Category Archives: Book reviews

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (Witches II) (1988)

Paul Kidby's 2013 illustration of Wyrd Sisters.

Paul Kidby’s 2013 illustration of Wyrd Sisters

Three official artists have managed to capture the likeness of the Witches of Lancre fairly well: Paul Kidby, Katarzyna Oleska and Marc Simonetti.

Vulnerability is not a trait I see mentioned in connection with Esmerelda Weatherwax (“Granny”, “Mistress” or “Esme). The Weatherwax sisters were born with strong magical powers. Because of her older sister’s tendency to make lives about fairy-tales, Esme had learned to be wary of the effects of power on herself and others. That has made her defensive and preachy about how to use magic, and she is often incapable of acknowledging the depth of other Witches’ abilities or admitting that she might be wrong or not know the answer. Yet Granny loves magic and being a Witch and goes out of her way to help people with what they need (not necessarily what they want). To her being a Witch is all about hard work, abstinence and treating magic like a friend you need to be wary of.

When King Verence is assassinated by Duke Felmet, and his baby heir comes to the three Witches, he is accompanied by a crown. A crown that has been worn by many kings and calls out to be worn again. Granny’s wariness comes in handy when she tries it on.

It seemed to fit. Granny drew herself up proudly, and waved a hand imperiously in the general direction of the hearth.

“Jolly well do this,” she said. She beckoned arrogantly at the grandfather clock. “Chop his head off, what ho,” she commanded. She smiled grimly.

And froze as she heard the screams, and the thunder of horses, and the deadly whisper of arrows and the damp, solid sound of spears in flesh. … There were times when she lay among the dead, or hanging from the branch of a tree; but always there were hands that would pick her up again, and place her on a velvet cushion.

Granny very carefully lifted the crown off her head – it was an effort, it didn’t like it much – and laid it on the table.

Trois Sæurcières; Illustration by Marc Simonetti, 2011

Trois Sæurcières; Illustration by Marc Simonetti, 2011

Granny’s best, and possibly only, friend is Gytha Ogg (“Nanny”). Nanny and Esme are about the same age, probably in their 50’s. Where Granny has remained unmarried, Nanny has had 15 children, many grand-children, has been married three times and had several lovers. She is the Matron of her large family and possibly even the village of Lancre. Due to the entire village being invited to her house, Nanny misses Lancre protesting the lack of a king that cares for it.

Nanny Ogg got around the Hogswatchnight tradition by inviting the whole village in, and the air in the room was already beyond the reach of pollution controls. Granny navigated through the press of bodies by the sound of a cracked voice explaining to the world at large that, compared to an unbelievable variety of other animals, the hedgehog was quite fortunate.

Gytha is adored by her children, feared by her daughters-in-law and accorded wary respect by Granny. Part of that respect comes from the power Nanny can wield when she feels like it, and because she leashes Esme in whenever cackling and condiments threaten. She also supports Granny when she decides to do something incredibly dangerous and magical.

“I reckon fifteen’d be a nice round number,” said Granny. “That means the lad will be eighteen at the finish. We just do the spell, go and fetch him, he can manifest his destiny, and everything will be nice and neat.”

You have to remember that Granny did not believe in destiny but she did believe in retaining the image of Witches as untouchable by King, Queen and everyperson. Duke Felmet had just humiliated her and she was not having anything to do with that.

Wyrd Sisters' cover illustration by Katarzyna Oleska, 2004

Wyrd Sisters’ cover illustration by Katarzyna Oleska, 2004

Magrat Garlick, the youngest witch in Lancre, and a protege of both Nanny and Granny was a bit worried about Granny’s simplistic explanation. After all, the two had previously lectured her about the futility of a concept like destiny. However, her confidence in her abilities and looks and likability was extremely low. Her fairy godmother wish for TomJohn is that “He will make friends easily,“. If nothing else, Magrat becomes more confident in her magic abilities during the course of Wyrd Sisters. One turning point came soon after an argument the three Witches had. Nanny Ogg is captured by Duke Felmet’s guards. Her son, Shawn, a guard, approaches Magrat.

Magrat stood absolutely still. She had thought she was angry before, but now she was furious. She was wet and cold and hungry and this person – once upon a time, she heard herself thinking – she would have burst into tears at this point.

One person who is very interested in Magrat is the much abused Fool, Verence Beldame. The Fool comes with Castle Lancre and according to the Fool’s oath he owes his loyalty to his employer, even when those employers are Duke and Duchess Felmet. As far as unhappy careers go, the Fool has one of the sadder ones. His male relatives all seem to have been Fools. Grandfather Fool certainly was. Talk about abusive upbringing.

The Fool recalled with a shudder how, at the age of six, he’d timidly approached the old man after supper with a joke he’d made up. It was about a duck.

It had earned him the biggest thrashing of his life, which even then must have presented the old joker with a bit of a challenge.

His stint at the Fools’ Academy was not much  better. Forced to hide his intelligence, terrified of the Duke’s obvious madness and the Duchess’ insatiable power hunger, and his own loneliness, he and Magrat seem destined to become a couple. When the Duke’s demands and Magrat’s Witch status come into conflict, the Fool’s low self-esteem and terror get in his way. And no wonder.

