Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett is the 3rd book in the Discworld series. Having read The Colour of Magic, which I recently reviewed, I was looking forward to reading another Terry Pratchett book.
Equal Rites is all about magic. Usually eighth sons of eighth sons can only become wizards and women definitely cannot be wizards. So this all changes when a little girl, Esk, with a wizard’s staff, is destined to be a wizard. Granny Weatherwax is a witch and she tries to teach the little girl and eventually get her into the academy of wizards. But a girl at the academy is unheard of.
I really enjoyed this story and it was funny, intriguing and a real adventure. Having the background already set out in The Colour of Magic meant that Terry Pratchett could concentrate on the story more and I found the story flowed better and wasn’t full of too many detailed descriptions. Granny was my favourite character as she was eccentric, grumbles a lot and stuck in her ways. Granny showed small magical powers to others such as healing herbs, telling fortunes etc. but there is always a hint that she is a lot more powerful. It is so funny when she has conversations with the magical staff and also enjoys setting up business in the big city. She seemed to me a kind hearted woman who wanted to help people but a witch’s life seems lonely and I am glad she began to live her life more in the big city and enjoy herself. She even started to move away from the normal black clothes which showed granny was also a normal woman at heart. The wizards are in contrast to Granny in terms of how they live and powers and when she is challenged by Cutangle at the academy she showed she is a strong lady and not one to be dominated by men who clearly think they are better than most of society. There is also a hint of a spark between Cutangle and Granny too which adds more comedy and reality to the story.
Esk is meant to be the main character but I couldn’t warm to her at all. She is a child and has all the qualities of being innocent to the dangers of the world, takes risks and is very inquisitive. She is a challenge for Granny to teach and manage. I think Esk represents how we should view life – with optimism, take each challenge as they come, making friends is good and also learn from others. Also live your dreams and be determined.
Overall this story starts off a bit sexist as there is a clear divide and hierarchy between witches and wizards but by the end people’s views are changed and history in the Discwold is changed. Terry Pratchett has also drawn on a lot of comparisons to how male and females are viewed in past societies, as well as country life compared to city life. He shows that people have to adapt to new places and ways of living and doing this through Esk’s eyes we learn that we are all the same trying to life a good, happy life. We meet so many characters along the twists and turns of the story and some we like and some less so. The comedy moments are great too. What this story does teach us is that being open to some things and possible changes, despite a struggle to get there, can be a good thing. Granny and Esk definitely developed as characters in this story and the ending is definitely an aww moment.
If you have read any other Discworld books you will enjoy this one too. But if you haven’t read any before, I would still recommend reading this. As I said before, it a great comedy adventure story for everyone.