Equal Rites (1987) – Terry Pratchett

I head back to Discworld for this week’s Book Shelf, and delve into the third tale from the Terry Pratchett created universe. This story takes us in a different direction, leaving behind the characters introduced in the previous volumes, but gives us another hilariously magical tale.

Young Eskarine is a girl, she is the eighth son (err daughter) of an eighth son, and a dying mage, we know this because Death makes a cameo appearance, shows up to bless her and pass on his staff, telling her she is to be a wizard, he dies before he is able to correct his mistake.

Girls, women can’t be wizards. Sure they can be witches, but a wizard, never.

Under the guidance of her small town’s local witch, Granny Weatherwax, the young girl is determined to become a wizard, and leaving the mountain top village of Bad Ass behind, heads to the main city of Ankh-Morpork, and the wizard school known as the Unseen University.


Along the way, both characters get mixed up in a variety of adventures, and soon find themselves in conflict with not only wizards, but otherworldly Things from a Dungeon Dimension, who are intent on taking over.

The story is wonderfully entertaining as Pratchett takes familiar fantasy tropes, smacks them around a bit, and makes them brilliantly funny. He has a wonderful turn of phrase, creates some laugh out loud visual imagery, and lets the reader settle easily into this world he’s created.

And again, I find myself wondering what has changed in me. I could never get into these books before, but now I am devouring them delightfully, often laughing out loud at the way an image strikes me, or a string of words tickles me.

Esk as a nine year old girl is just a delight, and she comes alive completely in my head, as I can see her on her adventure, confronting the Things, wizards, and even Granny on occasion, as any precocious young child would.

Much like the two preceding tales, Equal Rites is not very long, but it is definitely engaging, and the series has done enough now to secure my interest that I will be continuing my exploration of this amazing flat world that glides through space on the back of four elephants, which in turn stands on the back of a giant turtle.

And apparently with forty one novels all told, I’ll be enjoying these stories for awhile! I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.

What’s on your book shelf?


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