Duchess Felmet; Photography: Jiří Lebeda; Directed by Jan Brichcín & Hana Burešová

Duchess Felmet; Photography: Jiří Lebeda; Directed by Jan Brichcín & Hana Burešová

Duke and Duchess Felmet had killed King Verence. Duke Felmet did not object to ordering people killed and/or watching the killing. But doing the cousin-killing tipped him over the edge of madness.

He’d scrubbed and scrubbed, but it seemed to have no effect. Eventually, he’d gone down to the dungeons and borrowed one of the torturer’s wire brushes, and scrubbed and scrubbed with that, too. That had no effect, either. It made it worse. The harder he scrubbed, the more blood there was. He was afraid he might go mad …

Duchess Felmet did not mind ordering or doing murder herself. If she became aware of mistakes, she tended to over-react. Torture, killing and mayhem were her favorite tools and she liked that part of herself. So, it is easy to understand why the Fool would hesitate to fight them. His grandfather had taught him at a young age to obey orders.

The missing heir, TomJohn, is adopted by the Vitolliers, owners of a travelling theatre troupe. Considering the forces of nature that Granny and Nanny are and their own earlier loss of a girl child, the Vitolliers had no chance to refuse to take him in. When we meet them fifteen years later, we see that the choice in parents was a good one. TomJohn’s other Godmother gifts have come in handy for the troupe. Nanny wished him a good memory and Granny wished him “Let him be whoever he thinks he is”.

I have read Wyrd Sisters many times. Each reading helps me love it a little more and teaches me more about myself and the world.


Articles:

Andersson, Lorraine; Which witch is which? A feminist analysis of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld witches; University of Halmstad, Faculty of Humanities, 2006-06-03 (Thesis for a Masters of Arts in English)

Apostolova, Gergana; Existence and Demiurgy in Terry Pratchett’s Works; E-magazine LiterNet, 12.02.2005, № 2 (63)

Bjarkadóttir, Valgerður Guðrún; Teaching Literature in the Tenth Grade. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels as an Introduction to Classic English Literature; Thesis for an MA degree in English; University of Iceland, Humanities, English department 2009-02-01

Boulding, Lucas; “I can’t be having with that”: The Ethical Implications of Professional Witchcraft in Pratchett’s Fiction; Gender Forum Issue 52 (2015)

Homolková, Eva; An Analysis of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters; Masaryk University in Brno, Faculty of Arts, Department of English and American Studies, 2009

Lawless, Daphne Antonia; Weird Sisters and Wild Women: The Changing Depiction of Witches in Literature, from Shakespeare to Science Fiction; Victoria University of Wellington, Master of Arts in English Literature, 1999

Miller, Jenna; Terry Pratchett’s Literary Tryst with Shakespeare’s Macbeth: A Postmodernist Reading with a Humanist Guide; Honors College, University of South Florida, 2011

Roberts, Tansy Rainer: Pratchett’s Women: The Boobs, the Bad and the Broomsticks; tansyrr.com, 2011

Williams, L. Kaitlin; Change the Story, Change the World: Gendered Magic and Educational Ideology in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld; Appalachian State University, 2015;


Translations:

  • Bulgarian: Тери Пратчет; Посестрими в занаята; Translator: Елена Паскалева; София: Издателска къща Вузев, 2001 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Czech: Soudné sestry; Translator: Jan KantůrekPraha: Talpress, 1995 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Croatian: Vile suđenice; Translator: Drago Štajduhar; Split: Marjan Tisak, 2004 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Dutch: De plaagzusters; Translator: Venugopalan Ittekot; Amsterdam, MYNX, 1993 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Finnish: Noitasiskokset; Translator: Margit Salmenoja; Hämeenlinna: Karisto Oy, 1993 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • French: Trois soeurcières; Translator: Patrick Couton; Nantes, L’Atalante, 1993
    • Paris, Pocket, 2011 (Cover artist: Marc Simonetti)
  • German: MacBest; Andreas Brandhorst Thomas Krüger; München : Wilhelm Heyne, 1990 (Dt. Erstausg)
    • Seltsame Schwestern; Translator: Silke Jürgensen/Sönke Brodersen; Leipzig, I:D Verlag, 1997
      • MacBest; Translation; Andreas Brandhorst; München/Berlin, Piper Verlag, 2004 (Cover art: Katarzyna Oleska)
  • Greek: Τέρι Πράτσετ; Οι στρίγγλες; Translated by: Άννα Παπασταύρου; Αθήνα: Ψυχογιός, 2005
  • Hungarian: Vészbanyák; Translator: Anikó Sohár; Debrecen, Cherubion, 2000 (cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Italian: Sorellanza stregonesca; Translator: Antonella Pieretti; Milano, TEA, 1992
  • Japanese: Sannin no Majo; Translator: Norito KugaTokyo: H. Kawaguchi/Sanyusha, 1997
  • Norwegian: Sære søstre; Translator: Per Malde; Oslo, Tiden, 2001 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Polish: Trzy wiedźmy; Translator: Piotr W Cholewa; Prószyński Media.; Edipresse Polska, 1998 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
  • Portugese: Estranhas irmãs; Translator: Roberto DeNice; São Paulo/Brasil, Conrad Livros, 2003 (Cover artist: Josh Kirby)
    • As três bruxas; Translator: Paula Reis; Lisboa, Editorial Caminho, 1991
      • Translator: Mário Dias Correia/Francisca Rodrigues; Lisboa, Temas e Debates, 2005
  • Russian: Терри Пратчетта; Вещие сестрички; Translator: В. Вольфсон; Moscow, ЭКСМО, 2001
  • Serbian: Teri Pračet; Sestre po metli; Translator: Dejan Papić; Beograd: Laguna, 2000 (coverartist: Josh Kirby)
  • Slovenian: Tri vešče; Translator: Saša Požek; Tržič, Učila International, 2009
  • Spanish: Brujerías; Translator: Cristina Macía Orío; Barcelona, Editorial Martínez Roca, 1992
  • Swedish: Häxkonster; Translator: Olle Sahlin; Stockholm, B. Wahlströms, 1993
  • Turkish: Ucube kocakarilar; Translator: Niran Elçi; Istanbul: İthaki Yayınları, 2002

