to prove that she can be a wizard. With her intelligence and spirit, it’s impossible not to root for her.
“Why was it that when she heard Granny ramble on about witchcraft she longed for the cutting magic of wizardry, but whenever she heard Treatle speak in his high-pitched voice she would fight to the death for witchcraft? She’d be both or none at all. And the more they intended to stop her, the more she wanted it.”
Also, I loved the whole “staves are for wizards (who are boys) and brooms are for witches (who are girls),” thing the story kept harping on about because, really, they’re both just long sticks of wood, so the idea of gender-coding them is absurd–which is exactly what Pratchett was going for.
I also really liked his explanation of the law of magic and the hierarchy of magic users and how some categories of users are seen as superior to others–like how magicians are lower than wizards but still better thought of than “conjurers.” It’s fun stuff.
Oh, and Granny Weatherwax? I’ve heard a lot about you. A lot of good things ending in multiple exclamation marks. And you know what? They were right. I really like you. I know you’re not much of a book person and think stories should be approached with a boatload of skepticism, but I think we can still get along. I love your practicality and your explanation of “headology” and the idea that, sometimes, real magic is what we believe it to be. So yeah, I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you better.
Overall, Equal Rites was a fun, light read that charmed my pants off and I’m giving it FOUR elephants-riding-turtles out of five.
Here are the awesome bloggers who are participating this month! Go see what they thought of Equal Rites!
Book Beach Bunny
Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads and Bakes
Nicole @ The Bookworm Drinketh
Storm of Pages
Great review!!! This sounds hilarious and really interesting. I love when books combine magic and gender roles!
Thank you! And same!! I’ve been reading a lot of books about witches lately so magic and gender roles seem to be popping up a LOT 😀
One of my fave Discworld books! I like the witches ones best.
It’s definitely worth all the praises I’ve been hearing! 😀
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Love this Discworld Readathon. I kind of want to read through all of them next year. I don’t know what that will do to my TBR list, but, heh, goals.
Such an entertaining review, Kathy! Now I want to meet Granny Weatherwax, too! Happy you had a great read! ♥️
I adore the witches the most in the Discworld. Well and Death.
Glad you’re still doing this readathon – keep it up! 🙂
This was my first discworld book and I still love but Witches Abroad is my all time favourite- laugh out loud funny
Ooh I’m looking forward to getting to it, then! The witch books seem to be a lot of people’s favourites in the series. 🙂
I am so glad you enjoyed Equal Rites! I was getting a bit apprehensive about hyping up a series and then having the first two be not as great as expected 😀 But this is the first one that shows you what the typical Discworld style is that I know and love – so here’s hoping the rest of the readathon will be much more enjoyable! It’s Mort next month, one of my favourites 🙂 Can’t wait!
I think I’ve had enough warnings from people that the first couple of books would be rough, so I wasn’t too discouraged! And I’m so very excited for Mort! I love seeing Death characters in fiction 😀
oh a series about the battle of the sexes?? I NEED TO CHECK THIS OUT! 🙂 Love your blog btw! 🙂
Aw, thank you, Daniela! <3 And I don't know if the other Witches books have the battle of the sexes theme, but it would be nice if they did!
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