Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Novel Review - Discworld: Lords and Ladies

Day 2: A book that you’ve read more than 3 times

This is part of a 30 day book review challnge thing. You can read my rather glib introduction here.



Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven are up against real elves.

It’s Midsummer Night.

No times for dreaming…

With full supporting cast of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers and one orang-utan. And lots of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

There's gonna be lots of Discworld books on this list. Favourite author, favourite series? I'm gonna have to bend the rules a little to avoice jsut reposting reviews. This should tell you all you need to know about the esteemin which I hold this series. For me Discworld is nigh unparalleled.

Lords and Ladies sees the continued adventures of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat as whispers arise that an enemy is coming, a race of creatures so dangerous and malicious that saying their name is forbidden: they might hear you. Another coven of witches has moved into Lancre during the witches' absense in the preceeding book in the series (Witches Abroad) and do not take kindly to Granny and co. returning. They are young and inexperienced, but their leader is extremely talented and they've fundamentally missed what being a witch is. Naturally, they are meddling with things rather dangerous. On top of all of this, Magrat is also getting married to the king of Lancre.

Lords and Ladies is a fantastic story, an interesting subversion and rather funny to boot. Pratchett's characters are magical and the real underpinning of everything he writes. They are big characters, both cartoonish and complex. It is obvious that he has a great love for his characters, and not one is thrown aside easily or skimmed over: those that don't get much time in the spotlight are still subtly and carefully sketched. And they are all so damn likeable and colourful too.

I love Pratchett's take on elves. It's the only time I've been tempted to just outright rip a concept from an author for my own work - elves are perhaps the only unambiguously evil in the Discworld novels. The build-up they are given in text is phenomenal, to the point where there's something disappointing about them actually appearing. The anonymous threat is just so well worked.

This book is about glamour. It's about how we'll forgive people things easier and treat them in a way they perhaps haven't earned because of the glamour they project. Elves are vicious parasitic creatures in the Discworld, but because they are tall and beautiful and strong people practically worship them. The younger witch coven gets involved with witching because of the inherent glamour of the gothic and occult and magic, without ever really figuring out what a witch is.

Granny Weatherwax, it strikes me, has a very Doctor-ish quality to her. She's a powerful magician, sure, but she never actually uses magic. Incredibly resourceful, knowlegable and simultaneously invincible and vulnerable. She doesn't fight people on their terms, nor does she fight them in any expected way. Really, she tends to prefer to make them fight themselves.

Pratchett is a great author, and Lords and Ladies is amongst the best of what Discworld has to offer. It's clever and interesting with great characters and a fast paced plot. It might be easy to mistake for a parody of Tolkien, and many have, but the Discworld is far, far more than that.

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