Sources

Sourcery @ Terry Prachett (1989)

Artist: Ayato (Brandon Zuckerman) | Source: deviantart.com

Artist: Ayato (Brandon Zuckerman) | Source: deviantart.com

One would think it was possible to learn from history, or at least from other people’s experiences. I suppose we could say that people have, because we follow in the footsteps of past generations who did not learn from history themselves. Once the lure of power comes into play, power-hunger begins to grow.

Once upon a time …

The hierarchy in the Unseen University (UU) is a dangerous one. There are eight orders with eight levels in each. An eighth-level wizard is leader of the order/house) and at level one are the recently graduated students. Except for Rincewind. Rincewind never passed his exams, poor fellow, but knows with all his heart that he is a wizard. As leader of these eight orders is the Archchancellor. Within the orders, competition is fierce. Murder is a well-known tool of advancement. The idea is that if the dead wizard was not able to defend himself, he did not deserve to be there. All wizards are men. At least they were until Eskarina in Equal Rites came along. As far as I know, she is the only female wizard.

Artist: Mbrainspaz (M. Parrott) | Source: deviantart.com

Artist: Mbrainspaz (M. Parrott) | Source: deviantart.com

The first person we meet in Sourcery is Ipsilore the Red. Even by wizard standards, Ipsilore is a bit batty. He was kicked out of UU because of a woman. Perhaps it could be said that Ipsilore had discovered the joys of sex, making him a dangerous sort of wizard. History had taught wizards that sex led to children. Once a wizard reached the magical number of eight sons, the Discworld was in trouble. Sourcerers were the result of such matings.

“SOURCERERS MAKE THEIR OWN DESTINY. THEY TOUCH THE EARTH LIGHTLY.

Ipsilore leaned on the staff, drumming on it with his fingers, apparently lost in the maze of his own thoughts. His left eyebrow twitched.

‘No,’ he said, softly, ‘no. I will make his destiny for him.'”

Ipsilore is the kind of annoying parent who tries to force his son to fulfill his own dreams by making every decision for his child. The kind of parent who attaches himself to his son’s wizard’s staff, ensuring he will never leave the side of his child (given how attached a wizard is to his staff). The kind of parent who possesses his child and forces him to do things in the name of power. You know, that kind of parent. Ipsilore’s only problem is that he is about to die. At the last possible moment, Ipsilore places a prophecy on his son, Coin, a prophecy that reeks of destruction and mayhem. But like all prophecies, this one has a loophole. Then, just as DEATH is about to scythe his soul out of his body, Ipsilore the Red places as much of himself inside the wizard’s staff, thereby giving himself a sort of after-life.

Artist: Vipergirl (Amanda) | Source: deviantart.com

Artist: Vipergirl (Amanda) | Source: deviantart.com

Lord Vetinary of Ankh-Morpork is a brilliant ruler. He understands power-hunger to such a degree that Ankh-Morpork is stable. Corrupt and insane, but stable. Some time in the past, Vetinary made an agreement with the Wizards at UU, containing their power-plays within UU’s grounds. Until Coin arrives with his staff, the wizards seem content with this life.

The wizards stared at one another, mouths open, and what they saw was not what they had always thought they’d seen. The unforgiving rays transmuted rich gold embroidery into dusty gilt, exposed opulent fabric as rather stained and threadbare velvet, turned fine flowing beards into nicotine-stained tangles, betrayed splendid diamonds as rather inferior Ankhstones. The fresh light probed and prodded, stripping away the comfortable shadows.

And, Spelter had to admit, what was left didn’t inspire confidence. He was suddenly acutely aware that under his robes – his tattered, badly-faded robes, he realised with an added spasm of guilt, the robes with the perforated area where the mice had got at them – he was still wearing his bedroom slippers.

Artist: Paul Kidby | Source: facebook.com/paulkidby

Artist: Paul Kidby | Source: facebook.com/paulkidby

Like many who have the truth about themselves revealed, the wizards want another person to blame. Lord Vetinary is the obvious one. Time for revenge. The wizards and Coin go after Vetinary and world-dominion.

In the meantime, the Archchancellor’s hat has gotten itself stolen by Conina the Hairdresser (she wishes). Conina is daughter to Cohen the Barbarian and her mother the “temple dancer for some mad god or other”. Conina has inherited her fighting compulsion from her father and her looks and voice from her mother. I mention Conina’s voice because

… It sounded like wild silk looks. … that voice would have made even a statue get down off its pedestal for a few brisk laps of the playing field and fifty press-ups. It was a voice that could make ‘Good Morning’ sound like an invitation to bed…

which might sound something like this. As quite a few characters in Sourcerer discover, judging Conina by her looks and voice rather than her talents tends to be a dangerously deadly choice. Rincewind knows better. His knowledge has been dearly bought as any who have read The Colour of Magic or Light Fantastic know. Unfortunately for him, he is the only available wizard in Ankh Morpork seeing the others are conspiring at UU. That makes Conina’s choice obvious. In the end there is no doubt as to who is boss. The Archancellor’s Hat makes it very clear to Conina and Rincewind that

Something terrible is happening at the University. It is vital that we are not taken back, do you understand! You must take us to Klatch, where there is someone fit to wear me.

