Saturday, 28 March 2015

Unsuitable Authors beginning with P - Terry Pratchett's 'Witches Abroad'.

The witches, Esme Weatherwax, Gytha Ogg and Magrat Garlik, were the first Discworld triple act created by Terry Pratchett. Witches have to come in threes. They are powerful women who know that actual magic should be used sparingly and mostly they don't need it. Granny Weatherwax can control most situations with a look, Nanny Ogg controls with tea and blackmail and Ms Garlik does her best with herbs or crystals or whatever is the latest craze.

In 'Witches Abroad' they have to leave their comfortable(ish) homes in rural Lancre and travel abroad to sort out a fellow witch who has an urge to bring order to the city of Genua by imposing the predictability of fairy-tales on the unsuspecting populace - Emberella has to marry the prince, even though he's a spoilt, snivelling runt. Abroad is not a place that Granny Weatherwax approves of, but "Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is." So they have to get close to see the detail, not just the mass, and find out what's actually going on.

The witches are amongst my favourite of Pratchett's creations. He enthusiastically wrote any number of great female characters into the Discworld, they were merely the first. He takes stereotypes, defys and builds on them to create full-blooded, comic characters. Needless to say the book is very funny and the dialogue between the witches is the basis of much of the humour.
My copy of this book is the Corgi edition of 1992, which was when I first read it, and has the original Josh Kirby cover. The later editions look very dull by comparison.

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