Off the trio sails. What could possibly go wrong?

Artist: TithOuktarine | Source: deviantart.com

Artist: TithOuktarine | Source: deviantart.com

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Reviews:

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Translations:

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Trivia:

Mort (1987)

"The Death God's Apprentice" | Translated by Hu Shu Source: it-bodes.blogspot.com

“The Death God’s Apprentice” | Translated by Hu Shu
Source: it-bodes.blogspot.com

Death, Mort, Ysabell and Albert are the four main players of this story. Of the four of them, Death is the one that reappears in most of the Discworld stories. Death is probably the most famous, revered and confused character of all the Discworld characters and is also one of my favorites.

http://soulstripper.deviantart.com/art/Sorrow-Itself-56162555

“Sorrow Itself”, by Soulstripper (2007)

DEATH is like an Asperger/Autist in the sense that most things are taken literally. Quite often the activities that humans engage in seem pointless. But that does not stop Death from trying to understand. At one point in Mort, Death visits a party at the Patrician’s palace and joins in the Serpent Dance (holding the waist of the person in front, kicking legs in time to beat and going from room to room).

… TELL ME, PLEASE, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS ACTIVITY?

… “Haven’t you been to a party before? Mind the glass, by the way.”

I AM AFRAID I DO NOT GET OUT AS MUCH AS I WOULD LIKE TO. PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS. DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH SEX?

“Not unless we pull up sharp, old boy, if you know what I mean?” said his lordship, and nudged his unseen fellow guest with his elbow.

“Ouch,” he said. A crash up ahead marked the demise of the cold buffet.

NO

“What?”

I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN.

“Mind the cream there, it’s slippery – look, it’s just a dance, all right? You do it for fun.”

This mood, and possibly Ysabell (adopted daughter), is most likely why Death suddenly felt the need for an apprentice (obviously Mort(imer)). Mort’s family is in the farming business and to them it is acutely embarrassing that their youngest son has the “same talent for horticulture that you would find in a dead starfish.”

Poverty is an interesting phenomenon. Growing up, my family was certainly struggling to make ends meet. Not until we moved into an area where others could afford what we could not, did I feel poor.

“After five minutes Mort came out of the tailor’s wearing a loose fitting brown garment of imprecise function, which had been understandably unclaimed by a previous owner and had plenty of room for him to grow, on the assumption that he would grow into a nineteen-legged elephant.

His father regarded him critically.

“Very nice,” he said, “for the money.”

While Mort might not have liked that garment, he had no concept yet of poverty because the whole village lived a hard life.

Then DEATH comes and Mort’s apprenticeship begins. Death starts the apprenticeship by taking him to Ankh-Morpork to get a curry and some clothes.

“What are we going to do now?”

BUY YOU SOME NEW CLOTHES.

“These were new today – yesterday, I mean.”

REALLY?

“Father said the shop was famous for its budget clothing,” said Mort, running to keep up.

IT CERTAINLY ADDS A NEW TERROR TO POVERTY.

All through Mort the concept of class/stratification is approached with humour. However, Pratchett is not afraid to aid us in seeing exactly how we all seem to accept these divisions. He questions how valid this thinking is without making us feel like the idiots we are.

http://zehogfairy.deviantart.com/art/Death-s-Domain-418292752

Artist: Zehogfairy (Ioana Z.) | Source: deviantart.com

Mort’s first encounter with Death’s adopted daughter, Ysabell is interesting.

“Are you a servant?” she said.

Mort straightened up.

“No,” he said, “I’m an apprentice.”

“That’s silly. Albert said you can’t be an apprentice.”

….

“He says,” said Ysabell in a louder voice, “that apprentices become masters, and you can’t have more than one Death. So you’re just a servant and you have to do what I say.”

Clearly, a shaky beginning. Ysabell, of course, is 100% correct about Death being irreplaceable. Or is she? Hmmm. Mort has no idea what is possible. His mind is open to the possibilities. And, sadly for Death, Mort is extremely open to the idea of Princess Keli. Princess Keli’s impact on Mort is apparent in the song Beautiful from the musical Mort: The Musical. Mort struggles with what most of us struggle with: Death comes to us all. So, what happens, when the very person sent to collect her soul tries to change fate?

Albert is not happy about the changes in Mort and Death. For one thing, his privileged position is in danger. Loss of privilege and change aren’t things that are easy to face. Even when that privilege does not seem like much to an outsider. So Albert draws on his connections to stop it all from happening.

Definitely recommended.

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Translations:

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Reviews:

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Adaptations

Art

Sources

Pratchett, Terry: Equal Rites (Witches I) (1987)

Source: Pinterest, David Crambe

Simplified Chinese

Lately, each time I have sat down and worked with Terry Pratchett stuff I have been reminded of his death. So, too, with this review on Equal Rites.

“Despite rumor, Death isn’t cruel, merely terribly, terribly good at his job”

The Death of Discworld first showed up in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. There it was becoming frustrated with Rincewind’s inability to die. In Equal Rites, Death gathers to itself Drum Billet just as Wizard Billet realized his mistake in passing his wizard’s staff to a girl. A GIRL!

THERE IS NO GOING BACK. THERE IS NO GOING BACK, said the deep, heavy voice like the closing of crypt doors.

And so Eskarina Smith’s parents and Granny Weatherwax are left wondering what will happen to a wizard girl and her seemingly indestructible wizard’s staff. Obviously, Esk is going to show magical talent and Granny Weatherwax will be forced to teach her what Granny may (being a witch, and all).

Witches, at least Granny Weatherwax’s (I love the names Pratchett gives to people and places) kind, are practical women. They know that before anything esoteric can be taught, a person needs to understand all sorts of useful things. Practical knowledge is usually what keeps you alive in this world and on the Discworld. By the time Granny and Esk set off for the Unseen University in Ankh Morpork Esk is able to do an astounding amount of things.

“What sort of helpful things?” he asked. “Washing and sweeping, yesno?”

“If you like,” said Esk, “or distillation using the bifold or triple alembic, the making of varnishes, glazes, creams, zuum-chats and punes, the rendering of waxes, the manufacture of candles, the proper selection of seeds, roots and cuttings, and most preparations from the Eighty Marvellous Herbs; I can spin, card, rett, flallow and weave on the hand, frame, harp and Noble looms and I can knit if people start the wool on for me, I can read soil and rock, do carpentry up to the three-way mortise and tenon, predict weather by means of beastsign and skyreck, make increase in bees, brew five types of mead, make dyes and mordants and pigments, including a fast blue, I can do most types of whitesmithing, mend boots, cure and fashion most leathers, and if you have any goats I can look after them. I like goats.”

Granny does not like to see people sitting around doing nothing. She makes certain that any person in her vicinity has  something to do. But the most important thing she teaches Esk with all of this is the art of self-confidence and self-reliance. And not to use magic. To Granny that is the most important thing about having power, knowing when not to use it. Except Esk is leaking magic all over the place.

The Things from the Dungeon Dimensions love people who leak magic. Sometimes that link will give them a way into the world, and thereby a way to wreak havoc. As if people need others to wreak havoc upon them. But the Things really want in on the fun. By being pig-headed about letting young Esk into the UU, the wizards are helping the Things out. So is young Simon, another extremely powerful and knowledgeable young person (who is let in as a student due to his being a boy).

Like all of Pratchett’s Discworld books, Equal Rites leaves me thinking about every-day issues. Some of them I read about in the news or hear about from others. Some I experience myself. Sharing privilege and power with others is perhaps the one lesson we humans struggle most with. Because I am a woman, I have thought about the many privileges I will never have. Because I am white, I am aware of the many privileges that have come to me by stint of birth. Like Granny, I am less worried about what rooms I have a right to step into. But like Granny, I am bound by traditions of which I am not aware. Esk is the kind of child I wanted to be like.


Reviews:

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Adaptations

BBC4 dramatisation of Equal Rites as serial on Woman’s Hour

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Translations:

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1985: Why Gandalf Never Married

TV-tropes

Wikipedia (spoilers)

 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld II) (Rincewind II) (1986)

http://www.deboekenplank.nl/naslag/aut/p/img/pratchett_t_schijfwereld_02_2002_2e.jpgThe Light Fantastic is filled with a wonderful cast of “characters”. Every person we meet, from Rincewind to Bethan are eccentrics (or nutters if you prefer).

Cohen the Barbarian is  much more fun as a Barbarian than Conan could ever be – especially the way Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed him in the movie. Here we see what is left of the Barbarian after surviving 70 years of life – most of those running around fighting various creatures for gold and wimmin.

Upon meeting Twoflower and Rincewind, Cohen has these words of wisdom to impart:

“He hash got guts, I’ll give him that. Do exshactly what I shay and it ish just possible he won’t end up with them wrapped around a shtone.”

Definitely wise words considering the situations Twoflower has a tendency to drag Rincewind into and out of – helped a great deal by the Luggage.

I would hate to travel with Twoflower (except for his tendency to survive the most unlikely situations), but he is adorable in his innocence. Surprisingly, now that I think about it, I have actually met tourists who behave as he does. Somehow, I doubt they have the same survival luck as Twoflower. Although, if they had the Luggage on their side, they, too, might have his chances.

Credit: SJ Games

Credit: SJ Games

The Luggage is the personification of a valet and James Bond all wrapped up in one box. Wordless, and all, The Luggage has to be one of the most interesting characters in the world of silence (on its part – the opposition tends to scream a lot). Its loyalty is undivided once it has settled on an owner. For the time being, that owner is Twoflower. But Rincewind also benefits from that loyalty.

Rincewind remains one of my favorite Discworld characters. His tendency to run away from trouble is actually wisdom. Unless you are a wizards. Wizards seem to consider the saying “curiosity killed the cat” as an invitation to poke anything interesting. Rincewind might poke something, but not without being ready to run. Twoflower, Rincewind and the Luggage might be unlikely friends, but friends they are.

Rincewind, Twoflower and the Luggage find themselves flying off the Discworld at the end of The Colour of Magic. We meet them in this same position at the beginning of The Light Fantastic. Death seems imminent for all three of them. However, someone/something seems to want them for a “higher” purpose.

As the red light in the sky grows larger and the Discworld warmer, chaos seems to meet The Trio wherever they go. As usual Twoflower gets them into trouble, Rincewind tries to flee from trouble and the Luggage has to save both of them – although Twoflower gets priority. Through their travels they get to meet all sorts of insanity and danger while being herded toward their “destiny”.

Terry Pratchett’s second book in the Discworld saga and the Rincewind saga teaches us a creation-story, an end-story and a whole lot about survival and adventure.

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Credit: LSpace

Credit: LSpace

Adaptations:

1993: Graphic novel – illustrated by Steven Ross and Joe Bennet. Published by Corgi.

2008: Sky One Television two-part miniseries combining both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic (The Colour of Magic): the version released in the US was much shorter than the one released in the UK

My review of the television miniseries

L-Space: Annotations, information and quotes

 

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Reviews:

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Translations:

Good Omens (1990) (with Neil Gaiman)

French cover

French cover

I originally blogged about Good Omens on my humanitysdarkerside.com blog. The original post is still there. Time has passed and I have changed, both as a blogger and as a reader.

This collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman has led to a story that is funny, action-filled and philosophical. Both men seem to enjoy questioning the paradigms present in society at the time of whatever they are writing. Both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are exceedingly good as this type of authorship.

“Well, I had to,” said the angel, rubbing his hands distractedly. “They looked so cold, poor things, and she’s expecting already, and what with the vicious animals out there and the storm coming up I thought, well, where’s the harm, so I just said, look, if you come back there’s going to be an almighty row, but you might be needing this sword, so here it is, don’t bother to thank me, just do everyone a favor and don’t let the sun go down on you down here”.

“Funny thing is,” said Crawly, “I keep wondering whether the apple thing wasn’t the right thing to do, as well. A demon can get into real trouble, doing the right thing.” He nudged the angel. “Funny if we both got it wrong, eh? Funny if I did the good thing and you did the bad one, eh?”

Good Omens - Armageddon by himlayan

Good Omens – Armageddon by himlayan

Two of the characters from the Garden of Eden kind of stick together up to this moment in time, the moment of Good Omens. Both Crowley and Aziraphale are angels (on opposite sides) who enjoy living with humans because of the choices people make. Now the awaited Armageddon has arrived and the two aren’t happy about having to follow the commands of their masters. But they do because angels have a built in slavery mode when it comes to God and Satan (with a little leeway). Slavery is like that. The slave has to follow the command their are given, but only the exact wording applies. Of course, using the leeway inherent in most commands could risk getting them kicked off earth, but both Asiraphale and Crowley find that risk worthwhile.

Good Omens - Them by yuletart giftart for sandalstrap!

Good Omens – Them by yuletart giftart for sandalstrap!

The Son of Satan is to be the one who ushers Armageddon in. Crowley and Aziraphale have both decided to watch over him. But it turns out that a baby got switched at birth and it was the wrong one and both angels will be in serious trouble if their masters find out that something has gone awry.

The Son of Satan, or Adam as he is known to his friends, is going to be a huge disappointment to his biological father.  You see, the boy has turned into the kind of child that pretty much wants to make the people he likes happy – such as the town environmentalist. Anathema knows there is something really strange about Adam (besides him not having an aura), but she cannot seem to concentrate on figuring out what that something is. I love “Them” (Adam’s gang). Their take on the world is wonderfully influenced by their parents and other important adults. I remember how I believed everything Important people told me. Some of those beliefs have been replaced by others while some of them still remain. Gaiman and Pratchett manage to discuss the whole genetics v environment debate in Good Omens through their nutty little crew of characters.

Good omens by pigeon666

Good omens by pigeon666

It is funny that the son of Satan is a disappointment to his father. I would think that ought to make father Satan pleased with his offspring. But Satan is only pro-disobedience if it is disobedience to others. One of the major problems with getting a hold of his bratty little angel son, is that Adam cannot be found. In fact, the only one who is able to find Adam is Adam’s very own Hellhound, Dog.

The gang that are supposed to help Adam fight Armageddon are gathering to fulfill their destiny, but none of them knows where to go. Where is the promised son of the Devil?

Good Omens is filled with interesting characters and a strange sense of logic. Whenever I begin reading books by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I get into this weird thought-mode where I go – yeah, that could happen. This time was no exception.

Definitely recommended.

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Reviews

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  • World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel, 1991
  • Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 1991

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Radio/Television

  • 2014 December 22: BBC Radio 4 – It begins (HALLELULJAH! or was it PRAISE SATAN!) – The End is Near.

Theatre version

In March 2013, Cult Classic Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland, performed Amy Hoff’s adaptation of Good Omens with the permission of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

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Translations

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Neil Gaiman: “Terry Pratchett Isn’t Jolly. He’s Angry.”

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Good Omens Artwork

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Sources

Strata @ Terry Pratchett (1981)

https://m1.behance.net/rendition/modules/61259391/disp/0d4a0bbed82122db5dec726d8f81db36.jpg

Coverart by Marc Simonetti

Kin Karad works for the Company. Her job is to oversee the creation of planets. Imagine that: being able to be part of planet-creation. Might make you feel like a supreme being, perhaps even a bit cocky. Add cockiness to a brilliant mind and the road is short to doing something to divert your attention from the incredibly boring task of layering the planet properly. One must remember to place the fossils in the correct layer, thus avoiding confusion with later settlers. Placing a plesiosaur holding a placard reading “End Nuclear Testing Now” in the wrong stratum might seem like a good idea at the time. Newbies! Always so full of themselves.

Kin does remember being exactly like that herself once upon a time, and she is impressed with the inventiveness of the culprit. The Company is not. It expects its employees to follow the regulations come what may. Bureaucracy that strict might get a bit boring after a couple of centuries. Kin is getting tired of her life.

Right on time she receives an invitation to travel with the stranger Jago Jalo. Kin Karad decides to go but when she gets to the spaceship she discovers that she is alone. Companions will be joining her later – a kung called Marco Farfarer, and Silver the Shandi. They are told that they will be going to a flat world. Yes, a flat world with a star system revolving around it.

This trio gets to meet interesting people who all seem to have one aim in their lives – get rid of the weird strangers. Some of the people they meet are as strange as Silver. Although Silver might think humans look pretty strange. All in the eye of the beholder I guess. Some of the people/creatures they come into contact with are more than they appear to be. In fact all of Flat Earth is other than it appears to be.

Humour is a tricky business. Some humour can be extremely funny without my feeling the need to laugh. That is because really great humour – to me – is humour that makes me squirm inside my head. I find Terry Pratchett to be that kind of author. He rips the world and literature apart and puts them back together in a manner that makes sense to me.

As I read Strata at an older and infinitely wiser (cough, cough) age, Pratchett showed me new layers of myself and the world around me. He continues to do so in all of his stories. In Strata I got to meet fun characters, enjoy excellent action and have an interesting philosophical discussion with a dying “world”. While Pratchett has grown as an author since those early days, even WAY back then, Terry Pratchett was a pretty awesome writer.

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Reviews:

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Translations:

  • Bulgarian: Страта; Transl: Светлана Комогорова – Комата; Прозорец, 1999
  • Czech: Strata; Transl: ;Praha, Magnet-Press, 1997
  • Dutch: Delven; Transl: Jaime Martijn; Amsterdam, Meulenhoff-M, 1982; Cover-art: Tom Barber

    • Strata; Transl: Jaime Martijn; Amsterdam, Meulenhoff-M, 1994; Cover-art: Nico Keulers
  • French: Strate-à-gemmes; Transl: Dominique Haas; Paris, Pocket, 1997
  • German: Strata oder die Flachwelt; Transl: Heinz Zwack; München, Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, 1983

    • Strata; Transl: Andreas Brandhorst; München, Piper Taschenbuch, 1992
  • Polish: Warstwy Wszechświata; Transl: Ewa Siarkiewicz; Warszawa, Oficyna Wydawnicza Almapress, 1992

    • Dysk; Transl: Jarosław Kotarski; Poznań, Dom Wydawniczy Rebis, 1999
  • Russian: Творцы миров; Transl: Олег Колесников
    • Страта; Transl: Л. Щёкотовой; Внецикловые романы, 2004
    • Journal: Если № 3, март 2004; Терри Пратчетт; Страта; Transl: Л. Щёкотовой; стр. 117-222; Art: И. Тарачкова

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Sources

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Audiobook

The Unadulterated Cat (1989)

Not too many years ago, my husband ended up in the hospital. He was there for four weeks. At one point, the drs weren’t certain how things would go and he ended up in Intensive. I had just started on The Unadulterated Cat and decided that if he had to placed in coma, then I would keep on reading it out loud to him. Thankfully, he did not have to be placed in coma, so I kept on reading the book to myself. But I have to say that The Unadulterated Cat represents a frightening period of my life yet also a time of gratitude in my heart.

Cats! My first cat appeared soon after my entry into the world. From pictures that cat seemed to be an adorable white little sweet-heart. According to my parents our relationship was much like the cat and baby in the above video. She loved being my hat and we kept her a long time. I imagine I put her ears into my mouth and did my best to pull and prod her as much as I was able to.

The Real Cat and Children A Real kitten in a Real household with a junior member can expect to be:1) pulled. 2) pushed. 3) Imprisoned in Cindy’s bedroom with Cindy, Mr T in one of Cinderella’s dresses*, a tiearmed teddy bear, a fearsome plasticoid with Lazer-zap cannon and a small pink pony. 4) Fed unsuitable food. In this category can be included peas, ghastly sweet pink goo, and a fortnight’s worth of Kitty treats in three minutes.5) Inserted into unsuitable clothing (cf. Cindy,Barbie, Action Man, etc).) Carried by being he the middle, so that large amounts of cat flop down on either side. (Strangely enough, most cats put up with this, even when they are great fat toms)

The next one that entered my life ended up with the name Soxie. She just turned up one day. I adored her. We did not have her for all that long before we moved to another country, and the cat may or may not have survived being placed in a pound. Upon leaving I was in my late sixes. Oh, how I missed her. On my way home from school I would sing songs about her and make up stories about where she might have ended up. In spite of her murdering, devious, treacherous and conniving ways she had found a place in my heart.

Buying a house in the Country: A very reliable way of acquiring a cat. It’ll normally turn up within the first year, with a smug expression that suggests it is a little surprised to see you here. It doesn’t belong to the previous occupants, none of the neighbours recognise it, but it seems perfectly at home. Why? It is very probably a Schrodinger Cat

Years and years passed until my family moved into another house in another country. I now understand that is a prerequisite for the magically appearing cat. The lady that moved into our house also turned up one day. She kept on returning and all of a sudden she decided she was ours. Paid rent as well. At night she would climb through my sister’s bedroom window and leave her offerings on her pillow.

Real cats don’t hunt for food, but because they love you. And, because they love you, they realise that for some reason you have neglected to include in your house all those little personal touches that make it a home, and do their best to provide them. Headless shrews are always popular. For that extra splash of colour, you can’t beat miniature sets of innards.

My sister still has a cat. All of her terrifying nightly experiences did not stop her from such a drastic step. Their first cat was the terror of the neighborhood. The one they have now is in cahoots with the dog. Such unpredictable creatures, cats, and described to perfection by Terry Pratchett.

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Quotes found on L-Space

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Reviews:

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Translations:

  • Bulgarian: Автентичната котка
  • Czech: Nefalšovaná kočka
  • Dutch: De Echte Kat: Felix Vulgaris
  • Finnish: Tosikissa ei kirppuja kiroile
  • French: Sacrés chats !
  • German: Die gemeine Hauskatze
  • Hungarian: Az igazi macska: Kampány az igazi macskáért
  • Italian: Il Gatto D.O.C.
  • Polish: Kot w stanie czystym
  • Russian: «Кот без дурако́в», «Кот без прикра́с», «За подлинную кошачесть»
  • Swedish: Riktiga Katter bär inte Rosett

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Sources

The Colour of Magic (Discworld I) (Rincewind I) (1983)

The Great A'Tuin by pumpkindante

The Great A’Tuin by pumpkindante

“In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part …

See …

Great A’Tuin the turtle comes, swimming slowly through the interstellar gulf, hydrogen frost on his ponderous limbs, his huge and ancient shell pocked with meteor craters. Through sea-sized eyes that are crusted with rheum and asteroid dust He stares fixedly at the Destination.

In a brain bigger than a city, with geological slowness, He thinks only of the Weight.

Most of the weight is of course accounted for by Berilia, Tubul, Great T’Phon and Jerakeen, the four giant elephants upon whose broad and star-tanned shoulders the Disc of the World rests, garlanded by the long waterfall at its vast circumference and domed by the baby-blue vault of Heaven.” (Page 3 of The Colour of Magic)

That is a seriously gigantic turtle. My first introduction to Terry Pratchett was through The Colour of Magic in its Norwegian translation (Magiens farge). I didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. Translations are tricky that way. Later on I got hold of the English version of (I think) Guards! Guards!. Total change of heart and I decided that I would give The Colour of Magic another shot – in English. Huge difference (in my brain anyways). Words are funny that way. Words and the ability to convey a feeling from one language to another.

Artist: Monkey-FromthebridgeRincewind has an interesting take on life – you do your very best to run away from it. He is a great runner and will become even greater as he is volunteered as tour guide for the blithely ignorant tourist, Twoflower and Twoflower’s luggage. This is one piece of Luggage you do not want to try to steal from its owner. Nor should you try to harm its owner while the Luggage is nearby. Oh, you can want to all you like, but try it and you might have taken your very last breath.

Twoflower is your typical tourist. He finds EVERYTHING quaint about Ankh-Morpork, smells and all. Social rules and customs are caught by the breeze and carried away before he gets an inkling of what they might be. His naivety should have gotten him killed along with Rincewind and the Luggage in quaint old Ankh-Morpork (and the rest of the places he visits on the continent). Without the luggage and Rincewind’s ability to somehow get out of impossible situations, he surely would have.

This trio wreaks havoc wherever they end up. Death crosses their paths several times. In The Colour of Magic, Death learns what it is to be vexed with a person who will not die when he is supposed to. This trio’s journey takes them into and out of the embrace of Death time and again. They are hunted by trolls, bears, demons, dragons and believers.

Rincewind, Luggage and Death by Jessica Gaedke (2004)

Rincewind, Luggage and Death by Jessica Gaedke (2004)

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Reviews:

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Translations:

The only language I was not able to find a link to was Indonesian. The Serbian and Croatian titles were identical, so I just assumed that one could be substituted for the other.

Bulgarian: Цветът на магията
Chinese-Mainland (simplified): 碟形世界-魔法的色彩
Croatian: Boja Magije
Czech: Barva Kouzel
Danish: Når Magien Bliver for Broget / Magiens farve
Dutch: De Kleur van Toverij
Estonian: Võlukunsti Värv
Finnish: Magian Väri
French: La Huitième Couleur
German: Die Farben der Magie
Georgian: Magiis p‘eri / მაგიის ფერი
Greek: Το χρωμα της μαγειας / To chroma tis mageias
Hebrew: Tzeva ha-Keshef / צבע הכשף

Hungarian: A Mágia Színe
IcelandicLitbrigði galdranna / litur galdra

Indonesian:
Italian: Il Colore della Magia
Japanese: Disuku Warudo Sodoki / ディスクワールド騒動記〈1〉 (角川文庫)

Korean: 마법의 색
Norwegian: Magiens farge
Polish: Kolor magii
Portugese: A Cor da Magia
Portugese-Brazil: A Cor da Magia
Romanian: Coloarea Magiei
Russian: Цвет волшебства / Öâåò Âîëøåáñòâà

Serbian/Yugoslav: Boja Magije
Slovakian: Farba Mágie
Slovenian: Barva Magije
Spanish: El Color de la Magia
Swedish: Magins färg
Turkish: Büyünün Rengi

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